Bloomberg News

Baba Is 35-Year-Old Billionaire With Zombie and Bear Apps

May 14, 2013

Naruatsu Baba, the 35-year-old founder of Japanese smartphone game maker Colopl Inc. (3668), has become one of the youngest billionaires in the world as Colopl stock leaped sevenfold since its December initial share sale.

The Tokyo-based app maker produces games such as “Catastrophic Zombies” and “Kuma’s Digging Adventure.” Baba holds a 69 percent stake in the company valued at $2.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He has never appeared on an international wealth ranking.

Game app makers with hits in Japan have soared, contributing to an 86 percent advance in the JASDAQ Stock Index this year and minting billionaires in the world’s third-largest economy. Baba joins the ranks of GungHo Online Entertainment Inc. (3765) Chairman Taizo Son, whose bestseller “Puzzle & Dragons” generated first-quarter sales of $3.4 million a day. Son, the youngest brother of SoftBank Corp. (9984) President Masayoshi Son, is now worth $5.1 billion, up from $3.3 billion last week, according to the daily billionaires index.

“It’s a bubble market for mobile-game makers,” said Takashi Oka, an analyst at TIW Inc. in Tokyo, who rates Colopl stock “neutral plus.” “As a developer, president (Baba) probably developed games in the beginning, so with more developers it’s possible for the company to grow exponentially.”

Popular Android Apps

Baba wants Colopl to produce 30 new games a year, according to an interview with Social Game Report in November. The company, founded in 2008, has five titles in the world’s 32 top-grossing game apps for Google Android smartphones, including “Professional Baseball PRIDE,” “Treasure Detective” and “Dino Dominion.”

One of its free “Kuma the Bear” games has been recently downloaded more times than apps from Facebook, McDonald’s or Twitter, according to the Google play website. Colopl’s games have been downloaded 10 million times in less than a year, Baba said on his company’s website. That is equal to about 8 percent of Japan’s population.

Baba was on a business trip and unavailable to comment yesterday, according to an employee at his Tokyo office.

Colopl and GungHo games can be downloaded free. Players are encouraged to buy characters or game points to keep playing.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index is a daily ranking of the world’s richest people. In calculating net worth, Bloomberg News strives to provide the most transparent calculations available. Each Bloomberg Billionaire profile contains a detailed analysis of how that person’s fortune is tallied.

The index is a dynamic measure of the world’s wealthy based on changes in markets, the economy and Bloomberg reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York. Stakes in publicly traded companies are valued using the share’s most recent closing price. Valuations are converted to U.S. dollars at current exchange rates.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zohair Siraj in New York at zsiraj1@bloomberg.net; Naoko Fujimura in Tokyo at nfujimura@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew G. Miller at mmiller144@bloomberg.net


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