Smart couple hit a fantasy jackpot
And while they might look like something out of the global phenomenon Pokémon, they were actually born in Barcelona, in a company evolving from the dream of two friends, Andrés Bou and Horacio Martos.
After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering from Barcelona Tech (UPC), they travelled to France to learn how to set up a business.
The result was the emergence of Social Point in 2008, and, since then, Horacio and Andrés, both in their early thirties, have established themselves as leaders in Spain’s video-game sector.
But even they couldn’t have dreamed of what was to follow because US giant Take-Two, a publisher and distributor of video-games, whose products include the popular Grand Theft Auto series, has bought the company for $250m (around 234m euros).
Yet Gonzo Suárez, co-founder of the video-game congress Gamelab, is unhappy with the transaction. “It’s a huge success for them, but a bitter-sweet one because successful companies always end up being sold,” he said. And he believes this often means losing their original appeal.
But Horacio and Andrés, their pockets overflowing, are overjoyed, while Take-Two hopes the acquisition will strengthen its hand in the free-to-play, mobile-gaming market.
The company, which until now has focused on console and PC formats, sees a proven track record of growth in Social Point that shows no sign of slowing. The reasons: a portfolio of products still to be launched in the vast Asian market.
Some 300 employees, an 85m-euro turnover in 2015 and 180 million downloads … these kind of figures are way beyond what the partners could have envisaged during their days at business school.
Furthermore, 50% of revenue comes from the United States, a key factor in the multi-million acquisition.
Just four years ago, Social Point’s founders had highlighted the difficulties of gaining funding in Spain. “The amounts we were looking for, between 5-6m euros, weren’t happening there,” said Andrés, back in January 2013.
He believes the key to their success came from competing with the big multi-nationals, earning themselves a global reputation in the process.
Dragon City and Monster Legends, their two flagships, are now played in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
In Spain, 1% of companies in the electronic-games sector control 52% of turnover, and Social Point has a 16.7% share.
José María Moreno, head of the Spanish Association of Videogames (AEVI), says the acquisition of Social Point “will allow further development of video-games in Spain, with new projects with a global dimension.”
He hopes investments such as the Take-Two one “will help raise the profile of the sector in terms of economic policies”.
He added that the Spanish Government should see video-games as a “strategic sector”, just as countries such as Canada have.
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