The Gaming Founders Podcast: The Halo Effect, 3x Gaming Entrepreneur Alex Seropian
Welcome to The Gaming Founders Podcast, where we interview founders that have shaped the gaming industry. You’ll hear origin stories, tactics that helped founders and companies survive and thrive, and key lessons for anyone building the next generation of gaming companies. Your hosts are Eden Chen, CEO of Pragma and Kevin Zhang, Partner at Upfront Ventures.
Today’s guest is Alex Seropian, the mind behind Bungie (1991-2004), Wideload Games (2004-2012), and Industrial Toys (2012-2023). Alex put Xbox on the map with Halo, was one of the first to focus on mobile shooters, and successfully exited all three of the startups he founded - to Microsoft, Disney, and EA Studio.
In this episode, you’ll hear how Alex began playing and coding games in high school computer class on a Commodore PET, the process of creating Mac games and starting Bungie, the Halo deal with Microsoft, Alex’s time at Disney, and the eventual founding of Industrial Toys.
Alex’s dad bought him the Sears-branded version of The Atari 2600 in the 80s
Playing arcade games in downtown Ardsley NY, and high school computer class on a Commodore Pet
Reverse engineering Mac games
Origins of the name Bungie - shrouded in mystery
Funding Bungie - raising money with a VHS video appeal
Early game designs in the 90s
Halo made many designers want to get into the industry
The Microsoft deal
Halo and its sequels, deadlines, and the Microsoft relationship
Evolving roles for founders Alex and Jason
The Disney days - surrounded by excellence in entertainment
Shifts and challenges in the mobile industry
EA - a very different experience than Disney
Advice for the younger Alex - go fast, and hire a COO sooner
The Gaming Founders Podcast is brought to you by Eden Chen, CEO of Pragma, and Kevin Zhang, Partner at Upfront Ventures.
Pragma is a venture-backed backend game engine founded by the engineering leaders who built the platforms for some of the largest live service games including League of Legends, Fortnite, Destiny 2, and Plants vs. Zombies 2. Pragma powers services like accounts, matchmaking and player data for the world’s most ambitious live service games. Eden Chen is a serial entrepreneur and cofounder of Pragma, Fishermen Labs and Lightmark Capital, and started his career in investment banking at Citigroup and Lehman Brothers.
Founded in 1996 in Los Angeles with investing professionals based in LA and SF, Upfront Ventures has backed startup teams across all technology sectors, with about half in Southern California, and the rest across the US and Europe. Kevin Zhang is an avid gamer and former neurobiology researcher who leads gaming and healthcare investments at Upfront Ventures, including Pragma.