Posted tagged ‘business’

$1,7 billion invested into Online Games and Related Entertainment in years 2007-2008

November 17, 2008

Note: This is Part 1 of a two part post. Part 2 with detailed analysis is also available. Cross-posted also at T=Machine.

Roughly a month ago I published a list of $350 million invested in year 2008 into virtual worlds, casual MMOs, and casual & social games. The blog post got a lot of coverage when it was published and Adam Martin of T=Machine contributed to the discussion and posted his own list which had a lot of European deals. We decided that the right thing to do would be to put those lists together. I also continued to search for further data and uncovered more deals from e.g. Avista Partners’ monthly video game briefing. I wanted to also see what the total “game-like” segment looked like, so I expanded my criteria to include core gaming MMORPGs, relevant technology providers and ecosystem players (e.g. payment processors). When I had all the data in and summed it up, I was totally and utterly amazed at the massive scale of investments.

Investments total $1,7 billion in years 2007-2008

The Online games and Related Entertainment segment has amassed a truly astounding $1,7 billion of VC investments in years 2007-2008. Of this staggering figure $625 million was invested into the “Virtual Worlds, Casual MMO, Social games and Casual games” sector, $712 million was invested into core gaming MMORPG sector and a further $326 million into related companies (e.g. technology and payment providers).

The diagram below shows the distribution of investments over the years 2007-2008 and the three sectors:


The $712 million invested into MMORPG developers/publishers reflects the high cost to play in this space. The cost of the development of a Triple A core gaming MMORPG starts at $50 million, but can easily skyrocket. The reason these high risk investments continue to be made are the 11 million subscribers of World of Warcraft. WoW’s revenues in year 2007 were $1100 million of which $517 million was pure profit. The lackluster success of recent entrants such as Age of Conan and Warhammer Online underlines how risky taking on WoW is, but despite this the lure of WoW-scale profits will definitely continue to draw entrants.

The biggest deals of venture funding in MMORPG sector were:

The biggest deals of venture funding in the Virtual Worlds, Casual MMO, Social and Casual games sector were:

Detailed analysis of this sector is available in Part 2 of this post.

Finally, the biggest VC fundings in the Other related sector were:

The data

The data on VC investments has been collected from publicly available sources including but not limited to

The data was gathered by Jussi Laakkonen and Adam Martin. The data is most accurate for year 2008. Year 2006 and earlier years have been only covered sporadically and typically only for companies that have received follow-up funding in years 2007-2008. The data is provided AS IS and the authors make no warranties or guarantees about its accuracy.

Download the spreadsheet:

Note: a spreadsheet with categorizations is available in Part 2.

cc-by-nc The data is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial license.

The analysis – tomorrow

A deeper analysis of the VC activity in this segment is available in Part 2 of this blog post. My analysis focuses on the Virtual Worlds, Casual MMO, Social and Casual games sector, as this is the sector in which my company Everyplay operates. Topics covered on Part 2 include:

  • Monthly investment rates (peak months, current activity)
  • Most active VCs uncovered
  • Analysis on investments on company categories, deals stages and deal sizes
  • Updated data spreadsheet with company categorizations (subjectively assigned)

Customer development or why 9/10 startups fail

November 13, 2008

/disapprove by striatic at Flickr

/disapprove by striatic at Flickr (CC)

Why do startups fail? Is it for the ambitious technology that simply couldn’t be built? Is it for the lack of capital? Or is it because nobody wanted to buy what the company was offering?

According to Steve Blank, a lecturer at Stanford and a serial entrepreneur, 9 out of 10 startups fail from the lack of customers. Put more simply, nobody wanted to buy what they were making. Or as Marc Andresseen puts it, the companies never got to product/market fit. The difference between a successful startup and a failed startup is that the successful ones get out of the office and talk to the customers, study them, the market, competitors and by doing so validate everyone of their guesses (product, customer, market, channel, pricing, competition, positioning and so on) until they know exactly what they are offering and how to turn it into a successful business.

