There's no doubt that Activision's Guitar Hero series is big business. Exactly how big the rhythm-game franchise has become was put into some perspective today, when the publisher announced former Yahoo chief operating officer and former ZDNet CEO Dan Rosensweig as the new CEO and president of its Guitar Hero division, RedOctane.
Rosensweig replaces RedOctane cofounder Kai Huang in both roles. Huang will remain with RedOctane, but will work under Rosensweig.
"Under the leadership of Kai and Charles, Guitar Hero established the music-gaming genre and became a global phenomenon," Activision Publishing president and CEO Mike Griffith said in a statement. "With the addition of Dan's proven operational expertise and leadership, we will continue expanding the franchise's global footprint in new and innovative ways. Dan's deep understanding of how consumers can be entertained online will be invaluable as we continue to build Guitar Hero's complementary growth channels, further establish the franchise as an innovative music platform, and develop relationships with new business partners."
Huang, along with his brother Charles, established RedOctane as an online game-rental service in 1999. The company quickly moved into selling peripherals for games such as Konami's Dance Dance Revolution series, and began publishing its own games with 2005's DDR-like PlayStation 2 game In the Groove. In November of that year, the publisher released the original Guitar Hero on the PlayStation 2. Seven months later, RedOctane was acquired by Activision for $100 million. The investment proved sound, given that Guitar Hero grew to be a billion-dollar franchise in less than two years.
Rosensweig spent 18 years at Ziff-Davis in a variety of senior sales and publishing roles, the last one as CEO of ZDNet, before its acquisition by CNET Networks in 2000. He then served as CNET's president before becoming chief operating officer at Yahoo in 2002 during the Terry Semel era. He left Yahoo in 2006 and then joined Quadrangle Group, a private investment firm, in 2007.