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The Gen Con Drama Deepens

This morning, I wake up to find that the fine folks at ICv2.com have done some excellent digging around about the Gen Con takeover bid. First, they eliminated the most likely suspects for the mysterious backers of the Gen Con Acquisition Group. It’s not GAMA, and it’s not F & W Publications.

Then they learned the truth—or at least part of it. The GAG (as ICv2 names them) is led by my friend Anthony Gallela. Earlier this year, Anthony left his position as the executive director of GAMA to become the VP of sales and marketing for Bucephalus Games. Because of his experience running Origins, he’d be an excellent choice to run a revamped Gen Con.

However, I’m still not happy about this. In the interview with ICv2.com, Anthony says, “I think Peter is right for Hidden City Games, but I don’t think he’s right for Gen Con. I would have to assume he feels the same, since he hasn’t been involved with running the show for two years.”

This is a lousy assumption, and I believe Anthony knows this and is playing to the investors and creditors in the gallery. Just because Peter might not be daily involved with running Gen Con doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about it or have a huge influence on it. At the very least (and it would be a huge stretch to believe this is the limit of Peter’s involvement), he hires the people (like the excellent Adrian Swartout) to run the show for him, much in the same way that GAMA hired Anthony to run Origins and the GAMA Trade Show—and also in the way that the GAG’s still-unnamed group of “outside the industry” investors would apparently wish to hire Anthony.

As Anthony also points out, this is a hostile takeover bid. Peter and Adrian (who Anthony specifically praises, in contrast to his comments on Peter) are not for it. They were just about to file their bankruptcy plan—which they believe can succeed—when this offer came in. That’s not likely to help engender loyalty in any retained staff or in the huge core of volunteers who help make Gen Con happen every year.

The part that worries me the most is the fact that investors “outside of the industry” may not have the best interests of the industry at heart. I have absolutely no doubt that Anthony does, but he’d be an employee, not a majority owner. Such investors would be in it only for the money, and if Anthony can’t give them a decent return as fast as they want it, they’ll either fire him—and possibly a huge chunk of the rest of the staff—or sell the company off once again.

I really am torn about this. It’s like watching your friends fight over who gets to host Christmas. There’ll be a party either way, but it’s likely to be served with a platter of recriminations.

No matter what happens, though, I’m going to Gen Con next summer. Even if some catastrophe strikes and the show is suspended for the year—which, let me stress, I cannot believe would happen—I’ll still be in Indianapolis that weekend. Even if no one wants me in any booth or to help out with any seminars, I’ll drive down there to play games and catch up with any friends who care to join me—including, I would hope, both Peter and Anthony.

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  2. “There’ll be a party either way, but it’s likely to be served with a platter of recriminations.”

    Spoken like a true master of the metaphor.
    Thanks for keeping us informed, Matt!

  3. “There’ll be a party either way, but it’s likely to be served with a platter of recriminations.”

    Spoken like a true master of the metaphor.
    Thanks for keeping us informed, Matt!

  4. Just trying to provide a bit of analysis, Stephen. Honestly, I’d rather the people involved could work this out amicably, but it seems they’re past that at the moment.

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    Just trying to provide a bit of analysis, Stephen. Honestly, I’d rather the people involved could work this out amicably, but it seems they’re past that at the moment.

  6. And to think I grouped you with John Wick, and Ken Hite and called you a Communist Pervert at the Paul Tevis Roast last year. My Bad. Good analysis.

  7. And to think I grouped you with John Wick, and Ken Hite and called you a Communist Pervert at the Paul Tevis Roast last year. My Bad. Good analysis.

  8. Thanks, Randy! While I might take offense at your remark, I’m happy to be grouped with John and Ken in nearly any context. My only regret is that I didn’t make it to Paul’s roast to hear that comment in person. 🙂

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    Thanks, Randy! While I might take offense at your remark, I’m happy to be grouped with John and Ken in nearly any context. My only regret is that I didn’t make it to Paul’s roast to hear that comment in person. 🙂

  10. One would think that the GAMA board would hold Mr. Gallela to the Non-compete agreement that he signed at his hiring as program director and then ED. Does it seem to others besides this writer that running GENCON would be in violation of a non-compete agreement with GAMA?

  11. One would think that the GAMA board would hold Mr. Gallela to the Non-compete agreement that he signed at his hiring as program director and then ED. Does it seem to others besides this writer that running GENCON would be in violation of a non-compete agreement with GAMA?

  12. You may know better than I about such things, as I’m not privy to the terms of Anthony’s employment contract with GAMA. It’s possible that such a non-compete clause expired with his term of employment—or that he was able to negotiate the clause away before he left. Then, of course, it’s still up to GAMA to enforce such a clause.

