Alyssa Padia Walles—An Entrepreneurial Approach to Big Brand Success

03 Jun 2014, Posted by Sarina Simon in Expert Interviews

Alyssa Padia Walles

Alyssa Padia Walles

Meet Alyssa Padia Walles.  In her long and impressive  business strategy and development career, Alyssa has influenced brands
such as Fisher-Price, Toys ‘R’ Us, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Backyard Sports, where she served as co-president of Humongous, Inc.

Highlights of Alyssa’s career include negotiating national sports league agreements (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL), re-launching the Atari brand, and developing international distribution markets for Sony PlayStation.  At Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, she was a member of the senior management team that launched PlayStation across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. As Senior Vice President, Corporate Evolution at Infogrames/Atari, Alyssa played a significant role in the integration of both GT Interactive and Hasbro Interactive.  Today Alyssa is  the  COO of Information Humanities, the producer of Glo Bible.

A University of Southern California Cinema graduate, Alyssa is a mentor on behalf of the USC Marshall School of Business, and serves on the board of directors of Atari, S.A.

  • 1. You have held important positions in major corporations and start-ups.  How are those two kinds of working environments different?  What would you say are the chief virtues/drawback of each? Do you prefer one over the other?

I was much younger when I worked with multi-national corporations, and always seemed to land in positions that were entrepreneurial  – either with my boss (Disney) or the division (PlayStation).   Not surprisingly, I prefer the dynamic, fast-paced nature of start-ups and working with companies that are willing to be nimble.

  • 2. What are you most proud of in terms of career accomplishment?

PlayStation was a massive highlight; in addition to launching hardware and software through Sony divisions that had previously only sold televisions, I am most proud of convincing my management team to allow me to pursue younger content.  A year or so into PlayStation’s launch, my friends wanted to get a videogame console for their kids and I could only recommend Nintendo’s N64 – ouch.  At that time, PlayStation had two (TWO) games for kids:  Rayman from Ubisoft and MickeyMania (a SNES port from Disney).  As head of sales, my job was to focus on selling consoles, and optimizing sales of our AAA (hit) titles.  Lo and behold, when I dug into the numbers, Rayman and MickeyMania had significant lifetime sales that had been overlooked because of their evergreen nature.  Once I was able to show the longevity of sales and high volume, I got the greenlight to pursue content for kids and shortly thereafter signed deals with Mattel and Henson, and was the cheerleader encouraging 3rd parties to launch their younger-targeted IP as well.

  • 3. What is the most surprising result you experienced in your career?

Most surprising?  Launching a product for tween girls, the Wishing Watch that lightly pinged at 11:11am every day to remind them to make a wish.  The audience is there (those who believe it’s ‘lucky’ to catch a watch or clock at 11:11), we had distribution at Claire’s which caters to this exact audience, and received unanimously positive feedback from everyone in this audience.  In the end, the product didn’t catch on.

And you didn’t ask, but my business and life philosophy is to say “yes.”.

  • 4. What is the biggest risk you have taken in your career?  Did it pay off.  How and why or why not?

There are so many.  It’s probably easiest to call out a start-up that I wanted to launch after leaving Atari.  The idea may have been before its time, or something else, but after nine years of investing, testing and pitching, we were unable to make it to market.  On a positive note, leaving corporate life and starting Amplitude Consulting was a big risk that did pay off.  The company is in its 12th year and we are still working on good projects with great people.

  • 5. We call this blog, Influences and Influencers, who are the people who have influenced you?  Have you ever had a mentor? Whose work or input has impacted you the most in your career and how?

Many of the people I have worked for have served as mentors, and continue to do so, most notably my boss from Disney, Sharon Eisen Leviton and from Sony, Chris Deering.  From Sharon I learned to pursue the big idea – she identified a massive opportunity by pointing out that Disney products were only available at the parks…and launched the Disney catalog which then spawned the Disney Stores.  I continue to learn from Chris Deering who is one of the most respected executives in the interactive business. I appreciate the enthusiasm with which he approaches new business ideas, and his core values of honesty and good will in working with partners.

  • 6. What product or service have you seen lately that really excites you?

Well, I’m embarrassed to say that I believed that the Hoverboard was real:

  • 7.  What are you working on now?

A number of projects, and mentoring college seniors – opening their minds to new opportunities and possibilities through exploration and networking.

  • 8. If you could start all over again, what career would you pursue?

Probably film production – another career that combines business with creativity.

Alyssa says her philosophy is always to say, “yes.”  Perhaps that’s why she has had so many stunning accomplishments.  What about you?  Are you a risk taker?

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