Casual Connect is produced by the Casual Games Association and is the premiere event for the casual games industry with over 6,500 professionals attending Casual Connect each year. Casual Connect brings together the most talented and knowledgeable experts in the casual gaming field to further the casual games industry with the best of networking and learning.
To learn more about the people behind the scenes, visit our website at: casualgamesassociation.org.
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Chief Product Officer
Mobile Gaming Hall of Fame-inducted game designer/producer Scott Foe is a sixteen-year veteran of the games industry who began his career as a member of the team that developed and launched the Sega Dreamcast, the world's first online games console. Foe's Reset Generation was the first free-to-play game nominated for an Interactive Achievement Award and was listed by Pocket Gamer beside Angry Birds as "one of the most-important handheld games of all time." While at Nokia, Foe designed the world's first social/mobile games network.
Co-Founder Signus Labs
Arseny co-founded Signus Labs, where he manages marketing and partnership strategies. Prior to Signus Labs, Arseny worked in a marketing role at Large Animal Games. Additionally, Arseny resides on the board of a solar energy manufacturer, where he contributes to strategic decisions.
Co-founder & CEO Creative Mobile
Vladimir Funtikov is the CEO and co-founder of Creative Mobile, a game development studio based in Tallinn, Estonia. At just 23 years old, Vladimir built one of the largest (mobile) gaming companies in Northern Europe, best known for its Drag Racing franchise. In his role as CEO and co-founder, Vladimir has been the thought leader and driving force behind the company's core products, helping CM reach 200 million installs with its portfolio of 1st and 3rd-party titles.
Head of Marketing Wooga
Eric Seufert is a quantitative marketer with a passion for blending real-world problems with large amounts of data, econometric frameworks, and analytical systems. His professional specialty lies in programmatic statistical methods and predictive forecasting for freemium products.
Eric received an undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin and an MA in Economics from University College London, where he was an Erasmus Mundus scholar. Eric joined Skype immediately out of graduate school and subsequently held marketing and strategy roles at Digital Chocolate and Wooga, where he is now the head of marketing. Eric is also the author of Freemium Economics, published by Elsevier in 2014, and is the owner of Mobile Dev Memo, a website dedicated to mobile app development.
SVP, Business Development & Strategy
Optimatic Media, Inc.
Neal Sinno is a digital media executive with over 15+ years of online, mobile and market opportunity experience. Neal is currently the SVP of business development and strategy for Optimatic Media, a leading RTB video advertising platform.
Prior to joining Optimatic, Neal was the SVP of business development at Arkadium. As a member of Arkadium’s executive team, Neal was responsible for leadership and oversight of the new web and mobile application product development, business development, account management and production.
Before joining Arkadium, Neal was the vice president of business development at Game Trust. There he developed and managed key new content syndication and advertising opportunities and was a member of the executive team responsible for the company’s acquisition by RealNetworks.
Neal has also held key roles at Mellon Financial, The New York Times and Lucent Technologies. Neal also serves as an advisor for the Casual Games Association, Nickelfish IDM and Playbuzz Media.
George Zaloom is the CEO of the Las Vegas Whaling Company, a real-world geo-gaming developer creating pay-to-play mobile content. Prior to that, he co-founded and launched NHN Entertainment Labs, the Korean Internet giant Navier’s USA game studio. Previously, he ran the GoPlay game distribution service and founded FaceChipz.com and giantHello.com – two safe social networks for tweens. He was also head of business development for X17online.com -- the largest online paparazzi agency in the world, and he was an executive in the film and TV industry overseeing such projects as Kung Fu Panda and Encino Man.
Managing Director Cliffhanger Productions
Jan Wagner has been involved in the industry for almost 20 years with his experience spanning producing, PR and product management along with QA, localization and game design. He was Head of Product Management at Vivendi Universal Games and worked on over 100 titles during this time including Half Life, Warcraft, Empire Earth and Diablo. Trying to get back to the creative side of the industry, he co-founded a consulting agency whose customers included Blizzard Europe, Vivendi Universal, Massive Development, Tilted Mill and JoWooD and worked on titles like SpellForce, Gothic and Ground Control. He went on to found Cliffhanger Productions, a production studio, with his partner Michael Paeck in 2006 trying to support the creation of more original games. Cliffhanger now focuses on premium cross-platform games for gamers like it’s upcoming AERENA and crowdfunded Shadowrun Online.
