In early December, core social game developer Kixeye announced it was opening a new office in Victoria, British Columbia, which would be run by General Manager Clayton Stark. We sat down to talk with Stark about getting the new studio set up and what it’s working on.
Stark’s an internet technology veteran with about 20 years of experience, having previously worked with Kixeye CEO Will Harbin. Back in 2004, he delivered Netscape Browser to Harbin (when he was at AOL). He continued working on web browsers for a while; the most recent high-profile project was Flock, which Zynga bought. After working at Zynga for almost two years, he came over to Kixeye.
Kixeye Canada isn’t currently working on a new game, either social or mobile. Instead, Stark tells us he’s bringing new staff on quickly to work on the company’s new platform. As of right now, there are 15 people in the Kixeye Canada office and the team is busy getting the new Kixeye.com platform ready for its debut. Currently, the platform is in closed beta, but we’re told it’ll open up to the public sometime later this quarter.
“It’s a project that was started before we [in Victoria] got involved, so there was a lot of groundwork laid down in San Francisco,” he says. “So we went in and started working with the folks down in San Francisco. We’re doing a closed beta first to get our really engaged users in to look around at what we’ve done and will then open it up for a public beta after we’ve gotten that user validation.”
British Columbia’s recently become a hotbed for game development, both on the social and mobile sides; KANO/APPS is also in Victoria and Vancouver is home to groups like Slant Six Games and East Side Games. Stark says Victoria’s gone from being a government city to a technology city; he tells us the technology sector there is now three times the size of its tourism industry thanks to groups like Microsoft, Zynga and a thriving independent game development community establishing a foothold.
“Technology in general has really blossomed up here,” he explains. “There’s a lot of available talent up here, which isn’t lost on companies. The competition for talent is a little less intense than other areas like San Francisco.”
The government is also making Victoria an increasingly-appealing location to set up shop in, Stark says, thanks to a number of financial incentives that are being used to tempt companies. “There’s a lot of grants available from the government of Canada. They provide a lot of tax credits as well as investment inducement techniques that mean you can grow a company here. There’s just a ton of support from the government.”
Much like Kixeye’s San Francisco headquarters, Kixeye Canada is on a hiring streak and isn’t slowing down. Stark says he’s hoping to bring the office up to 40 or 50 people, and anyone interested should check out the open positions currently listed on the web.