Present your report as an page Microsoft Word document formatted in APA style.
Describe MatchMove’s corporate-level strategy and characterize its level of diversification. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the company’s matrix organizational structure. Does the organizational design effectively support the needs of MatchMove’s corporate-level strategy?
Who was responsible for oversight and coordination of the business excellence initiatives? How does the management innovation activity at MatchMove’s facilitate achievement of the company’s corporate objectives?
Using a balanced scorecard framework, outline the financial and strategic organizational controls used by MatchMove’s to drive management behavior and firm performance. Are the corporate criteria balanced? Are they yielding desired outcomes for the company?
What recommendations would you make to improve either the design or implementation of the company’s management innovation efforts?
In what ways did globalization and technological change lead to the creation ofMatchMove? Which do you think had the bigger impact?
Describe some of MatchMove’s tangible resources, intangible resources, and corecompetencies. How do they provide the firm with a competitive advantage?
Present your report as an 5 page Microsoft Word document formatted in APA style.
Support your responses with examples. Cite any sources in APA format.
MatchMove: Business Model Evolution
It was January 2014, and Shailash Naik, CEO of MatchMove Global Pte Ltd was rather pleased to have closed 2013 with yet another feather in the cap for his company. MatchMove, an online entertainment service provider, had just been ranked 25th out of the 500 fastest-growing technology companies in the 2013 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific rankings, a yearly publication that was well regarded in the technology and gaming industry.
When MatchMove was founded in early 2009, Naik and his COO, Leow Hsueh Huah (HH), had been in a rush to carry out their vision for the company. From their time working with a videogame company in the US, they had talked to various companies with large Internet audiences, and had identified a gap in the Asian market for a company-specific platform that incorporated casual gaming, social networking and e-commerce capabilities. MatchMove wanted to be this platform. Finally, in late 2009, MatchMove signed up its first large client, global technology company Yahoo!, to provide such services for Yahoo! Southeast Asia. This early deal enabled MatchMove to build a depth of capability on its cloud-based platform. The company also contracted with game developers to create its own store of quality games that it could offer to its clients.
In essence, MatchMove was set up to provide a service as a B2B game/entertainment platform. Its key value proposition was to become an intermediary, and more, between game companies with “high (gaming) content” profiles, but which traditionally had low web traffic. In addition, it was targeting companies like Yahoo! and Microsoft that had large consumer portals and high traffic–but were perhaps lacking in certain types of content, and hence losing users to websites like Facebook and iTunes which served as communities of social networks and also possessed platforms for gaming. By having a large or dedicated social networking community and strong content profile, these companies could keep users on their websites for longer, which translated into greater revenue generation. Aside from creating a closed e-commerce system to accept payments for services on its clients’ websites, MatchMove envisioned creating an open payments portal for all users for multiple merchants. It just did not have a concrete idea of what that strategy would look like yet.
By 2012, MatchMove had revamped its back-end system to meet the demands of a growing number of clients. The company had also ventured into various other opportunities, such as gamification, which were related to its core business. However, Naik wanted to accomplish even more. He was eager to create the next technological disruption to existing commerce, finance and other sectors, and capture new opportunities coming up in the market. Naik’s mantra was to “fail fast”, and to take risks. He saw far greater potential in the product that was beyond its initial value proposition, and just needed to decide where to take it from its current position, and what business model would best accomplish those goals.
Changes in the Gaming Industry
In 2012, the global video games market, worth US$66.3 billion, was estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.7% to reach US$86.1 billion in 2016 (refer to
for the Video Game Market Revenues Worldwide, by Segment, 2012–2016).
Although the segment that dominated this category was traditional video console gaming, the share of this type of gaming was falling, with social games and smartphone/tablet games on the ascent.
This represented a significant technological disruption that conventional publishers and studios were unprepared for, and unskilled to handle. Coupled with this trend was the falling cost of mobile and social game development, which opened the door to many new and often inexperienced, but creative, developers. This lowered the risk of developing new games, and enabled faster game distribution through established social networking channels—thus leading to expedited profits and attracting more attention from investors into the industry.
This case was written by Professor Ted Tschang and Adina Wong at the Singapore Management University. The case was prepared solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality.
Copyright © 2016, Singapore Management University
Exhibit 1 The Video Game Market Revenues Worldwide, by Segment
Social and casual gaming was a big part of the trend. In a report on online social gaming by Datamonitor, digital online games were defined as those that “utilizes a player’s social graph to provide an enhanced game experience, facilitates and encourages communication about the game outside of the game, and has a minimal barrier to entry (one click away).”
The rising popularity of social-networking sites such as Facebook (as well as online casual game websites like Popcap) had established the foundation for consumers to experience and consume this new genre of games, and to have new, more social, gaming experiences, thereby illustrating the increased importance of social games.