Jan is a co-founder of a local initiative called gamearea frankfurtrheinmain as well as a member of a counselling body on games for the German government, teaches game studies at the University of Darmstadt and is jury member for the German Developer’s Award, the German Games Award and the European Innovative Games Award. He has yet to win one of those awards though.
Vice President of Business Development Supersonic
Damon has over 17 years of experience in consumer technology and connected entertainment. He heads Business Development for SupersonicAds, a leading full-service monetization platform for mobile and online games. Damon has held a number of roles in the video games industry, including having worked for IGN Entertainment, WeGame and Macrovision over the past eight years. His achievements include the successful acquisition of WeGame by Tagged.com in September 2011, managing the launch of IGN's independent games digital distribution channel and spearheading the "Indie Open House" project, a community outreach program providing aspiring game developers resources to help them achieve their goals. A native of Los Angeles, Damon lives in the Bay Area with his wife and two children.
Entrepreneur & Investor Bitcoin, Games & Gambling
Brock Pierce is a 15-time entrepreneur best known for pioneering the market for digital currency. He has raised more than $200 million on behalf of his companies and led more than 30 acquisitions. Pierce was called a "guru" of the Bitcoin space by USA Today in 2013, given his numerous businesses and contributions to the Bitcoin economy going back to early mining activities in 2009. Prior to his Bitcoin activities, Pierce launched his first of many digital and virtual currency startups in 1998, which have collectively processed billions of dollars in sales. Pierce is currently a Managing Director of the Clearstone Global Gaming Fund and sits on the boards of IMI Exchange, GoCoin, ExpressCoin, KnCMiner.cn, Robocoin Asia, Mastercoin Foundation, Xfire, Playsino, FGL, and Spicy Horse Games. He is also BitAngels Los Angeles City Leader and an angel investor in numerous Bitcoin related startups such as BTC China. Pierce also speaks regularly about Bitcoin at leading conferences ranging from the Milken Global Conference to the upcoming BTC Miami.
Managing Director Crossover Technologies
Eric is a 35-year veteran of the game, mobile, consumer Internet, monetisation, and edtech industries, serving in capacities ranging from game designer to executive. Since 2002, Eric is or has been a board member of, advisor or consultant to AOL, Art+Craft, AT&T Wireless, Bandai Namco, BBC Worldwide, Centerscore, Digital Chocolate, Electronic Arts, FremantleMedia, Gaia Online, Goldman Sachs, GoPop, HipLogic, In-Fusio, Juice Wireless, Kingdom Scene, Lifetime, LimeLife, Meredith, Mforma, Moloon, Openwave, PaymentOne, PickTeams (fka GoCrossCampus), Pixelberry, Playdom (fka YouPlus), PlaySpan, The Reading Room, Reaxion, RocketOn, SEGA, Square Enix, StoryToys, Thumbplay, Unplugged, Vindigo, Warner Music, Wireless Generation (dba Amplify) and three US venture capital firms. Eric was most recently the President and Co-Founder of Unplugged, for which he secured distribution with four of the five largest North American carriers. Previously, he served as President and Founder of Crossover Technologies, one of the first consumer online companies, for which he recruited and managed AOL, BMG, Discovery Channel, Intel, Microsoft, Prodigy (IBM/Sears/CBS joint venture), Random House, Sony, Time Warner, and Viacom as clients and distribution partners; and, prior to that, as President of West End Games, the adventure game company for which he published, among 40+ titles, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, and Junta. His award-winning games include Paranoia, Tales of the Arabian Nights, The Tom Peters Business School in a Box, and MadMaze, the first online game to draw one million players. He is a three-time winner of the Origins Award for Best Role-Playing Game and a two-time winner of the Game Designers Guild Select Award. Eric is a regular speaker at major games, wireless and online conferences, including CTIA, Internet World, The Conference Board, DMW, GDC, GDC Mobile, VentureBeat, MES, AGC, MGC, Casual Connect, LA Games Conference, and E3, and has served as a programs advisor or advisory board member for the latter eight conferences. He was previously a board member for the New York New Media Association and New York University`s Center for Advanced Digital Applications.
