The next chapter: our partnership with Tencent
I wanted to write a quick post to announce the world's worst kept secret :) Yes...Tencent, the world's biggest games company, has taken a lead to purchase SoftBank's investment in Supercell and will be our new strategic partner.
There have been a lot of rumors in the media about this in the past month, so I wanted to use this opportunity to tell you what happened, why and what makes me so excited about it.
Some background first. A while back, Masa (the founder of SoftBank, and our Chairman) told me that if we were able to find a new partner, he would like to sell SoftBank's shares in Supercell to finance what he called SoftBank's 2.0 transformation strategy. This meant we at Supercell needed to think hard and do some soul-searching. What is it really that we want to accomplish with Supercell? What is it that we value in a partner? It may sound funny, but when we finally got our thoughts together, the choice was actually surprisingly easy. Let me explain why.
For us, today is all about chasing a future for Supercell that we have always dreamed of. We founded this company to make great games that people all over the world would play for decades. We have been very lucky as over the past six years we've released four top games that are now played by over 100 million people every single day (you may have seen our little celebration here). But more than this, we dream of our current and future games becoming a part of the rich history of games, living onto the very long term. And if you take this very long-term view, you quickly realize that we are still at the beginning of what will hopefully be a very long journey.
As we started to spend more time getting to know potential strategic partners, it became apparent to us that a partnership with Tencent would secure everything that has made Supercell a success, while also enabling us to take a few pretty big leaps on this journey I mentioned above. Here's why:
First, we have agreed with Tencent that Supercell will continue to be operationally independent, exactly as it was under SoftBank's ownership. They understand that our unique culture of small and independent teams (or "cells" as we call them) is what makes Supercell. We want Supercell to continue to be the world's best place for creative people to create games. Also, our headquarters will stay in Helsinki and we will pay our taxes in Finland. All of this is very important for us.
Second, China is home to more gamers than any other country. Tencent's platforms reach around a billion users (yes, a billion!). And, they have around 300 million unique users playing games on their platforms. What this means for us is that together with Tencent, we can bring our games to so many more players. Also, their social platforms offer many new possibilities for our games, particularly for social play. All of this is very exciting!
Third, Tencent's people seem to love games as much as we do. In fact, in one of my meetings with Martin (their President), he had just dropped out from Clash Royale global top-100 players, and it was almost impossible to get his focus back to the topics we had to discuss… talk about being passionate about games! :) On a more serious note, Tencent has built a hugely successful partnership with Riot Games, a team we greatly admire and that has inspired us over the years in so many ways. Now we'll have an excuse to call Riot and talk shop more often!
And fourth, this deal enables us to keep Supercell privately held. That is a better match with our small size and unique culture than being a public company where our concern would be the pressure from financial markets to think short term. However, while enabling us to stay private, the partnership with Tencent provides us with some of the benefits of being public: as part of this transaction, our employees will be able to sell their shares in Supercell over time (everyone at Supercell is an owner). The total equity value of $10.2 billion dollars also recognizes the value of the phenomenal company that our people have built.
Finally, I would like to thank a few people (because I am Finnish I will keep this short :)
First of all, a huge thank you to all the players whose passion for our games both inspires and humbles us. It is because of you we come to work excited every day! We feel so grateful to all of you!
Also, I want to personally thank Masa, the founder of SoftBank, for his support during the time I had the honor of working with him. He truly is an incredible entrepreneur, and I learned enormously from him during our time together. Luckily, as Masa said to me, our business partnership may end due to changing strategies, but our friendship will stay forever.
And, of course, thank you to my fellow Supercellians, all 190 of them. It really is incredible to work alongside people who work so hard to provide our players with the best possible experience, every single day. I feel so proud and lucky for the opportunity to be part of this incredible team.
Perhaps this post was not so short after all :) Anyway, here's to the next chapter! I have worked in games for 16 years now and I have never been more excited.