Notable people in Sulake's history. This list might become long, and its focus a bit off. We're interested in the people actually delivering the goods. Management, sure, but a pixel-pusher or a coder creating some real functionality, better.
It's just irresistable to speculate about the early days. A February 2001 press release by Elisa mentioned Sulake Labs Oy being founded (May 2000) and having ten employees. Ten people, ten pioneers. Don't know about you, but we get curious then, and it seems to be not that hard to get some details here. We do know, from Käsikirja (Finnish handbook), about a brainstorming session where, when it comes to naming, 'Goldfish' and 'Habbo' were made up, by respectivily armasK and Retiisi or toto. As reported by Apparatus and kyrpov (just going with Habbo aliases for now). So that's 5. In other earlier mentions the names toto and Radish came up together, but we recently learned Radish = Retiisi in Finnish, so no gain there. However, we do know Sulka was involved pre-Kultakala, so that's 6.
Back to the Käsikirja, it contains interviews with 12 people from early days (our Star-Fighter translated those). All 6 mentioned above are interviewed. Also Tuu and Cerri are, but those are Kultakala/Elisa, not Sulake, at the time. Reasonable assumption, the other 4, being Drken, painimies, Whatwasit and Paolo, complete the picture. The book confirms Drken being there. Actually, there was a photo report on a trip to Brazil on early Sulake website. You know those very real avatars they drew of themselves (below) ? You can clearly identify armasK and Drken, next to Apparatus and kyrpov, being there. The book lists other people's starting point in late 2000 or 2001, but their creation date on Habbo is much earlier ? Oh well, we don't wanna gaze into private lives, but when it comes to Habbo… here some on those people:
There's kyrpov aka Aapo Kyrölä. He's at the tech side. First year of Sulake he was also the managing director, until they found Timo Soininen. Quote: "but then we went international straight away and we had no experience and I knew nothing about all that. I usually switched off my phone when people started ringing."¹ Later on we saw him mentioned as 'board member' and it was only when Bobba Bar came into play we got to see where his work is these days. 'Chief science officer' his current title.
And the other founder, Apparatus, aka Sampo Karjalainen, is from the graphics department. 'Chief creative officer' at Sulake these days, and he too, seems less involved with Habbo last years. His voice was heard at Minifriday, their mobile phone experiment, where both founders seem to have worked on, and Bobba Bar these days.
Then we have sulka aka Sulka Haro. A former collegue at 'To the point' (later at 'Grey Interactive', a company from where more people ended up at Sulake²), and with a role more focussed at general processes. Also involved with the website. These days really big in the company as 'Lead concept designer'. Also, next to Sampo Karjalainen and Osma Ahvenlampi, the one presenting the company to the press and even open towards players/fansites (developer Fragwyz). Left the company, June 2011, to start a new company.
Another old collegue from 'To the point' is Retiisi aka Jyrki Myllylä. Doing graphics, with at least some hotel views, game design and website design on his conto. Involved in the 'Snouthill' project, not sure on current status (his job title (linkedIn) still states Senior Graphic designer, but we're convinced there's more to it).
One more coming over from 'To the point': painimies (translated: wrestling man) aka Timo Ahde. Also a graphics guy, responsible for some hotel views, public rooms and furniture (holoboy!). Quote: "Initially I came to make Urjala, a medieval role-playing game, which was forgotten when we started to develop and expand Habbo." Urjala got developed and designed to a great extend, just never released. Later on involved in designing Snowstorm.
ArmasK aka Ilkka Kallasmaa aka zepelius is another graphics artist ('Armas' is the Finnish name of furniture range called 'Lodge' in English). Helped design the Habbo characters and lots of other classic rooms/furniture (that includes an unreleased Sauna, bathroom/duckie, Lodge, first teleports, typewriter, small trophies..) Currently 'Art Director' (that could very well be outdated too) and seemingly focussed on Bobba Bar too.
Toto aka Otto Nieminen was a technician/shockwave developer, worked on for instance the Lido diving. Moved on to bigger things in the company, process and team management kinda stuff. Current title: Development Director.
Drken aka Dr. Kenneth Polyfon aka Polyfonken aka Tuukka Savolainen is from the graphics department also. Polyfon is the Finnish word for the furniture line most known as 'Mode'. He designed it (along with assisting with the characters). If you think the furniture is a bit dull, you should see the later variations he did for Kultakala newsletters. Well, you will if we get around to fitting them in. Quote: "Those months when the first Hotel was being done we worked on energy drinks and coffee, and a low salary, while others were relaxing. But we achieved a lot: Kultakala was made in a couple, maybe three months." Was with Sulake from start till 2006, and next to mode also designed core of iced, pura, area ànd plastic. That is next to a lot of work done for Coke Studios, VMK and various unreleased products. And we nearly had Superbatatas.
