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EGD News #53 — What Is Vulnerability

EGD News #53 — What Is Vulnerability
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Hi there,

This week I’ve kicked off my angel investing syndicate, the Joakim Syndicate. Currently, it’s not tied to the Gaming Angel Fellowship and it’s still invite-only. But the plan is to expand it to become a part of the Gaming Angel Fellowship, for members of GAF could apply to the syndicate.

More coming on GAF’s launch and the syndicate in the following weeks.

Here’s a few updates I want to share with you this week:

  • In December, I’m doing a live Masterclass on fundraising with the folks at PocketGamer. The enrollment is open for “How to raise funding for your game studio” and there’s an early bird discount of 50% for the next week. The live Masterclass will be held on December 2nd. Claim your seat here.
  • I recently recorded a podcast with Steve Young from App Masters. We talked about my experiences from small and big gaming studios, and how to grow as entrepreneurs. Listen to the episode here.
  • There’s a webinar happening on November 4th, where I’m talking to Kalle Kaivola from Lightheart Entertainment on how Kalle and his team launched their game Mr. Autofire and gradually scaled up user acquisition to break into the top-grossing charts. Register here.
  • This week I had a webinar with Elie Mouraud from PlaytestCloud. We talked about how you can learn more about your game by focusing on the player’s experience, from early on in the development, all the way to soft launching and live. Watch the recording from the webinar here.

On to this week’s news.

If you are enjoying this newsletter, feel free to spread it around. If you’re reading this and you aren’t a subscriber, you can sign up here.

🙉 What is vulnerability

If back in the day when I was starting Next Games, I would have said to the co-founders, “Hey, Compass Point: West will take too much time to develop. We need to kill this game and start all over again with a smaller game to soft launch more quickly.”

I would not have dared to say that. We were on a path to build that game and launch it, no matter what. I’ve been thinking about that mindset. Was there a promise, or was there an idea with the game that attracted the other co-founders? And would the co-founders have left?

Today I can see that it would have been a courageous move from me to decide that we’d kill the game. But it’s more than courage to bring hard things to the table. It’s about being vulnerable.

What is vulnerability? It’s about being open to exploring all avenues and assumptions. It takes practice, and there’s no turn-key solution show constant vulnerability.

Why does vulnerability matter? I believe it allows people to work better in groups. People don’t hide anything. They feel ownership and know what needs to be taken care of.

I’ve recently noticed that the best form of vulnerability practice is to write on Twitter. I can write a Tweet about something and just put it out there. First, it hurt a lot to post my thoughts in a sentence or two. I wasn’t playing by the rules. Who was I to talk about all these topics of well-being and culture in gaming?

I’ve noticed that I get lots of DMs from people who think alike or have strong opinions on the topics that I’ve raised. Sometimes there come in forms of Twitter replies to the tweets.

I’m still practicing and trying to get better at vulnerability. I guess there is still so much bottled up and blocking me from reaching my full potential. But I’ll continue doing those Tweets.

Now I’m also posting more on Linkedin, not only my articles but these thoughts of a few sentences. That’s yet another group of people I can practice my vulnerability on. To open up more.

When Steve Jobs was twelve years old, he cold-called Hewlett-Packard founder Bill Hewlett. Steve wanted to get some leftover electronic parts to build a frequency counter. To Steve’s surprise, Hewlett picked up the phone.

At first, Hewlett was amused and chuckled. No doubt struck by Steve’s precocious nature, his amusement soon turned to interest. A few minutes later, he offered Jobs an internship. And the rest is history.

“Most people never pick up the phone and ask and that’s what separates the people who do things, and the people who just dream about them. You gotta act. You gotta be willing to fail. You gotta be willing to crash and burn. If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.” — Steve Jobs

Here’s Steve in his own words.

🤖 Discord CEO on Company Building

Jason Citron, the co-founder and CEO of Discord was recently on the Invest Like The Best podcast. The interview question on company building came up, and the answer from Jason was so great that I wanted to share it with the EGD community.

Here’s some background. Jason had been the founder of Open Faint, an innovative multiplayer platform for mobile games in the early days of the iPhone. He’d sold the company but had felt that he’d made several mistakes with the company that he wanted to correct with Discord.


“What are the big principles that you have for company building specifically at Discord?”


“It’s hard to fix culture when you haven’t been intentional about it. [When we started Discord,] we wanted to be intentional about the environment we’d create. Because if not intentional, it’s just going to be by accident.”

“I wanted to go a little bit slower this time with building [Discord] and be more deliberate about it. A lot of this intentionality resulted in our initial values.”

Things get more challenging with more people.

“As you add more people, everything gets harder because you have to communicate more.”

“We have this sort of company building value that I called Small and mighty teams, which is that you can get a lot of stuff done with smart people who make high-quality decisions. And those compounds.”

Creating an environment

“I wanted to create an environment where people came because they were in love with the change we were trying to create in the world. Early on, we instituted this concept of what I call mission fit when looking to hire people.”

“When people care about the purpose of your mission, they naturally care more about everything: they work a little bit harder, they pay attention to the details, they don’t let the garbage on the floor sit, if no one picks it up, they’ll go get it because they want to make sure that everything is great.”

Intrinsic motivation

“Creating an environment that fosters intrinsic motivation. I really wanted people to feel motivated, and purpose is part of it.”

“[Intrinsic motivation] boils down to autonomy, mastery, and purpose, which is the mission. I added compassion to it because it’s important that we acknowledge that we’re all humans. I wanted to create an environment where people felt relatively autonomous. They were treated like adults, they could learn, grow and be challenged. They cared about what we’re building, and felt supported by the people around them.”

