Tipico, the Portomaso-headquartered international betting and broker company, is set to double its business within three years as it taps new igaming markets in Europe and beyond from Malta.
Euro 2012 led the company to its best month ever, with revenue up 70%
“Tipico is in Malta for good,” chief executive officer Jan Bolz told The Sunday Times. “We are not planning to relocate any function from the island. Even if we expanded into the US in the long-term, we would not change anything about our headquarters here. The Maltese authorities have created advantages that are hard to find anywhere else.”
The German-owned company, which currently occupies two floors at Portomaso Business Tower and is in the process of taking over a third, announced its intention to double its workforce to 200-plus employees by 2013 when it hosted the Prime Minister at its premises on July 11.
Tipico set up operations on the island in 2004 with two members of staff as it was having difficulties obtaining the right licences in Germany. Its Maltese licence allows it to operate in several markets, and it has licence applications pending in Italy and Denmark, while it prepares to file applications in Austria and Belgium.
Mr Bolz, who has previously been based in London, Geneva and San Francisco, understands the implications of asking executives to move countries. The toll on young children, language barriers and myriad unforeseen factors may translate into talent loss.
Portomaso’s business tower and its vibrant environs are major assets not only to its corporate image, but also to its teams’ wellbeing. Mr Bolz maintains the secret to running a successful business is to make sure the teams are having as much fun as the customers.
The chief executive brought a wealth of experience in fast-growing industries to Tipico when he joined last year.
Between 2003 and 2008, he was vice-president, marketing and sales, first for Europe and then internationally, for Electronic Arts, the interactive entertainment software company. At EA, he was instrumental in developing executive strategies for EA’s online business model including the Fifa Interactive World Cup and Sims Online in Europe and Asia.
Earlier, he built the first ever music-talent partnership team for the whole of EA Europe with artists like Justin Timberlake, Black Eyes Peas, and Christina Aguilera to promote EA games.
Between 1989 and 2003, he held various roles at record company BMG, for which he built BMG Ariola Munich into the most profitable record label within the group outside the US. In the mid- to late 1990s, he was responsible for the marketing activities of artists including Whitney Houston, Carlos Santana, David Bowie, Puff Daddy, Pink and R. Kelly.
While he was deputy managing director and head of international business at BMG Ariola Muenchen, the company signed the then unknown Backstreet Boys for the German-speaking territories and signed NSYNC with all their rights worldwide, including Justin Timberlake.
“Fast-growing industries are more fun,” Mr Bolz said. “The atmosphere is happier when your problem is where to discover 10 new people, not how to lay 10 more off. I hope to use my background in entertainment, particularly games, to grow new business models at Tipico. There is potential in various target groups in the sports betting industry.”
Tipico, he added, is currently talking to half a million customers in Germany where 30 million people viewed Euro 2012 last month. The company aims to win 10 per cent of the 29.5 million football fans not on its books – football makes up 80 per cent of Tipico’s betting business – while building a larger international market share.
The company’s long-term strategy is to diversify its business – Mr Bolz “lives and breathes games” – as it seeks to tap the synergies and cross-opportunities in the games and betting sectors over the next five years.
Growth in the next 12 months will stem from Tipico’s core betting business, Mr Bolz emphasised, particularly after Euro 2012 led the company to its best month ever, with revenues up by 70 per cent over June last year.
Tipico’s growth in Malta comes with some challenges, Mr Bolz pointed out. Specialised software developers and engineers are in short supply around the world.
The shortage is acute in Malta, where Tipico could build a team of 24 given the talent. It hopes to foster relations with the University and other colleges with a view to offering internships as part of its strategy to build its employer brand.
Meanwhile, Mr Bolz and his wife are enjoying showing Malta off to their friends who visit from around the world.
“Malta is about the bright light when you open the door and the ability to organise a barbecue party for September 13 and you know the sun will shine. It compares beautifully with any other place we’ve lived.”