“Being self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses and building a team to support you is what will determine your success in the role. Think like an investor thinks, it will help you spot trends before they become issues.” – Playtika CFO & President Craig Abrahams
It was after he had worked 3 years as an investment analyst with Bear Stearns and spent more than 2 years inside the corporate strategy bullpen of The Walt Disney Company that Craig Abrahams decided to head to business school.
However, Abrahams says that unlike many of his future classmates, he had made up his mind that hedge funds, investment banks, and strategy consulting firms would not be on his preferred menu of postgraduation career opportunities.Read More
“I wanted an opportunity to work really hard and stand out but also to go somewhere a little bit different, where I wasn’t competing with 10 versions of myself,” explains Abrahams, whose earlier experiences at Bear Stearns and Disney had left the MBA student searching for a less traditional route to career success.
Observes Abrahams: “I was looking for a place where I personally could have an impact.”
That place became Las Vegas, where upon graduation Abrahams joined Caesars Entertainment as a director of broadcasting and new media.
“This was about putting myself in a position where I would be in the right place if an opportunity came along,” comments Abrahams, who within 6 months of joining the gaming giant was tapped to help launch Caesars Interactive Entertainment.
“I remember when Gary Loveman, the CEO of Caesars at the time, said to me, ‘There’s an opportunity to work on a business plan to create a new entity,’ so that opportunity fell into my lap,” remarks Abrahams, who had served in a number of corporate development roles before advancing into the new entity’s CFO office.
It was as CFO of Caesars Interactive that Abrahams first became acquainted with a small Israeli company that had a megahit mobile game known as Slotomania.
Caesars was smitten and in 2011 acquired the Israeli firm, Playtika. Over the next 5 years, Caesars Interactive invested more than $300 million into the business, which allowed Playtika to complete a series of acquisitions that led to the sale of the company for $4.4 billion in 2016. “This was just the first step in the evolution of Playtika,” explains Abrahams, who joined the newly private firm as CFO in 2019 and subsequently spearheaded a debt raise of $2.5 billion. The company was able to pay investors a dividend before management became focused on taking the company public, a goal that would be realized early in 2021. –Jack Sweeney
CFOTL: Tell us about Playtika and what sets it apart from its competitors …
Abrahams: I think that Playtika has a couple of distinct advantages that really come down to its roots, which are as an entrepreneurial Israeli company. In Israel at the time of our founding, there was not a variety of games talent. It wasn’t like we were a creative company whose focus was on making creative content. We were a company that saw an opportunity to create games on Facebook and then move quickly to acquire talent on the analytics side, on the technology side, on the marketing side. Eventually, we built up our capabilities through acquisitions to buy great product teams.Read More
As you look at the company today, you see our live operations, which is how a game is managed day-to-day so that a consumer experience is just as good in year two of playing the game as it was on the first day that they downloaded it. This really is what live operations is all about. How do you personalize the game experience for the consumer so that it’s a constant stream of interesting content and engagement for them?
Then you would see our technology. We built out our Boost Technology Platform, which is really how we scale our games and cross-pollinate learnings from one game in our portfolio to other games. Analytics are also at the core of everything that we do—analyzing things with our data. I think that it’s the combination of our Israeli DNA, our technology, our analytics, and our live operations that really allows us to be a leading mobile game company today.
Just to give you a sense of our scale, we have nine games in the top 100 in the U.S. app stores. We guided to $2.6 billion in revenue this year and a billion dollars of adjusted EBIDTA, so we have significant scale. Eight of the acquisitions that we’ve done have been game studios. These are game companies that have, in some examples, one hit game; in others, a portfolio of games that we bring into our product suite. We really try to help these management teams to grow their businesses.
We’ve bought marketing teams. We’ve bought machine learning and artificial intelligence teams. We’ve bought R&D studios throughout Eastern Europe to really scale our R&D capabilities. Today, we have close to 4,000 employees around the world.
Playtika | www.playtika.com | Herzliya, Israel