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Now that it's cornered casual gaming, will the company be going public?
He spoke about his experiences starting Big Fish, including why he didn't take money at first, as well as what qualities he had to possess to make the company succeed.
He also spoke about the future of Big Fish Games, and what he believes will be coming up in the gaming space.
By any measure, Big Fish Games has been a success. The Seattle-based company posted $220 million in bookings last year. up 20% from 2011. The company has four million PC users, and six million mobile users, and is the biggest company in casual gaming, with 90% published on Big Fish Games.
So where does Big Fish go from here?
With casual gaming seemingly in the bag, the company is getting ready to tackle social and mobilng gaming as well.
"Casual games, as we defined it, wasn't growing anymore. That this new thing called social has caught on about three years earlier. That really impacted out growth. For mobile, our big blindspot was the iPad. And mobile games on your phones. And it turns out that that's a very casual outlet."
To compete in these new outlets, the company was forced to figure out what it was really good at, and how it could use its larger userbase to capitalize on these growing segments of the gaming space.
Apparently, the company has figured it out, as it has had a top five grossing mobile game month over month the last few months. And it has five games that are in contention to be among the top 100 grossing mobile games in the world/
"We have pivoted and now our revenue, in the last 18 months, has gone mobile," he said. "We were able to take our assets, understand what we were really good at and say, 'we're not a single gross company.'
So, with all of this growth, is an IPO in the company's future?
Thelen was a little cagey about the answer to that one, noting that the company had aspirations to go public, but the world changed after Zynga tanked.
"I do not want to be Mark Pincus right now," he said.
Thelen also noted that the company, which is cash-flow positive, is not looking to raise any more money.
Still he did not close the door on a potential IPO completely, saying that there "a lot of decisions that have to be made."
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Founded in 2002, Big Fish is the leading online marketplace for premium casual games. Through its proprietary, data driven platform, millions of consumers seeking immersive, relaxing entertainment easily discover and purchase premium casual games created by Big Fish’s network of more than 500 development partners and in-house by Big Fish Games Studios. Renowned for offering A New Game Every Day!® on www.bigfishgames.com, the company offers thousands of games on multiple platforms -- PC, Mac, mobile phone, and tablet. Big Fish’s websites, games, and customer service are available in ten languages – Danish, Dutch, English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish – and its games are sold in more than 150 countries. The company is headquartered in Seattle, WA, with regional offices in Oakland, CA; Vancouver, Canada; Cork, Ireland; and Luxembourg.
Joined Vator onFounder, Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of Big Fish Games. He has an MBA from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington.