I motivate cross-functional teams to develop and manage distributed applications and services that scale into billion dollar lines of revenue. As an award-winning executive, I led xCloud - Microsoft’s Gaming-as-a-Service, co-founded two game studios, and published 31 apps/games on virtually every major media platform of the last two decades. My experience includes negotiating multiple $100M+ acquisitions, raising $28M+ capital from tier-1 VC’s, landing a $52M contract to develop a home VR system, and leading global teams of 100+ professionals. I’ve also authored a NY Times bestseller and commanded in the U.S. Army. I am an authentic and curious leader who genuinely enjoys mentoring young entrepreneurs.
Game-streaming is set to disrupt the industry significantly as 5G networks and devices proliferate. The technology provides a rare opportunity for developers to reach upstream, directly to customers - circumventing Steam or the app store. And for platform owners, like Xbox, its an even bigger opportunity to grow their communities with Netflix-like catalogs of content their subscribers can play on any device and anywhere.
As head of cloud gaming at Xbox I led the development of a global Gaming-as-a-Service (GaaS) platform for Microsoft. The consumer facing component of the service is Project xCloud - a game streaming service designed to work across consoles, PCs, and mobile devices.
xCloud research teams are creating ways to combat latency via advanced network techniques combined with video encoding and decoding making game streaming viable on 4G networks and building custom hardware for its datacenters, so that existing and future Xbox games will be compatible with the xCloud service.
Public trials of xCloud begin in 2019 to learn to scale with different volumes and locations and to test the service with Xbox wireless controllers connected to consoles, mobile devices, and PCs.
Meteor was a video game publisher of the award winning, direct-to-consumer, free-to-play PC game HAWKEN. Recruited by tier-1 VC’s Benchmark (Snapchat) and Firstmark Capital (Uber) to acquire HAWKEN’s developer, Adhesive Games, and take on the role of CEO, I was challenged with recapitulating their success with Riot Games.
Riot had built League of Legends into the biggest game franchise in history and was acquired by Tencent for nearly half a billion dollars. With Meteor they wanted to repeat their formula of building out a top tier roster of talent to successfully publish free-to-play games globally, with an emphasis on compelling content and a high standard of customer service and community engagement.
I grew Meteor to a global team of over 100 professional in one year with offices in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Budapest that developed two games and Storm - an AWS-based gaming-as-a-service (GaaS) platform that included identity, analytics, hyperscale multiplayer, load balancing, security, eCommerce, content management, server-side game logic, and CRM.
Hawken launched in 2012 and quickly scaled to 1.5M monthly active users with a novel inbound transmedia customer acquisition strategy that included movies, web series, comics, books, and graphic novels.
I am currently interim COO of 4D Factory, a hybrid operating company and investment vehicle providing stakeholders exposure to a diverse portfolio of mixed reality games, applications and services. I work closely with industry leaders and rising stars to bring mixed reality experiences to life and to push the boundaries of what’s possible.
4D Factory’s proprietary platform in development is built upon pioneering research, products, and services in the transformative technologies of this generation - Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Blockchain and Cloud Edge Computing.
Zombie was an independent developer of 31 award-winning games distributed on virtually every major media platform of the last two decades. Clients included EA, Activision, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, Disney, and the US Army.
Co-founded by myself Joanna Alexander (Max Planck Institute) while we were at the Sarnoﬀ Laboratory in Princeton, Zombie developed the first virtual reality games for Windows 95.
Zombie pioneered the free-to-play business model in N America, working with publishers in Korea and China, where the novel strategy was winning customers by the tens of millions. We went on to pioneer the model again on console with the award winning Blacklight franchise.
Zombie was also one first developers the US Army contracted to use game technology as a strategy for rapidly fielding life saving IED convoy defense and close quarter combat simulators.
Zombie eventually became the longest-operating game development studio in Seattle, hiring over 1000 developers that have gone on found their own studios and lead as executives at Amazon, Xbox, Facebook, & Google.
Although Microsoft owns Azure and Xbox, in 2016 they did two orders of magnitude less revenue in cloud gaming than Amazon. Senior leadership decided to target the market with a dedicated cloud backend and I joined them to lead the effort.
Having twice before built cloud backends from a diverse set of PaaS and SaaS, I knew that developers like me were suffering from “SDK fatigue” - the seemingly never-ending task of integrating and maintaining all the necessary micro services. What we needed was a single comprehensive solution. A single API, REST based for modularity, that was already integrated with the most popular game engines - Unity, Unreal, CosCos, etc.
The Gaming as a Service (GaaS) would include Thunderhead - a hyperscale multiplayer server orchestration SaaS, and a realtime player analytics data pipeline and business intelligence dashboard that includes identity, eCommerce, server-side game logic, CRM and more.
I led the acquisition of Playfab to jumpstart our strategy. Playfab has the best in class cloud platform in the gaming industry and Azure, with locations in 42 regions worldwide, would provide Playfab with world-class server infrastructure, allowing creators to focus on building great games with best-available global reach. PlayFab is a backend platform provider of services to build, launch and grow cloud-connected games. It has has served more than 70 million gamers and is currently powering more than 1,200 games with companies like Disney, Rovio and Atari.
The result has been the bold entry of Microsoft/Azure into the multibillion dollar GaaS market and for developers, faster innovation and increased monetization in their Live Operations.
I’ve written two graphic novels and produced three more.
