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How Real Leaders Make It Big

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How Real Leaders Make It Big

Whatever your definition of success, you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t want to get there someday. We all do. The question is, how?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that to be rhetorical or even a provocative question. I mean to answer it directly. But first, let’s make sure we’re asking the right question. Maybe instead of “how,” we should be asking “what?”

“What” is whatever you’re passionate about. Whatever gets your juices flowing? What drives you, motivates you, inspires you? If you don’t know what that is yet, that’s cool. We’ve all been there. But the only way to find it is by getting out in the real world and working, playing, and learning. You know, doing stuff. Getting experience.

I found my “what” in the high-tech industry. I certainly wasn’t alone. So did lots of successful entrepreneurs and executives like Steve Jobs, Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, to name a few. But once they got there, the real question is, how? How did they rise to the top?

And therein lies the rub. “How?” is a very tricky question. The answer is definitely not the same for everyone, but when you break it down, there really are just a handful of ways to make it big … or so it would seem.

Do your own thing.

Every great company on earth was founded by someone. Virgin’s Richard Branson, FedEx’s Fred Smith, Whole Foods’ John Mackey – it’s a long, long list. I chose those three because, while their passions couldn’t have been more different, they each found a problem they wanted solved and went for it.

Branson wanted cheaper records, so he sold discount records by mail order. Mackey wanted healthier food, so he started a health-food store. Smith wanted shipments to be faster and more efficient, so he modeled FedEx to be like a bank clearing house, except with planes and trucks.

The “how,” in this case, is finding a problem that needs to be solved – that you personally want solved in a big way – coming up with a solution, and then going for it without stopping to look back.

Climb the corporate ladder.

Everyone may want to make it big on their own these days, but if I had to guess, I’d say that at least as many people have highly successful and fulfilling careers in the corporate world as in entrepreneurial endeavors. That’s the route Weiner took and now he’s running LinkedIn. Not a bad result, if you ask me.

In fact, I didn’t have a passion right out of school and, since my folks were about as far from risk-takers as you could get, entrepreneurship wasn’t in my blood. So I climbed the corporate ladder, became a senior executive, and that gave me the knowledge and experience I needed to spend the second half of my career as a consultant and writer.

The “how,” in that sense, is excelling at your job function, aggressively taking on more and more responsibility, and helping to make your company the best at what it does. That paid off big-time for Weiner, for me, and for millions of others.

Piggyback on a startup or two.

One of the biggest problems I see in our culture is the tendency to see everything in black-and-white terms. Nothing is ever really black or white. The real world is entirely made up of shades of gray. And making it big in your career is no exception.

While you’ll commonly hear the career question framed as something like, “Do you want to be your own boss or spend your whole life working for the man in some corporate behemoth?” those are definitely not your only two choices.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer joined Google right out of school. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak worked for founder Nolan Bushnell at Atari. Actually, all three Apple founders worked there. I worked for two startups that went public, as well as two smallish public companies.

When searching for the right startup or smallish company to join, you don’t just want one with great potential, you want one that needs what you bring to the party. That way, you can be a big fish in a little pond.

The point is, there are lots of ways to make it big. The last thing you want to do is limit your potential by cutting yourself off from a world of opportunities. My career has been a combination of all three methods; you can even mix and match.

Look at it this way. Life is long. Think of your career as a marathon, not a sprint. Just take it one step at a time and always put your best foot forward. That’s how you do it.

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Russian Gamer Brothers Are the Newest Hidden Billionaires

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Russian-born Igor and Dmitry Bukhman are seeking growth to challenge Tencent and Activision.

Almost two decades ago, in a remote Russian city best known for its butter and linen, two brothers shared a bedroom and a Pentium 100-powered computer they used to code their first game.

Wall Street wants a piece of what they’ve built since.

Playrix has met with some of the biggest banks “and visited their skyscrapers,” said Dmitry Bukhman, 34, citing meetings with dealmakers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. For now, though, “we are focused on growing the business.”

He and Igor Bukhman, 37, are the brains behind Playrix Holding Ltd., the creator of popular games similar to Candy Crush, including Fishdom and Gardenscapes, with more than 30 million daily users from China to the U.S. and annual sales of $1.2 billion, according to Newzoo. That makes the company one of the top 10 iOS and Google Play app developers by revenue, data from researcher AppAnnie show, putting Playrix in the same league as Tencent Holdings Ltd., NetEase Inc. and Activision Blizzard Inc.

Playrix Mobile Gaming Founders Dmitri And Igor Bukhman
Igor, left, and Dmitri Bukhman in Tel Aviv.Photographer: Corinna Kern/Bloomberg

Today, each brother is worth about $1.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. They haven’t previously appeared in a global wealth ranking.

Their road to riches started in 2001 in the city of Vologda, almost 300 miles (483 kilometers) north of Moscow, where Igor learned from a university professor that he could sell software online. He decided to try with Dmitry, who was still in high school at the time.

“We had no experience, no business understanding whatsoever—everything we could imagine was writing games,” Igor said.

