Michael Acton Smith, the CEO and founder of gaming company Mind Candy, addressed the company’s difficult last 18 months on Tuesday at TechCrunch Disrupt London.
Mind Candy is the UK-based company behind Moshi Monsters, an online game started 10 years ago that was played by tens of millions of kids during its peak.
“Moshi Monsters captured the imaginations of children and launched at a time when the consumer web was just taking off,” Acton Smith said.
The digital monsters also inspired a wide range of merchandise, including everything from soap to albums featuring characters from the game. But over the last few years, growth at Mind Candy has taken a hit.
“It’s been a tough time in the last couple of years,” Acton Smith said. The executive confirmed that the company’s 2013 revenue was down on the previous year’s figure. “Revenues are not good, it’s a drop,” Acton Smith said.
It’s been an adjustment for Acton Smith, who for years presided over one of London’s best-known startups. At its peak, Mind Candy employed over 200 people. Now, the company’s headcount sits at just over 100.
“It’s been pretty scary,” Acton Smith said. “There have been lots of sleepless nights. There’s lots of responsibility. There are crushing lows and soaring highs. But it’s exciting and terrifying, the best job in the world.”
TechCrunch’s Editor-At-Large Mike Butcher asked Acton Smith whether he considered selling Mind Candy during its peak. “We could have done [that],” he said, “sometimes I wake up at 4 a.m. and think about waking up on an island with a fleet of yachts and a cocktail. But that would be pretty boring.”
Butcher also challenged Acton Smith on Mind Candy’s struggle to bring Moshi Monsters to mobile. The company launched a range of apps, but none have taken off. “The mobile games haven’t taken off successfully,” Acton Smith said, despite the large number of employees that had been working on them.
The future for Mind Candy is moving to a new game: World of Warriors. Acton Smith describes it as a “PG version of Game of Thrones.” He hopes that it will appeal to the whole family, including adults.
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