Innovator Article

Major Gift from Alumnus Mark Otero Supports Faculty Research

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Mark Otero ’07 is enjoying tremendous success in his second start-up, which he credits his UC Davis MBA with helping make possible.

After founding and expanding Sacramento-based KlickNation Corporation into a multimillion-dollar social online success story, Otero sold the start-up in December 2011 to Fortune 500 gaming giant Electronic Arts. KlickNation has become BioWare Sacramento, the newest division of Electronic Arts, with Otero as CEO.

In recognition of what UC Davis has given him, Otero has consistently given back to his alma mater, both of his time and expertise, as well as financial support. Most recently, he made a significant, multi-year major gift pledge to the Graduate School of Management. His gift names a space in Gallagher Hall and also supports faculty research in marketing and entrepreneurship.

Otero’s gift established the Otero Faculty Resource Center in Gallagher Hall in his name and also in memory of his late sister, Elizabeth.

Otero says the skills and knowledge he received at UC Davis enabled him to scale the KlickNation from two to a team of 50 in 18 months. Reflecting on his post-MBA success, he says his management toolkit is instrumental to the growth of his company.

He’s tapped organizational behavior and commitment theory for recruitment and team building; finance and accounting to help shape a sustainable business; and courses that fueled his entrepreneurial drive, such as New Technology Ventures and Management of Innovation. He also credits team projects and individual presentations that helped him become a productive team player and a leader.

A portion of Otero’s gift will establish the Otero Faculty Resource Center in Gallagher Hall in his name and also in memory of his late sister, Elizabeth Otero, who shared his passion for quality education. Through his gift, Otero demonstrates his great appreciation for Elizabeth and establishes a lasting, meaningful tribute to his family that also helps to build the GSM endowment.

Otero’s gift also supports faculty in marketing and entrepreneurship, areas that he identifies with most closely.

“I love the intense creative process,” he said, “the capacity to create new products and services that people appreciate. And knowing what your target audience wants and what they’re willing to pay for—that’s marketing.”

Otero has shared his start-up experiences with UC Davis MBAs and entrepreneurial campus researchers in the Business Development Clinic course. And Professor Andrew Hargadon, director of the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, returned the favor by visiting then-KlickNation to present his research on networked innovation and brainstorm ideas with Otero’s team.

Otero says if his contributions to the School can help marketing and entrepreneurship activities stay on the cutting edge, his gift will have a lasting impact.

And Otero continues to build more bridges to UC Davis. As a high-tech job creator, he has plugged into campus for new hires, bringing aboard two UC Davis MBA alumni and other UC Davis graduates. They are helping BioWare Sacramento ramp up its portfolio of fantasy realm and science fiction games that attract millions of players on Facebook and other social networks.

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