I am not sure if this is the same for all other founders and CEOs out there, but a lot of the time we feel like a different species than the majority of people. And I don't think I mean that in an egotistic or arrogant way (maybe it is, who knows) personally I often lose myself in concepts and strategy when others seem focused on the problem and how it affects them.
Because of this I have been thinking a lot about what drives myself and other founders, and I have come to the conclusion it’s about building. I love building and creating on all levels, be it a new graffiti piece on my garage wall, painting a D&D miniature, creating a new company structure, Investigating the relevance of AI, helping to foster ambition or digging into the technicalities of spinning up a new company.
2022 has been a year of building and learning, and I am proud to say that we begin 2023 with the strongest team AOE has ever fielded
I haven't written something like this before so I’m going to go a bit into history (I promise not to take long). We started AOE in Oct 2018, just myself Markel and Nabil working out of my spare room in an apartment building. We quickly grew to 6 core people and were honestly quite surprised at what we could achieve and who wanted to work with us. Fast forward to 2022 and we are 30 strong (including a few contractors), weathering a quasi-recession and looking at how we can capitalize and grow. I personally have never felt more fulfilled, stressed, worried, elated, hyped, angry, jealous and focused. And that's just Tuesday...
It’s funny that a few years ago all everyone could talk about was the esports bubble and it bursting but now that it actually has no one is talking about it. I guess once you're part of the drama, it isn't quite as fun any more.
And just to be abundantly clear “Yes the bubble has burst”. Esports has gone from being the buzzword that you just had to put in your investment deck, to the term that people are trying to escape being associated with. If NFT is a term you can't mention to the general public then esports is a term you can't say to investors. Sadly this means that there are some super talented people doing amazing things that are not getting the support they deserve because they are intrinsically associated with the term.
And yes all the reasons we warned about are the reasons it burst. But the primary reason is the fact that many American investors are either low-key addicted to the gamble or don't check the numbers enough and listen to the right people. Esports in fact still has a huge potential for profit and growth but not at the insane valuations or viewership numbers that the so called” Thought leaders” are touting on Linkedin or in their investment decks.
This and the current financial state of the world has all led to the big POP! We are seeing this ripple across all industries, but in esports alone it can be best seen by the actions of sponsors in big leagues, broadcast rights not being renewed, teams collapsing, drastically down sizing or finally having to diversify and publishers reducing support for high level competitive play and placing it in a more secure marketing avenue.. Influencers.
Now this all may seem like doom and gloom but honestly I feel that esports can somewhat fall back on its more profitable direction prior to the bubble forming and regain its steady growth with the few brands that have been following a profitable trajectory the entire time. We will see an influx in influencer backed entertainment esports events and organizers like TakeTV, Combo Breaker and Beyond the Summit will retake their spot as the true leaders of the esports revolution.
We have always described AOE as the nerdy company, as a creative agency we pride ourselves on being able to get nerdy about pretty much anything. The key is to find what you love about a project and dive head first into it. Applying passion is the priority and really owning what you are working on so that you truly want to see it succeed and not just be another paycheck.
As a company of nerds we are most well known for our work in gaming. However we have clients that have little to no connection to this space, such as: Law Firms and Tech services to apparel companies and makeup brands. Our true power lies in our knowledge of the younger and more connected audience. We know what makes them tick and more importantly we know how to speak their language.
In 2023 we have a goal to take a few more steps into the larger agency space and offer our services to connect the younger audience across many industries. Obviously we are not leaving gaming any time soon but we honestly find it as fun to work on real-estate or banking as we would working on Ashes of Creation (Hit me up Steven).
Committing to Culture
I know this is a buzz term, but we mean it damn it!
Our C Suite is Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, and while that is purely accidental (not going to lie) it does give us a unique perspective on adaptation of culture in the workplace. I am humbled every day by the way our team vibes together and I will attempt to protect that environment with every fiber of my being for as long as I can.
As mentioned before, we are nerds, we play games, we have fun. We believe strongly that if you can't have fun at work then you are probably in the wrong place. This core pillar helped us a lot with hiring the strong team we have today. We hire for culture first even over qualifications and experience. This is because we feel that people who fit in with the team work better, harder and are more dedicated to the company as a whole.
Here are a few of our culture red flags when hiring:
- Clout Chasers - If you post a lot of “I Did” “I am the” “I made” on social media then AOE is not the place for you, we are a workplace for people that get shit done and praise those around them more than ourselves
- CV Embellishment - I feel like people don't think employers read into a CV or check someone's LinkedIn. If you are a server at an Arby’s and learned a lot from it, then own that learning! It's not what you did it's what you learned that makes you attractive
- Negative Chaotic Energy - This one might seem odd but people that have a negative chaotic energy keep others on edge, their energy bleeds into the workspace and can really knock people of their vibe
- Destructive Cynics - Don't get me wrong, as an Englishman I can be cynical with the best of them, but there are two types of cynic. The constructive cynic is someone that has a cynical way about them but is always thinking of how to improve the situation. And the destructive cynic, who is someone that thinks they are smarter or better and only points out the flaws (We also call them a Milos).
What's Next? - The Kaiju Stirs
Deep in the stars lies a place of infinite mystery and wonder. A land of opportunity, creativity and possibility where all are welcomed with open claws, or tentacles, or paws!
This is the Land of the Rolling Stars
Watch this space!