SoftBank-backed Improbable lost its CFO, chief people officer, and chief creative officer in 2019

Improbable

  • SoftBank-backed software startup Improbable has seen three major executive departures over 2019: chief financial officer, chief people officer, and chief creative officer.
  • Improbable is a UK startup that allows customers, such as game developers, to create large-scale virtual simulations. It made headlines in 2017 after raising $502 million from SoftBank.
  • Improbable said it was a fast-growing company and that, as it scales, what it needs from its talent will change.
  • Accounts filed in March 2019 show that Improbable’s losses ballooned in 2018 and that its revenue declined.
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SoftBank-backed software startup Improbable has seen its chief financial officer, chief people officer, and chief creative officer depart within the space of 12 months.

Chief financial officer Michael Bannon left after two years at Improbable, departing for Amsterdam’s MessageBird, which provides APIs to allow businesses to talk to customers en masse. 

Chief creative officer Bill Roper left after around one-and-a-half years to become a cofounder of gaming firm Author Digital.

And chief people officer Steven Bianchi left in October and now holds the same position at HR startup Beamery.

The three did not respond to a request for comment.

In early 2018, Improbable also lost its chief legal officer, Rob Miller.

An Improbable spokesman said the company had significantly expanded in 2019.

The firm acquired two companies during the year, game studio Midwinter Entertainment and service company The Multiplayer Guys. It also set up two internal game studios, the spokesman said.

The acquisitions have resulted in the hiring and acqui-hiring of gaming veterans, such as the former creative director of 343 Industries, Josh Holmes. And Improbable also hired a new CTO, Lincoln Wallen, formerly chief technology officer at Dreamworks, the spokesman added.

“We’ve also seen some people move on — we appreciate the work they did for Improbable and wish them the best for the future; as we grow and build our business it’s natural that our emphases and the skills we need as a company evolve,” the spokesman said.

Improbable made headlines in 2017 when it raised $502 million from SoftBank, then an unprecedented level of funding into a UK startup. The software firm says it allows customers — ranging from game developers to the US Army — to create vast virtual simulations.

The concept is experimental, and not all the experiments have gone well.

Bossa Studios built multiplayer game “Worlds Adrift” on Improbable’s software, but killed the game after low traction in May 2019. Another game built by indie studio Spilt Milk, “Lazarus”, shuttered in August 2019. And Automaton, a small studio that took £5 million in funding in Improbable and was developing a game based on its software, collapsed in August last year.

worlds adrift bossa studios

Improbable has other games in development that will use its software, including one being built by its acquired studio Midwinter Entertainment, and another unnamed title via a partnership with French studio Darewise.

Accounts filed in May 2019 show that Improbable is not profitable, with its losses between June 2017 and June 2018 ballooning to £50.4 million ($66 million) from £4.8 million ($6.3 million) the prior year. Revenue for the year declined to £579,858 (approximately $800,000), down from £7.8 million ($10.3 million) the prior year.

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