Foundation 9 Entertainment

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Foundation 9 Entertainment (sometimes abbreviated as F9E) was an American entertainment media company that developed video games, comic books, film and television series. The company was an independent video game developer,[1] with studios in California, Oregon in the U.S, Sheffield, UK, and Pune, India. Its CEO was James North-Hearn.


Foundation 9 was formed on March 29, 2005 through the merger of Backbone Entertainment, The Collective[2] and Oregon-based developer Pipeworks Software.[3] On May 26, 2005, F9E announced a partnership with Circle of Confusion.[4] Unlike F9E's other studios, which primarily work in software development, Circle of Confusion is a production and management company that represents creative staff in entertainment.

On June 1, 2006 Foundation 9 received $150 million from Francisco Partners, a private equity firm.[5] Foundation 9 announced the acquisition of Shiny Entertainment on October 2, 2006,[6] Amaze Entertainment on November 14, 2006,[7] and Sumo Digital on August 17, 2007.[8] On May 25, 2007, the Charlottetown, PEI studio of Foundation 9 constituent Backbone Entertainment was spun off to become Other Ocean Interactive.[9]

Other subsidiaries include ImaginEngine (part of Backbone Entertainment) and, formerly, Griptonite Games (part of Amaze Entertainment). Digital Eclipse is not a studio under the Foundation 9 hierarchy, as all games under the Digital Eclipse brand were actually developed at the Backbone Entertainment studios. Digital Eclipse was originally one of the core companies that merged to form Backbone, the progenitor of F9E.

The Collective and Shiny were merged in late 2007 and relocated to a new 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) headquarters in Irvine. The resultant studio was named Double Helix in early 2008.[10] In May 2009, Foundation 9 completed the closure of its Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based studio of Backbone Entertainment, after a series of staff cutbacks beginning September 2008.[11] In July 2009, Foundation 9 closed The Fizz Factor, its Texas-based studio.[12] Amaze was consolidated under Griptonite at the same time, and Double Helix scaled back its operations.[13] In August 2011, Foundation 9 sold Griptonite to Glu Mobile.[14] The downsizing continued in October 2012 with the closure of ImaginEngine[15] and significant layoffs at the remaining Backbone Entertainment studio in California,[16] with a closure of that studio also being considered.[17]

The original CEO of Foundation 9 was Jon Goldman, who came from Backbone, and founder of ImaginEngine. Upon the acquisition of Amaze, he was joined by COO David Mann, a co-founder of Amaze, who, on January 16, 2008, assumed the position of President.[18] As of March 17, 2008, James North-Hearn, one of Sumo Digital's founders, has assumed the CEO position.[19]

In February 2014, the subsidiary Double Helix was acquired by[20] Following this announcement, Microsoft, the publisher of Double Helix's Xbox One title Killer Instinct told Polygon that they would start working with a "new development partner" on future updates to the game.[21]

In 2014 Pipeworks was acquired by digital bros.[22] This left only the Sumo studio in the UK as part of Foundation 9 Entertainment.

In May 2015, the board of directors elected to dissolve Foundation 9 Entertainment. Sumo purchased itself out of Foundation 9 Entertainment by its own management. Digital Eclipse, a division of Backbone, revived itself in 2017.


  1. ^
  2. ^ The Collective, Backbone laying Foundation 9
  3. ^ Foundation 9 Entertainment, Inc. acquired Pipeworks Software
  4. ^ Foundation 9 Entertainment Announces Equity Stake and Strategic Partnership with Circle of Confusion
  5. ^ Foundation 9 Gets 'Significant' Funding Investment
  6. ^ Foundation 9 Buys Shiny Entertainment, But Not Earthworm
  7. ^ Gamasutra – Foundation 9 Acquires Amaze Studios
  8. ^ Foundation 9 wrestles with Sumo Digital – Wii News at GameSpot
  9. ^ Foundation 9 says goodbye to Charlottetown
  10. ^ Double Helix is new Foundation 9 studio
  11. ^ Vancouver's video game family tree.
  12. ^ Foundation 9 closes Fizz Factor studio, cuts back at Double Helix
  13. ^ Foundation 9 scales back development capacity
  14. ^ Glu Mobile Picks Up Griptonite, Blammo After Narrowing Losses
  15. ^ Foundation 9 Closes ImaginEngine
  16. ^ Layoffs at digital game studio Backbone Entertainment
  17. ^ Death Jr. Dev Faces Closure
  18. ^ Foundation 9 promotes three execs
  19. ^ North-Hearn named Foundation 9 CEO
  20. ^ "Amazon Acquires Video Gaming Studio Double Helix Games". TechCrunch. 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  21. ^ Farokhmanesh, Megan (Feb 5, 2014). "Double Helix Games acquired by Amazon (update)". Retrieved Feb 6, 2014.
  22. ^ "digital bros financial statements year ending June 30, 2014". 2014-06-30.

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