Isn’t this common sense? Isn’t absolutely vital that the top management of the startup intuitively understands what the customers are willing to pay for?

So why don’t we all have a process for developing all that customer insight? Why don’t we all have that process running next to the product development process? I don’t know why, but luckily Steve Blank is helping us to correct this fatal mistake. He offers the Customer Development Process, an iterative process running side by side with the product development process.

customer-development-overviewFrom Steve Blank’s Customer Development presentation at Slideshare.

I found about Steve’s work thru Eric Ries (he is the former CTO of IMVU). I’ve been an avid follower of his blog Startup Lessons Learned. IMVU was one of the first companies to implement the Customer Development Process and you can say they did it with great success as IMVU now claims over 20 million registered users and over a million dollars sold each month in virtual goods trade. Eric has also been contributing to the development of Steve’s process, and his diagram shown below nicely highlights the symbiotic relationship of these two vital processes:


From Eric Ries’ Customer Development Engineering presentation at Slideshare

I really like Eric’s diagram because he calls it like it is: in a startup, the problem we are trying to solve is unknown (we have a visions, which by definition are imaginary or even hallucinatory) and our solution is as well unknown. Until we have customers on a mass scale paying us with honest-to-god money, we simply do not know what those customers really want. Best confront this truth and do something about it. That is what Customer Development is really about.

I’m halfway thru Steve’s self-published book The Four Steps to the Epiphany, which is an excellent book if you give it the time and love it deserves. It is also a book sorely in need of a good publisher (it deserves to be re-published) and a great editor to turn it from a raw diamond into the jewel it really is. Personally the book and the Customer Development Process is a godsent as it directly applicable to the situation I and my company are at this very moment (early stage venture). I’m working thru the book, doing the exercises, applying the learnings and I feel confident that our business will be a lot better for it.

Eric Ries does a great job of distilling the essence of the book in his blog post What is customer development? Here’s a quick summary from Eric, slightly tweaked by me:

  1. Get out of the building. Very few startups fail for lack of technology. They almost always fail for lack of customers.
  2. Theory of market types. Existing market, re-segmented market, new market: a theory that helps explain why different startups face wildly different challenges and time horizons.
  3. Finding a market for the product as specified. Find the minimum feature set required to get early customers.
  4. Phases of product & company growth. The book takes its name from Steve’s theory of the four stages of growth any startup goes through: Customer Discovery, Customer Validation, Customer Creation and Scale the Company
  5. Learning and iterating vs. linear execution. Applying iterative & agile practices to the whole business, not just product development


The next step after Eric’s blog is to grab a hot cup of a coffee and sit down to watch Steve’s presentation at Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship course.

As an entrepreneur finding something this profound and useful exactly at the time you need it is absolute, pure gold. I’m putting what I’m learning from this to practice and I strongly believe our startup will be a lot more successful if we are able to apply the customer development process. If you are running a startup or bringing products to market, you owe it to yourself and your company to give this some serious thought.

Further resources

Learn more (many of items listed are from SKMurphy’s blog):

If you find further resources for Customer Development, please let everybody know at the comments.

Games at the Parliament

October 15, 2008

Neogames, The Association of Finnish Game Developers and FIGMA hosted an overview event on the Finnish games industry for the Members of the Parliament today. I had the privilege to participate, to talk about the origins of the Finnish game industry and the challenges it faces and naturally demo FlatOut to members of the parliament.