Communications Manager Nordeus
Milan Djukic is the communication manager at Nordeus, the fastest growing video game company in Europe and officially the best employer in Eastern Europe region.
Milan, an oldschool gamer himself, has turned his love toward video games into a full-time profession. He has more than 15 years of experience in the gaming industry, primarily as a journalist and chief editor in several influential media in the region, as well as a consultant to several video game publishing companies.
Milan is responsible for internal and external communications at Nordeus, as well as handling the company's identity worldwide.
Executive Vice President, Everyplay & Ads at Unity Technologies
Jussi Laakkonen is the Executive Vice President of Everyplay & Ads at Unity
Technologies, where he’s focused on helping game developers to connect with their
audience with Everyplay replay sharing as well as find high quality users and monetise
with video ads. Jussi was previously the founder and CEO of Applifier and led the
company to its acquisition in March 2014 by Unity Technologies. At Applifier Jussi
and the team focused on helping small and medium sized game developers grow their
games on Facebook and mobile with cross-promotion, video ads and replay sharing.
Co-Founder Boomzap Entertainment
Christopher Natsuume has been developing games for over 15 years. He has been working in the Southeast Asian region since 2004, including founding Singapore-based Boomzap Entertainment, one of the leading independent developers in the region. Boomzap has shipped 8 casual game titles, including the top ranked Jewels of Cleopatra series, using developers in the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan.
Content Advisor, Casual Connect Magazine
Consultant 1212 Consulting
Josh is a consultant in the gaming industry working with game developers, game publishers and service providers focused on online and mobile gaming to support key business areas including strategy, market intelligence, marketing, game publishing, business operations, product management and business development. Previously he worked at 6waves, leading the US product management team for one of the largest publishers of games for Facebook, iOS & Android where he managed & launched over 100+ apps including those from top developers like Kabam, Nexon & Atari as well as games based on IP from Eminem, Disney, Dungeons & Dragons, Starz & BBC. Prior, he worked at Electronic Arts, in EA’s Pogo.com division supporting one of the largest casual games websites focusing on product management, customer insights, new platforms, market strategy & analytics.
Kris Soumas specializes in branded games and entertainment. She has created award winning, blockbuster, digital properties for History, A&E, Lifetime and The Walt Disney Company. Most recently, she was SVP, Games/Digital Media for A+E Networks where she launched social/mobile games for hit shows like Duck Dynasty (#1 Paid Game on iOS) and Pawn Stars (played nearly a billion times). Prior to that, she was the Head of Lifetime Game Studios, with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Seoul.
Director iGaming Capital
Melissa Blau has been in the Internet Gaming sector for the past nine years as both an operator and advisor.
She is currently the Founder & Director of iGaming Capital, the leading iGaming consulting and advisory company in the US.
Clients include state regulators, US and Native American casino operators, payment processors, game suppliers, and social gaming companies.
Prior to launching iGaming Capital, her experience in the Internet Gaming sector included senior roles at a number
of Internet Gaming operators and marketing companies as well as in a banking advisory capacity.
Since 2006, Melissa has worked as the appointed Finance Editor and regular columnist(iGaming Global Index) for iGaming Business Magazine.
She is also part of several leading expert financial networks within the Internet Gaming sector and sits on the advisory committee
of G2E for the Internet sector. Prior to her Internet Gaming experience, Melissa was a General Partner and founding member of Constellation Ventures, a
$450m media & technology venture capital. Melissa has a BA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard University.
Managing Partner GWC Investments
Reinout te Brake is regarded as one of the leading thought leaders of the gaming industry. He is a successful serial entrepreneur, kickstarter, prolific investor and business leader, currently mentoring and investing in early stage companies and focusing on developing a strong eco-system of gaming companies in the Netherlands.
He is founder and Chairman of iQU, a Haarlem based company, which is recognized as the top intelligence and performance marketing specialist for the gaming sector. He led iQU as CEO until 2012, establishing it as the leading marketing and intelligence partner for games companies.
He is also one of the co-founders of Spil Games, one of the largest casual games networks in the world with over 200 MAUs.
He is presently Managing Partner of GWC Investments, a specialist gaming consultancy and seed investor in many high profile games companies in US, Sweden, Netherlands and Finland, and GameOn, a VC fund investing in gaming start-ups with differentiated IP and business models from across the globe wanting to establish a presence in the Netherlands.
