How the Angry Birds Almost Died Before the First Level
Mikael Hed almost pulled the plug on Rovio while the Angry Birds were still in development.
After several years in business, his mobile game company had yet to produce a hit. Rovio’s chief backer, Hed’s father, Kaj, was struggling to figure out how to keep the company going.
“He told me that he wanted to mortgage my grandparents’ flat so he could put some more money in the company to keep it afloat,” Mikael Hed said in an interview. “That was pretty tough. I certainly did not want to be the person responsible for putting my grandparents on the street.”
Angry Birds was in development and Hed thought he might have a winner on his hands. But at the same time, the company had made dozens of games already without striking it rich, and even the best iPhone games weren’t making that much money.
“Just looking at the odds, we shouldn’t take that kind of a risk,” Hed recalls thinking. But his father went ahead anyway.
“I’m glad he did,” Hed said, noting his grandparents still have their home. “Now I am glad he did, but it was a big gamble.”
The move has clearly paid off. According to figures made public and noted this week by a Finnish newspaper, Kaj Hed owns nearly 70 percent of the company, worth by some estimates between $6 billion and $9 billion.