Besides, social games, other than being a new revenue stream for social-networking sites (in addition to advertising), also attracted users to register and to remain on social-networking sites for a longer period of time.
Well-known social media games included Farmville (developed by Zynga) on Facebook, and Angry Birds on the iPhone smartphone.
Social games typically earned revenues through a ‘freemium’ model, where players were given free access to the basic features of a game, but had to pay to access more features and higher levels in the game.
Unlike the players of traditional console games—who were typically younger males with dedicated leisure time to play a game—players of the more casual social games had a different profile, being mostly older, and female.
Gaming in Asia
In the beginning of 2013, Asia was the region with the largest number of video gamers online at 477 million (39%), and also the largest revenue share globally at US$25.1 billion (36%).
PriceWaterhouseCoopers’s 2011 Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2010–2014 recognised that although earlier low-tech phones had prevented the ‘monetisation’ of social media games, this would now change with the introduction of 3G wireless mobile infrastructure and widespread uptake of smart-phones in the region,
The growth of smartphones is driving social gaming in Asia. Mobile now provides an environment that allows games to be developed to the standard of regular console and online games, and this has already led to an explosion in casual gaming. [In 2011], the region is already home to more wireless phone subscribers than the rest of the world combined, and currently accounts for 63 per cent of global wireless gaming spend.
However, the report also recognised challenges to the online gaming business in the region,
The partnership between game developers, platform owners, and brands is important, and ideally should be a natural process by now. However, in the real world this is not happening as there are constraints and limitations to how branded content can be integrated into the production of games. Each Asian market, from Japan to China, from Korea to the Philippines, has a lively social gaming scene, but with specific characteristics and different tastes that need to be catered to.
Gestating an Idea
It was in this environment that Naik made his foray into the Asian online gaming industry and built up his company to capitalise on what he saw was a huge but untapped market potential. Naik had begun his career in technology, working as a project manager to deliver Oracle and SAP technology solutions to multinational companies that were clients of PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young consulting services. From there, he started to understand business needs from a technology perspective, and how business worked at the back-end to drive frontend processes. His next move was in a strategy and operations role as Managing Director, Strategy and Operations, Asia Pacific for Cisco Systems, a US-based multinational technology firm.
In 2007, a US-based, NASDAQ-listed gaming company, Cryptologic, had approached Naik to be their CEO. Cryptologic was trying to move into this new “space” even as they maintained an existing organisational structure and business model—one that was based on publishing games and built up through acquisitions of studios. Cryptologic’s plan was to be a business-to-consumer (B2C) company for online gamers, providing a platform for users to play game content that it owned exclusively. In this role, Naik went around Asia acquiring gaming studios and platforms to build up Cryptologic’s proprietary online gaming platform. He acquired five studios for the company and started to understand the online gaming business in more depth. He understood that the challenge facing game developers was ‘high content, low traffic’, or being able to attract enough players to play their games. Typically, a player’s awareness of a game spread via word-of-mouth, but also through paid marketing campaigns.
From B2C to B2B
In working for Cryptologic, Naik and HH, his CFO at Cryptologic, became keenly aware of a few converging trends and started to explore options that could capitalise on these opportunities, after realising that the Cryptologic organisation structure (which focused on the end consumer), could not accommodate their interest in creating a new business model and value proposition for other businesses as clients.
Naik and his team had conducted business dialogues and carried out market research for six months. Based on concurrent conversations with search engine companies, as well as telecommunications companies that had high user traffic on their websites, Naik came to an interesting observation,
The problem was that users were now changing their style [manner of playing games]. Instead of going to a website and consuming news and games and meeting their friends individually, they now wanted it all in one space—and were all converging on spaces like Facebook and so on. Meanwhile, the big brands and the telcos were saying—hang on, these are our users, and we’d better offer them something else we’ll lose them.
At the same time, Naik and HH recognised that there was another trend in the market. A common practice was for game developers to launch their games on social networking platforms such as Facebook, where Facebook would share revenues earned from game players with the game developer. However, over time, the margin that Facebook was taking from this revenue stream became higher and higher, with less revenue coming back to the game developer. Major game developers such as Zynga then started to use Facebook more as a source, and not the ultimate destination for users. Where previously Facebook would host Zynga’s games, now Facebook users who wanted to play a Zynga game would be redirected to a Zynga website to play the game there. This was pushing the game developers to create their own gaming platforms—but with correspondingly weaker “traffic” than the larger portals and social media giants.
With this combination of insights, Naik started developing the concept of a business-to-business (B2B) business model of his own, to work with large multinationals to help them solve their problem of ‘high traffic, low content’. He had further conversations with companies such as Yahoo! and Microsoft, which were keen to attract more users to their websites and keep them there for a longer time, earning additional revenues through casual games and online purchases on their sites.
