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Paul Thelen, back as Big Fish CEO

In a surprise shakeup at the top of Big Fish Games, Jeremy Lewis will step down as CEO and president of the Seattle-based casual games company. Paul Thelen, the company’s founder, will return to the roles, and Lewis will remain on the Big Fish board of directors.

The privately held company is considered a possible IPO  candidate. Big Fish posted sales of more than $180 million last year, up 30 percent, according to the company.

“Six years ago, I joined Big Fish Games’ founder, Paul Thelen, to partner with him to build Big Fish,” said Lewis in a news release announcing the change.

He continued, “Since then, we’ve grown the company organically through several life stages and emerged as a leading digital brand with strong momentum and huge continued potential. This is a natural point in our company’s progression for me to pass my responsibilities as president and CEO back to Paul, who will bring his characteristic entrepreneurial drive and creativity to the forefront.”

Jeremy Lewis remains on the board.

Lewis, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, oversaw Big Fish’s $83 million financing in 2008. During his tenure, the company expanded to new platforms, including the iPad, where it became a top 10 publisher last year.

Thelen launched Big Fish’s first hit, Mahjong Towers, in 2002. He has been serving as the company’s chief strategy officer and board chairman.

“I want to thank Jeremy for his leadership and for the many milestones achieved on his watch,” said Thelen in the news release.

Thelen said Big Fish is on track for another record year of revenue this year, and he pointed ahead to its planned launch of a cloud gaming service, in addition to the expansion of its PC, Mac, Facebook and mobile gaming businesses.

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