Presto, Tibetan Bowls, & Dr. Seuss: How Michel Kripalani Got His Entrepreneurial Karma Back

8/27/10Follow @bvbigelow

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multimedia content triggered a proliferation of new companies in the early 1990s, including Compton’s NewMedia, GTE Interactive Media, Jostens Learning Corp., GreyStone Digital Technologies, and Angel Studios. They flourished—and then vanished—as the accelerating Internet pulled such content online.

Michel Kripalani

Michel Kripalani

Kripalani says he closed Presto in 2002, “after the business had grown into something that didn’t work for us any more.” Presto created two Journeyman sequels and developed Myst III: Exile, a 2001 sequel to Myst, the hugely successful PC adventure game created by Cyan Worlds of Spokane, WA. But as an independent video game developer, Presto’s margins were getting crushed. “Myst III did well enough that we had enough cash in the bank to shut down without burning anybody, and that’s what we did,” Kripalani recalls.

Myst III: Exile

Myst III: Exile

But for Kripalani, “closing Presto was like going through a divorce. I would literally wake up in the middle of the night asking, ‘Who am I? Where am I?’” To cope, he says he took himself “off the grid for 21 months and did a lot of yoga and meditation.”

Kripalani says he still didn’t feel quite ready to go back to work in mid-2004, when he got an offer to work in San Francisco for AutoDesk (NASDAQ: ADSK), which is based in San Rafael, CA. But it seemed like an appropriate fit—he would be working as a kind of evangelist for the software giant, selling computer-assisted design (CAD) software used by videogame developers to create 3D games. After a few years at AutoDesk, however, Kripalani says he felt restless. He sometimes yearned for his old entrepreneurial life. But he concedes he wasn’t sure he had what it took to quit AutoDesk and leap into the abyss.

Instead the abyss came to him. Kripalani was laid off in January, 2009. By then, however, Kripalani says he’d been using an iPhone for months, and he already knew what … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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