CEO / Co-Founder
James Gwertzman is a seasoned technology entrepreneur and executive, with 15 years of experience in the game industry. Prior to founding PlayFab, James started and ran PopCap Asia, headquartered in Shanghai, with offices in Tokyo, Seoul, and Singapore. At PopCap, James witnessed firsthand the challenges facing traditional game developers making the transition to games-as-services, and in particular the challenges of building and operating profitable free-to-play games. PopCap China achieved distinction as one of very few western game developers to build a profitable presence in China.
James joined PopCap in 2005 when it acquired Sprout Games, the casual game developer he had co-founded in 2003. He also co-founded console game developer Escape Factory in 2000. Prior to entering the game industry, he worked on server technologies at Microsoft, receiving 2 patents for web personalization work he led for MSN.
Additionally, James is an advisor to Code.org, where he served in 2013 as Chief Evangelist, running the successful Hour of Code initiative which resulted in more than 20 million K-12 students experiencing their first hour-long introduction to computer programming. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a computer science degree in 1995.
CTO / Co-Founder
Matt is the original creator and architect of PlayFab, back when it was still a part of Uber Entertainment. He transferred to PlayFab when it was spun out, and continues to oversee all design and engineering of the core services. He cut his teeth at Microsoft, where he worked on several large-scale projects including docs.com, a site for creating and sharing Microsoft Office documents on Facebook, Live Mesh, a product for synchronizing and sharing files and folders in the cloud, and the account system for Messenger and Hotmail, a system that he helped scale from zero to over 250 million users with minimal downtime. And speaking of downtime, he has none. But if he did, it would go directly to his wife and two children.
Chief Operations Officer
Beth has over 15 years of experience in senior technology roles. Most recently, Beth served as Senior Vice President of Product at GrubHub. Beth led GrubHub’s development of mobile-optimized experiences for diners, restaurants and delivery drivers, drove the GrubHub and Seamless post-merger integration onto a common platform and built out the company’s product management, user experience, design and data functions. Prior to GrubHub, Beth spent 8 years in leadership roles at Expedia, most recently as Vice President of Connectivity and Product Management where she played a key role in designing and implementing Expedia’s supplier connectivity strategy.
Beth holds a BA with distinction in economics and international studies from Yale and an MBA from INSEAD. She is an advisor to a number of early stage companies and is a mentor at TechStars Seattle, and serves on the Board of Directors of Forterra and Playworks Illinois.
Beth enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and two young children, who are learning to enjoy hiking and skiing thanks to her liberal reward policy with snack bars.
VP of Product
Cynthia came to Playfab because she believes games engage and connect customers in powerful ways. With over 15 years of product management leadership spanning operating systems, services, and apps, she combines her passion for building product with championing diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. Before Playfab, Cynthia was Executive Director of Ada Developers Academy, expanding its tuition-free software development training program for women and gender diverse people and partnering with software companies throughout Seattle on their pipeline for diversity. As Partner Group Program Manager at Microsoft for several years, she drove the product roadmap for the Windows marketplace, developer-facing eCommerce services, as well as the Windows shell.
Cynthia is also an allyship trainer with Diverse City, LLC and Ada Developers Academy, an advisor for Seattle Women in Tech and Un-loop, as well as a Board Member for the Northwest School. Cynthia has a Masters Degree in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She enjoys spending time with family, and is also an avid aerialista on aerial hoop, silks, and pole.
Head of Developer Success
Brendan fled the world of embedded systems to join the venerable Sierra On-Line as a game developer in the mid-90s, and after 20 years in the industry he’s still loving it. He is extremely passionate about helping developers bring their games to life using PlayFab’s services. He played a similar role at Microsoft where, as Lead Developer in Microsoft’s Advanced Technology Group, he spent 7 years as a key technical representative to developers around the world for networking and Xbox Live, helping them to use Microsoft technologies to solve hard problems and bring new features into existence. In addition to playing video games, Brendan does kendo, and is currently 3 dan. He has also done voice-over and FMV acting for several video games including multiple characters in Shivers II: Harvest of Souls.
Head of Developer Tools
Marco Williams is a full stack developer and has over 15 years of programming experience. He is a nerd at heart, loves games and gaming. He has a passion for game development and has over 4 years of experience building and publishing games. In addition to his nerdy-ness, he loves the outdoors and will jump at the chance for a camping trip.
Sr. Software Engineer
Andrew is a software engineer with a background in the web development and games industries. Recently, he worked for 5 years at Disney Interactive, contributing to back-end infrastructure and game systems on various Marvel game titles. He is passionate about creating meaningful software products that can help make lives easier and more efficient. In his spare time he enjoys hiking at the many wonderful Pacific Northwest trails surrounding Seattle, swimming at the local pool, and enjoying the latest game releases.
