Rovio Entertainment, the Finnish gaming company known for its creation of the popular mobile game Angry Birds, has announced that it would spin off its education business into a new, independent company called Fun Academy.
“As a spin-off from Rovio, we can continue from all the work Rovio has done over the past five years developing fun learning,” said Sanna Lukander, the former Vice President of Rovio’s education department and a new leader of Fun Academy. The Academy will be staffed by “key personnel” from Rovio’s education division. BusinessWire reports that Fun Academy is “solely dedicated to the pursuit and development of fun learning” that engages students through interactive entertainment.
Reuters notes that Fun Academy has licensed the Angry Birds brand, the most famous trademark of the Finnish company, to promote its business, which includes a preschool concept and digital learning tools for students and teachers. The new company has taken over the Angry Birds Playground, a popular childhood education program in parts of Asia. Reportedly, the company will have greater flexibility in financing and decision-making, two traits that will allow it grow independent of Rovio.
“Not only do we have Angry Birds Playground, a wonderful kindergarten product that has real operation customers in Shanghai, Chengdu, Nanjing, Singapore and Saint Paul, Minnesota, but also ongoing major partnerships as well as research cooperation with universities like the University of Helsinki and Beijing Normal University,” Lukander added.
According to Matthew Handrahan of Gameindustry.biz, Rovio has weathered some serious turmoil in recent years. In 2015, the company lost 213 jobs, its head of games Jami Laes stepped down, and its CEO departed – with all of this occurring in the shadow of over 100 job losses in 2014. In two years, the company lost several senior management figures and almost half of its employees since its height of 800 in 2013.
The creation of Fun Academy is part of an effort undertaken by Rovio’s management to introduce “fundamental changes” into the company after the last round of layoffs. For a time, Rovio resisted being pigeonholed as a gaming company, but, perhaps in light of its slowdown, has changed its tune and embraced its reputation. Now, Rovio’s goal is to become a “leading entertainment company that with mobile games at its heart.”
Analysts largely agree that Rovio needs to be leaner and more focused in its approach to game development. The company promises to work emerge much stronger after this transition period.
“Rovio’s education operations taking flight as a separate company will allow Sanna [Lukander] and her team to focus exclusively on developing the fun learning concept and related tools, and provide even better service to her customers,” says René Lindell, Rovio’s Chief Strategy Officer. “As a minority investor, in the new venture, we are confident that Fun Academy has a bright future in bringing fun learning and Finnish education know-how to the world.”
The new company’s website describes many of its upcoming games, products and services with each blurb concluding with an excited “Coming soon!”