The CFO Journal with Markus Lipp of Kongregate: “Remain true to your principles”
The CFO Journal “Who Is”
Where: Kongregate was founded in 2007 as a developer-friendly online game distribution platform. The company was acquired by GameStop in 2010, and by MTG in 2017. It has expanded from browser to mobile, and more recently to PC and Console with a $10 million fund. Kongregate now has more than 40 mobile games with over 100 million downloads, and more than 100 thousand free games available online, which are played by tens of millions of people each month.
Joined: September 2017.
Based: San Francisco.
Qualifications: Business Economy graduate and industry veteran with more than 16 years of media finance experience, 8 of those as a manager or CFO.
Formerly: CFO at InnoGames. Leadership positions at ProSiebenSat1 Media group, including at ProSiebenSat1 Games and Seven Games, and as CFO at 7Travel GmbH and wetter.com GmbH. Head of Controlling at SevenOne Intermedia.
In His Own Words
1. What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
“Remain true to your principles”. As a CFO you are facing different situations and it is important that you manage them together with your team and stakeholder, but always in a way you would want your own reputation and principles to be. Don’t hurry, be clever, be smart and do not allow others to put pressure on you.
2. What would you consider the turning point in your career?
I started as a young professional working for Kirch Group. The Media Mogul Leo Kirch had created an empire around him, that was transformed from a one person company into a public company. I was learning in these years so many interesting things on the job that helped me to develop an important part of my current profile. It was great working for Kirch – regardless of the unpleasant ending.
3. What is the biggest challenge you and/or your team are facing now?
Kongregate was acquired by Swedish Media Company “Modern Times Group (MTG)” in July 2017. The accounting of Kongregate was integrated in the group procedures of the former owner, GameStop, so my team and I are currently building up accounting procedures from scratch with the target to meet all capital market requirements of MTG. Beside this, Kongregate is growing fast and has done two major acquisitions of Mobile Development Studios (Synapse and Chinzilla) in Q4 2017. In some way, we are financial architects.
4. What is something new you’re excited about in the coming year?
The Gaming Market is always exciting and never the same like the year before. We have a couple of new game launches coming up, new accounting regulations with the IFRS 15, processes to establish, and the team will grow as well, so all in all an exciting year.
5. How would you describe the culture of your team, and what (if anything) do you do to foster that?
I was always convinced that an open culture is the only one you should go for. Your team needs to know what to do, no matter when or where they are. It is old-fashioned to put people 8-10 hours in a room and just track their time. People have commitments, family, and work, and they are trying to manage all of that. So be open, set expectations, help them manage their resources and show them how to improve. They want to learn from you, and great leaders always have great teams around them. If you follow this, they will give you much more in return.
Industry Rundown: It’s all about Gaming
Gaming in general just had its biggest year yet. Newzoo’s annual Global Games Market Report showed that in 2017 the global games marketing generated roughly $116 billion, up 10.8% from 2016. Mobile gaming made up $50.4 billion of revenue, followed by PC at $32 billion and console at $33 billion. Whatever the platform, competitive gaming, including team play, rankings, and live streaming makes up a growing share of game time. This includes incredibly popular esports, well on its way to becoming a multi-billion-dollar business.
With this type of growth, Kongregate does well to have a finger in each of the gaming pies in 2018. What’s more, aside from its investments in PC and console, Kongregate continues to see success from its browser games as well. Publishing across multiple platforms also feeds into the company’s central mission of helping independent developers grow and succeed.
Kongregate’s broad scope means that it faces a variety of competitors; industry giants like Innogames and Zynga on browser; Valve, Psyonix and Ubisoft on PC/Steam; and Tencent, Gameloft, and Mixi on mobile, among hundreds of others. What’s clear is that all of these publishers and their CFOs will have to work in 2018 to stay one step ahead of the competition in a rapidly evolving and unpredictable industry.
If you enjoyed this post, don’t miss our interviews with CFOs in the renewable energy field, online shipping world, and so much more. Stay tuned to future installments for more insights, experience and advice from CFOs, and take a look at our recent post on technology trends for CFOs as well.
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