Naik confessed that he had conceived a grand plan from the beginning,
These large multinational companies all had the following pain points—How do I keep users on my website? How do I get quality content? And how do I do all this without additional headcount? We discovered this while investing in the smaller companies and so decided to combine this into a new service combining the whole package—social gaming, social networking and e-commerce. We had a core vision about all three as a package, because we knew that if we didn’t do so, we wouldn’t be able to get scale. And only once we get scale, would the business be sustainable. The whole world thought we were crazy.
Naik also realised that unless they were able to offer all three arms to a client, it would be easy for a big client to say “I can do the games, or one of the other pieces, myself.”
Naik and HH then put together a presentation to show their potential clients how their business model was well thought out and would address all the pain points. This all-in-one value proposition approach turned out to be of great value to their clients—all of whom immediately asked, “how do I sign up?”–giving Naik and his team the confidence that there was indeed a market opportunity there.
In 2009, in the midst of the global financial crisis, Naik and HH left their well-paying jobs with Cryptologic to start a company of their own.12 They had done all their due diligence, and the timing was too compelling for this new business model.
MatchMove is to online entertainment and e-commerce what software providers SAP and Oracle are to enterprise software.
—Shailesh Naik, CEO, MatchMove Pte Ltd 13
In February 2009, MatchMove Pte Ltd was incorporated in Singapore, with Naik as the CEO, and HH as the COO. “Finding people to work for us was the hardest in the beginning”, Naik said. “Not everyone wants to work for start-ups. It was hard to get Singaporeans to apply for our job openings, so we had to head-hunt for people in China.”14 Eventually they overcame this problem and by June 2013, MatchMove had 46 employees in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, China and the US.15
The MatchMove Proposition
MatchMove helps online businesses increase revenue, user engagement and loyalty through the strategic use of its sophisticated games, social networking and site gamification and e-payments platform.
MatchMove would provide an entertainment platform as a service to clients, and would offer a selection of games and apps which their clients could host on their own portals for their own customers. They would become a ‘curator’ of sorts, choosing and testing the best games from various game developers, and also providing the technology platform. In Naik’s words, it would provide “infrastructure for companies that are keen to offer games on their sites but do not want to do it on their own”.17 The closed social network platform allowed users to perform actions such as to click ‘like’ on content and comment on one another’s activities on the portal. Building its library of Internet- and subsequently mobile-enabled games, MatchMove targeted the telecommunications, media and technology (TMT) segment. Naik said,
We initially targeted the big Western multinationals, knowing that their management in Asia would probably be frustrated with the lack of local products, and at the same time see the opportunity slipping away.
Many of these were Asian offices of US multinationals, which lacked the resources to customise the US-based content from their US headquarters in a way that was appealing to Asian users. Naik was very clear from the beginning on how MatchMove should position itself,
We don’t acquire [game] content generation [capabilities]. We’ve always invested in distribution and the platform. So we want to be like a B2B iTunes, where games can come from anywhere. So it’s this ecosystem where we want to be the platform, and we will integrate payments with the platform. We will be the central cog in the wheel that brings everyone together. We will invest in infrastructure, support, and platform, because that’s what really captures the value (refer to
for a concept diagram of MatchMove’s business).
In short, MatchMove aimed to offer content management (games), transaction management (e-commerce), and the technology platform as a one-stop package to customers in Asia.
Naik and his team realised that there were fundamental differences between games in the US and in Asia. For instance, Western games were heavily invested in character intellectual property like Batman or Superman, whereas Asian games tended to be a variation of popular fictional or historical content, like the ‘Monkey King’ myth or the ‘Three Kingdoms’ novel. Asian characters, even villains, could look cute. They recognised that their value proposition had to focus on the Asian games market, with Asian-made games for the Asian arms of Web portals and other sites, for their Asian clients. There would of course be crossover games (games that crossed over cultures) later, but addressing the regional consumer taste was at the core of their differentiated offering.
Naik recalled how ground-breaking this business model and its value proposition was to the industry, or for that matter, in all the industry verticals that their business model spanned,
In 2009, Digital Capital (a private equity investor in the digital entertainment space), named MatchMove twice in a report together with Facebook, Uniclip, Trimedia, and Popcap. This put us on the global map. People were viewing the industry in those days as verticals—developers, publishers, portals, aggregators … We came in saying that we are disrupting the business model—we are working right across all these verticals … we’ve got the whole suite.