Riku Olkkonen from FIGMA and KooPee Hiltunen from Neogames gave an introduction of the industry:

  • In the year 2007 the Finnish game studios’ revenues totaled roughly 80 M€ and a total of 60 studios employed roughly 1000 persons in Finland and a further 300 abroad
  • In the year 2007 approximately 2,4 million game products were sold in Finland, which is the same figures as the number of people who went to movie theaters to watch movies
  • Only 4% of games sold were classified as for people at least 18 years old, while games rated for ages 3+ up amounted to over half of all games. Finland uses the pan-European PEGI ratings system.
  • Lack of education was highlighted as the key issue slowing the industry’s growth in Finland. Roughly 20-40 people graduate every year while the industry would employ around 150 people every year

There were a number of questions from the members of parliament including how piracy affects the industry (lots on PC, not really on consoles) and if the broadcasters/media houses interest in delivering content over multiple devices for one license fee affects games like it does movies or music (it doesn’t as games are tied to the hardware they run on).

Naturally, we had the time to also play! We had the Finnish-made FlatOut Ultimate Carnage from Bugbear, Golf: Tee It Up! from Housemarque and Reset Generations from Red Lynx on display as well as Wii Fit, Guitar Hero 3 and Grand Theft Auto 4. Member of parliament Eero Lehti made a very happy camper after he told me that he owns and plays FlatOut Ultimate Carnage. YEAH!

Wii Fit proved easily to be the most popular game at the event, with almost everybody wanting to try it. Pertti ‘Veltto’ Virtanen who had previously coached ski jumpers found himself very much at home playing Wii Fit’s ski jump as you can see below.

Guitar Hero 3 was also very popular. In addition to the members of parliament playing, I also challenged Housemarque’s Ilari Kuittinen to a couple fun matches (it was very close, so we need a re-match!). Rock’n’roll is very much alive even at the house of parliament ;-).

Overall it was a great opportunity for the industry to share information with key decisions makers in a fun and engaging way. Props to Riku Olkkonen and Koopee Hiltunen for organizing the event!

WOW epic mounts vs. Friends for sale

October 12, 2008

The game industry used to be packaged goods industry. We spent anything between six months to several years in product development mode trying to guess what the customers would want to buy, what we could do better than our competitors do, building technology, tools and content. When all was done, the ready game was shipped to the manufacturing plant and out would pour truckloads of shrink wrapped boxes ready to be hoisted on the shelves of GameStop, EBGames or at Amazon’s virtual shelfs.

For all its technological and media breakthrus, the games industry in the 1990s was following a business model borrowed from cereal manufacturers. We even didn’t have the long tail of movies , which have first box office sales, then pay-per-view TV, then premium channels, hotel channels, DVD sales, network TV, soundtracks… Well, you get the picture. All we had was a a couple of months to get the game sold at brick’n’mortar stores, and if we were lucky, the store would restock our title. The luckiest titles could see a release as a Bestseller title a year or two later at a discounted price.

Not terribly exciting is it.

Luckily broadband entered into the picture in late 1990s, and became prevalent in the early 2000s. Games could be delivered electronically as downloads, but a lot more importantly, games could be online services. MMOs like Lineage, Everquest and finally World of Warcraft (11 million users at last count) came to the market and attracted millions. Virtual worlds like Habbo Hotel (108 million registered, 9,5 million monthly users), casual MMOs like Maple Story and social playing sites like Stardoll (20 million registered users) appealed to audiences outside of the traditional gamer market.

But there’s no hiding the trouble.

PC single player market is dying

Max Payne, multi-million seller in early 2000s. Best known as a PC game, but sold vastly more on PS2.

Max Payne, multi-million seller in 2001 & 2003. Best known as a PC game, but already five years ago sold vastly more on consoles, especially on PS2.

As a mainstream market the PC single player market is dying. The main culprits are rampant piracy and the success of video game consoles. The situation is so bad, that releasing a PC version simultaneously to a console version of a game, you are pretty much guaranteed to loose out on a lot of sales. The PC version will be pirated typically before the game is available at retail, and many console gamers will get the pirated PC version and forgo buying the console version. We can argue the reasons, but the proof is indisputable. Game publishers are increasingly postponing the PC versions or cutting them completely, even if the added cost of developing a PC version can be relatively low.

