Newsmakers 2011: Z2Live CEO David Bluhm builds a mobile games powerhouse

Z2Live CEO David Bluhm poses with Sgt. Ramsey, one of the main characters in Battle Nations. Photo: Annie Laurie Malarkey

Z2Live CEO David Bluhm — a veteran Seattle entrepreneur and gaming executive — likes to say that his company batted three for three in 2011. And it’s hard to argue with those metrics. The maker of MetalStorm, TradeNations and Battle Nations saw each of its titles soar to success this year.

“We took all three of our games to top grossing on iTunes, and we are pretty proud of that. It doesn’t get too much better than that,” said Bluhm, whose 60-person company is now crammed in about 4,800 square-feet of office space.

Even more impressive, Bluhm and his rapidly growing team have rolled out new games for the iPhone while building a very profitable business. The co-founder of Medio Systems and HandsOn Mobile raised $2.5 million from Madrona and Draper Fisher Jurvetson in March, saying that the investment was more about “chemistry” with the investors than it was about the money.

Z2Live's MetalStorm was an instant hit

You got to believe that. After all, Z2Live is minting money, turning a profit each month for the past year. “We have been very healthy. We have very good margins, and that allows us to invest in great games and take our time and make them right,” he said.

Just like fellow GeekWire 2011 Newsmakers PopCap Games, Bluhm is focusing on quality rather than quantity.

“We want to make five star games, and we will insist on making fewer higher-quality games, always with innovation,” said Bluhm, who turned 50 this year and jokes that he’s too old for the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Thinking about that for a moment, Bluhm retreated from the statement. “It is what I love to do. It is a lot of fun. It keeps me young,” he said.

Newsmakers at the GeekWire Gala

We’ll be recognizing more than 20 Newsmakers of 2011 during the GeekWire Gala, Dec. 8 at the Great Hall at Seattle’s Union Station. We’ll introduce a new Newsmaker every weekday leading up to the big event.

The night is also a celebration of “Geeks who Give Back,” recognized in a special GeekWire 2012 Calendar that will be given to attendees, with a share of sponsorship proceeds going to the Child’s Play charity.

Tickets are available here for the event.

Thanks to our sponsors Zillow, Bing, Filter, Facebook, thePlatform and Barokas PR for helping to make this special evening possible.

Contact Rebecca Lovell, rebecca@geekwire.com, for sponsorship opportunities.

  • John

    David is a great guy, a fun person to work with and I’m glad to see him having success.  Congrats!

  • Pam Miller

    Such great news for David and his team!