MatchMove was essentially operating a two-sided market business model–servicing the game developers on the one hand, and the portals and other Web companies on the other. Game developers would benefit by working with MatchMove as they could gain information on the volume of customers accessing their games, and MatchMove provided transparency on payments due to them. MatchMove looked for more and bigger clients for developers to distribute games to, and sought to create a two-way cycle where building trust with more of the popular game developers enabled them to attract larger clients as well. Whilst Apple’s iTunes store took 30% of margins from games, MatchMove was willing to take as low as a five percent margin from game developers that it had an exclusive relationship with.
The Remaining Pieces of the Puzzle
By September 2009, the private equity market had started recovering from the post-financial crisis doldrums, and amidst the flurry of deals being sealed in the industry, MatchMove managed to raise US$1.6 million (S$2 million)
of funds from Singapore-based private equity firm Vickers Venture Partners to kick-start their first project with Yahoo! Southeast Asia.
As of June 2013, the company had managed to raise an additional US$5.5 million (SGD$7 million) of funding from private equity firms in the US, Europe and China. Ultimately, MatchMove had to seek other potential investors and game developers in order to secure funding. This was a time-consuming back-and-forth process that required a lot of trust building.
From the start, MatchMove had decided to put its platform entirely in the ‘Cloud’
. This made it easy for the company to update all its clients with new software and services.
Importantly, the cloud-based platform enabled the company to perform software updates quickly for overseas clients, and to serve their gamer customers faster.
This was important as many of MatchMove’s potential customers were in countries outside of Singapore, and games, especially at that time, required fast server response times.
Getting the First Client
Yahoo! Asia was using their US offices’ US-designed games, and “failing miserably here”, said Naik. Based on his experience with Cryptologic, Naik knew this to be a weak point. MatchMove specifically targeted Yahoo!-Asia and another IT giant with a significant consumer portal at the same time, and eventually partnered with Yahoo! in September 2009.
In his earlier meetings with Yahoo! executives, Naik understood that Yahoo! Asia, being at its core an Internet search portal, had no resources to curate a stable of Asian-specific games on its website. Yahoo! had earlier acquired a game company to develop games exclusively for its website, but their games had become increasingly obsolete as they could not keep up with evolving technologies such as Flash, and upcoming content trends such as social gaming.
Naik gave Yahoo! a proposed solution to their problems. MatchMove would be responsible for the technology transition of existing and new games to new technology platforms. It would also make it possible for Yahoo! to avoid paying the upfront costs for new game development; instead MatchMove handled the payments to the game developers on their end. They achieved this by standardising the terms offered to all game developers who worked with them. By handling the negotiations and accounting on behalf of Yahoo! for the hundreds of different game developers that were on the Yahoo! Platform, MatchMove acted as a consolidator and complemented Yahoo! in areas that Yahoo! did not have the bandwidth to accomplish.
In this way, MatchMove could work out a consistent revenue sharing scheme with game developers and publishers. The deal made a total of 143 titles available for purchase on Yahoo!’s online store, making Yahoo! one of the top sites in Southeast Asia offering the most popular casual game titles.
Additionally, a payment gateway provided on the platform enabled MatchMove’s clients to collect payments from their end users via payment services such as PayPal, Visa and MasterCard, and also Mobile payments and pre-paid cards which were more popular and accessible to young Asians.
Naik explained how MatchMove tested games for quality, although ultimately a ‘good’ game was measured by how much user traffic it could generate,
We have a few people who test the game from end to end, running through all the episodes. It should not be totally predictable, and there should be enough of an element of surprise and engagement to keep you coming back … good workmanship, design, sound, lots of episodes … The real test though is when you put it out in the market.
MatchMove’s coverage mirrored Yahoo! Southeast Asia’s countries of focus—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam— which were amongst the fastest growing nations in the world in terms of Internet penetration.
Yahoo! became an important proof of concept to build out MatchMove’s sophisticated product architecture. The ‘Yahoo!-grade’ project involved building a multiple-country, multi-language and even multi-currency platform that included standards of performance and customer service that made it easier to acquire a future customer base.
Pricing for MatchMove’s platform was on a subscription basis, and customers paid between US$7,921 (SGD$10,000) to US$39,605 (SGD$50,000) per month to use it, saving themselves millions of dollars in having to build up the capability on their own.
Building In Speed and Flexibility
After a few months spent building up its customer base, Naik decided to be more focused on MatchMove’s strengths, and the competition never really got a foothold,
We had competitors at two places when we first arrived— Yahoo! and Starhub were talking to two other companies (one European and the other a US billion dollar concern)— which did not offer the whole package. And they said they would offer this in three months, but we said that we would do it in two weeks, then two days, then five minutes.
told us during final talks why they were choosing us even though we weren’t established, we weren’t known— we didn’t even have a company. They said—’you’re offering me local games … (and) a faster