Digital Media Visionary Says 'Blindness' Is Key to Success

Michael Essany Headshot by Michael Essany on May 4, 2012
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Anthony Soohoo has the type of resume most entrepreneurs dream of possessing. The UC Davis grad and Harvard MBA rose to prominence in the digital media industry by first cutting his teeth in brand-management positions at Inktomi and Apple.

A standout from the start, Soohoo also illustrated his business prowess as COO of ALWAYSi, helping the company grow and facilitating its acquisition by Hollywood Media Corporation.

Soohoo would go on to become vice president and general manager at Yahoo. But in 2007, he joined CBS when the network acquired Dotspotter, the community-powered celebrity gossip blog he co-founded. Soohoo remained head of entertainment at CBS Interactive until leaving to pursue other ventures in the spring of 2011.

Now a seasoned veteran who knows how to build and sell valuable digital properties, it’s no surprise Soohoo’s name turned up on The Hollywood Reporter’s Digital Power List of the top 50 executives pioneering new media. But the still-youthful entrepreneur is only getting warmed up, as evidenced by his equally-youthful enthusiasm for innovation.

“Even when you have done it before,” Soohoo tells the Intuit Small Business Blog in reference to his latest startup, “a lot of starting a company is based on passion as well as faith and a little bit of ‘blindness’ in terms of not knowing what is possible so that you actually try the impossible.”

Launching a startup requires an open mind, regardless of how novice or experienced you are, he explains. “I think that there’s an element which in some respects makes it easier [to start a company] because you’ve done it before,” he says, “but learning to build up your muscle on suspending your disbelief is certainly something that when you first start a company that you really have to do.”

Today, Soohoo is devoting his talents and passion to Rumpus, a San Francisco-based mobile-gaming company that aims to build a new generation of social games. “Gaming is now a $62 billion industry, and we’re going through a lot of platform shifts right now where gameplay, instead of just being on a console, is being shifted to the device that people pick up first thing in the morning and last touch at night — their mobile phone.”

As the company’s co-founder and CEO, Soohoo is determined to help cultivate the future of video gaming, which will grow exponentially more social and interactive with each passing year. He believes that everything from users’ location data to the native tools on their smartphones will contribute to gaming’s ascension to a higher, more sophisticated, and immersive level.

“The games of the future will become more and more social, and the most social device you will have will probably be your mobile phone,” he observes. “We’ve only been around six months, but we’re really positive and excited about where we’re going. We work in a very dynamic industry, where the environment is going to change in a big way over the next five years.”

Soohoo estimates that the gaming industry “has the potential to be two, three, four, or even five times bigger than it currently is.” In fact, Soohoo concurs with many of his industry peers who argue that gaming could very well overtake the TV business as the #1 category in consumer entertainment in the next 10 years. He sees — and appreciates — this as a tremendous opportunity. “We feel privileged every day we come in and get to do something we’re passionate and excited about.”

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