“2010 was a record year for Habbo Hotel in many ways. Not only did we celebrate our 10 year anniversary, but our user base, sales and profitability continued to increase,” was a comment by the former CEO of Sulake – Timo Soininen back in 2011.
Since then, the company has been experiencing very rough times, receiving extremely bad press, closing down offices outside of Finland and laying off 2/3 of the workforce.
Paul LaFontaine, who was appointed CEO on the 7th of September 2011 just stepped down from the position. Whether this is bad or good news for the company, remains to be seen. However what is definitely needed is a clear direction and strong leadership. When we last wrote about Sulake, we used an image above to signify the downsizing, but we are now afraid that the below image is more appropriate.
Still, not all is gloom. The company that was once 9th most valued start-up in the world is not giving up just yet. They have recently opened up a platform around the Habbo Hotel that will allow game studios around the world to develop games for the Habbo Hotel gaming platform with an open API and we have seen some positive reviews of the matter.
During an interview with Paul LaFontaine in October last year, he was very optimistic about the future and was excited that one third of their 230 million users (Accurate as of February 2012) have tried the recently launched third-party game. When asked about the future he replied:
“We need to see where we end up. It means on the corporate levels, we have new initiatives and we are going to refocus on the Habbo community only. Incredible focus on just one aspect of the business.”
Perhaps the “new initiatives on the corporate levels” was already a hint at his possible resignation. That being said, the new CEO – Markku Ignatius has been a part of Sulake since 2006 and knows the company inside and out. “To me, the story of Habbo has always been a story about the Community” said Ignatius and perhaps that is exactly the attitude that is needed in order to save and grow the company.