PlayCo Global Inc., a fast-growing mobile gaming company, has recruited one of
Stephanie Adamson King is excited to become the “first general counsel” this month at PlayCo, she wrote on her LinkedIn profile. She’ll reunite with former
Waldron, a co-founder of gaming giant Zynga, co-founded PlayCo last year. The company hit unicorn status in September after raising $100 million at a $1 billion valuation to roll out a slate of games across multiple platforms.
The company, based in Tokyo, has its founders and top executives located in that city, Seoul, and San Francisco. PlayCo has said publicly its decentralized structure allows it to hire employees anywhere around the world.
“Starting to build our small but mighty legal team to support pioneering efforts in instant social gaming and working as a decentralized global team,” King said.
In a separate LinkedIn post, King said that PlayCo makes it “easier to connect with others around the world through play,” something of increased importance “as we bridge physical, emotional, and philosophical divides at home, at work, in life.”
King most recently led Twitter’s product and privacy teams as a deputy general counsel at the social media company, which hired her in January 2019 from AdRoll Inc. The online advertising technology company, now called NextRoll Inc., recruited King as its general counsel in 2014 after she spent four years in-house at Zygna.
Tod Cohen, another deputy general counsel who came to Twitter at the same time as King, joined O’Melveny & Myers as a partner in January. Twitter, which last year hired former FBI general counsel James Baker as a deputy general counsel, declined to comment on King’s departure.
Gaming companies, whether they’re startups or more established enterprises, have been busy in recent months bringing on legal talent as their valuations soared amid an influx of new players trapped at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Activision Blizzard Inc. announced March 2 its hire of Frances Townsend, who most recently served as general counsel for billionaire Ronald Perelman’s holding company, MacAndrews & Forbes Inc., as executive vice president for corporate affairs, chief compliance officer, and company secretary.
Townsend, a former Baker Botts partner and one-time Department of Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush, will oversee government affairs, public policy, communications, and other corporate functions for Activision, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based video game holding company.
“Gaming is a global and increasingly complicated business,” said Townsend, noting that Activision has 400 million players spread across 190 countries. “Lawyers are an important part of our business because we are committed to protecting our players and intellectual property, as well as advocating, anticipating, and preparing for regulatory changes.”
Bloomberg News reported in November that the pandemic-driven boom, which market observers expect to end soon despite big gains for some investors, has generated record revenues for video game companies like Activision. Activision has also benefited from the rise of esports, which saw their growing popularity increase last year with Covid-19 forcing other sports leagues to pause their operations.
Robert Kotick, Activision’s CEO, has known Townsend for over a decade. He said in a statement that she will bring “energy, intellect, and stewardship” to the company. Kotick also told Bloomberg TV last year that the growth of sports betting and fantasy leagues in the esports space will be a key part of Activision’s future.
FaZe Clan Inc., a privately held, Los Angeles-based esports company that co-owns a team in Activision’s Call of Duty League, announced Thursday its hire of chief legal officer and head of business and legal affairs Tamara “Tammy” Brandt.
Brandt joins FaZe from Dreamscape Immersive Inc., a virtual reality company where she spent nearly four years as legal chief. A FaZe spokeswoman confirmed Brandt has taken over from Philip Gordon at the esports company, which also promoted in-house lawyer Erika Georgiou to vice president of business and legal affairs and assistant secretary. FaZe hired another lawyer, Alyson Yamauchi, in August.
Other gaming companies with an emphasis on sports betting, such as rivals DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc., have also been adding lawyers with an expectation of regulatory changes that will expand their platforms—and bolster the bottom lines of some lucky law department leaders.
DraftKings and FanDuel—a subsidiary of Flutter Entertainment PLC—are among an increasing number of publicly traded gaming companies. AppLovin Corp., Roblox Corp., and Playtika Holding Corp., all of which operate in different segments of the gaming space, have filed to go public this year.
Their respective securities filings show the following:
AppLovin: The mobile gaming and marketing company, backed by private equity giant KKR & Co., filed for an initial public offering this month. AppLovin’s prospectus shows its legal chief—Victoria “Tory” Valenzuela, whom it hired last year—received nearly $2.7 million in total compensation in 2020. The bulk of Valenzuela’s pay, some $2.3 million, is in the form of option awards. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is advising AppLovin on its IPO, whose legal fees are not yet available.
Roblox: The digital gaming company reached a $45 billion valuation after going public this week. Roblox incurred $3 million in legal fees and expenses for its direct listing handled by Wilson Sonsini. The firm disclosed in securities filings that it owns less than 0.5% of Roblox stock, which closed Thursday at $74 per share. Roblox disclosed it paid $1.7 million—most of it in stock—to former Wilson Sonsini partner Mark Reinstra, whom it hired as general counsel a year ago.
Playtika: The Israeli mobile game developer raised more than $1.8 billion via an IPO in January. Playtika, bought by Chinese investors for $4.4 billion in 2016 from Caesars Entertainment Corp., and its former parent agreed to pay $38 million in February to settle an illegal gambling lawsuit. Playtika’s Newport Beach, Calif.-based general counsel Michael Cohen, a former Caesars lawyer, received nearly $22 million in total compensation last year, with $17.7 million of that sum in stock options and awards. Playtika’s IPO generated $5 million in legal costs for its lawyers at Latham & Watkins.