Mark Otero, MBA 07

Mark Otero MBA 07
Global Gaming Entrepreneur, Angel Investor

Mark Otero MBA 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 digital interactive entertainment giant Electronic Arts for a reported $35 million. KlickNation has become Capital Games, the newest division of Electronic Arts, with Otero as general manager.

“I learned how to recruit and build a team and shape a sustainable business. Today I’m running on the thrill of doing exactly what I want to do.”

It wasn’t an easy road. After earning his UC Davis MBA in 2007, Otero made a risky and radical move to put his new knowledge and skills into play—literally. He quit his $130,000-a-year job as a financial analyst, sold his home in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood, maxed out his credit cards, then raided his retirement account—all to launch a gourmet yogurt shop, Mochii Yogurt.

Meanwhile, in a small office upstairs, he and a partner parlayed the cash flow from the frozen confections to code and coddle a dream to create virtual, viral and profitable applications and games. KlickNation was born, struggled and finally turned the corner.

UC Davis road to success

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.

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.

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.

Creative genius

“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.

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 UC Davis MBA alumni and other UC Davis graduates. They are helping Capital Games ramp up its portfolio of games that attract millions of online players globally.