Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame: Maria Alegre and Sean Fannan

Hall of Fame: Maria Alegre and Sean Fannan

Chartboost is a technology platform that helps mobile game developers find new users and monetise their games.

Founded by CEO Maria Alegre and CTO Sean Fannan in 2011, the company has raised $21 million in investment and its technology is used in over 60,000 mobile games reaching 300 million monthly unique users

Previously, both Alegre and Fannan had worked at Tap Tap Revenge developer Tapulous, which was acquired by Disney in September 2010.

Chartboost CEO Maria Alegre

Pocket Gamer: What was your favourite game as a kid?

Maria Alegre: Streets of Rage that I played in the Mega Drive with my brother. My favorite level: the elevator.

When did you realise you wanted to make games as a career?

My first job in gaming was at Tapulous, where I realized games could be a business.

However, it wasn't until we started Chartboost and started working with thousands of developers that I became fully aware of the possibilities of mobile gaming and of how innovative and creative all the gaming entrepreneurs we were working with were.

Gaming is the perfect industry to get started as an entrepreneur, to test and learn about building a business, and combines creativity and brains in a way that I find profoundly inspiring.

What was your first role in the industry? How did that turn out?

In 2008, I moved to Silicon Valley without a job. I wanted to be at the epicenter of tech innovation but wasn't quite sure how to get started.

The only constant is change.
Maria Alegre

Once here, I reconnected with someone I had worked with at McKinsey, Andrew Lacy, and convinced him to let me work at his startup, Tapulous.

He hired me as Apprentice Entrepreneur. I will always be thankful for the invaluable experience I gained at Tapulous, under the leadership of both Andrew and his co-founder Bart Decrem. They were great mentors and leaders and I'm thankful they took a chance on me.

What do you consider your first significant success?

Cutting our first Chartboost check to Fluik Games and Kiloo Games. For me, this signified that we built a business product that was addressing a major point for game developers - making money.

We were solving a big problem in a different way than everyone. Paying developers money made it real and felt amazing.

When did the potential for mobile games become apparent to you?

I remember three specific moments:

  • One was four years ago at Tapulous, when we were making $1 million a month in revenue.
  • The second was when Lady Gaga decided to partner with us as a tiny mobile gaming company in 2010.
  • The third and most recent, was when my mom started leaving me voice messages to remind me to send her Candy Crush lives :)

What do you think is the most significant event in mobile gaming to-date?

Apple launching the App Store and giving every developer in the world the power to self-publish.

To-date, what are you most proud of? Any regrets?

I'm proud of the team we've built at Chartboost and happy when game developers come to talk to me about how much they love working with our awesome Chartboosters.

The clean UX that has made Chartboost ads so successful

As for regrets: someone I admire taught me that the worst regret is the regret of not having tried. Since then, this philosophy pushes me at every crossroads to "go for it" and never leave room for that kind of regret.

Which mobile games have you most enjoyed recently and why?

I've just gotten started on a game that was recently launched by one of our Chartboost University alums, Big Ball Studio, called Wreckman: Rise of a Hero.

It's just so cool to see how Chartboost University influenced the launch of their game - we interviewed them here.

What are your predictions for the new big development in mobile games?

The only constant is change.

In which area of the industry do you hope to make a difference in future?

The business behind games: Chartboost wants to be the best revenue platform that empowers game developers around the world to reach their full potential.

Chartboost CTO Sean Fannan

Pocket Gamer: What were your favourite games as a kid?

Sean Fannan: My favorite game when I first got into computers on our Apple IIe was Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego? Loved that game.

In high school our family got a gaming PC which propelled my love for strategy games. I was playing a lot of Warcraft, Starcraft, Warcraft 2 and loads of LAN parties.

When did you realise you wanted to make games as a career?

I was doing lots of web development when the Facebook platform launched - it was so incredibly easy to make an app for this new platform. I then started making web games and loved it.

What was your first role in the industry? How did that turn out?

I built a replica of the original Nokia Snake game for the Facebook platform.

It started out as a simple weekend project but it got traction and I became obsessed with making it better and better. I think this experience was the best thing that happened to me (at the time) because it taught me so much about what you need to build and sustain a successful game.

What do you consider your first significant success?

I got the chance to be part of the early team at Tapulous, who were App Store pioneers (2008!).

When did the potential for mobile games become apparent to you?

Right after I joined Tapulous (this was actually before the App Store officially launched). There was an incredible community of jailbroken apps and games, and the barrier to actually get into this community was fairly high - not easy.

I'm most proud of the company we've created at Chartboost.
Sean Fannan

It was clear that once this opened up, the opportunity and potential of mobile games was going to be huge.

What do you think is the most significant event in mobile gaming to-date?

Apple creating a native developer program for the iPhone. This completely opened the flood gates for mobile gaming.

To-date, what are you most proud of? Any regrets?

I'm most proud of the company we've created at Chartboost. It's been an awesome ride.

Which mobile games have you most enjoyed recently and why?

I'm addicted to 2048.

In general I'm into puzzle games but I really like this game because it's a very casual game - lots of strategy and you can decide for yourself how much you want to concentrate. This is the perfect balance of fun and skill for a casual mobile game.

What are your predictions for the new big development in mobile games?

Quality and depth. We're going to continue to see games setting a high bar for quality, but we're also going to see games with longer story lines and lengthier plot lines.

Companies ranging from small indies to King and Supercell use Chartboost

We're going to see more mainstream folks become longer term gamers, and gaming will be reinvented once again.

In which area of the industry do you hope to make a difference in future?

Mobile gaming is a fresh industry that's still in its infancy, which means there are a lot of different directions it can go.

I hope to play a pivotal role in carving that direction to help drive it into a bigger and more mature ecosystem.

Starting out in simple monochrome in the days of Snake and WAP, the past decade has seen the mobile games industry kaleidoscope into a glorious, multi-billion dollar sector that's driving global innovation.

So it's high time we celebrate some of the people who helped make that journey possible - something PocketGamer.biz is doing in its regular Mobile Gaming Hall of Fame feature.

You can read our previous Hall of Fame articles here.

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Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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