In the life of a company, there are moments when the direction it takes is highly influenced by a singular event. I have seen everything from a customer or investor commitment to the hire of the right or wrong person radically change the trajectory of the company.
For Hangout, the hire of Mike Goslin (http://partners.hangout.net/PressRelease.aspx) is a huge trajectory changer for us. Mike is one of those rare individuals, who spans multiple disciplines across multiple venues. For a startup like Hangout, the value of such a flexible and well-rounded individual cannot be underestimated.
Mike is an engineer at heart, a mentor and manager in his personality and a businessman in his wallet. At Disney, he started out as an individual contributor in the Theme Parks business, where he learned the ins and outs of creating entertainment experiences using technology — a forerunner of the whole immersive experience now playing out on the web.
He took that expertise and started the Disney virtual world business, single-handedly. With a small team of 10 guys, he built Toontown as Disney’s first successful casual MMOG for kids. Toontown has become such a success, that Disney grew this business under Mike to over 6 virtual worlds properties with over 300 people working underneath him.
Mike was instrumental in each of those properties coming to existence — in a sense — an entrepreneur in residence at Disney. But like many large corporations, Disney could not move fast enough for Mike. Getting back to building experiences is where is heart lies. Consequently, Hangout is benefiting tremendously from Mike’s presence in less than 1 week of employment.
I’ll post again about the kinds of changes we are seeing and expect to see with Mike’s arrival, but I can say that we are bringing world class entertainment mojo to a great technology platform with Mike’s arrival.
In this market, without both, its going to be increasingly hard to get above the noise. There is no question that Mike puts Hangout in a league all its own.
More to come…