Mpire CEO Matt Hulett to Step Down, Become Executive Chairman—and Join RealGames

7/16/09Follow @gthuang

Matt Hulett, the chief executive of Seattle-based Mpire, is stepping down as of August 14 to become executive chairman of the firm. Mpire runs the popular online advertising network Widgetbucks, and in April the firm rolled out an ad-optimizing service called AdXpose. The company is actively recruiting for a new CEO with expertise in advertising and branding. Hulett will remain on Mpire’s board of directors, and will help push the firm into new markets and expand its partner relationships.

Hulett became Mpire’s CEO in 2006, as the firm made the transition from an eBay seller-tool business to an ad network. “My job was to restart the company and get financing,” Hulett says. “I’ve finished my part. I’m still on the board, and will be focusing on bigger deals.”

The move makes sense for Mpire, which needs a CEO who has deep connections with ad agencies. Hulett says Mpire currently has 17 employees and plenty of cash—and it has been hiring for senior leadership. The company is venture-backed by Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Ignition Partners, who invested a total of $10 million in a Series B round last summer.

Hulett was mum on his future plans, but multiple sources familiar with the situation tell me that Hulett is joining RealGames, the gaming division of Seattle-based RealNetworks, as chief revenue officer next month. Presumably, he will report to John Barbour, the president of RealGames. None of this has been confirmed by Hulett or through official channels at RealGames yet, but I hope to get their official confirmation soon.

It’s a bit of a homecoming for Hulett, who was an early employee at RealNetworks in the mid-1990s—he was in charge of the RealPlayer, among other things. The move seems to fit his consumer and entertainment sensibilities; Hulett worked on corporate travel at Expedia and co-founded Atom Films before taking the helm at Mpire. It will be interesting to watch how Hulett helps RealGames compete against the likes of Big Fish Games (founded by another former Real employee, Paul Thelen) in the casual game development and publishing business. And we’ll be watching to see whether RealGames gets spun off as a separate company, as has been discussed for more than a year.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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  • Rob

    While I’m sure the MPire folks will miss Matt, I think it makes sense for the company. Matt went in as a restart CEO, and he has done what is required — implemented a new strategy, raised money, brought in an experienced management team
    (e.g. Kirby Winfield, Jeff Bergstrom), and launched great new products. Now is a great opportunity for a world-class
    advertising CEO to jump in and take over where Matt left off!

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