Mind Candy CEO steps down for more ‘creative’ role (Wired UK)

Message from Michael Acton SmithMind Candy

Michael Acton Smith has stepped
down as CEO of Mind Candy to move into a more creative role ahead
of the company’s planned expansion.

Smith posted a video
to YouTube
announcing the move, and dispelling rumours that he
would be leaving the company that’s behind the hugely successful
children’s online game Moshi Monsters.

“I love this company, I’m obsessed with it,” he said. “I’ve been
running it for ten years and if you cut me I’ll bleed jelly beans.
So I’m not going anywhere.”

Instead, chief operating and financial officer Divinia Knowles,
who has worked with Smith for eight years, will step into a new
role as President until a replacement CEO is found. Of the new
candidate, Smith said he will be looking for someone: “From the
outside, with a lot of entertainment and media and traditional big
company experience to help us go from where we are at the moment to
the extraordinary journey we hopefully have ahead of us, as the
company scales and we become this next generation family
entertainment company we have the promise for.”

Mind Candy has certainly been expanding in this way in recent
years. The huge success of Moshi Monsters — which
now has close to 80 million registered users and a branded film to
its name — has allowed for the creation of new branches,
including World of
 and mobile game PopJam. Smith
believes the latter, a messaging and photo sharing social platform
for children, has “tremendous potential”. He told Wired.co.uk:
“PopJam in particular is something that I’m going to be diving into
deeply.” It stands to fill the gap for under 12s left by
Facebook, a demographic the social media giant has so far steered
well clear of. 

With this continuing expansion in mind, Smith says in the
YouTube anoucement that he felt it was time for him to move into a
more creative role. “I am self-aware enough to know I am much
better on the creative side of the business than the operational
side. That probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to
anyone that’s worked with me.”

“I’m still going to be on the board and the management team,” he
tells Wired.co.uk. “I’ll be working with the team as before to help
set the vision and strategy.” Part of that will be expansion in the
US, which is slated to happen in 2015. “The US remains very
important to us,” he adds.

In the meantime, Smith gets the breathing room to do what he
loves most. In the YouTube video he indicates to a pile of
notebooks filled with two years of ideas for new characters and
stories he’s excited to delve into. Perhaps most interestingly, one
of those notebooks was entitled Perplex City. This is the
alternate-reality game Smith launched in 2004. It was an
online/offline treasure hunt with a real world money prize on the
table, but by 2007 it was clear the project had to come to close after coming into
financial difficulty. The game’s website still exists,
and Smith said in his announcement, after indicating to the
notebook, “there’s all sorts of unfinished business within

What is clear, is that the entrepreneur wants to take the
business to the next level — he tells the Guardian the aim is to take the company public in the long
term, which he believes can happen for “more than $1bn”. “We’re
super ambitious, and Europe needs more technology startups to be
super ambitious.”

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Source: wired.co.uk

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