    An interesting point though.

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    You may know better than I about such things, as I’m not privy to the terms of Anthony’s employment contract with GAMA. It’s possible that such a non-compete clause expired with his term of employment—or that he was able to negotiate the clause away before he left. Then, of course, it’s still up to GAMA to enforce such a clause.

    An interesting point though.

  14. I would clearly believe that a Non-Compete would preclude Anthony from running GenCon. GenCon is, quite literally, the singular LARGE competitor of Origins.

    However, I do not believe Mr Gallela was ever required to sign a non-compete agreement. Which, if the case, is an oversight on the part of the Board of Directors – of which I was the Vice President for 2+ years.

    It is my hope that GenCon survives. It is important to the industry. It is important to gamers. It is important to me.

    Beyond that, I agree – Peter has done a GREAT JOB Surrounding himself with superior staff – who have in turn done a great job growing GenCon. What financial woes they have or how to overcome that – I’ll just leave to more informed folks to figure out. Megan, who was the vendor-relations person at GenCon the past several years was a JOY to work with. As a 3-booth vendor, I was treated like I was her most important customer, every time. I imagine every vendor in the hall felt that way! What a great group to work with!!

    And, yet – Anthony Gallela has the experience to do a solid job, too. His running of GAMA, GTS and Origins has been exceptional.

    I agree that it is like watching friends fight.

  15. I would clearly believe that a Non-Compete would preclude Anthony from running GenCon. GenCon is, quite literally, the singular LARGE competitor of Origins.

    However, I do not believe Mr Gallela was ever required to sign a non-compete agreement. Which, if the case, is an oversight on the part of the Board of Directors – of which I was the Vice President for 2+ years.

    It is my hope that GenCon survives. It is important to the industry. It is important to gamers. It is important to me.

    Beyond that, I agree – Peter has done a GREAT JOB Surrounding himself with superior staff – who have in turn done a great job growing GenCon. What financial woes they have or how to overcome that – I’ll just leave to more informed folks to figure out. Megan, who was the vendor-relations person at GenCon the past several years was a JOY to work with. As a 3-booth vendor, I was treated like I was her most important customer, every time. I imagine every vendor in the hall felt that way! What a great group to work with!!

    And, yet – Anthony Gallela has the experience to do a solid job, too. His running of GAMA, GTS and Origins has been exceptional.

    I agree that it is like watching friends fight.

  16. Marcus, I think Anthony signed his contracts before your tenure. He certainly started before then, although whether or not he needed to re-up during that time, I can’t say.

    As I wrote, I think Gen Con will survive no matter what happens. I’m going even if there’s nothing “official” happening. 🙂

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    Marcus, I think Anthony signed his contracts before your tenure. He certainly started before then, although whether or not he needed to re-up during that time, I can’t say.

    As I wrote, I think Gen Con will survive no matter what happens. I’m going even if there’s nothing “official” happening. 🙂

  18. Just as a note, from someone who knows all the people involved and talks to them very regularly, the level of animosity has been blown out of proportion by those outside the deal. I believe you will find that Anthony, Peter, Adrian, and everyone else involved here are not upset or angry with each other, and that there are no hard feelings.

  19. Just as a note, from someone who knows all the people involved and talks to them very regularly, the level of animosity has been blown out of proportion by those outside the deal. I believe you will find that Anthony, Peter, Adrian, and everyone else involved here are not upset or angry with each other, and that there are no hard feelings.

  20. Thanks, Dan. I’m glad to hear that. There have been some venomous comments in various corners of the vast echo chamber that is the internet, but knowing all the people involved and how well they generally get along with each other, I don’t doubt you’re right.

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    Thanks, Dan. I’m glad to hear that. There have been some venomous comments in various corners of the vast echo chamber that is the internet, but knowing all the people involved and how well they generally get along with each other, I don’t doubt you’re right.

  22. I believe, and correct me if I’m wrong, non-compete clauses generally stay in effect 1 year after a person leaves a company. If Anthony left in September (as I seem to remember) he would not be eligible to take the reigns of GENCON until September 2009. I suspect that he either did not sign a con-compete or GAMA let him out of it if he is aggressively pursuing this GENCON gig.

  23. I believe, and correct me if I’m wrong, non-compete clauses generally stay in effect 1 year after a person leaves a company. If Anthony left in September (as I seem to remember) he would not be eligible to take the reigns of GENCON until September 2009. I suspect that he either did not sign a con-compete or GAMA let him out of it if he is aggressively pursuing this GENCON gig.

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