Robert Khoo, the business leader who grew Penny Arcade from a small webcomic into a global force in games, is leaving after 15 years.
Khoo originally created his own job at the Seattle-area company, approaching comic writer Jerry “Tycho” Holkins and artist Mike “Gabe” Krahulik with his plan to turn their webcomic into a much larger enterprise. Penny Arcade launched the popular PAX conventions under his leadership, catering to hundreds of thousands of gamers around the world, as well as the Child’s Play charity.
“I was a huge fan of Penny Arcade. Called them up and, long story short, realized they had no idea what they were doing (from a business standpoint),” Khoo told me in an interview 10 years ago. “A few months later, I dropped a 50-page business plan in front of them and said, ‘Hey look, let me execute on this. I’ll work for two months for free. If I can pay for myself after two months, keep me, if I can’t, cut me.’ ”
Khoo is stepping down on July 15. He said this week, “After 15 years, it was time to go and try something new – things have been humming along smoothly for a while now, so with everything in place and smooth seas ahead, it was the right time.”
“It’s been an immeasurable privilege serving Penny Arcade’s audience and helping more than a million individuals come together for their love of gaming at PAX events,” Khoo said in a Penny Arcade news release announcing his departure. “I want to thank my colleagues for sharing this incredible journey and I look forward to witnessing Penny Arcade’s continued growth.”
Penny Arcade says Krahulik and Holkins, the company’s founders, “will take the reins of the company’s creative direction, focusing on the creation and licensing of Penny Arcade’s stable of intellectual property.”
Holkins writes in a post today, “I didn’t really understand what Mike and I were making with Penny Arcade, at first. Robert understood it. In many ways, he understood it first. He taught us so much. We know what we want to be when we grow up, now, and it’s this. My goal now, and going forward, is to make him proud.”
Editor’s Note: GeekWire is based in a portion of Penny Arcade’s former office space in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, and this post was written in the precise location of Khoo’s former desk, in the current GeekWire newsroom.
Updated on June 14 with more information from Robert Khoo.