Co-Founders of Vicarious Visions Named 2013 William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneurs of the Year
Rensselaer alumnus Karthik Bala ’97 and his brother, Guha Bala—co-founders of the successful video game development company Vicarious Visions—have been selected as the 2013 William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneurs of the Year. Established in 1990, the William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year Award brings the world of entrepreneurship into Rensselaer classrooms by recognizing successful entrepreneurs and role models who share their wisdom and experiences with students.
Vicarious Visions, based in Menands, N.Y., has earned nearly $3 billion in retail sales and sold more than 45 million software units worldwide. Located in a 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art studio, the company employs more than 200 creative programmers, artists, and designers.
The two brothers co-founded the company in 1991 in their parents’ basement while in high school. They landed their first publishing deal when Karthik was a freshman at Rensselaer. In 2005, Vicarious Visions was acquired by Activision|Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), a leading worldwide publisher of entertainment software.
Vicarious Visions has since grown to become an industry-leading game developer. They have helped shape popular culture with hit video game titles including versions of Skylanders, Guitar Hero, Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk, Spider-Man, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance for various platforms. Vicarious Visions was rated in the top 20 of 100 of the World’s Most Successful Games Development Studios by Develop 100 in 2010. The company has won numerous awards and critical acclaim from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Nickelodeon’s Parent’s and Kid’s Choice, and IGN Entertainment, to name a few.
Karthik currently serves as CEO of Vicarious Visions as well as chief technology officer of Activision Mobile, a division of Activision Publishing. He has served as a board member of several organizations and currently serves on the board of trustees of WMHT, a public broadcast radio and television affiliate. He graduated from Rensselaer in 1997, earning dual bachelor’s degrees in computer science and in psychology. He also received his MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT.
In addition to his role as president of Vicarious Visions, Guha has served as a board member of the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce. He has been a speaker at numerous industry conferences including the Game Developers Conference and Electronic Entertainment Expo. Guha earned an honors degree in chemistry from Harvard University, and received his MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT.
“It’s a privilege to be in such esteemed company of alums who have previously received this award,” said Karthik Bala ’97. “It’s been 20 years exactly since I came to Rensselaer as an undergraduate and was inspired by the entrepreneurial alums who have made such a broad impact on the world. Guha and I are looking forward to coming back on campus to meet the next generation of Rensselaer entrepreneurs.”
“I’m honored to be recognized in this manner. Being an entrepreneur is not an objective or a milestone; it has been a way of life for me and Karthik,” said Guha Bala. “By choosing to work entrepreneurially and shaping our organization to do the same, we have reinvented and consistently grown our business in its economic and cultural impact.”
The Entrepreneur of the Year program will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies auditorium. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship and the Lally School of Management and Technology.
“We are delighted to honor Karthik Bala ’97 and Guha Bala of Vicarious Visions as the William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneurs of the Year. Their accomplishments are truly remarkable and have influenced the gaming world, future startups, and popular culture,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School. “We would like to express our utmost gratitude to Bill Glaser in fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of Rensselaer graduates by sponsoring this inspiring annual event.”
“I think that what Vicarious Visions has become is a wonderful reflection of what we try to foster in student entrepreneurs at Rensselaer, combining the technology, the creative process, and effective management,” said Jason Kuruzovich, associate professor and director of the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship.
For more information and to RSVP, visit scte.rpi.edu/2013eoy.