Mikael Hed, the founder and former CEO of Rovio Entertainment, the company behind the Angry Birds franchise has formed a new entertainment company, Kaiken Entertainment, with focus on animation, publishing, and apps. “Kaiken in Finnish means ‘everything’, and alludes to the vision of the company,“ says Hed. “We want to be a 360-degree entertainment company. To me that means that while we’re starting from a story driven standpoint, we also want to create properties like amusement park rides, games or merchandise.”
The new company has purchased Rovio’s TV animation department located in Vancouver and Rovio’s publishing unit in Helsinki. The management buy-out is a natural progression for both parties, says Hed. “Over the past few years mobile gaming has transitioned entirely to free-to-play, but the paying audience there is much older than what we see as our audience, which is the family audience. So there is already a natural split between who we’re targeting,” he explains. “We already had this type of organization in the past, and now we’re taking a step further, making it a separate company.”
Kaiken Entertainment will continue to partner with Rovio in making short-form animation and serving as the master licensee of the Angry Birds brand in publishing. “We are very happy with our collaboration with Rovio, but we will also be working with a number of other companies, so we are not in an exclusive relationship, so to speak,” says Hed. “This is the right move. I feel like for us it’s an amazing opportunity to build something great. And for Rovio it’s something that makes the structure for them much simpler and allows them to focus on their core business, which is very much games focused.”
Hed, who stepped down as CEO of Rovio in 2014, has served as executive chairman for Rovio Animation since 2015, focusing on bringing “The Angry Birds Movie” to the big screen and will continue to work on its sequel. He will serve as executive chairman of Kaiken Entertainment from Los Angeles, and will transition out of his role at Rovio by summer.
Kaiken Publishing CEO Laura Nevanlinna will be head of franchise and portfolio Development in Helsinki. Veteran Rovio producers Ulla Junell and Joonas Rissanen, who built the Vancouver operation, have been appointed president of Kaiken Canada and Kaiken’s creative director respectively. “They are all longtime Rovio employees who have built both the animation and publishing businesses for us,” says Hed. “We’ve had great experiences with Kaiken Publishing already because we’ve seen that while Angry Birds is going strong we’ve been able to also develop many interesting new properties.”
Former Rovio, Aardman and DreamWorks senior executive Steve Pegram and Rovio’s president of animation, previously of Disney and DreamWorks, Tommy Korpinen have both joined Kaiken Entertainment’s Advisory Board.
“When I look at where we are right now I feel like I did when Angry Birds was taking off in 2009, 2010, but when I compare us to where we are now to where that company was then we have such an amazingly good starting point,” says Hed. “In 2009 we didn’t have the experience or the contacts or the funding that we have now. We had big plans back then but we hadn’t done it before and now we’re trying to build something that we’ve already built once. It’s exciting to be doing it again.”