20VC: Supercell Founder Ilkka Paananen on What it Means To Be “The Least Powerful CEO”, His Relationship To Wealth and Risk & How To Create Environments of Safety Where Your Team Can Be Their Best and Most Ambitious Selves
Ilkka Paananen is the Co-Founder & CEO @ Supercell, the makers of some of the most wildly successful games of the last decade including Hay Day, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach and more. Prior to Tencent acquiring a majority stake in the company at a reported $10.2Bn acquisition, Ilkka raised over $143M for the company from Accel, Index, Atomico, IVP, LVP, Initial and Lifeline. Throughout his incredible leadership of Supercell he has coined the term, “the least powerful CEO”, a fascinating concept and one we dig into in this episode.
In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:
1.) How Ilkka made his way into the world of startups and came to found one of Europe’s most valuable companies in the form of Supercell?
2.) How does Ilkka think about his own relationship to risk? Why does Ilkka believe the No 1 reason companies die is due to their relationship to risk? How does Ilkka evaluate his relationship to money? Has it changed over time? How does Ilkka feel the weight of responsibility with his wealth?
3.) What does being “the least powerful CEO” mean in practice? What does Ilkka belive is key for leaders to really empower their team to be bold and ambitious? How can leaders create environments of safety where it is ok to fail? Where do many leaders go wrong here?
4.) The first 3 Supercell games were failures, how did Ilkka deal with those really hard times? How can leaders sustain morale in such hard times? Supercell then had 3 big hits in a row, how does one prevent ego and over-confidence in teams? What is the beer vs champagne culture?
5.) How does Ilkka Paananen think about the importance of focus? What has Ilkka done and learned to be a much more focused leader? How does Ilkka approach the aspect of competition today?
Item’s Mentioned In Today’s Episode
Ilkka Paananen’s Favourite Book: What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz