Playdom has picked up its latest high-profile hire: David Sobeski, previously a senior vice president at Yahoo, where he ran the Open Strategy and Data platform, and Microsoft, where he worked on Vista, Exchange, msn.com and Internet Explorer. He’ll be the company’s new chief technology officer.
As with several other social gaming hires that we’ve seen, Sobeski doesn’t have much (if any) experience working directly on games, at least on his resume — though the press release is careful to note that he is at least a hobbyist. Playdom likely has other concerns besides game design, though. The company’s first big hit on Facebook, Social City, ran into a number of technical problems during its growth, leading quite a few players to complain about the game experience.
Social City still ended up with over 12 million players, making it Playdom’s largest game on Facebook, but the company will no doubt want to do better next time. Sobeski’s experience working on major platforms and product launches will help Playdom’s games scale up more smoothly in the future.
Last summer, Playdom lured its current CEO, John Pleasants, away from Electronic Arts, and in December it hired a top brokerage analyst away from Thomas Wiesel Partners to serve as its new CFO. More recently, it also began making more noise around its efforts on Facebook. Besides Social City’s launch, Playdom also recently bought the startups Offbeat Creations and Three Melons, and invested in MetroGames.
All of these moves could be paving the way for an IPO for Playdom, as we first suggested last year. Sobeski’s hire, to indulge in a little more speculation, can also be seen through this lens — having a C-suite filled with former executives of large companies certainly helps convince investors of a young company’s viability. Of course, that’s just one possibility — we’ve also been hearing that News Corp., the owner of Fox (and MySpace), may be interested in acquiring Playdom.