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Tagged's Hi5 Buy Doesn't Include Staff, President Alex St. John

"Social discovery" network Tagged told Gamasutra that its acquisition of Hi5 is an "asset-only" purchase, and it will not bring in the social gaming site's staff or president/CTO Alex St. John.

Eric Caoili

December 15, 2011

2 Min Read

"Social discovery" network Tagged revealed its acquisition of Hi5 this week, but apparently it wasn't interested in the whole package. A Tagged rep revealed to Gamasutra that its acquisition of Hi5 is an "asset-only" purchase, and it will not bring on board video game industry veteran and now-former Hi5 president and CTO Alex St. John, nor any of Hi5's staff. The company said it will work with a few Hi5 workers on a contract basis, but it will not keep the rest of the site's staff. Hi5 reportedly employed 70 workers earlier in the year, before laying off 28 in September due to infrastructure adjustments. "We will be shifting some team members internally to focus on Hi5 implementation," said a spokesperson for Tagged. "This was an asset-only acquisition so we just acquired the brand, the website, and users." St. John, who was brought into Hi5 two years ago as president and chief technology officer to lead the network's transformation into a social game-focused community, will aid with the transition, but he will not have an active role at Tagged. Prior to Tagged, St. John was Microsoft's DirectX evangelist, as well as the founder and former CEO of social/casual gaming developer WildTangent. He's also known for expressing a strong opinion on the future of console gaming. Under St. John's direction, Hi5 sought to position itself as a social gaming alternative to Facebook by acquiring developer Big Six, attracting studios with free marketing and access to viral channels, and building its "next generation" SocioPath platform. Tagged is an online community designed to help users meet new people through social games, customizable profiles, and other features. The company believes the Hi5 purchase will help it "dominate the social discovery category." "Tagged is the perfect home for hi5 as it continues to prove itself as a major contender in social," said St. John. "At Hi5 my colleagues and I recognized the unanswered opportunity to connect new people online, and I'm thrilled that Tagged is making strides to fulfill this mission." With the acquisition, Tagged will add Hi5's 230 million registered users to its own 100 million registered users. For the immediate future, though, it intends to operate the sites as "two independent and freestanding brands." "Hi5 will eventually look and feel much more like Tagged, with a focus on social discovery (meeting new people)," the firm Tagged told Gamasutra. "Games are an important part of the Tagged experience as well, so they will remain a focus for Hi5."

About the Author(s)

Eric Caoili


Eric Caoili currently serves as a news editor for Gamasutra, and has helmed numerous other UBM Techweb Game Network sites all now long-dead, including GameSetWatch. He is also co-editor for beloved handheld gaming blog Tiny Cartridge, and has contributed to Joystiq, Winamp, GamePro, and 4 Color Rebellion.

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