Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year®
CEO, President, Co-founder
Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Greeting visitors at Blizzard Entertainment’s headquarters building is a 12-foot-tall bronze statue of a menacing orc riding a wolf. The statue is the attention-getter, but the mission statement emblazoned upon it tells the story: “Dedicated to creating the most epic gaming experience … ever!”
As President, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, Mike Morhaime is dedicated to maintaining the high standard of quality that has allowed Blizzard Entertainment to reach the pinnacle of the gaming industry by virtually redefining the category.
The level of success the company currently enjoys is even more impressive when considering the firm’s origins. Back in 1991, Blizzard co-founders Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce had just received their engineering degrees from UCLA when they explored a simple dream to create video games.
Adham and Morhaime each invested $10,000 to start the venture, with Morhaime’s share funded out of a $15,000 loan from his grandmother. Both Pearce and Morhaime quit jobs with well-established firms to devote their full attention to the start-up. During the early years, the company survived from contract job to contract job. Through the many challenges they faced, the early members of Blizzard learned valuable skills and lessons that they carried over from game to game, lessons that have since been ingrained as company culture.
Blizzard has since grown from a third-party development studio into a premier publisher of entertainment software. Its track record includes 14 chart-topping games and numerous Game of the Year awards.
“We have some of the most successful online games in the world. Diablo III is actually going to be our 14th No. 1-selling game,” Morhaime says. “World of Warcraft has been the No. 1 massively multiplayer online game for seven years in a row.”
What differentiates Blizzard from other studios is that it is a developer-driven company. As a development team finishes one project, its members collaborate with the executive team to decide what game they will work on next. By including the development teams in the decision-making process, the developers become extremely passionate and motivated in their work. This sense of ownership enhances the quality of the games produced.