Michael Acton Smith

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Cover of Wired May 2012

Michael Acton Smith OBE (born 1974) is the current co-CEO and co-Founder of Calm, a leading company in the meditation space.[1] He is also the founder of Firebox.com,[2] and founder and chairman of children's entertainment company Mind Candy – the creators of global children's phenomenon Moshi Monsters.[3] He has been described by The Daily Telegraph as "a rock star version of Willy Wonka"[4] and by The Independent as "a polite version of Bob Geldof."[5]


In 1998, while in his early twenties, Acton 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.[6]

Following his success with Firebox, Acton Smith secured $10M backing and launched Mind Candy in 2004.[7] 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[8] with Perplex City being hailed as the future of gaming. The game was also nominated for a BAFTA award in 2006.[9] After three years (and $9M spent) Perplex City was placed on indefinite hold.[5]

With just $1M left in the bank in 2007, Acton 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 [10] and today, Moshi Monsters, has over 90 million users around the world[11] and has expanded offline[12] into best selling toys, the number one selling kids magazine in the UK,[13] a best selling DS video game,[14] top 5 music album which has gone gold in the UK,[15] books, membership cards, trading cards and much more. In December 2013, Moshi Monsters teamed with Universal to release a full-length feature movie, as well. [16]

In late 2012 Acton Smith co-founded Calm.com, along with longtime friend and fellow serial entrepreneur, Alex Tew [17] Throughout the following year, the two raised over 1.5M from a broad group of angel investors to get the company up and running, but have not raised any money since.[18] By 2015, Calm had reached 2 million downloads worldwide and, after winning a British competition, launched the world's first "slow TV Ad." [19] That same year, Smith released a book with Penguin called Calm: Calm the Mind, Change the World. It featured bright colors, pictures, quotes, and simple habits to teach people mindfulness in the same style of the app, and was ultimately published in 12 countries.[20]

By fall the following year, Calm had grown to 6M downloads and launched a new feature to the platform called "sleep stories" -- the first bedtime tales for adults.[21] The stories featured soothing, peaceful voices, from a variety of readers, including Ben Stein, NPR's Laura Sydell, and The Bachelor's Nick Viall.[22] In July 2017, the release of Baa Baa Land, an eight-hour slow cinema film, was announced, adding the title Executive Producer to Acton Smith's resume. [23]

Acton Smith is also the founder of Ping Pong Fight Club[24], Silicon Drinkabout[25], and the Berwickstock Festival [26]. He was awarded a BAFTA in 2013 for Moshi Monsters[27] and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to the creative industries, one of the youngest ever to receive the award.[28]Acton Smith has won numerous other awards and titles, including the 12th best dressed man in the world by The Times in 2013, a 2013 Technology Pioneer by WEF, an honorary Doctorate from the University of Birmingham, the Evening Standard's 1000 Most Influential People list for 2010, amongst others.


  1. ^ "That One Time I Was Tucked In By A Startup". Techcrunch. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  2. ^ "Moshi Monsters makes it third time lucky for dotcom entrepreneur Michael Acton Smith". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "Mind Candy appoints Ian Chambers as new CEO". Licensing.biz. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  4. ^ "The man who gave birth to Moshi Monsters". Telegraph. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "The man who aims to hide a monster under every bed – Business Analysis & Features – Business". The Independent. 17 July 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "BBC Radio 5 live – On the Money, 30/01/2011". Bbc.co.uk. 30 January 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Hannah Prevett (19 August 2012). "A monster success". Elitebusinessmagazine.co.uk. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Daniel Terdiman (28 March 2013). "Perplex City Faces Reality Check". Wired.com. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  9. ^ "Mind Candy: Michael Acton Smith – Startups.co.uk: Starting a business advice and business ideas". Startups.co.uk. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  10. ^ Helen Garston (25 September 2011). "Moshi Monsters: Man behind the website dubbed 'Facebook for kids' says it's worth £200m | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Mike Butcher (2 May 2013). "As Moshi Monsters Hits 5 years, Can it pull of Three new games?". TechCrunch. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Jemima Kiss. "Moshi Monsters plans move into online children's TV | Media". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  13. ^ "ABC Figures Reveal Moshi Monsters Magazine is the Best Selling Children's Magazine in the UK". Bloomberg. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  14. ^ Tyler, Lewis (30 April 2012). "Moshi Monsters video game breaks chart record | Latest news from the toy industry | ToyNews". Toynews-online.biz. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  15. ^ Pakinkis, Tom. "Moshi Monsters album goes Gold – with no promotional airplay". Music Week. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  16. ^ James Batchelor (20 August 2013). "Moshia Monsters The Movie Hits Cinemas This Christmas". MCV UK. 
  17. ^ "Executives Need to Find Calm in a Stormy World". Forbes.com. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  18. ^ Sarah Perez (26 February 2013). "Relaxation Calm.com Launches iPhone App that Helps you Chill, Grabs $415K in Angel Funding". TechCrunch. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  19. ^ "calm.com relaxation app unveils world-first two-minute ‘slow TV’ ad". thedrum.com. Retrieved 22 September 2015. 
  20. ^ {{cite web |author=Ashley Macey |url=http://www.brit.co/calm-book/ |title= This New Journal Will Teach You to Be More Mindful |publisher=Brit+Co |date=6 February 2016
  21. ^ Adele Peters (13 December 2016). " "These Bedtime Stories Are Designed to Lull Grownups to Sleep". FastCoexist. 
  22. ^ Sasha Lekach (8 December 2016). "Go to bed with the boring teacher from ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’". Mashable. 
  23. ^ Hanrahan, Mark (July 19, 2017). "Is this eight-hour sheep epic `the dullest movie ever'?". Reuters. Retrieved July 24, 2017. 
  24. ^ Kevin Maher (13 February 2014). "Inside London's Silicon Roundabout". Esquire. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  25. ^ Josh Halliday (17 July 2011). "Mind Candy – the monster that lurks on Silicon Roundabout". The Guardian. 
  26. ^ Judy Bevan (16 July 2011). "The Man Who Aims To Hide A Monster Under Every Bed". independent. 
  27. ^ Leo Kelion (30 December 2013). "Moshi Monster Founder and ARM's Ex-Boss Honoured". BBC. 
  28. ^ "No. 60728". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2013. p. 14. 

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