After working for a year working with a top 5 Private Equity group looking at acquisition targets in the Video Game industry it became obvious that THQ, by then too small for a PE group of this size, was in dire straits. Centerview, the Investment Bank that we were working with, approached Brian Farrell, THQ's CEO, and an emergency turnaround program was launched with Jason Kay and I placed in the roles of Chief Strategy Officer and President of THQI respectively.
To be sure, it was a risky proposition. By the time we joined THQ had lost 98% of its market capitalization from peak, and had announced that it had less than $75mm in the bank and was bleeding money. The company was being battered in the press.
Jason and I looked at THQ as a massive startup: high risk, but high potential reward. THQ still had a valuable IP library, incredible internal teams, like Volition, Vigil, Relic, and the wrestling group, and had some amazing 3rd party partnerships and titles like South Park, 4A's Metro: Last Light, and others. And, despite it's desperate state, THQ had some incredible employees that I am incredibly proud to have worked with and now count as friends.
The long term thesis was to get rid of the debt overhang, restructure, jettison physical publishing, and double down on the talented game development teams we were working with. In doing so we would have created the worlds largest game Developer.
It didn't pan out. A short time after joining we realized things were worse than we had been told. Not long thereafter management asked Centerview to bring in the Bankruptcy group.
At the same time we were holding together a 900 person under duress, restructuring the organization in order to take the company private, shipping two and producing the other 8 titles in the pipeline, and working to explain the situation to the public, we managed to generate a $65mm "Stalking Horse" bid from ClearLake Capital Group and create a path to success. But ClearLake and the Debt holders were a few million dollars from what either considered a "fair" deal, so the company was taken to auction. At that point my job became saving the teams that I had joined to manage and maximizing value for the debt holders.
When Jason and I started the company was losing 8 people a week. Two weeks later that had dropped to a negligible rate and that held firm for the entire 9 months to the Bankruptcy. Though we didn't save THQ, in the end we managed to find a home for almost every game development team and project. We came closer than a lot of people realize, I learned a hell of a lot, and most importantly I got to work with some incredible people.
Centerview and the Debt holders were arguing over a $65 or $75mm value for the company. The assets eventually brought in nearly $200mm at auction proving out the value proposition that Jason and I had identified when we started.
And, importantly, many of the teams I worked with at THQ went on to join me in the exploration of VR at Oculus...