Jade Raymond, the game industry icon who recently departed Google Stadia, is poaching former colleagues from Google's cloud gaming division for her new development studio, Haven. At least six former Stadia employees have recently updated their LinkedIn profiles to indicate they now work for Raymond.
Raymond up until February ran Google's in-house video game development division, Stadia Games & Entertainment. Raymond departed the company after Google decided to shut down those efforts, though Google says it is committed to Stadia and plans to continue operating the service for the foreseeable future. At the time, Google said it would find those developers hired to create original games for Stadia new roles within Google. The Information reported yesterday that Stadia product chief John Justice has also left the company, though it is not clear where he's headed next.
Raymond's new studio, Haven, is just a couple of months old, but it's already secured a publishing deal with Sony to develop a new intellectual property for the PlayStation platform. While Haven is an independent studio, Raymond's company will work exclusively with Sony for the time being. Given the news, it makes sense Raymond would look to her former colleagues to staff up, many of whom are based in Montreal where one of Stadia's two studios was located and where Haven is based. News of the new hires began making the rounds Wednesday morning thanks to a ResetEra forum thread and some clever digging from user "Cyberia."
Those hired from Stadia include Jonathan Dankoff, a former UX researcher at Stadia and now Haven's insights director; Erwann Le Rouzic, a concept artist at Stadia and now the same at Haven; Francis Denoncourt, also a concept artist at Stadia and now the same at Haven; Pierre-Marc Bérubé, a programmer at Stadia and now a software engineer at Haven; Corey May, formerly Stadia's head of creative services and now World/IP director at Haven; and Sebastien Puel, who worked with Raymond at Ubisoft and was general director at Stadia. Puel is now listed as a Haven co-founder as of May 2021.
"It's been a strange and difficult past 12 months," Raymond wrote of her departure from Stadia in February. "The pandemic, social injustice, and job elimination have impacted many of my closest friends, family, and co-workers. All of these factors, paired with an inability to see friends and family face-to-face, lulled me into a kind of self-reflective cocoon where I had to ask myself some tough questions about what really matters."
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.