When we stole Jens Begemann away from the crowd at conference Tech Open Air the first thing we noticed was just how amicable and accommodating the Berlin founder is. Behind the big smile and laid-back attitude, though, is a man who has managed to build one of Berlin’s best-known startup success stories – his social gaming company Wooga has grown to 280 staff and recently announced it had hit profitability.
Drawing 50 million users to its games every month (and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to its Berlin office), the company’s latest plan is to extend its business model to publish smaller developers’ games – a move already taken by US giant Zynga, and Rovio, the Finnish company behind Angry Birds.
Wooga, launched in 2009 by Begemann, Philipp Moeser and Patrick Paulisch, is best known for flagship games Monster World and Diamond Dash. Although initially focusing on creating online games, the company now has a mobile-first approach for all its products – including its latest release, Jelly Splash, a puzzle game that’s available on iPhone and iPad and clocked up a million downloads five days from launch.
In a rare and candid interview, Begemann reveals why he’d prefer to be just one among a crowd in Berlin, the method behind his hands-off management style and what making a wrong bet on HTML 5 two years ago cost him…
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