Executive Assistant/Office Admin
Adrienne was raised in a bed & breakfast, and thus trained as a concierge, booking agent, hostess, and entertainer from age 8. Since then she’s lived on three continents, gotten a Fulbright and a PhD, and become a pseudo-celebrity in certain areas of Francophone West Africa. But she never lost her passion for hospitality, now applied to making our office a welcoming, efficient and creative space. In her free time Adrienne is a voice-over artist (you might recognize her as Artemis from SMNC), actress (her party trick is accents), murder mystery hostess, and singer in a pop/rock cover band.
Sr. Software Engineer
Ann is a software engineer with a background in system operations, and has spent the last 10 years building, scaling and operating high-performance systems at a variety of companies ranging from small startups to consulting giants. She enjoys delving deep into the esoterics of computer systems and figuring out exactly how they work, tinkering with distributed systems (especially data stores), and figuring out how to combine femme with technology.
Sr. Software Engineer
Calvin is a full-stack developer building highly-reliable, large-scale distributed systems, most recently for 6 years at Microsoft on the cloud infrastructure team. He was one of the earliest developers and key contributors for the cutting-edge cloud deployment technology currently used at Microsoft, and is passionate about building technology that makes wild imaginings and little dreams possible, on a massive scale. He’s also quite the pool shark (his team took 1st place locally, and 16th place nationally), speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese, and is a 75th-generation descendant of Confucius.
Hanna Oh Descher
Sr. Data Scientist
Hanna is a data scientist with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. Her academic research utilized statistics, Bayesian inference, and machine learning to understand mechanisms underlying human behavior related to visual perception, learning, and decision-making. She is skilled at designing and conducting experiments, mining behavioral data, and building predictive models in the pursuit of gaining interesting insights. She is passionate about understanding player behavior to help developers make games more fun. Hanna enjoys traveling, exploring new restaurants, and hiking with her dog, Kepler.
Sr. Front-End Web Developer
Jordan is a front-end web developer, technical writer, and usability nerd. He strives for straightforward interfaces tailored for their users. While he might be the last person on Earth who can program in ColdFusion, he turned down that rare and rarely lucrative career to work on HaloWaypoint.com and other Microsoft properties. Now his free time involves recabling his living room, helping family with tech support issues, and hauling passeners between systems in the Galactic Cooperative in Elite: Dangerous.
Sr. Software Engineer
Kevin is a cloud engineer passionate about building scalable, high performant, distributed systems. Most recently he was a principal engineer at LendingRobot, building a trading platform capable of investing millions in milliseconds. He brings the same rigour to the mission of Playfab, building a seamless backend to give gamers the best experience possible. When not in the office he is exploring the remote and beautiful wilderness of the Pacific Northwest (he highly recommends Rachel and Gem Lakes).
GM of Europe
Mark is the rare executive who can jump from writing code, to running multimillion dollar online user projects, to collaborating on long-term strategy. Mark built studios for Ubisoft and Unity, while leading departments and pushing limits at UNESCO, Marketel, Cosette, and others. His client list includes Mentos, Air Canada, Cadillac, L’Oreal, Maybeline, Rogers and more than 40 others. He has lived and worked in Zurich, London, Boston, Vancouver, Montreal, Samoa, Singapore, and now Berlin. Mark is responsible for expanding PlayFab into Europe, winning over both developers and partners. When Mark isn’t geeking out over the latest technology, he is testing the limits of his adrenal system via extreme sports.
Sr. Developer Success Engineer
Nathan has a background in astrophysics but worked in the 3D Animation as well as the game industry as CG Supervisor and working on PC and console (Xbox, PlayStation) game development (and more than a few cartridge based games too). He also worked in the Microsoft Advanced Technology Group and Global Publishing Group for more than 12 years. Nathan was involved in supporting many third party titles at Microsoft.
Sr. Software Engineer (SDK)
Paul has been a game programmer working on MMOs since 2007. Past employers include CCP and Goblinworks, with past projects including EVE Online, World of Darkness, and Pathfinder Online.
Director of Product Design
Ramil has over 10 years of experience in design thinking and utilizing creative solutions to solve multi-faceted business challenges. Past projects include shipping MozLocal and MozAnalytics for Seattle based Moz, leading the company’s redesign (formerly SEOmoz), and launching new features as the Director of Product Design for the social software platform, Tagboard. He is passionate about design and enjoys lending his experiences as a design instructor and mentor at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle.
Sr. Software Engineer
Siva has over a decade of experience developing web applications. He has designed and developed several high availability cloud systems to synchronize order and inventory data between multiple companies and retail locations in real time. He is passionate about programming, learning new things and new ways to program, and sharing his knowledge to help other programmers. He also loves travel, exploring the great outdoors, swimming in the ocean, and snorkeling. He plans to add scuba diving to the list this summer. Siva isn’t just a celebrated programmer; as an infantryman in the U.S. Army, Siva was awarded a commendation for saving a truck and its passengers from drowning in a swamp.
