Scopely’s Next Chapter

Greycroft
4 min readJul 12, 2023

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Mark Terbeek

Today is a significant milestone in Scopely’s amazing journey as Savvy Games Group officially closed its $4.9B acquisition of Scopely. The acquisition is one of the top 10 largest deals made among LA’s entertainment industry players, behind the likes of Fox, ABC, Paramount, Hulu, Bravo, MGM, and DirectTV.

On behalf of the entire team at Greycroft, we extend our congratulations to all Scopeleans, with a special acknowledgement to co-CEOs Walter Driver and Javier Ferreira and the entire Scopely leadership team. We deeply admire the dedication and persistence exhibited by the entire Scopely team and are truly inspired by the global category-defining company you have built.

We would also like to extend our congratulations to the Savvy Games Group, who now embark on an exciting journey collaborating closely with this world-class team and open the next chapter together in Scopely’s bright future.

From the very beginning, Greycroft’s support of Scopely has been a true team effort. We consider ourselves fortunate to have been part of nearly every financing round since the company’s inception. Dana Settle spearheaded our first investment during the initial seed round in 2011, and in 2016, I had the privilege of leading the Series B round and joining the Board, where I actively served on the compensation committee and the transaction committee.

As an investor and board member who has collaborated closely with Scopely for nearly a decade, I find myself reflecting on the invaluable learnings I gained from the Scopely team. These insights relate to scaling a world-class organization and are applicable to startups across various industries.

Talent Recruitment

Recognizing the importance of building a game-changing company in the space, the Scopely management team created and then diligently pursued a long-game strategy for talent recruitment. Their objective was to identify the most exceptional and experienced executives in the industry and to establish direct relationships with them. These discussions encompassed recruitment efforts but often extended over several years, ensuring the timing was ideal for these executives to join Scopely. In fact, in many cases, the initial roles that were discussed were no longer available, but new roles emerged that were an even better fit when the time was right for them to join. Scopely was able to build deep conviction about these executives’ potential and the executives were able to build trust and confidence in Scopely as the company continued to execute during the period of these discussions. Impressively, the Scopely team continued persistent relationship building even if the initial outreach did not immediately result in a hire.

Scopely’s approach was never transactional; instead, it focused on convincing the industry’s top talent to join the company and to make a significant long-term impact. Essentially, most of Scopely’s recruiting pipeline was generated on an outbound basis. This rifle shot strategy is very different from how most companies search to fill open roles and proved critical to its success.

Playing the Long Game

Scopely’s mission, “Inspire Play, Every Day,” perfectly encapsulates its success in creating enduring game experiences that engage and inspire players to return daily and ultimately for the long-term. The Scopely team fundamentally understood the delicate tradeoff between the urgency to build scale and the patience to ensure its games were ready to delight its players.

All businesses face internal and external pressures to demonstrate growth and scale. Sometimes these forces compel a team to release a product or game to the market before it is ready. While there can be a short-term revenue bump to help a company “make its plan,” if the product or game is still immature, usage and retention often sag, and the resulting revenues and profits are not maximized. The Scopely team was relentlessly data-driven as it tested new games before full worldwide launch. The company would systematically test games with limited users in several geographies. Despite many examples of early promising metrics, the team would often continue to iterate on the game design and game mechanics until they were fully satisfied the game was ready to move into full launch mode in order to truly inspire and captivate players. There were several times when the company could have launched individual games to the market earlier to satisfy these pressures, but the team trusted its instincts and experience and waited until the testing data suggested the game was truly optimized for a successful launch.

In each case, the extra time and iterations created a deeper connection with Scopely’s players and as a result, these games went on to become beloved player experiences as well as material and durable revenue and profit drivers for Scopely, rather than only short-term contributors.

A Constant Learning Machine

Scopely scaled from a team of 30 in one location (Los Angeles) at its seed round, to now over 2000 Scopeleans in more than a dozen markets across five continents. In order to grow this dramatically while preserving a unified culture across this vast footprint, Scopely intentionally created a “learning machine operating system” so its teammates could make great decisions in a highly distributed and decentralized manner.

As companies scale, the demands on the senior management team also grow. At Scopely, the number of employees grew dramatically, the number of shareholders expanded with each round, and even the number of Board members grew. Each of these stakeholders creates time demands and can crowd out management’s ability to focus on growing and improving the business.

To solve this challenge, the Scopely management team was able to drive performance accountability at the individual game team level. Decision making was aligned with individual game performance and driven by the teams running each game so that scale could be achieved without losing the critical input of the executives creating and managing each game.

Looking back, I am very proud of Scopely’s growth and evolution into a global category-defining company. Scopely’s acquisition by Savvy Games Group is a testament to the remarkable achievements of the entire team and the enduring value they created.

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Greycroft

A seed-to-growth venture capital firm that partners with exceptional entrepreneurs to build the world’s most transformative companies.