The U.S. is Playrix’s biggest market, followed by China and Japan, the brothers said in a recent interview in Tel Aviv, where they spend some of their time. The two remotely manage about 1,100 employees, including personnel at its Ireland headquarters and developers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

“For $3 billion we won’t sell”

The brothers’ first product was a game akin to Xonix in which players must use a cursor to open pieces of a hidden picture before being struck by flying balls. They wrote it during a summer break and generated $60 in the first month and later $100 a month, about half of the average salary in Vologda.

“We thought, ‘If one game makes $100, we can write several dozen of them and make a lot of money,”’ Igor said.

Their second game, featuring an animated character designed by an outsourced artist, brought in $200 a month. Their copycat of Tetris brought in $700 a month, but the brothers shut that down after learning that the game was protected by a license. In 2004, when the business reached $10,000 of monthly revenue, they registered a legal entity, rented space for an office in the basement of a book warehouse and hired other staff to accelerate production.

In the early years, they sold casual games through sites such as majorgeeks.com or download.com, before moving to bigger platforms like Yahoo! and AOL. Then, within the past decade, games started moving first to Facebook and then smartphones. Many of them were available for free, with users paying only for certain in-game features.

Playrix makes most of its money from in-app purchases and the brothers mostly shun advertising, which detracts from the user experience. Ads generate less than 3 percent of revenue, Dmitry said.

relates to Russian Gamer Brothers Are the Newest Hidden Billionaires
GardenscapesSource: Playrix

“It was a major challenge for us to switch to developing free-to-play games—that’s totally different DNA,” Dmitry said. “Free-to-play games aren’t games that you develop, release and move on to making another one. They are services that need to be supported constantly as users are waiting for regular updates.”

Playrix succeeded in this transition, achieving worldwide recognition over the past three years with Gardenscapes and its sequel, Homescapes, a new variety of match-3 puzzle in which a player completes rows of at least three elements to pass levels and progress through an animated storyline—in this case, helping a butler named Austin renovate a house with a garden.

“Austin engages in dialog with you, you help him to select ways to decorate the mansion, you dive into the history of this character and become related with him,” Dmitry said. “This genre variety we introduced—match-3 with meta game—became very successful, and other companies started copying us.”

“Playrix is certainly responsible for the first major innovation in the match-3 genre since King Digital Entertainment Plc seemingly had the market locked down with Candy Crush,” said Newzoo analyst Tom Wijman. “Playrix managed to add a layer of complexity and ‘meta game’ to the match-3 genre without driving away casual mobile players.”

The company employs several full-time script writers who work on Austin’s dialog, and it’s always improving the games, Dmitry said.

“It’s like apps, like Spotify—people can use them for years,” he said. “More and more people are getting accustomed that it’s perfectly normal. Why not pay $5 to get pleasure from playing a game on a smartphone rather than watching videos or listening to music?”

relates to Russian Gamer Brothers Are the Newest Hidden Billionaires
HomescapesSource: Playrix

While Playrix hasn’t introduced a new title since 2017, the company recently acquired several gaming studios to expand into new genres, Igor said, declining to disclose which studios until it releases games developed by them later this year.

Successful titles attract whales. Activision Blizzard acquired King Digital in 2015 for $5.9 billion, and a year later Tencent led investors in an  $8.6 billion deal to acquire a majority stake in “Clash of Clans” maker Supercell Oy.

Could Playrix be next? In February, the Information reported that it could be sold for $3 billion, citing Chinese firms iDreamSky Technology Holdings and FunPlus Game Co. as potential suitors.

The brothers dismissed the report.

“For $3 billion we won’t sell,” Dmitry said with a smile, while acknowledging that Playrix had been discussing strategic options as recently as last year, noting its meetings with Wall Street banks.

Their goal, for now, is to become a “top-tier gaming company,” that rivals Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts in the West, and NetEase Inc. and Tencent in China, Igor said.

“We want to grow as big as they are, using developer talent from our region—the former USSR and Eastern Europe,” he said.

There’s no magic number that would compel the Bukhmans to sell the company, because they say money is secondary to doing what they love.

“Some may think that when you have a lot of money, everything becomes different and more interesting, you start doing different things,” Dmitry said. “But no. We just keep working.”

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KPMG RELOCATING IN STAMFORD, ADDING 110 JOBS

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KPMG LLP plans to add 110 jobs over the next five years in a new Stamford office.

The audit, tax and advisory firm recently signed a long-term lease and plans to renovate space in the former UBS building at 677 Washington Boulevard, which it expects to occupy next spring. KPMG has had a presence in Stamford for nearly 40 years, where it currently employs 315 professionals at its location at 3001 Summer St. The firm’s Hartford office has 231 employees.

“KPMG’s commitment to growing its operations and creating jobs in Connecticut is a testament to our top-notch workforce and unbeatable quality of life,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said. “It is an encouraging sign that world-class companies are continually choosing to set up or expand operations in our state.”

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development is supporting the business expansion in Stamford with a $3 million grant in arrears for leasehold improvements, equipment and other project-related costs. Portions of the grant will be released when certain job-creation milestones are met.

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THE 7 MOST IN-DEMAND TECH JOBS FOR 2018

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The 7 most in-demand tech jobs for 2018

CIO | Jun 6, 2018

From data scientists to data security pros, the battle for the best in IT talent will wage on next year. Here’s what to look for when you’re hiring for the 7 most in-demand jobs for 2018 — and how much you should offer based on experience.

 

 

 

 

Source: Computer World

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