Mitch Lasky is a General Partner at Benchmark. He has led Benchmark’s investments in and holds board seats with Snapchat, Cyanogen, Hammer & Chisel, EngineYard, thatgamecompany, Meteor Entertainment, Red Robot Labs, and Learnist (formerly Grockit). Prior to their exits, he also held board seats with NaturalMotion Games (Zynga), Gaikai (Sony), and Riot Games (Tencent).
Mitch has spent more than two decades in the mobile gaming, new media and interactive entertainment business. Prior to joining Benchmark, Mitch served as executive vice president of Mobile and Online at Electronic Arts. Previously, he was chairman and chief executive officer of JAMDAT Mobile (NASDAQ: JMDT), which he joined as a startup in 2000, took public in 2004, and sold to EA in 2006.
Prior to JAMDAT, Mitch served as general manager of eCompanies Wireless LLC, a startup incubator. He also spent five years at Activision, the world’s largest game publisher, most recently as executive vice president of Worldwide Studios. Earlier in his career, Mitch practiced intellectual property law, worked at the Walt Disney Company and started a massively multiplayer online game company.
Emily Greer co-founded Kongregate in 2006 with her brother Jim and took over as CEO in February 2014. She led the GameStop-owned company’s rapid rise as a free-to-play web destination as well as the expansion to mobile, overseeing most day-to-day operations, including product development, game development, game publishing, marketing, community and monetization.
Emily has become a leader in the game industry with her presentations on the economics and psychology of free-to-play games and is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences. She was the recipient of the GameChangeHers award for women in gaming in 2012 and was named by Fortune as one of the 10 most powerful women in gaming in 2013.
A serial entrepreneur with a proven track record and skill set that spans game and real-time 3D engine design, software and business development, crowdfunding, virtual reality technology, and web and back-end services development, Bob has been a leader in the software industry for over two decades. Having founded and managed various gaming and game service companies including Uber Entertainment and PlayFab, which spun out of Uber in early 2014, Bob is now onto his 4th company with Envelop VR. Envelop VR is a software company creating new ways for businesses and consumers to use virtual reality as a platform to work, create, and play. A Ph.D candidate at Gifu University in Japan, Bob studied virtual reality in the late 90s, and is leveraging this considerable experience to create enterprise and productivity software that takes advantage of the strengths of VR, producing experiences that are simply impossible in other mediums, all while making it easier to create these experiences. A key feature of the software will allow virtual reality (VR) content developers to work and create content while in their own 3D, immersive environment (VRinVR).
Tim is a Managing Director at Startup Capital Ventures. He serves, or has served as a Director of several of the firm’s investments including PlayFab, Adama Materials, Silvertail Systems (acquired by EMC), TagArray (acquired by MXIM) and TuneIn. He is also a limited partner in Advanced Technology Ventures.
Prior to SCV, Tim led the turn-around of Dali Wireless, founded Hawaii Superferry in 2001 as CEO, co-founded and was President of Grassroots.com the leading political web technology company (acquired by Edelman). He also founded WorldPages, the internet’s first white & yellow pages, co-founded TRUSTe.org, and was the first investor and advisor to Match.com and a Director of Accept.com (acquired by AMZN).
Tim serves as Chairman of Entrepreneurs Foundation of Hawaii, is a board member of HiBEAM (nonprofit), and is an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) at the University of Hawaii Association and serves on the selection and mentoring committees of Blue Startups, and the Energy Excelerator. He is a founding Board Member of Reef Check Hawaii and a member of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association (HVCA). In between meetings, Tim is an avid sailor and cyclist.
Tim holds an MBA from Stanford University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Irvine where he founded the UCI Cycling Team.
Hadi is an entrepreneur and investor, and also co-founder of education non-profit Code.org. As an entrepreneur, he was on the founding teams of Tellme and iLike. As an angel investor and startup advisor, Hadi’s portfolio includes Facebook, Dropbox, airbnb, Zappos, OPOWER, IndieGogo, Bluekai, and many others.
A graduate of Harvard University, Hadi began his career during the browser wars in the 1990s, when he was Microsoft’s Group Program Manager for Internet Explorer. After the release of IE 5.0, Hadi co-founded Tellme Networks. Tellme was acquired by Microsoft for a reported $800 million. Hadi ran the MSN portal for its only year of profit, where he delivered 30% annual growth and incubated Start.com.
After leaving Microsoft a second time, Hadi co-founded iLike with twin brother Ali Partovi, and together they built the leading music application on the Facebook platform. in 2009, iLike was acquired by MySpace where both Partovis worked as Senior Vice Presidents.
Hadi is a strategic advisor to numerous startups including Facebook, Dropbox, OPOWER, and Bluekai, and serves on the board of TASER International. He is also an active angel investor with a wide range of investments.
Find Hadi on social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+.