Interview

Kongregate CEO Emily Greer on a career in games: "I've found a tremendous amount of kindness, openness and fun"

Kongregate CEO Emily Greer on a career in games: "I've found a tremendous amount of kindness, openness and fun"

Today is International Women's Day and to mark the occasion we'll be highlighting some of the incredible women working in the games industry across both PocketGamer.biz and PCGamesInsider.biz. You can catch all the profiles on PocketGamer.biz here.

Here Kongregate CEO Emily Greer tells us about the early days of founding the company and what it takes to be a good CEO.

PocketGamer.biz: When did you first decide you want to start your own company and how did you go about it?

Emily Greer: My brother had the idea for Kongregate.com while he was working as technical director for EA’s Pogo.com, and he ran it by me. I told him it was a good idea, and I’d told him a bunch of other start-up ideas were not good in the past.

He quit his job a few hours later and I started helping him with his business plan. After a few weeks I realised it was way more fun than what I was doing, which was working as the director of marketing and ecommerce for a catalogue company, and I volunteered to be his co-founder.

I hadn’t worked in games but I figured as a practical business person who had built websites before I could be helpful, and I was right.

I didn’t really expect it to be successful, but I thought it would be a tremendous learning experience. I budgeted a year without salary and figured I’d go back to what I was doing before if things went badly.

But 12 years later here I am.

What was one of the biggest lessons you learned early on about starting up and running your own company?

That it’s crucial to make decisions quickly and move on to the next thing. Better to make mistakes than to spend a lot of time waffling.

Kongregate has published mobile games such as AdVenture Capitalist

Time is one of the most precious things you have in business and in a larger, established company it’s easy to lose sight of that. When you have a start-up and a clock on you before you run out of money it really clarifies things.

What do you think makes a good CEO and what part of your role do you find most fulfilling?

Probably resilience and the ability to communicate and connect with a lot of different people.

We’ve struggled initially on lots of things we’ve eventually succeeded at, and of course games are a hit-driven business with a lot of ups and downs. And we work with a huge spectrum of people between the platform and the publishing side, from indie devs making their first games to big companies.

Be prepared for a rollercoaster. It’s a hard industry, probably getting harder, and building anything new is a challenge.
Emily Greer

The thing I most enjoy is when we take a small team that’s just getting started, or struggling, and make their game a broad success.

My favourite stories are always when someone quits their day job, or is able to buy a house after getting a cheque from us.

What advice do you have for others thinking of getting into the games industry and/or starting their own company?

Be prepared for a rollercoaster. It’s a hard industry, probably getting harder, and building anything new is a challenge.

But I’ve also found it rewarding beyond my expectations. And while people often complain about the industry, with valid reasons, I’ve also found a tremendous amount of kindness, openness and fun.

Is there anyone in the games industry (or anyone else in general) who inspires you?

I have a lot of respect for the Supercell team and how they’ve handled their success. They’ve kept their focus and long-term mindset, and behaved with integrity on a range of matters.

I think that’s harder, not easier, when you’re making billions in revenue. So kudos to them.

You can read more profiles of some of the incredible women working in the games industry right here.

Senior Editor

Craig Chapple is Senior Editor of PocketGamer.biz and InfluencerUpdate.biz. He was previously Deputy Editor at Develop and Online Editor at Nintendo of Europe.

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