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Will Wright's Hivemind start-up halted by litigation issues

Will Wright's Hivemind start-up halted by litigation issues

June 6, 2012 | By Mike Rose

June 6, 2012 | By Mike Rose
More: Business/Marketing

Hivemind, the "personal gaming" start-up founded by industry veteran Will Wright and announced late last year, has fallen apart, due to legal battles between executives.

The studio was set up to create games that are designed to provide a personal experience to each individual player by taking into account aspects from the player's real life. Wright was looking to expand the idea and turn the Hivemind company into a large operation, with multiple apps available on mobile devices at the least.

Jawad Ansari, Hivemind's first chief executive, was replaced last year by Wright and Raj Parekh, managing director of venture capital firm Redwood Venture Partners. Earlier this year he sued the pair and Wright's own studio Stupid Fun Club, to protect his 30 percent equity in Hivemind, reports Venturebeat.

Ansari filed the lawsuit in February through a Alameda County, California superior court -- Wright then countersued. Ansari later withdrew the lawsuit, and a court appointed Wright and Ansari as the board of Hivemind. However, the litigation is still ongoing, and longtime Wright collaborator Lauren Elliott took over as CEO.

In the filing, Ansari alleged that John Riccitiello, chief executive of Electronic Arts, verbally committed to investing $5 million in Hivemind. However, Wright was worried this would affect EA's relationship with Stupid Fun Club as a result, it stated.

Late last year, Wright and Parekh then tried to shut down Hivemind and claim the intellectual property for Stupid Fun Club, the filing alleged. It also stated that social games giant Zynga was in talks to acquire Hivemind, with a deal valued at $75 million.

Wright and Parekh resigned in December, and allege that no deals for Hivemind were in place at all. Ansari was a poor employee, says the countersuit, and was unable to do basic tasks, even accusing him of trying to smear Wright's reputation.

"It didn't work out at all," Wright explained. "Hivemind is still a company. But it has no money. No nothing. It's just sitting there because of the litigation. It is frozen. It's so complex and there's quite a bit of disappointment."

"It's a shame this didnt work out," he continued. "We have to find out where this is going in the near term."

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