Monsters have well and truly invaded Britain and they are snatching children’s hearts and munching at parents’ wallets.
One 12 year-old British girl has recently been inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for owning almost 2000 items of merchandise. But who are the brand who have sparked this phenomenon?
The man behind this monstrous craze is Michael Acton Smith, who actually stepped down from his CEO post last July to focus on a ‘more creative role’. Smith formed entertainment company Mind Candy in 2004 and based them in Shoreditch, an area which has quickly risen to prominence for its technological innovation, thus being dubbed ‘tech city’ by many.
Small successes ensued, namely Perplex City (an online alternate reality game), but the brand really came into its own when it began to develop Moshi Monsters in 2007.
The foundation of Moshi Monsters is a children’s social network where participants, usually between 6 and 14, choose a virtual pet monster who they nurture and navigate around a virtual city. They play daily challenges to socialise and earn the Moshi Monsters currency (‘Rox’). Vitally, of course, a safe environment is prioritised and well enforced.
Moshi Monsters was launched in 2008 and had 10 million registered players by 2009, by September 2010 users had more than doubled and now they boast around 80 million users.
Not only have they attracted this many users, they operate via a paid subscription service meaning they have cashed in effectively – revenue in 2012 was a massive £47 million, an £18 million increase on the year before, demonstrating just how rapidly the business grew.
Much of this additional revenue was down to the company’s expansion into the physical product market. Following such great online success, Moshi Monsters began to release toys, magazines and console-based games which were a huge hit.
Acton Smith, who often adopts the alter-ego of ‘Mr Moshi’ when at public events and was nicknamed ‘a rock star version of Willy Wonka’ by the Telegraph, is certainly not a stereotypical CEO and, consequently, his company is also very unconventional.
They steer away from long-term strategy, favouring spontaneity and agility, and maintain a quirky office with bright colours and bean-bags to keep the fun atmosphere which underlines the whole company and what it aims to bring to the table.
With Acton Smith’s passion for the creation of fantasy and imaginary worlds certainly not dwindling, he has turned down numerous big money bids for Mind Candy, his step back into a creative role promises an even brighter future for this very colourful company.