Eros Resmini, who oversaw developer relations for mobile-social gaming network OpenFeint through its $104 million acquisition by GREE, just left the Japanese gaming company not long after it transitioned its platform building strategy back to headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. He’s taking an entrepreneur-in-residence role with Peter Relan, who created gaming-centric incubator YouWeb and was a co-founder of mobile game developer Crowdstar, OpenFeint and HTML5 gaming startup Spaceport.
Resmini couldn’t share any details on his next project, except that it won’t be in gaming and it will be something that will “reshape the startup growth landscape.”
“I had a real great opportunity to learn about building and scaling companies. Now, it’s about trying something new,” said Resmini, who was most recently a senior vice president of marketing and developer relations at GREE. “The gaming industry is going through a period of maturity and consolidation, but that didn’t have any bearing on my personal decision.”
OpenFeint was one of GREE’s first big-ticket acquisitions to enter the U.S. market. The company, worth $3.4 billion on publicly traded markets, is one of Japan’s two most prominent mobile gaming platforms. With slowing growth opportunities in the local market, both GREE and its rival DeNA have probably spent somewhere near $1 billion on splashy U.S. acquisitions and hires to pursue reach in the Western markets.
But even though GREE spent $104 million for OpenFeint, which had 75 million users at the time of the sale, the company ultimately shut down the mobile gaming platform late last year. As other large companies including Facebook have seen, it is strategically difficult to build a platform on top of someone else’s platform — namely Apple’s iOS.
GREE has a two-prong strategy in the West — one is to become a major first-party game developer. They’ve done that through deals like the $210 million acquisition of Funzio. Second, it’s to replicate the model they have in Japan where they are also a platform provider that earns revenue through distributing and taking revenue share from third-party games.
The OpenFeint deal was about building out this platform strategy. But in shutting down OpenFeint, GREE ultimately decided to move their platform-building strategy back to Japan, which resulted in layoffs for some local U.S. employees. The U.S. office, which now has more than 500 employees, has since switched to focus mostly on game development.
“These things are always tough when you’ve invested time into them,” he said. “I certainly had a lot of fun building up OpenFeint. I think it will live on out of Japan going forward.”