My semi-autobiographical graphic novel - The Silence of Our Friends - became a New York Times-bestseller. Set in 1967 Texas, against the backdrop of the fight for civil rights, a white family (my family) from a notoriously racist neighborhood in the suburbs and a black family from its poorest ward cross Houston's color line, overcoming humiliation, degradation, and violence to win the freedom of five black college students unjustly charged with the murder of a policeman.
The New York Times said, "…Long convincingly depicts the systemic racism, blatant and subtle, that suffused and corroded everything during the period…and Powell's imagery amplifies the overwhelmed kid's-eye view of uneasy family dynamics and open Texas spaces."
In 2015, the award winning VFX studio Framestore contracted me to identify, develop, and negotiate an investment that would give them access to the Chinese film and VR markets.
Framestore combined highly immersive interactive experiences with Oscar-winning visuals. They were uniquely placed as the first and most awarded studio in the world with VR expertise, bringing Hollywood calibre visuals to immersive experiences.
China-based Cultural Investment Holdings (CIH) took a 75% share in the company in 2016, with Framestore's management team remaining on board and retaining a minority stake. The deal valued Framestore at $187 million.
I am a partner in dj2, a feature film, television and digital content production company specializing in video-game-to-TV/Motion-Picture adaptations.
Led by CEO Dmitri Johnson, dj2 excels at identifying, developing and producing entertainment for core and mass audiences, alike. Focusing on powerful stories about compelling characters in engaging, exciting worlds, dj2 has assembled a project slate spanning most genres and demographics that reflects dj2's global reach.
In addition, dj2's transmedia production expertise has been instrumental in maximizing multimedia franchise potential of original concepts and established brands.
The average person checks their phone over 150 times a day. We developed Uno to change that.
Uno was the first wearable to utilize Spritz speed-reading technology. Uno utilized Spritz reading compression technology that allowed a person to read up to 600 words a minute—three times faster than normal - with minimal effort. The technology was designed to be easy to learn, allowing users to pick up the technique within five minutes.
I founded Uno with Brad Bond and together we raised half a million in Series A and launched a successful crowd financing campaign. We managed all aspects of design, engineering, manufacturing, marketing, and sales, taking advantage of multiple outsourcing platforms like Red Clay, Upworks, and Zendesk.
Uno synced messages, alerts and notifications across platforms onto one convenient device for fast updates without having to access a smartphone. In addition to alerts and notifications, Uno was equipped with the world’s smallest accelerometer, making it dramatically more accurate than first-generation fitness trackers.
The Uno app allowed users to select which platforms they want to receive notifications from on their device. Users could choose to receive alerts from text messages, incoming phone calls, calendar reminders, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Google Fit, Apple Health and others. The Noteband vibrated when an alert is received, and then displayed the alert once the screen was touched.
In 2015, I teamed with transmedia producers DJ2 and Velvet Engine to develop an ambitious new project for Skymoons - the 4th largest Chinese mobile game and transmedia publisher.
Skymoons Journey of the Flower mobile game updated and synchronized with corresponding TV episode’s broadcasts on a weekly basis, generating over 200M RMB and exceeding a total of 3 billion online views, with each episode receiving over 200 million views, and sparking over 7 million discussions on Weibo. CEO, Tony Ho, decided to make transmedia marketing the central strategy of his company as a result.
DJ2 and Velvet Engine developed the IP and architected the franchise. I worked closely with Skymoons an ROI-driven approach that would measure the success of the various media’s customer acquisition success and optimize their performance through rapid, data-driven iterations. I fine tuned their media calendar, including promotions, special items, special events to maximize player lifetime value, engagement and retention.
My Own Swordsman launched in late 2015, along with the TV show of the same name. The game closely follows the storyline of the show and replicates key events and the characters in the same way Journey of the Flower did but with key metrics and user feedback on a realtime basis integrated to determine user trends and preferences.
In 1992, my colleague Joanna Alexander and I landed a $52M project to design and develop a home VR entertainment system for Hasbro while working at the Stanford Research Institute's Sarnoff Laboratory.
Chris Gentile - creator of the Mattel Power Glove - joined us as Hasbro simultaneously directed the R&D of two competing versions. Control-Vision (a VHS console originally known as Project NEMO) and our 64b 3D graphics system. “Scene of the Crime”, a prototype that later became “Night Trap”, was originally developed for the Control Vision.
In the end, neither version won out and the project was cancelled. But the pioneering project spawned several of the first companies to produce 3D graphic hardware and content, like 3dfx, FASA, Crystal Dynamics, and my own, Zombie Studios.
Movo was a wearable startup targeting millennials with a low cost fitness tracker. Movo automatically tracked activities like running and aerobic workouts and then displayed exercise summaries in the app which synced with iOS, Android and Windows devices.
I was brought on as interim CTO in 2014 to lead the design and engineering of the device and the development of the companion mobile app.
The young CEO was a millennial himself. He wanted a simpler and lower cost fitness tracker that could go for a week without charging, which proved to be a difficult goal. To solve for it, we synced without Bluetooth and developed a novel sampling and data compression approach.
The app was developed by Leviathan, a highly skilled mobile team I had worked with before. Together we created an app that went beyond tracking steps with a unique social focus that allowed users to challenge one another and post their fitness stories.
The app was built in Unity and Amazon PaaS cloud components for identity, storage, and analytics.
I’m currently writing a humorous satire of the game industry. KILLIONAIRES is a coming of age ensemble comedy that captures all the dick moves (and dick jokes) of the game industry, from eSports to E3.