You can still succeed with PC single player titles targeted at niche audiences (e.g. hard core strategy games). Downloadable PC casual games (see e.g. Big Fish Games) are doing quite well and The Sims are also doing quite well. The reason is simple: their demographic is less likely to pirate the game and increasingly these titles use some kind of online persistence to add fun to the game and prevent piracy.

PC online market is thriving

The solution to this PC problem is clearly evident. All PC titles need some type of online persistence and preferably online multiplayer support. It doesn’t have to be a full fledged MMO. You can start with relatively simple things like

  • Leaderboards, cups, challenges
  • Shared content
  • Shared actions (something I do has some effect on your gameplay)

Full-on, persistent world, massively multiplayer environments naturally are most resistant to piracy as well provide highly compelling reasons to play. WoW having 11 million great reasons (=users) going for it.

Core vs. social & casual markets

The core gaming market (PC single player, MMO, console games) is huge market. Its revenues from the vast majority of the $37 billion global games software sales (year 2007). This market is predicted to grow steadily at around 10% compounded average growth rate. The revenues are huge, but the audience size isn’t nearly as impressive when compared to what the social and casual gaming segments have been able to attract is just a few years.

Casual games, to which I include also casual console games like Guitar Hero, Singstar, Wii Sports, Brain Training and the like, sell in overall in the billions of dollars, and are the industry’s primary growth driver. It’s been two years since the launch of Nintendo Wii, and it still selling out. Guitar Hero launched a huge music game segment, that almost single handedly raised Activision as the world’s second largest games publisher (after merging with Vivendi’s game unit, the combined Activision-Blizzard is now neck and neck with Electronic Arts). These titles have expanded the definition of games, made the much more socially acceptable, and attracted millions after millions of new players. They’ve converted diehard opponents of digital games into fun-loving players. I can overstate how amazing this has been.

At the same time social games on social networks like Facebook and MySpace are the second largest category after “just for fun” apps like Funwall and Superpoke. These simple, addictive and often outrageously viral games attract at best over million monthly average users. The monetization has been primarily advertisement based, but new Cost Per Action (CPA) methods (Offerpal, Super rewards) as well as the sales of virtual goods are starting to make a difference. It has been claimed that Mob Wars is the best monetizing game application on Facebook and allegedly makes over $20 000 a day, which would mean well over a one million US dollars in yearly revenues.

I’ve tried to summarize my thinking about the core, casual and social markets in the diagram below as well as make some predictions on where the market is headed.

Please note that the diagram is a generalization and I’ve purposefully omitted all figures. You should take it is an opinion, not as a market research data.


I did a 20 minute presentation on this topic recently at the Mindtrek conference. You can find my slides at Slideshare along with an audio track.

I blogged earlier about the excellent panel that followed the three presentations in the “Business of playing together” track.

So, what do you think? Is the PC single player market as doomed as I think it is? Are there going to be big returns on the huge investments VCs are making in the market as we speak?

Taneli’s blog up

October 5, 2008

Taneli Tikka is one of the most successful, Finnish serial entrepreneurs. He’s been involved with companies such as IRC-Galleria and Dopplr and is currently active in both Muxlim and RunToShop. Taneli is also an advisor to Everyplay.

Taneli’s blog is now up and I for one have already subscribed. Taneli’s post on VC due diligence is a must read, and I found plenty of great new blogs to follow from his reading list.

He being asked to star on The Bachelor is definitely something ;-).

Bigpoint exits for 70 M€

September 30, 2008

This is old news from June, but it completely has escaped my attention. Bigpoint, which is one of the largest developers and operators of Free To Play games has been sold to private equity funds GMT Communications Partners and the Peacock Equity Fund (part of the General Electric / NBC Universal family) .

The price tag: a sweet 70 million euros. Bigpoint had at the closing of the deal 23 million registered users (price=3 € / user), but that figure has already risen to 35 million users. They have roughly 100-130k daily average users and are active in at least 17 countries. Some of country operations are directly by Bigpoint, while some are partnerships with local operators. The Finnish site is operated under the label Topkani, in co-operation with Finland’s largest commercial TV channel MTV3.

