Business

Five things you should know about Jon Radoff

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Disruptor Beam Inc. makes big video games for small devices. The Framingham company’s mobile game based on the cable TV hit “Game of Thrones” has been downloaded 10 million times in the past three years, and the new “Star Trek Timelines” has gotten a million downloads since January. Chief executive and cofounder Jon Radoff, 43, tells Globe reporter Hiawatha Bray he’s just getting started.

1. Radoff fell in love with entrepreneurship and his wife at about the same time.

“I dropped out of college when I was 19 to start a game company. This was back in the days when social networks were called CompuServe or America Online. We built text-based role-playing games. You could almost think of them as like an online Renaissance fair. People would come online and pretend to be characters.

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“I met my wife in an online game called Gemstone. We were playing this game, and we said, ‘We can build a hell of a better game than this.’ So we simultaneously fell in love and also hatched a business idea. She moved from the West Coast, we got an apartment together in Worcester, and the rest is history.”

2. Radoff plans to build Disruptor Beam into a major force in gaming. And he plans to do it right here in Massachusetts.

“It seems like Boston companies tend to build cool products, and then somebody snatches them up on the West Coast. Our ambition here at Disruptor Beam is really to build a big, significant company right here in Boston around mobile and social entertainment.

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“I look for the intersection between what I love and what I’m passionate about, and what I think can become a big business. There’s other stuff I love that I wouldn’t necessarily do because I can’t see it becoming a huge company. And there’s lots of huge companies I can imagine that I wouldn’t love building. I think life’s too short, so you might as well try to hit the intersection between those two things.”

3. Radoff knows the “Game of Thrones” and “Star Trek” universes inside-out.

“I’ve watched every episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’ I’ve read all the books. . . . On ‘Star Trek,’ I’ve watched every episode that’s ever been on TV, and all the movies. It happened long ago and over a long period of time, and was certainly done for fun. I remember watching the original ‘Star Trek’ series and watched every episode five or six times because my father had it on TV as I was growing up. I certainly never knew 30 years ago that I would be building a ‘Star Trek’ game, let alone a ‘Star Trek’ game on a mobile device that’s the same size as those communicator devices that Kirk walked around with.”

4. Radoff wants to base more games on major science-fiction and fantasy franchises. And he never stops looking.

“I’m an avid science fiction reader. I love fantasy, I love horror. I love all the traditional genre categories. . . . We’re looking at more stuff like that. The kinds of games you’re going to see from us in the future are going to be genre-oriented science fiction, fantasy, horror, military kind of stuff. And it’s going to be settings with huge fan bases and/or a long history behind it, so that there’s been lots of content created over the course of time.

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“We have a couple products that are already in development that we haven’t announced. . . . Any of the products that we’re currently developing, you would instantly know what they are. I can tell you that they’re big and people will be excited about it when we can announce them.”

5. For Radoff, building businesses and raising children are life’s biggest adventures.

“My kids were born right at the moment Disruptor Beam was getting created. People thought I was completely insane at the time to be having kids, let alone twins at the same time. Also, they were born premature by a couple of months, so I was going to a hospital every day to see them in an incubator and somehow balance this against starting a company at the same time.

“Today, my kids are 4 and a half. They’re loads of fun. They’re in school and starting to talk to me about stuff. They’re trying to figure out what ‘entrepreneur’ means. I try to explain it to them regularly. I don’t think they quite get it yet. They get that I make games.”

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha.bray@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.
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