Michael Acton Smith
Michael Acton Smith OBE (born 1974) is the current CEO and founder of kids entertainment company Mind Candy – the creators of global kids phenomenon Moshi Monsters. He has been described by The Daily Telegraph as "a rock star version of Willy Wonka" and by The Independent as "a polite version of Bob Geldof."
Mind Candy created the online world of Moshi Monsters, which has over 90 million users around the world and has expanded offline into best selling toys, the number one selling kids magazine in the UK, a best selling DS video game, top 5 music album which has gone gold in the UK, books, membership cards, trading cards and much more.
In July 2011, Mind Candy was valued at $200 million. By December 2014, the company's valuation had dropped dramatically to less than $24 million. According to one of the company's earliest investors, Spark Ventures, "Mind Candy has continued to disappoint, missing budgeted revenues and reporting sales substantially behind previous years."
In 1998, while in his early twenties, Smith co-founded online gadget and gift retailer Firebox.com with university friend Tom Boardman. The pair started out with a rent-free attic and £800 from undergoing a medical experiment. Their breakthrough moment came in the form of the "Shot Glass Chess Set". Within five years they were listed by The Sunday Times 'Fast Track 100' as the 13th fastest growing, privately owned business in the UK.
Following his success with Firebox, Michael secured $10m backing and launched Mind Candy in 2004. The company launched alternate reality game Perplex City, a global treasure hunt with £100,000 buried somewhere in the world that played out across various media including websites, text messages, magazines, live events, skywriting and multiple helicopters. The game gained positive press coverage with Perplex City being hailed as the future of gaming. The game was also nominated for a BAFTA award in 2006 yet only attracted a niche audience. After three years (and $9m spent) Perplex City was placed on indefinite hold.
With just $1m left in the bank in 2007, Smith, having been inspired by the growing success of Facebook and kids brands including Tamagotchi, Mind Candy launched online world Moshi Monsters. The risk proved to be successful for a number of years.
Michael Acton Smith's ultimate vision is to 'build the largest entertainment brand in the world for this new digital generation of kids'.
Smith was born in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, where he lived with his parents and sister. The family spent many summers in the USA, as Smith's father is American.
Smith studied Geography at the University of Birmingham, England where he met Tom Boardman at the chess club, who went on to be one of his best friends and co-founder of Firebox.com, Smith's first business.
Smith lives in central London. In his spare time he organises boutique music festivals and networking events including Berwickstock and Silicon Drinkabout. He was recently ranked among the Twitter elite. His official Twitter username is @acton.
On 9 July 2013, Smith was awarded an honorary Doctorate at the University of Birmingham.
In 2013, he attended the World Economic Forum where Mind Candy was recognised as a Technology Pioneer.
In 2012, Smith was included in the Evening Standard 's 'London's 1000 most influential people 2012'
In January 2012, he was listed as No.36 in The Times '100 to watch in 2012' list.
In November 2010, he was included in London's Evening Standard 's selection of 'London's 1000 most influential people 2010: New Media'.
In May 2011, Smith was voted 12th in Wired magazine's Top 100 of Britain's Digital Power List.
Smith is a member of the Courvoisier Future 500, an exclusive network of pioneers, entrepreneurs and revolutionary spirits from the arts, social enterprise, business, science, gastronomy, fashion and other sectors.
He is a regular speaker at events and conferences around the world. In 2011 Michael has spoken at Kidscreen (New York City), MIPTV (Cannes, France), The Children's Media Conference (Sheffield, UK) and Develop (Brighton, UK).
Smith also founded Silicon Drinkabout, a weekly Tech/Media meet up in Shoreditch, London designed to bring together those working within the Tech community – supported by David Cameron's Tech City initiative.
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