RockYou founder and CEO Lance Tokuda is no longer leading the company, we’ve confirmed. Tokuda helped found RockYou back in 2005, and led it through several funding rounds totalling nearly $130 million. The change comes at a critical time in RockYou’s life, as the company attempts to reinvent itself and bounce back from substantial layoffs.
I spoke with RockYou COO Lisa Marino, who says that Tokuda told the company he would be stepping down last month, around the time that it pivoted to focus primarily on social gaming. A significant but undisclosed percentage of RockYou’s workforce was laid off as part of the transition, and the company hired former EA exec Jonathan Knight to serve as SVP of RockYou Games.
Marino says that Tokuda’s role is now being filled by an ‘Office of the CEO’ team that includes CFO Steve Van Horne, SVP President of Technology and Engineering Shamik Sharma, and herself, and that the company is currently in the midst of a search for a permanent replacement. Despite RockYou’s recent problems, Marino says that things have been “going really well” at the company since its pivot last month, and that it “is going to be very relevant in social games in around 70 days”.
However, Tokuda’s role change may not have been quite as smooth as RockYou is claiming. I called him to see if he had a comment of his own, and it sounded like the situation is still murky — he directed me to RockYou’s PR team, and said that he is very much still with the company (I’ve reached out to RockYou PR to firm up what his current position is). Granted, I did call him without warning so he may well have simply been caught off guard. But it does seem a little odd that he is still listed on RockYou’s management page as CEO, and that his role change was not announced as part of the press cycle around RockYou’s hiring of Knight.
Update: Marino had clarified that Tokuda is indeed still with RockYou, and that he is working on ‘innovation and strategic initiatives’, such as exploring new areas for RockYou to expand into. That might include platforms (for example, mobile) or game genres.
RockYouÂ® is committed to defining the future of social gaming, creating products intended to serve players, advertisers, and developers alike. The company has dedicated itself to the development of high-quality games, including the award-nominated Gourmet Ranchâ„¢ and the celebrated Zoo Worldâ„¢ franchise. With advertising products that offer brands more meaningful interactions with players, RockYou creates an unmatched value-per-engagement for both brands and users. RockYou’s partnerships with world-class talent are part of their steadfast commitment to working with the next...
Lance is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of RockYou, and brings over 15 years of software and management experience to the company. Prior to RockYou, Lance held Vice President & Chief Technology Officer positions in consumer and enterprise web services companies Iconix and Open Harbor, and was an early employee (number four) at Resumix, now Yahoo HotJobs. Lance holds patents in text extraction and document categorization, with an email patent pending as well, and has received the American...