Well, inserting a note here. We found above Drken online, and well, supposedly a forgotten name, Habbo account 'Opium' aka Tommi Musturi, Art director at Sulake 2000-2005. Point here being (not knowing much on his work for Sulake), he's a globally recognized cartoonist, and when following some links, quite of lot of designers that work(ed) for Sulake are really nice illustrators, comic creators or related, with worldwide exposure/exhibitions. We're pixelart fans, but not exclusivily. Have a look at portfolio's, sketchbooks and related of Mikko Väyrynen (laiskimus), Venla Kivilahti (quote: "a postmodern carpenter making virtual furniture for living."), Sami Rouhiainen (Tursake), Tero Juuti (Bruceblues), Nathan Cooper (elkah), Janne Korsumäki (korsu), Ismo Juntunen (Ibuxal), Miha Rinne (worked on VMK), Juhana Kotilainen (might have been working for IRC-Galleria foremost), Kaltsu Kallio (klaabu), Riikka Haro (rikke), Jarkko Nääs and Madoka Muto (kotone). Respect (!), and that's just the designers that have put things online.
Whatwasit aka Mikko Köykkä is a famous name for Habbo fans. In a lot of hotels he is the first user, and his room 'Kämp' the first room created. He's a technician, in charge with the server side of things, also a shockwave developer. Quote (from 2006): "A couple of years ago a major hacking boom occured right in the middle of summer holidays. (…) to solve this problem, I decided to play the role of a hacker [note: Mikkotheboy]. Because the coolest hacker is the one, who figures something out that others haven't yet, I introduced myself doing something never seen before. I went to hang out among other hackers and confused them by changing the games settings. Popularity was a given and soon enough I got to hear how hackers work and where their tricks are based on. As I fixed the holes, I revealed myself, and many surprised hackers switched from bad to good. After all most hacking was done just to get some attention and not actually disturb anyone." Senior java developer when he was with the company, now, according to Sampo Karjalainen "the #1 independent electronics guy in Helsinki".
Paolo aka Joni Huhmarniemi is from the tech part of things, but we hardly know anything about him, besides being involved in coding 'Wobble Squabble'. Also in charge of what he calls the 'root canal therapy' Hotelli Kultakala received, when being transformed into Habbo Hotel Finland. Old code had to be replaced with new, as Habbo ran on differing, newer (and faster) code. His current title is Software architect.
With rising popularity of Kultakala and the quick expansion to English speaking web a first wave of new people were needed, foremost to organize it all. And then you need women. Tuulikki Uotila aka Tuu starting as Office manager (to be the hotel manager in the end) and Reetta Ranta aka Belly as manager of Kultakala (later Brand and Creative director) were the first to get things in order. Also still in 2001 a new CEO (Headfuse ;) was appointed, Timo Soininen.
Among the last³ to get their custom avatar drawn were the first extensions to the management team. Emma Halmekoski aka Cerri (Country manager, later Director, business to business marketing), Ulla Särkikangas (SVP, Habbo Brand & Marketing), Teemu Huuhtanen (VP, Sales, now Executive Vice President, Business Development & Communication) and Marko Orenius (Executive Vice President, Operations and Director, Business planning).
This whole page is not doing justice to a lot of other people, playing a key role in Sulake history. Technologists foremost, as they tend to keep a low profile online. Not Osma Ahvenlampi (Chief Technology Officer, in since August 2003), or Stefan Hauk (Software architect, VMK, Bobba, then Habbo, April 2004-2011), but on other people, we lack details. Like the considered brilliant Jodi Moran aka Madamejanvier (now Senior Director of Engineering at Playfish), Visa Kopu aka roxeteer or Ari Kuukka aka -arik-. People we would like to hear the story about (and that are not eagerly waiting for us to uncover their roles ;).
Over time we may add some more people here, when there's some real story value to them. This is a nice group picture from 2002, btw.
¹ Revelations - The 11 years of Taivas, 2007; ² Other notable people that came from 'Grey Interactive' include Mikko Köykkä, Visa Kopu/roxeteer and Emma Halmekoski/Cerri (Country Manager Finland); ³ We're still missing some avatars. Janne Lindholm aka Merryprankster ((Senior) Java developer, competence manager and software architect) was there already in early 2002, so were Minna Kotiranta and Mika Järvinen (both very short, it seems), Susanna Malin and from 2001 Roope Kangas aka Muhmi is still missing.