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Michael Acton Smith speaks out on facing tough times at Mind Candy

The famous tech entrepreneur behind Moshi Monsters shares news that revenues “are not good” for 2013 and says “the whole company is riding on” his new business venture...

Michael Acton Smith OBE is celebrating his business Mind Candy’s 10th anniversary. But, given his candid interview at TechCrunch Disrupt London yesterday, the tech entrepreneur won’t be revelling in its successes given “the last year and half has been really tough”.

Speaking to TechCrunch editor at large Mike Butcher at the inaugural Disrupt event, Acton Smith, or Mr Moshi as he’s sometimes referred, explained the peaks and troughs of the Moshi Monsters franchise, addressed the company’s recent decision to lay off 30 staff over a period of a few days and his intention to step down as CEO.

Despite a troubled 18 months where the business has suffered online – recent ComScore  statistics reflect US unique page views of just 366,0000 a month – renewed success appears imminent as the Mind Candy CEO outlined plans for his latest venture World of Warriors – a new game which promises to be a “PG Game of Thrones”.

Discussing his business endeavours and what it’s like to date fellow entrepreneur Kathryn Parsons, read on to find out what the famous face of entrepreneurship had to say:

On the evolution of Moshi Monsters

“I don’t think people realised how much kids love the internet and kids just got it. People were initially worried whether it was safe but we’ve come a long way since then.

“We’ve had a really tough time the last two years translating it [Moshi Monsters] to mobile. […] We didn’t move as quickly as we should or realise the threat of another platform. […] It’s hard to port the desktop version onto mobile. Mobile games haven’t been as commercially successful.

“There’s over a million different apps on the app store so it hard to break through and kids games with in-app purchases are difficult. But we’re putting a lot of resource and energy into trying to crack it.”

On stepping down as CEO

“I’ve stepped sideways but I’m currently still CEO and, COO Divinia [Knowles] and I, have worked together for a long time and she’s good at the operational side […] so she was promoted to acting president. We’re currently looking for a new CEO.”

On Mind Candy’s recent struggles:

“When a company is growing really well, don’t assume it will continue. […]Our revenues in 2013 are not good, they’re down on 2012. […] There’s a definite drop and figures will be announced shortly.

“We’re now splitting our efforts on three things – Moshi, PopJam and World of Warriors. […] It’s sensible to take a couple of shots.

“We’re close to launch [for World of Warriors], it’s a game we hope will be of interest to the all the family, even adults; a bit like a Pixar movie.”

“The whole company [is riding on World of Warriors]. The life of an entrepreneur is exciting and terrifying but it’s the best job in the world”.

On not selling up a few years ago

“Honestly I do sometimes wake up at 4am and think about waking up on an island with a fleet of yachts and a cocktail. But it would have been pretty boring.

“If the chance to sell the business arrives in the future we’ll sit down and have a chat about it.”

On being part of Tech City’s Silicon Drinkabout and Ping Pong Fight Club

“It all connects [with what we’re doing at Mind Candy]. The London scene has amazing opportunities and we should embrace them.”

On dealing with stress

“You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth when you’re running a company. People assume stress is a bad thing but stress that fires you up is the fuel that has driven a lot of things for me.”

On his girlfriend, Decoded founder Kathryn Parsons

“It’s great dating an entrepreneur. We run ideas past each other, we’re a great team.”


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