There’s a lot that unconventional about Jason Kingsley.
For starters, its technically Sir Jason Kingsley — he’s a knight.
And not just the run-of-the-mill, honoured-by-the-Queen knight. Kingsley is a real knight.
He’s a keen jouster, breeds warhorses, and spends tens of thousands of pounds on custom suits of armour. “You’re talking about twenty, thirty grand for a suit of armour,” he says, “and that doesn’t really have much use except stopping you from dying when you joust.”
When Kingsley’s not on horseback, he’s running Rebellion, a company he cofounded with his brother Chris.
Launched in 1992, Rebellion is predominantly a video game company, though also has businesses in table top games, book publishing, and comic books (it owns 2000AD, which created the iconic Judge Dredd).
To this day, the Kinglsey brothers are the only shareholders in the company. It hasn’t taken outside investment, and — unusual in today’s startup world — doesn’t offer its 200+ employees any stock options.
Kinglsey told Business Insider in an interview at Rebellion’s Oxford headquarters that he doesn’t think equity is necessarily the best way to attract the best — and most loyal — talent.
“It’s a bit like fighting a war with proper soldiers or a bunch of mercenaries you hired. Mercenaries might fight well, they might not, you have no idea. But if people are very involved with the organisation, they like it, they enjoy what they do — we get a different kind of atmosphere. A better approach, in my experience, than with mere hirelings.”
Kingsley says he “prefer[s] to pay people a bigger salary and give them a job they’re happy with” than fob them off with stock options.
“We try to inspire people and inspire loyalty and hard work by different means other than just money.”
Of course, not issuing stock — combined with the lack of outside investors — also means that Jason and Chris (who works as CTO) can retain total control over the company and its future. Key titles include the ongoing Sniper Elite series, the aforementioned Judge Dredd, and an upcoming remake of the classic 1980 virtual reality arcade game, Battlezone.
So what’s it like working with your sibling? “Since I’ve never worked with anyone other than my brother, it’s hard for me to compare, but it’s worked for 24 years so far, and seems likely to keep on working,” Kingsley says.
“As far as conflict resolution between us goes, when we were a lot younger we did, on occasions, settle things by wrestling. That has definitely changed since we’ve grown up, now we mostly talk things through.”
Read Business Insider’s full interview with Jason Kinglsey, CEO of Rebellion, on Saturday, January 30.