Bigpoint also announced a co-op with NBC Universal to promote their games thru SCI FI and USA Network websites.

The Art of the Start

September 27, 2008

First, I’ll get this off my chest: The Art of the Start is probably the best book for a budding tech entrepreneur that I’ve read. So, you can head off to to buy it and dispense with my mini-review as your time is going to be better spent reading this book first hand than reading a review =). That said, if you need a bit of convincing before buying, here we go.

I must admit, I stumbled onto Guy Kawasaki by accident on the web. I was reading some blog sometime in the fall of year 2007 and it linked to his marvelous The Art of the Start live presentation. I was glued to the screen. If you haven’t seen his presentation yet, and you are in a technology startup, watch it now – and stay with it until the very end when they try to drag him off the stage.

I ordered the book minutes after watching the video (have you ordered it already? ok, good!), and then while waiting for the courier to arrive, I devoured his personal blog and the gold nuggets from Garage Technology Venturesresources section (open up these links in your browser’s tab and proceed there after reading this blog post). Finally, the book arrived.

Weighing at 220 pages, The Art of the Start is excellently focused, nothing but pure distilled startup genius, ranging from how to get started, to pitching, to networking and to being a mensch. It’s a fast read, but you’ll find yourself coming back to it several times (I’ve read the book at least four times cover to cover). It’s entertaining, the anecdotes are insightful and funny, the ideas are pratical, the list just goes on. You can put every single chapter of this book into practice somewhere along your startup’s life including such life defining situations like designing your product to participating in panel discussions ;-).

This must not have been easy book to write. It is so streamlined and good, that the editing must have been ruthless with huge amount of iterations. As a reader it’s godsend. No bs, no fluff, no filler pages. Just the good stuff.

Verdict: 5/5 – highly recommended.

Over $350M invested into social games, VWs, casual MMOs & games

September 24, 2008

Tracking VC funding deals is a great way to keep a pulse on what’s considered HOT in any given market. VCs start investing when the market starts showing real promise – for major profits in 4-7 year time horizon. As a rule of thumb, VCs are looking for deals where they could make 10x their original investment. So, if there is a number of VCs investing into a segment, you can be sure it is HOT.

Everyplay’s market segment is the mix of  social games, virtual worlds, casual MMO and casual games. space. Tracking the VC deals shows continued validation for this market, which what you would expect when the user figures continue to grow very rapidly. Everyplay is also likely to seek out VC funding eventually, so it is important to us to know which VCs are active, what kind of deals are happening and how much money is being raised.

The table shown below is compiled from my own research into these VC deals. It is by no means 100% comprehensive. First caveat: it is rather US focused as the PR machine works best there. VentureBeat, Virtual Worlds Management and the usual suspects TechCrunch, GigaOm, ReadWriteWeb and Mashable do a good job in covering these deals. As Europe is almost completely under-represented and a lot of early stage deals don’t get publicized at all (regardless of where they happen), I’m sure I’m missing a whole of VC deals from this list.

When interpreting the top line figure of $350 million, you should note that half of it was invested into two companies: 9You ($100 million) and Big Fish Games ($87 million). Regardless, it is clear that the VC activity in this space is constant at a roughly “2-5$ million invested a week” level.

The deals

Venture capital funding for social games, virtual world, casual MMO and casual games. Updated 21th Sep 2009.

