Los Angeles
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  BULLSEYE
Business Development

About me


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See a more succinct profile
and connect with me on LinkedIn
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Here is an interview done with me
in the Austin Business Journal.
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A representative sample
of some of the ventures
in which I've been involved:
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FRED SCHMIDT

     For 30 years I have had the privilege of working on staff or as a consultant to some of the most innovative creative content and enduring brands in entertainment.

     During high school and for awhile afterward I worked in Detroit radio as an on-air personality while also being a roadie at night for great bands like the MC5, Stooges, Alice Cooper and Bob Seger in venerable music venues like the Grande, Eastown and Palladium ballrooms.
     While earning my degree at Wayne State University I worked in market research as an analyst and consultant for two firms which had as clients major political campaigns, media companies, universities and entertainment properties.  Studies included work for ABC News in NYC and ABC-owned TV stations, Hearst, Post, Cox and many others.
     This was a massively transformational period in media and I happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Our work evolved from traditional broadcasting to conducting foundation research that defined what satellite programming television channels would become.  My projects included
Home Box Office (HBO), MTV, CNN, ESPN and The Movie Channel, just to name a few.
     I then moved on to the operations and marketing side of the cable television franchising and building boom working as an exec with TIme Inc cable systems in New England, Prime Cable and Whitney Cablevision in DC, the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.
     Uninspired by cable TV, I moved into the nascent world of computer games.  My first job in games was in Baltimore as head of marketing for a young MicroProse Software, home of Sid Meier, a future Hall-of-Fame game designer. Our team built that company to great success domestically, focusing on military action simulation and strategy games.  I also set up our UK-based European operations.
     I left MicroProse just prior to its IPO to join brothers Robert and Richard Garriott, Chris Roberts and Dallas Snell at another high-quality emerging game studio, ORIGIN Systems in Austin, TX which specialized in fantasy role playing games.  First I headed business development, then became General Manager.  We built that company up very successfully too in the USA, Europe and Japan, eventually being acquired by publishing giant Electronic Arts.  I stayed with EA for a couple of years, then moved on to do some entrepreneurial ventures of my own.
     That's when I first started Bullseye Business Development.  My clients quickly included several game software companies in both the USA and Europe.  I also consulted on strategy to a large 1,500-seat restaurant and music venue, another large music amphitheater, launched a jazz radio station for the LBJ family company and many other diverse and engaging projects.
     This is also the period when I developed my family business, Wild About Music (WAM) in Austin, a unique music lifestyle retail operation and e-commerce site.  18 years later it's a thriving seven-figure enterprise that also includes privately branded merchandise lines, a publishing and wholesale business, and offsite shows. In 2012 we opened a companion fashion boutique, Austin Rocks Texas, and in April 2014 we acquired the iconic 27-year-running Austin retail business, Toy Joy. And we even experimented for four years in the mid-2000's with a large WAM store in the Santa Monica area of Los Angeles.
     While all that was going on, I got a call from Robert Garriott that our old management team was regrouping to launch North American and European operations for the giant South Korean massively muliplayer online game company, NCsoft.  I jumped on board as head of strategic development, marketing and sales. Together we took our territories to $70M in revenue within two years of launch, and had five development studios in the USA plus a UK support operation in Brighton.
     After NCsoft, I re-connected with our old MicroProse management team to build a new massively multiplayer game company focused purely on military and espionage action games.  It was called Thriller Publishing and Thriller New Media and I served as CEO.  For two years we cranked out multiple business plans to raise the large funds needed to make big (then smaller) MMO games.  We were repeatedly told it was too late in the market for that type of investment.  We never found our funding.  But, interestingly, during this same period, Wargaming.net formed in Belarus (of all places) and has gone on to be a hugely successful company and product line.  That should have been us.
     So that brings us current, to Portalarium, where I served as CEO, reuniting with my ORIGIN and NCsoft partners, Richard Garriott and Dallas Snell for a 3rd round, this time doing mobile and social games.  We raised a $7M Series A.  We signed a publishing deal with social games leader, Zynga.  Our talented dev team worked diligently on several product offerings, having to retool several times as technologies, platforms and markets kept shifting.  Even with all that solid foundation, success was very hard and elusive.
     Painful new lessons learned over the past 5 years:  Even with all the basics of sound business strategy covered -- experienced team, good products, solid funding, a big distribution pipe -- success is never assured.  A dose of good luck, a prayer from above, the unpredictable fortune of perfect timing... whatever you want to call it, it's one more critical piece of the package.  And you have no control over it whatsoever.
      Fortunately our Portalarium team is strong, resourceful and determined.  So in Q1/2013 we launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new game combined with our own website to be able to build an ongoing community and continue to accept pledges from backers/fans/customers.  The focus now has pivoted back to our roots in fantasy role playing games and the design chops of co-founder and Hall Of Fame game designer, Richard "Lord British" Garriott and his longtime design collaborator, Starr Long, both of the legendary Ultima Series and Ultima Online games of Electronic Arts.  The game and online site is called Shroud Of The Avatar and has raised over $4 million in one year from enthusiastic supporters.
     At this point I stepped down from my role as founding CEO of Portalarium after 3-1/2 years.  I am not a developer and so had no immediate value to add to the team while they went back into the coding bunker, plus it helped lighten unnecessary overhead from the project.  I remain a substantial investor/shareholder and continue to serve as an adviser to my longtime colleagues as needed.
     This opportunity also enabled me to spin up my consultancy once more and to pursue a couple of other interests which had been forming:  To become involved in the amazing Austin incubator/accelerator facility, Capital Factory, where I serve as a mentor to a number of exciting new startups.  And also to serve build an amazing new tech and creative industries pipeline between Austin and the London Borough of Hackney for which I now serve as Founding Chair of the Austin-Hackney Sister Cities Committee (website coming soon but here is a good foundational story in Silicon Hills News).
 
 
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