Taking a long term view.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Building enduring companies and creating change in the world is a result of compounding value over time, which takes time. Having a ten or twenty-year view on what we’re doing allows us to make decisions that can result in incredible yields in the future. That may not necessarily seem the best in the short-term, but it causes you to do things like invest in management training.”

“We spent a tremendous amount of time on training, learning, and development. Investing in your people, while in a month you may not have great returns, but in a few years to have incredible returns.”

“[Summarizing] the Small and Mighty Teams, how do you get more done: You either make your existing people more productive, by giving them better tools, or you make them smarter. Those are two big things that we do. “

Listen to the full podcast episode here.

💵 $100m in funding but still in pre-launch

Loads of articles have recently been written about how Quibi, the next big TV streaming platform, had failed after raising hundreds of millions from investors.

All the cash was raised early on when there was only a team and a pitch. I posted this on Twitter about the topic:

“Couple reasons why a pre-launch company could and should raise $100m in funding. A) Management has gone big before: it’s their operating default B) They have one big shot on goal, one cannonball, but they like it that way”.

Why these hundred-million-dollar funding rounds need to happen:

Founders are unique people. These people can take those millions and put them into impactful use: hiring and growing fast. You’ve done it before, and it’s how you a familiar with operating by default.

There’s a huge market opportunity. You got to act quickly. Without hundreds of millions in funding, you’d be left behind the competition.

It’s a world-changing plan. SpaceX and Tesla required immense amounts of upfront capital. Neither company could have been built without hundreds of millions in pre-launch.

I think there still are many downsides compared to more traditional post-Product-Market fit funding where you have some metrics that indicate success.

You only get one shot. With the significant funding, you usually only get one shot on goal. You staff up to tens or hundreds of employees, and all could come crumbling down if the product launch fails.

You might end up raising from non-VCs (media companies, telcos, wealthy individuals, etc.). Since they lack the domain expertise of VCs, on follow-on rounds, avoiding FOMO, assisting the entrepreneurs in milestones, etc. it more resembles a lottery ticket versus a venture capital approach. In the worse case, things could go like with Theranos, where none of the investors did their due diligence.

You skip the bootstrapping and jamming phase, before funding. Loads of companies first figure out the right approach to tackle the market need with their own money, and they don’t ask for investors to give them cash before they have results. With the hundred-million-dollar raise, you often see companies skip the “jamming on the problem” part.

📄 Convertible Note For Gaming Companies

I’ve been waiting to publish this for a while. Here’s our Convertible Note template and all the needed information on how you can start applying it as a founder or an investor in gaming.

“The note is a “bridge” financing instrument, which awaits a priced round to happen at a later stage. When the priced round happens, the company goes and raises around, and then there’s a need to do all the proper paperwork, with a new shareholder’s agreement, a board of directors might be created, new share classes get created, etc.”

Read the full article here.

🎙 Jason Chapman, Konvoy Ventures

I recently had a chat with Jason Chapman from Konvoy Ventures. We talked about investing in games and then we spent time on talking about “Where will the next billion gamers come from.”

Full episode and transcript is available here.

📃 Articles Worth Reading

How Genshin Impact is Changing F2P as we know It — “Genshin Impact has developed a fairly smooth means of switching Heroes. Players can bring 4 Heroes at a time, and can switch between them by tapping them. This allows Genshin Impact to require Players to optimize more than one Hero. Combined with challenges based on Element, and suddenly Players will need to manage and upgrade enough Heroes to support a couple different party compositions.”

VCs should play bridge — ”Poker is a game where you’re given an incomplete set of information and you have to fill in gaps based on what you see, what you don’t, and what you think other people are thinking. Poker is a game of interpreting signals, and so is VC. But the thinking and betting and bluffing in poker is all adversarial. It’s not a game of mutual shared interest.”

The Observer Effect with Daniel Ek — “In the early days of the startup, when everyone sat next to each other and had all the context, when everyone could talk to everyone about any idea, the ideas were flowing. How do you get that vibe and retain it when you’re a large company? I think you need to create a space where ideas can flourish and risks can be taken – where serendipity can take place. You have to remove all the barriers to this.”

💬 Quote I’m Thinking About

“Simplicity is the end result of long, hard work; not the starting point.” — Frederick Maitland


Sponsored by ironSource

We all know that developing a great game is one thing, but developing a great game business can be something else entirely. That’s why some of the top game developers in the industry use ironSource’s game growth platform, which takes care of both sides of the business, helping you monetize to fuel user acquisition, and vice versa.

From their ROAS Optimizer, the only product on the market built to optimize UA campaigns towards ROAS according to both IAP and ad revenue data, to LevelPlay, their in-app bidding solution, they offer everything you need to supercharge your growth. See for yourself at ironsrc.com

Sponsored by Opera Event

​Looking for some great new authentic video creative? Try something totally new with Influencer Generated Content (IGC) by Opera Event. Influencers or actors will make specific creative content for your games and Opera Event will deliver you high-quality video ads that highlight the best parts of your game.

Note! You get a free video with the purchase of 4 or more videos. Remember to say that Elite Game Developers sent you!

Go to www.getigc.com to see some examples and get more information.

Strategy Course for Entrepreneurs

My friend and business coach Laurent Notin, who was on the podcast last year, is offering a discount for new students when they enroll in his Strategy course. Check out Laurent’s course here, and if you sign up, you can use the code EGD to get a 10% discount. I highly recommend Laurent, he’s made my work much more balanced and effective!

That’s all for this week. Take care and stay safe!


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