FROM EXECUTIVE OF 91 WIRELESS TO ENTREPRENEUR—TONY HO & HIS MOBILE GAME VENTURE\YOUXI BANGBANG INTERVIEW WITH THE CEO OF SKYMOONS TONY HO
Tony Ho is the current CEO of Skymoons and a pioneer of China’s mobile game industry. He was the operations manager of the 91 gaming platform from 2010 and later served as the Senior Vice President of Baidu’s 91 Wireless. Since August 2012, he was also the CEO of 91DeNA Websoft Inc. With about 17 year’s of professional experience in software and the internet industry, accompanied with many years of entrepreneurial experience and as an executive in listed companies, he is a respected industry leader.
Alliances & Collaborations, Joining the Mobile Games Industry
Tony Ho joined NetDragon in 2008 and participated in the formation of 91 Wireless. During that 6-year period he witnessed the growth of China’s mobile game industry, pretty much from scratch. In August 2013, by the time Baidu had officially merged and acquired 91 Wirelesss, 91 has grown into the nation’s largest mobile distribution platform, at this point Tony Ho had over seen explosive growth in the mobile games market.
Tony Ho had been working on platforms, dealing with agents and developers on a daily basis and championing games based on user likeability. With an increasing amount of product contacts, he gradually noticed that there were still many opportunities for differentiation in the mobile game industry. Slowly he began to consider a new mobile game business model.
In March 2014, Tony Ho resigned as the Vice President of Baidu’s 91 Wireless, and embarked on a new journey of entrepreneurship.
His work experience at Baidu 91 allowed Tony Ho to gain a great advantage in the channel and distribution markets, but development was not his strongest suit. Knowing where his strengths lay, he spent some time working out how to turn the disadvantage into advantage. Eventually Tony Ho decide to search for a company who specialised in research and development to assist in his venture.
After communicating with a number of potential partners in Chengdu, he chose Crimoon Technology, a company who had built a good foundation and had some successful products and at least 2 years of business experience under their belt.
Speaking about the partnership Mr Ho said.
“The core members of their entrepreneurial team have corporate backgrounds with good experience in product development. The idea fit well with our original intention. So we just hit it off and the integration process was relatively smooth.”
In May 2014, Chengdu Skymoons Technology Co., Ltd. was officially established. Their headquarters is located in Chengdu Tianfu Software Park, Beijing. The software park is the foreign service centre of commerce and media channels. It was the merger of Skymoons Interactive and Crimoon Technology, which formed the new “Chengdu Skymoons Technology Co., Ltd. Tony Ho also pioneered the combining of development & publishing as an integrated mobile gaming company.
Skymoons has already built a reputation in the industry a mere 9 months after its launch.
“The company has the ability to independent develop content, but is also capable of being an agent and distributor,” Tony Ho told us, “Flexibility with investment and incubation, while also managing the intellectual property (IP) of the game.”
“We have more than 360 staff,” he continued, “and will definitely exceed 400 by the end of the year. The commercial operation of our two card games are very stable at the moment.”
Identity transformation, experience and practice a calm state of mind…
From Baidu’s 91 to Skymoons, Tony Ho has completed an identity transformation. He has converted from gaming platform to content development. While no expert in the technical aspects, he started to personally promote every aspect of product from approval, development and publishing, prompting a sharp increase in workload. However, Tony Ho said, “regardless of channel or content producer, one must follow the law of unity in the industry and that is to provide great products and service.”
This 9-month experience of building the 91 gaming platform from scratch is testament to his entrepreneurship and despite the workload Tony Ho has remained more calm and peaceful than ever.
“After working in the industry, you become less obsessed with the little things.” he said. “The ups and downs of products, the dynamics of the industry, such as, the card game is the ‘in’ trend for a few months, and after a few months the fad turns to ARPG. One could easily get lost, if one is not composed.”
As a policy maker, Tony Ho. is always calm and seems to have a clear mind, “If you can’t decide on what you want and what to hold on to, “ he told us, “there will be anarchy in your the company.”
Investment and Intellectual Property (IP) will be the focus of the future…
With his first merger and acquisition experience, Tony Ho has clearly demostrated he is adept.
“After this, we will be even faster.” he said. “Next we will be expanding the incubation investment and the management of the Intellectual Property (IP) of the game, and looking toward even greater merger and acquisition potential.”
According to Tony Ho, despite the ability of development, there are limitations within each research and development team. “Our research and development company has a comparative advantage over traditional card games, but there are a lot of outstanding people and teams, whom I don’t have to recruit, but we can still benefit their entrepreneurial ideas and it’s a great way to cooperate.”
Tony Ho told the reporters that he has currently invested in four companies, three research and development companies and an overseas distribution company.
“Their businesses complement ours, each team works on a different category to achieve maximum potential.”
Tony Ho is a big believer in IP game management and sees it as an effective way to enhance competitiveness.
“My principle is to make an impression on every IP that I’ve taken.” Tony Ho told us and he mentioned he has currently obtained 2 – 3 IP, non-disclosures. “A good IP is hard to find, we will continue to look for more in the future.”
Don’t limit yourself to 100 meters if you are able to run 1500 meters
Having being in the industry for so many years, the deepest impact on Tony Ho is “changes”. Whether it’s the mobile internet or gaming industry, there are always new competitors emerging and old competitors leaving. The landscape is constantly changing and this is why he always retained his curiosity and continues to learn.
Regarding the future development of Skymoons, Tony Ho said quality is the core strategy of Skymoons, and he promises he will keep insisting on the integration of development and distribution. He emphasized maintaining a good state of mind. “Don’t always dream of making a great fortune overnight, “ he said, “if you are not truly into games, but just solely see it as a money maker, it certainly won’t last.”
“In the game industry, we need to go the distance.” he said, “Let’s not talk about a marathon, don’t limit yourself to 100 meters if you are able to run 1500 meters. You could easily be squeezed out with this mentality in this industry.”
Tony Ho has always expressed to many gaming entrepreneurs: that keeping a strong mentality is fundamental while starting a business.
“Success still requires some luck, so perhaps opportunity is yet to come, and a lack of luck does not define the competence of the person or the team,” he told us. “Keep on going, there will be another chance to come.”