The Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) is open this weekend and those who are lucky enough to get in are enjoying a weekend jam packed with geek culture. Games, both video and table top based, are being played, comics are being discussed, and videos are being watched.
The gaming news site GameSpot recently interviewed Penny Arcade’s Robert Khoo who is responsible for the business dealings around all things PA. Penny Arcade has become much more than just a web comic and Mr. Khoo had a lot to do with that.
If you’ve ever been interested in how web comics can turn from hobby to growing business this interview will be an interesting read. Here’s an excerpt:
“GameSpot: In 15 words or less: what do you do at Penny Arcade?
Robert Khoo: There are two sides to Penny Arcade: content and business. I run the business.
GS: Do you remember what prompted you to approach Gabe and Tycho? What was the “Eureka!” moment? What was your first meeting with Gabe and Tycho like? Your first impressions of them?
RK: One of my clients at the consultancy was a South Korean game developer working on a sports MMO. I was assigned the task of developing a US marketing strategy for the title, and was already a huge Penny Arcade fan. I was always a huge proponent to grassroots strategies and reaching the market influencers, so it just made sense to get a hold of the guys that *I* listened to. So I tried e-mailing them: no response. I tried e-mailing them again, only this time proposing free Chinese food.
Two days later I was eating chow mein trying to figure out what made these guys tick. I realized pretty quick they really didn?t know what they were doing, business-wise, so I just picked their brains to the point where I realized, “Man these guys need help.” I quickly concluded the meeting and went back to Korea for a few weeks.
On the flight back I remembered thinking how life was too short and how PA was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me ? if I could pitch it right. A week later I had a follow-up lunch with Gabe and Tycho and made them an offer they couldn?t refuse. I plopped down a 40-page, five-year business plan for Penny Arcade and told them that if they gave me the green light, I?d quit my job and work for them for two months for free. If I couldn?t pay for myself after that time, fine, fire me. No hard feelings. If I work out, even better. Again, that was three years ago.”
Continue on to read the full interview.