Snap Games Grows, Hiring Two New Leadership Positions

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Snap Games Grows, Hiring Two New Leadership Positions

Santa Monica-based Snap continues to grow its gaming operation, announcing two new leadership hires for the division on Thursday.


Panayoti (Pany) Haritatos will be Snap's head of games. He will report to Will Wu, the company's director of product. Haritatos was most recently chief operating officer of game publisher and platform Kongregate, and was previously an executive at mobile games titan Zynga. He will be responsible for Snap's gaming strategy and expanding its gaming content, working across the company's product, engineering and partnership teams, as well as with external game developers.

Jessica Shetty is now head of games partnerships, North America. She will report to John Imah, Snap's head of games and entertainment partnerships. Most recently Shetty was head of mobile gaming partnerships, North America at Facebook, where she was a founding member of the company's Instant Games platform team. Her responsibilities will include Snap's gaming partner strategy and expanding Snap's developer ecosystem.

Jessica Shetty (L) and Panayoti (Pany) Haritatos (R) will join Snap's gaming division's leadership team.

In 2019, Snap introduced Snap Games to allow Snapchatters to play games – whether developed by Snap or external partners – directly in the app. The following year, the company highlighted its software development kit's integration with other applications, including functionality that allows users to bring their Bitmoji characters into other publishers' games. (Snap acquired Bitmoji in 2016, reportedly for $64.2 million.)

Over 100 million Snapchat users have played Snap's games, the company reports. Snap has 238 million daily active users, most of them young.

The new hires will seek to build on the company's gaming momentum.

Mobile gaming is the largest portion of the $150 billion+ gaming industry, which is expected to surpass $200 billion by 2023.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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