Date Company Invested Type Series Country Lead investor
Sep-08 Challenge Games
Social games Series B USA Globespan Capital Partners
Sep-08 Big Fish Games
Casual games Series A USA Balderton Capital
Sep-08 Hollywood Interactive
Social games Unknown USA BlueRun Ventures
Sep-08 RobotGalaxy
Virtual World Series B USA Bachmann Industries
Aug-08 Nonoba
1,3 €
Casual games Series A DK Mangrove Capital Partners
Aug-08 LOLapps
Social apps Series A USA Polaris Venture Partners
Aug-08 Webcarrz
Social games Series A USA Meakem Becker Venture Capital
Aug-08 Knowledge Adventure
Virtual World Unknown USA Azure Capital Partners
Aug-08 Dizzywood
Virtual World Series B USA European Founders Fund
Jul-08 Challenge Games
Social games Series A USA Sequoia Capital
Jul-08 Zynga
Social games Series B USA Kleiner Perkins
Jul-08 Playfish
Social games Bridge UK Accel Partners
Jul-08 Gaia Interactive
Casual MMO Series C USA Institutional Venture Partners
Jul-08 Six Degrees Games
Virtual World Series A USA Prism VentureWorks & Clearstone
Jul-08 Social Gaming Network
Social games Unknown USA Jeff Bezos Expeditions
Jul-08 Riot Games
Casual games Unknown USA Benchmark Capital
Jul-08 8D World
Casual MMO Series A USA Spark Capital
Jun-08 I’m in like with you
Social games Series B USA Spark Capital
May-08 Social Gaming Network
Social games Series A USA Greylock Partners
Apr-08 Serious Business Inc
Social games Series A USA Lightspeed Ventures
Apr-08 Kongregate
Casual games Series B USA Jeff Bezos Expeditions
Apr-08 Akoha
Mixed reality social game Seed USA Multiple angels
?.2008 Playfish
Social games Seed UK Accel Partners
?.2008 RobotGalaxy
Virtual World Series A USA Bachmann Industries
?.2008 Hangout Industries
Virtual World Series A USA Polaris Venture Partners & Highland Capital Partners
Q1/2008 9You
Virtual World/Casual Games Unknown China Temasek Holdings
Q1/2008 Chapatiz
Virtual World Seed French Angel Investors
Q1/2008 Dizzywood
Virtual World Series A USA Shelby Bonnie
Q1/2008 EveryScape
Mirror World Series B USA Dace Ventures
Q1/2008 Fluid Entertainment
Virtual World Series A USA Trinity Ventures
Q1/2008 Handipoints
Virtual World Seed USA Charles River Ventures
Q1/2008 Metaversum
several m€
Mirror World Unknown USA Balderton Capital
Q1/2008 Numedeon
Portfolio of Virtual Worlds Series B USA BankInter’s Venture Capitol Group
Q1/2008 Sparkplay Media
Casual MMO Series A USA Redpoint Ventures & Prism VentureWorks
Mar-08 Alamofire
Social games Series A USA Founder’s fund
Mar-08 PopJax
Social games Series A USA Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Feb-08 Flowplay
Hybrid MMO / casual games Series A USA Intel Capital
Feb-08 RocketOn
Social Games Series A USA D.E. Shaw Group
Jan-08 Zynga
Social games Series A USA Union Square Ventures
Jan-08 Rebel Monkey
Casual MMO Series A USA Redpoint Ventures
Dec-07 Playfirst
Casual games Series C USA DCM
Nov-07 Apaja Online
1,7 €
Casual games Series A Finland Martinson Trigon Venture Partners
Oct-07 GameLayers
Social games Series A USA O’Reilly Alphatech Ventures
Sep-07 Watercooler
Social games Series A USA Canaan partners
Sep-07 RocketOn
Social Games Seed USA Unknown
Aug-07 Kongregate
Casual games Series A USA Greylock Partners
Aug-07 D2C
Casual games Series A USA Rubicon Ventures
Aug-07 Conduit Labs
Social games Series A USA Charles River Ventures & Prism VentureWorks
Jul-07 Three Rings
Hybrid MMO / casual games Series B
USA True Ventures
Mar-07 Flowplay
Hybrid MMO / casual games Seed USA Angels
Mar-07 Gaia Interactive
Casual MMO Series B USA Benchmark Capital
Dec-06 Metaplace
Casual MMO platform Series A USA Charles River Ventures
Dec-06 D2C
Casual games Seed USA Rubicon Ventures
Jul-06 Sulake
6 €
Virtual World Series C? Finland Movida Group
?.2006 WeeWorld
Virtual World Series B UK Accel Partners
Jan-05 Big Fish Games
Casual games Angels USA Multiple angels, two rounds
Jan-05 Sulake
18 €
Virtual World Series B? Finland Benchmark Capital
?.2005 WeeWorld
Virtual World Series A UK Benchmark Capital
2000 – 2004 Sulake
? €
Virtual World Seed to Series A Finland 3i, Elisa & Taivas

