The Gaming Founders Podcast Episode: The Rise of UGC: Uri Marchand, Founder of Overwolf
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 Uri Marchand, Co-Founder and CEO of Overwolf, one of the biggest platforms for creators to build, share and monetize mods, user-generated content, and companion apps for their favorite games. After 13 years, 98,000 creators, and 33 million players a month, Overwolf now functions across more than 1000 supported games.
In this episode, you’ll hear Uri discuss the early days solving problems like Skype freezing when a text came in, Overwolf’s many ups and downs raising and running out of money, the many necessary pivots until finding their lane as a platform for third-party creators, and the continual scaling challenges and pressure to grow the business.
Overwolf’s origin story
Solving problems in the early days - Skype, Starcraft, World of Warcraft
Failed strategies early on, and challenges finding funding
Pinpointing problems that plague developers
2015’s first app for League of Legends
Acquisitions and integrations - at the time, creators wanted people to stay out of their creations
Building a modding strategy, hiring more staff, and acquiring Curseforge
The five-year gap in fundraising from Series A to B, team growth driven by P&L
Careful, planned scaling and growth - avoiding toxic pressure to grow too quickly
The Tel Aviv tech space
Communication, core values, and target numbers changing over time
Lessons learned? You can’t plan one year ahead in startups. Detailed vision for 90 days is now the standard for Overwolf.
Overwolf is strictly tools and services for third-party creators - and will remain so
The Gaming Founders Podcast is brought to you by Pragma, 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. CEO of Pragma Eden Chen was also the founder of Fisherman Labs and Lightmark Capital and was previously an investment banker at Citigroup and Lehman Brothers. Kevin Zhang leads the healthcare and gaming practices at Upfront Ventures. Upfront has backed standout teams across all technology sectors with a current focus in healthcare, fintech, consumerization of enterprise software, gaming, computer vision, and AgTech/ sustainability.
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 co-founder 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.