Gamification startup Badgeville just announced that it has appointed Ken Comée as its new CEO. Co-founder and outgoing CEO Kris Duggan will become the company’s chief strategy officer, and he will also remain on the Badgeville board.
Comée was formerly the CEO of Cast Iron Systems, a cloud company that was acquired by IBM, and of PowerReviews, which was acquired by Bazaarvoice. He might not seem like the obvious choice to run a gamification company, but Badgeville says it’s actually selling its tools (which allow companies to add social features and game mechanics to their products) to some big enterprise customers, like Deloitte, EMC, and Oracle.
“Gamification is not a fad,” Comée told me via email. He later added, “I see user engagement as the vital factor in the success of all cloud and web-based technologies. While we’ve … had tremendous success in driving user engagement across key consumer environments, we’ve also tapped into a great market opportunity to extend more into employee engagement.”
As a startup grows, it’s not unusual to see a more seasoned executive replace the founder as CEO. However, I asked why the move made sense now, and Duggan pointed to two things. First, he said the company needs “a proven leader to scale to the demand of our enterprise customer and partner base.” Second, this will give Duggan time to become “a full-time visionary and evangelist” who can “cement the market.”
I also asked how they’d avoid some of the conflicts that can arise when someone steps down from the CEO role but doesn’t leave the company. Both of them said they’ve already been working together, because Comée has been serving as an advisor to the company for the past four months.
“We make a great team,” he said.
Badgeville launched in September 2010 at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, where it won the audience choice award. (Duggan is the one on the left accepting the award in the photo above.) It says that it now has hundreds of customers, and that its revenue doubled in 2011, doubled again in 2012, and will, yes, double this year.