Tim O’Brien, who oversaw business development at Disney Interactive for the past three years, has left the company to become CRO at Scopely, the free-to-play gaming studio behind Skee-Ball Arcade and Mini Golf MatchUp.
O’Brien came to Disney in 2010 following its acquisition of Tapulous, which created the Tap Tap music game series that was an early mobile hit. At Disney, he helped launch the company’s most successful mobile game to date, Where’s My Water?, and negotiated Disney Mobile’s entry into China.
His departure comes at a time of unrest for Disney and rapid growth at Scopely. Although Disney’s Interactive division has reported three consecutive quarters of profitability, it laid off 700 people in March, ended in-house development of new console games and scaled back its mobile and social game roadmap. Meanwhile, Scopely claims its revenue has tripled in the past year and has launched a string of four consecutive chart-toppers.
As a mobile games publisher, Scopely tries to attract developers by promising to leverage its existing resources and network of 40 million players. CEO Walter Driver said in an interview with Re/code that O’Brien’s expertise in international partnerships, particularly in Asia, will be key.
“That’s a market that most of our independent developer partners don’t even know how to navigate,” Driver said. “It’s important to have partners on the ground to help them figure out how to scale.”
O’Brien said another one of his focuses at Scopely will be monetizing the huge majority of players who don’t pay for in-app purchases. In other words: Figuring out how to make mobile ads more lucrative.
He wouldn’t outright say that his decision to leave Disney was influenced by the company’s recent restructuring, but did indicate that “a lot of the folks I’ve worked with over the years have moved on.”
“I really wanted to get back into the startup game,” O’Brien said.