Notes and commentary

  • Charles River Ventures spoke prominently for this segment, especially their partner Susan Wu did a lot to promote the segment in year 2007.  Susan left CRV earlier in 2008 to join Ohai, a stealth online gaming company, and CRV’s public profile has been a lot more quiet since.
  • Lightspeed Venture Partners is active and very prominent thanks to their partner Jeremy Liew, who has probably one of the best blogs about this segment.
  • SGN and Zynga are locked in a deadmatch to own the social games space. Good for companies looking to be acquired.
  • EDIT (2008-09-25): I originally reported Sulake‘s investment as 22 M€, which was from Kauppalehti, the leading Finnish business magazine, who had calculated the total losses incurred by Sulake from its founding in year 2000 to end of year 2007 using public records. The Series B and C rounds already amount to 24 M€, and the Seed – Series A is definitely several million euros, so it wouldn’t be a big leap to guess that the total investment would be around 30 M€
  • EDIT (2008-09-24): I mistakenly reported a series B for Apaja‘s, which hasn’t happened. The table above has been corrected.
  • EDIT 2 (2008-09-25): Corrected funding for Akoha to 2 M$, corrected lead investor for SGN’s 15 M$ round to be Greylock Partners
  • EDIT 3 (2008-09-25): Corrected funding for Conduit to 5,5 M$, corrected Sulake’s founding rounds, added Hangout industries, added investors for Conduit, Sparkplay and Six Degrees, corrected Metaplace’s funding date to Dec-06.
  • I’ve omitted skill gaming, pureplay publishers/operators, core gaming (e.g. like Trion World Network, which has raised over $100 million), middleware and other related industries to try to focus on developers and self-publishing companies.

Patton on Leadership

September 14, 2008

I’m planning to do mini-reviews on business books I read, and the first one to receive this treatment is Patton on Leadership: Strategic lessons for corporate warfare.

I picked up this book based on a recommendation from Scott Miller (of 3D Realms / Duke Nukem fame), who lists it on his recommend books list. Honestly I had just a vague idea who George Patton was (an American general from World War II), and I highly doubted I could learn anything from the book. I bought the book simply of curiosity and hoped to gain some insight into the US business mindset.

Not only did I learn who Patton was (a highly acclaimed, unconventional leader, whose military achievements are among the greatest in World War II), but I also found a lot of evergreen management insight that corresponded amazingly well with my own ideas about good leadership. Concepts like

  • Agile management (Patton calls it Speed, Simplicity and Boldness)
  • Setting example thru leadership from the front of the lines
  • Planning trumps plans. (General Dwight D Eisenhower:”In preparing for battle, I have found that plans are useless but planning is indispensible“)
  • Frank communication & belief on persevering (Stockdale paradox: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.“)
  • A commander will command (he has no other choice, or an entrepreneur pitches because otherwise he isn’t an entrepreneur)

As a book, it was an easy, light read, although the writer had a pressing need to get the page count over 200 pages. If Patton would have written this himself, it would have been less than half in size as he’d brutally have cut off all the duplication and unnecessary bits. ;-) Sometimes the analogies between war and business are a bit stretched, but more often than not those metaphors really make you think.

Verdict: 3/5


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