Rovio is the Finnish company behind Angry Birds, one of the biggest mobile game apps reaching 250 million combined game downloads across all platforms. David Maisel is the former chairman of Marvel Studios before Disney swallowed the comic book company whole. He plans on serving as executive producer of future Angry Birds films after receiving executive producer credits on Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Hulk, Thor, and the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger. Rovio announced Maisel’s hiring today, saying “As a Special Advisor to Rovio, David will help build the company’s entertainment strategy and transition Rovio to new areas in the entertainment business. David was instrumental in rebooting Marvel Studios and turning it into a blockbuster-producing powerhouse,” said Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio. “We welcome his experience and vision as we continue broadening our entertainment production scope at Rovio.”
David Maisel joined Marvel Entertainment in 2003 and was one of the architects behind the strategy to launch the film studio and start self-financing Marvel movies by creating the $525M non-recourse finance facility. But it was decided that Kevin Feige, the president, would run things at Marvel Studios under Walt Disney Studios. One reason was that Maisel got into some very public feuds with certain stars and directors. (See my previous, Ed Norton And Marvel In ‘Hulk’-ing Feud. Hopefully, he wont get the Angry Birds riled up, too.) Hollywood can say what it will about Maisel — and believe me, people do, since he was not Mr. Popularity — but the facts are he launched the successful Iron Man franchise, and less successfully the Hulk reboot. And he helped facilitate Bob Iger’s ambition for a Disney/Marvel relationship. Maisel had been at Marvel since 2003.
“I’m very honored and excited to join Rovio, and my goal is to help unleash its great potential,” Maisel said in a statement. “Rovio has already had amazing success and established a great brand with Angry Birds. The business model, intellectual properties, and the franchise potential of Angry Birds give Rovio the most exciting prospects I have seen in the entertainment business since Marvel in 2003.”
Earlier this month, Rovio announced the acquisition of Kombo, a leading Finnish animation studio, to expand its in-house animation capabilities. Rovio will continue to expand in all areas of entertainment business, and the company is on the lookout for more talent in both animated entertainment and application development. Angry Birds was launched on in December 2009, Angry Birds Seasons in October 2010 and Angry Birds Rio in February 2011. Since their release, the games have achieved more than 250 million combined downloads across all platforms. Most recently, Rovio launched launched the “Mine & Dine” update for Angry Birds, “Summer Pignic” for Angry Birds Seasons and “Carnival Upheaval” for Angry Birds Rio. The company also recently introduced Angry Birds on the web with Google Chrome, and announced their book publishing plans and the first print publication.
This March, Rovio raised a $42M Series A investment from leading venture capital firms Accel Partners and Atomico Ventures, with plans to accelerate growth in international expansion and broad scale entertainment franchise development beyond mobile games.