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Kaiken CEO looks to original IPs for next hit

After buying Rovio’s TV animation unit earlier this month, Kaiken co-founder Mikael Hed says his media company is now developing 11 original properties.
March 23, 2017

Former Rovio CEO Mikael Hed is best known for taking the Angry Birds brand and turning it into a multiplatform franchise, but he’s now flying with a whole new crew.

The co-founder of Vancouver, Canada-based Kaiken Entertainment, which bought Rovio’s TV animation unit earlier this month, has 11 new IPs in the works. And even though he’s casting an eye towards 360-degree storytelling, things are getting a little more traditional than what he’s used to. In other words, the company is looking to non-digital media like books and TV series to launch its first properties. 

“When you first have a strong universe, characters and stories to start with, then you can go into games,” says Hed, the founder and executive chairman for Kaiken. “The [freemium] gaming audience is much older than the family audience that we’re now targeting. This was just the next step for us to build our own company that is focused on child-friendly storytelling.”

Kaiken’s 11 properties range from animated and live-action series, to books and games. Among the new brands is Storm Sistersa book series being primed for the small screenand animated series Diary of the Mascoteers (pictured). The other IPs are in very early development and the company is keeping them under wraps for now.

“We have some family titles in there and we have some young adult ones,” says Hed. “The YA properties mainly originate from Kaiken’s Helsinki-based publishing team, and then we have some animated properties we’re working on in Vancouver.”

Kaiken will also continue to animate several series for Rovio, including Angry Birds Blues and the fourth season of Piggy Tales, and serve as global master publisher for Angry Birds.

“We’re setting up our business to have a sustainable model, while continuing indefinitely to create our own IPs,” says Hed.

His team includes Kaiken Publishing CEO Laura Nevanlinna and ex-Rovio producer Joonas Rissanen, who now serves as creative director. Former Rovio, Aardman and DreamWorks senior executive Steve Pegram and ex-Rovio animation president Tommy Kopinen, meanwhile, are both serving on Kaiken’s board.

Because of the shared experience of working with Rovio and Angry Birds, Hed says his team has the expertise to build out animation, licensing opportunities and books from a mobile game. As such, Kaiken is also interested in working with companies that want a gaming-first approach to storytelling, even if its first original projects emanate from traditional media.

“We create stories and we build worlds, that’s what we do,” says Hed. “So from there, for stories to really stay alive and to have legs, they need to reach their audiences in many different formats.” That said, he admits not every property can cover a 360-degree approach right out of the gate. “But we always do keep that as one of the considerations in every story that we develop,” he adds.

About The Author
Alexandra Whyte is Kidscreen's Online Writer. Contact her at awhyte@brunico.com

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