To some, it probably feels like the apocalypse is upon us as billionaire Elon Musk messes with Twitter, high-profile crypto exchange FTX implodes, and META cuts 13% of its global workforce. When the global economy is on shaky ground, companies over-invest in things that aren’t working (throwing good money after bad, as they say), and people put their hopes in one basket—whether that’s a billionaire savior or a company valued in the tens of billions—things get ugly and messy, and ultimately people get hurt. Here’s hoping for better days ahead—but today ain’t one of them. – James Fudge.
FTX Financial Issues Put Partnership/Sponsorship Deals on Shaky Ground
In the span of a couple of days crypto currency exchange FTX announced that rival exchange Binance had signed a letter of intent to buy the company for an undisclosed amount of money. Binance and FTX are the top crypto exchanges in the world, with each controlling about half of the worldwide market, and in its last funding round FTX was valued at approximately $32B USD. But just one day after the news was made public and Binance began looking into FTX’s financials, the company decided that it would walk away from the deal.
So where does this leave FTX and why does it matter? Putting aside how FTX got to this point in such a short amount of time (plenty of people have already written about this, and the New York Times has an excellent deep dive on the matter that you should check out), the company’s options are pretty slim; it could hope to find another buyer (which would keep those sponsorship and naming rights deals with TSM (who signed a 10-year, $210M naming rights deal in the summer of 2021), Miami Heat, FURIA, F1, MLB, Riot Games (LCS), Tom Brady, and other celebrity sports and entertainment endorsers going; or it could file for bankruptcy, putting all those partnerships on incredibly shaky ground. Depending on how reliant TSM and FURIA are on these deals, this could mean some major financial trouble for both organizations and lead to belt tightening that could include staff cuts and exits from developing business models.
We will continue to follow this story as it develops.
META Cuts 11,000 Jobs From Global Workforce
Anyone who regularly reads social media has seen a hurricane of messages from META employees announcing that they have been laid off and are now looking for work this week. The company formerly known as Facebook announced major cuts–an estimated 11,000 people, or 13% of its global workforce. The company had 87,000 employees on the books at the end of September.
META will provide those affected by the layoffs with 16 weeks of pay that includes two additional weeks for every year of service. In addition it will continue health insurance for six months, according to META Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In an email to employees on Wednesday, Zuckerberg said that these cuts were to make the company leaner and operate more efficiently: “Today I’m sharing some of the most difficult changes we’ve made in Meta’s history,” Zuckerberg wrote to META employees. “I’ve decided to reduce the size of our team by about 13% and let more than 11,000 of our talented employees go. We are also taking a number of additional steps to become a leaner and more efficient company by cutting discretionary spending and extending our hiring freeze through Q1.”
While the blame for these cuts is being put on spending related to META’s metaverse-related projects—it has already spent roughly $9B in 2022—company guidance (released in October) for Q4 of $30B – $32.5 in sales compared to analysts expectations of $32.2B didn’t help.
Saleh Alfadhel Joins Savvy Games Group as Group CFO
Saleh Alfadhel has joined Savvy Games Group as its new group chief financial officer, exiting his role at the Saudi Airlines Catering Company after less than a year. This new role is a first in gaming, as Alfadhel’s previous roles included accounting and business related positions at companies such as National Financing Services Company (NFSC), Saudia Cargo, Alpha Capital, Saudi Airlines, and many others since he began his career in 2003.
SGG, which owns ESL FACEIT Group and has investments in Nintendo, Activision Blizzard, Capcom, Nexon, and Embracer Group, is backed by money from the Saudi government-controlled Public Investment Fund. The government announced in September that it plans to make tens of billions of dollars worth of major investments in gaming and esports help the country become a global hub for both by the year 2030, with SSG playing a major role in that initiative.
People on the Move
Here is this week’s list of promotions, hires, and departures in the gaming/esports industry:
- Chris Pursell exits Cynopsis Sports & Esports as head of content & strategic partnerships and chairman of events after 12 years with the company.
- Bob Morris Jr. leaves Belong Gaming Arena to take on a new role at Vindex-owned sibling Esports Engine.
- Jessica Bash is promoted to senior line producer at Esports Engine.
- Snehashis Panda is the latest to exit Garena India and has found a new role as brand manager at Wings.
- Navneet Randhawa joins the Golden State Warriors as marketing director for Warriors Gaming and the Golden Guardians.
- Jon Llaguno joins Spain-based Squarebox_ as partnerships director.
- Karen Low, Dominika Maria Szot, Jasmine Hong, Giulia Z., Becky Wright, Rebecca Donaldson, and Leah Alexandra join the Women in Esports Committee.
- Chris Krause leaves his role at Riot Games as game production producer to join Travian Games as its new studio production director.
- Taylor Wright joins Riot Games as senior technical artist in R&D.
- Vincent Tran joins Riot Games to take on the role as an illustrator on Wild Rift.
- Tony Suen takes on the new role of lead product manager at Niantic.
- Sanah Chopra has left EA India to join Paytm Payments Bank as an executive manager.
- Johnny Morgan Wong, who is one of several employees recently laid off at Vancouver-based game developer Kabam, is looking for work. He most recently served as talent acquisition manager.
- Karter Duff leaves Otherworld Interactive to join Bad Robot Games as an associate producer.
- BHI Founder Dean Bender will retire as president of the PR agency after 40 years, with Shawna Lynch to take over the role at 42West/BHI.
- Jamie Leeming has been promoted to senior director of product development at United Talent Agency.
- Matt Brown has left his role as senior editor of Windows Central at Future to join Philip Morris International as senior copywriter — IT & digital.
- Jeffrey Bondoc has left NFT company Dapper Labs to join FANtium as its new partnerships & VIPs lead.
- Tal Tchwella joins Solana Labs as a product manager. He most recently worked for META in a similar role.
- Pekka Mäki-Kuutti is promoted to director of business development at racing simulator hardware maker Simucube.
- Kevin Hennessy joins FanDuel as its new director of publicity.
- Nicholas Tymoshchuk leaves his role as CEO of UFuture to join Parimatch Tech as its new government affairs director.
- Dimitris Mavromatis joins FunPlus as its new growth marketing manager.
- Mukesh Babu leaves his role as growth strategy & partnerships at FanClash.
- Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering owner Hasbro announced that Chief Financial Officer Deborah Thomas plans to retire from the company after 24 years. She will stay on as an advisor and stay in the role until a replacement has been selected.
Want to highlight your latest hire? Looking to promote a new job opening? Drop me a line at email@example.com with the subject line “People on the Move.”