VP Business Development Newzoo
Wybe is VP Business Development at Newzoo, the international full service market research and consulting firm, 100 percent focused on the games industry. Newzoo aims to provide the best independent market data across all game segments and business models based on our proprietary market research projects, financial analysis and tracking of data globally and in-depth in a broad range of countries. Newzoo tends to share a lot of free information with the Games Industry to share knowledge and data.
Wybe has been deeply involved with the games industry for 6 years now, regularly travelling the globe to attend events & expand his knowledge of the market. He began his career as Business Manager with Newzoo and is now responsible for International Sales & Business Development and Analysis/Consultancy for some of Newzoo’s top global Clients.
Head of Studio Critical Force Entertainment
In the beginning of 2014, Vlad has joined up-and-coming Finnish free-to-play mobile game developer Critical Force Entertainment
as their new head of studio. He is now responsible for the studio's two main franchises Critical Strike Portable
(16+ million downloads on Google Play with 300.000 DAU) and their newest title Company of Tanks that, after a 'soft-launch'
on Google Play with 300.000 downloads, is still in development.
Starting out as a game industry journalist, he has written for both various print and online media for over six years and originally created the online version of game industry trade magazine Gamesauce.org in 2010. He spent most of 2012 teaching himself what it was like to run a development team while helping his boss set up Thailand-based mobile game studio, Arkavis Siam co., Ltd. He joined Dutch start-up Gramble in 2013 to rediscover himself as a PR manager and now leverages that experience to offer support on the topics of PR & Marketing. With his own company VGVisionary, Vlad likes to travel the world to speak at events, meet with game developers and offer advice, contacts and support to whoever needs it. He acts as an advisor and mentor for various game companies in the areas of content production, PR & marketing, branding, game analytics, management and business development. You can watch his previous talks and lectures at www.youtube.com/vgvisionary.
Barry O'Neill is the CEO of StoryToys, a developer and publisher of award-winning mobile games and interactive books for children. Prior to StoryToys Barry was a “Mobile 1.0” pioneer, having headed up Namco’s European mobile business and co-founded Upstart Games which he sold in 2006.
Head of Mobile Gaming, Content and Media, Immersion
In September of 2014 Nick Thomas joined Immersion as the Head of Gaming to the further adoption of Haptics as a premium feature in the mobile gaming industry. A top-rated video game industry veteran and thought leader with an excellent track record and more than 1,000 game titles to his credit spanning all genres of gaming, Nick has over 10 years of proven executive leadership with a focus on developing strategic industry partnerships, innovating creative technology solutions, and managing talented teams. Nick brings a broad, deep perspective, with global resources and expertise in creative leadership and technology to Immersion.
International Marketing, Developer Relations, SkyMobi
Heathershaw works closely with mobile game developers around the globe to better prepare their China market and publishing strategy. SkyMobi (NASDAQ: MOBI), has helped developers distribute their apps in China with more than 15 billion downloads since 2005, and has paid out more than $300 million to its partners. In 2014, SkyMobi signed Major Mayhem, Dungeon Quest, Pele: King of Football, Battle Towers, and Beach Buggy Racing for publishing in China.
Staff Advisor, Casual Connect
Yuan is a 20+ year veteran of the game industry. He began his career as a game designer and programmer, helping to create award-winning titles, such as Descent and Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight. He has held roles in production, business development, and strategy at many companies throughout the years, including LucasArts, Midway Games, Disney, Blizzard and more. Yuan is currently an advisor and technology consultant working on various projects in the US and Asia.Email Che-Yuan
Margaret Wallace is an entrepreneur, gaming and media executive, with experience in creating both original IP and leveraging big brands in new ways.
A recognized expert in the growing field gamification, she is CEO of Playmatics, a company dedicated to bringing rich user experiences to the internet,
in social media networks, and on a variety of connected platforms and products. She is also CEO of Shadow Government, Inc. - a social mobile startup which recently
raised a $1 million angel investment round to create an entirely new form of social gaming based on the gamification of real countries, systems, and worldwide events.
Prior to these companies, Margaret was also CEO of venture-backed Rebel Monkey, and of Skunk Studios, one of the first-ever casual game companies and gaming portals.