Getting in the game
Arthur Chow made a game-changing career move when he left banking to set up 6Waves, a publisher of independent games for social networks and mobile platforms.
About 25 million gamers worldwide currently play 6Waves’ games through platforms such as Facebook, Yahoo, Mobage, Mixi, Hangame, Tencent, Android and iOS. The Hong Kong-headquartered company has offices in San Francisco, Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo.
Chow, also the company’s chief operating officer, believes in teamwork, independence, forging strong relationships with employees and clients, and surrounding himself with people who share his passion and vision.
He studied an undergraduate degree in business at the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. He also holds a bachelor of laws degree gained through part-time study with the University of London, and an MBA from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
What is driving the gaming industry at the moment?
The growth of portable platforms has seen games become all-encompassing playthings for a rapidly expanding audience. The growing popularity of social networks globally is also a major driving force for our industry. In addition, the introduction of “freemium” games, where users do not need to pay, is attracting new audiences.
Going forward, opportunities will continue to present themselves as Facebook and other platforms carry games designed by third-party developers.
What skills do you look for and are you currently hiring?
In addition to technical skills, we look for passion about the industry and whether there is a good culture fit. One of the traits we look for is whether the candidate likes playing games and having fun, because this is what we do for our customers. This is how we built on a foundation of strong teamwork. The open exchange of information can have a positive impact, with each employee knowing he or she has a voice and a chance to innovate.
As the industry and our company continue to grow, we are selectively hiring for certain positions in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Beijing.
How do you stay competitive in a fast-moving industry?
In the internet space we are operating in, we need to constantly introduce new initiatives. Things keep rapidly changing and if you do not explore new ideas and concepts, you can become irrelevant very quickly. Sometimes decisions work out fine, but sometimes they don’t. It is always important, however, to maintain a mindset geared towards developing new ideas.
We also need to be prepared for the occasional failure. When this happens we need to understand what went wrong and then move on to the next initiative.
What drives and motivates you when you face challenges?
The belief that we can learn from every challenge and that each one presents an opportunity. Facing challenges and taking risks also gives me an adrenalin rush.
Where would you like your business to be in five years time?
We already have a global reach of about 25 million monthly users. Most of them are in North America, Europe and Australia. We are gaining a lot of traction in Japan and have just started building an audience in China.
In five years time, I hope to see our business reaching more users in China, as it is potentially one of the largest markets, while providing more fun to people all over the world.
What have been the key factors that have led to your success?
Perseverance, determination, teamwork, setting high standards for myself and leading by example. The support I receive from my family is also very important.
How do you make important business decisions?
There is instinct, but as one person rarely has a full set of skills, it is important to have bright people around you who can question proposals and business decisions. Almost every time I explain a business concept to my wife, she offers plenty of reasons why it won’t work. Understandably, she is most likely looking for a more stable lifestyle.
How important is a good work-life balance to you?
I think a good work-life balance is very important. It is easy to fall into the trap of working 24/7 and there comes a point where working such long hours can become counter-productive.
Without the support of my family it is hard to focus on work. I try to spend time with my four-year-old son. I also still try to arrange short trips with just my wife or close friends and find the time for the odd round of golf. I have an ambition to go around a golf course in less than 100 shots.
Who is your role model?
For a public figure, I’d say the late Steve Jobs. He was a great entrepreneur and experienced several ups and downs in his career. Few, however, can doubt the impact his vision has had on the world.
I also admire my parents and my elder brother. At certain points in their careers, they gave up well-paid, stable jobs to start their own businesses. I guess I inherited that trait.