Chris Akhavan oversees global business development, corporate development, and advertising revenue for Glu Mobile. He’s created and led long term partnerships with Disney, Major League Baseball, Apple, Google, Facebook, and many others during his time at Glu Mobile. In addition, he’s been key in driving successful acquisitions including PlayFirst, Crowdstar, and Pick6 Studios which drive the vast majority of Glu Mobile’s revenue today. Akhavan brings to Glu Mobile a strong background in mobile advertising which he leverages to lead the organization’s advertising revenue – a business he’s grown to over $50m/year since joining Glu Mobile.
Prior to Glu Mobile, he served as Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships for Tapjoy where he was a key early member of the team that built a leading mobile advertising and monetization platform. Akhavan was instrumental in building and scaling Tapjoy’s commercial operations globally. Before joining Tapjoy, Akhavan held positions at RockYou!, VideoEgg and Yahoo!, while also holding a B.A. degree in Economics from the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Akhavan joins the speaker lineup for Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital 2020 where he will be discussing with a panel why your publisher pitch is not working on investors.
Before the event takes place, we caught up with Akhavan to see what’s changed in the games industry since he joined, and what trends he expects to see over the next 12 months in the industry.
PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a bit about Glu Mobile
The pandemic has brought record high audiences as people turn to gaming while in various states of shelter in place
Chris Akhavan: Glu Mobile (NASDAQ: GLUU) is a leading developer and publisher of mobile games. Founded in 2001, Glu Mobile is headquartered in San Francisco with additional locations in Foster City, Toronto and Hyderabad. With a history spanning over a decade, Glu Mobile’s culture is rooted in taking smart risks and fostering creativity to deliver world-class interactive experiences for our players. Glu Mobile’s diverse portfolio features top-grossing and award-winning original and licensed IP titles including, Covet Fashion, Deer Hunter, Design Home, Diner DASH Adventures, Disney Sorcerer’s Arena, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and MLB Tap Sports Baseball available worldwide on various platforms including the App Store and Google Play.
What does your role entail?
The business development part of my role entails managing Glu Mobile's partnerships with platforms like Apple, Google, and Facebook as well as the organization’s IP partnerships with Disney and Major League Baseball. On the corporate development side, my role is to lead all of Glu Mobile's M&A efforts. I also oversee Glu Mobile's advertising revenue business.
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
I've been a hardcore gamer from an early age. A lot of my youth was spent on various consoles – Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, Sonic, and Metal Gear are some of my favorite franchises. I'm still a hardcore gamer, these days I spend most of my time playing competitive PC shooters like Valorant, Counter-Strike, and Fortnite. As a lifelong fan of games, it's always been an aspiration of mine to work in the industry.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?
I'd recommend spending a lot of time playing top games (beyond games you personally like) to become well-versed in what drives a successful game. I'd also recommend being willing to find your entry point in whatever capacity you can. My first job in gaming was a part-time QA role I was able to get while in college. That role gave me a chance to get exposed to various aspects of game development (as well as my first exposure to an infinite supply of energy drinks).
What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?
I'm looking forward to meeting new teams, and exploring potential partnership opportunities with them at Pocket Gamer Connects
The pandemic has brought record high audiences as people turn to gaming while in various states of shelter in place. I think over the next year we'll see the games industry work hard to offer people more meaningful ways to connect with each other through games since our “normal” ways of connecting have been greatly disrupted. This will lead to some really innovative new experiences showing up in games (the Travis Scott concert in Fortnite was a good example) which I’m really excited for.
How has the games industry changed since you first started?
I'll just speak to what's changed the most since I first joined Glu Mobile specifically. When I started in 2013, the company was cranking out new games all the time. The model back then was somewhat focused on launching new games, generating revenue from them for 9 or so months, and moving on to the next game. Fast forward to present day, and the business is dramatically different. We focus the vast majority of our resources on what we call our Growth Games; games that we believe we can grow over the course of multiple years. For us, that includes games like Design Home, Covet Fashion, and the MLB Tap Sports Baseball franchise. Along with that, many aspects of our business have evolved to support this long-term, LiveOps focused model.
Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?
A big part of my current role and focus is on M&A. That means getting out and meeting with game studios. While this used to happen in-person, my team and I have pivoted these meetings to video calls. It’s great to see conferences continue to optimize their approach to suit the current environment and facilitate those connections. I'm looking forward to meeting new teams, and exploring potential partnership opportunities with them at Pocket Gamer Connects.