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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Co-Founders of Vicarious Visions Named 2013 William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneurs of the Year

(l-r) Karthik Bala ’97 and Guha Bala


Media Relations

September 12, 2013

Co-Founders of Vicarious Visions Named 2013 William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneurs of the Year

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumnus Karthik Bala ’97 and Brother Guha Bala of Hit Video Game Development Company To Be Honored October 9

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute alumnus Karthik Bala ’97 and his brother, Guha Bala, co-founders of the successful video game development company Vicarious Visions, have been selected as the 2013 William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneurs of the Year. Established in 1990, the award brings the world of entrepreneurship into Rensselaer classrooms by recognizing successful entrepreneurs and role models who share their wisdom and experiences with students.

The program will take place Wednesday, October 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the Rensselaer campus, in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies auditorium. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship and the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer.

Vicarious Visions, based in Menands, New York, has earned nearly $3 billion in retail sales and has sold more than 45 million software units worldwide. Located in a 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art studio, the company employs more than 200 highly creative programmers, artists, and designers.The brothers, Karthik and Guha, co-founded the company in 1991 in their parents’ basement while in high school. They landed their first publishing deal when Karthik was a freshman at Rensselaer.

Over the years that followed, they were able to secure angel investment and an acquisition in 2005, by Activision|Blizzard, a leading worldwide publisher of entertainment software, that allowed them to stay independently run. Vicarious Visions has since grown to become an industry-leading game developer. They have helped shape popular culture with hit video game titles including versions of Skylanders, Guitar HeroCrash BandicootTony HawkSpider-Man, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance for various platforms. Vicarious Visions was rated in the top 20 of the 100 World’s Most Successful Games Development Studios by Develop 100. The company has won numerous awards and critical acclaim from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Nickelodeon’s Parent’s and Kid’s Choice, and IGN Entertainment, to name a few.

Karthik currently serves as CEO of Vicarious Visions as well as chief technology officer of Activision Mobile, a division of Activision Publishing. He has served as a board member of several organizations and currently serves on the board of trustees of WMHT, a public broadcast radio and television affiliate. Karthik graduated from Rensselaer in 1997, earning dual bachelor’s degrees in computer science and in psychology. He also received his master’s of business administration (MBA) from the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

Guha serves as president of Vicarious Visions. In the past, he has served as a board member of the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce and has been a speaker at numerous industry conferences including the Game Developers Conference and Electronic Entertainment Expo. Guha earned an honors degree in chemistry from Harvard University, and received his MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

“We are delighted to honor Karthik Bala ’97 and Guha Bala of Vicarious Visions as the recipients of the William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year. Their accomplishments are truly remarkable and have influenced the gaming world, future startups, and popular culture,” said Thomas Begley, dean of the Lally School. “We would like to express our utmost gratitude to Bill Glaser in fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of Rensselaer graduates by sponsoring this inspiring annual event.”

“It’s a privilege to be in such esteemed company of alums who have previously received this award,” said Karthik Bala. “It’s been 20 years exactly since I came to Rensselaer as an undergraduate and was inspired by the entrepreneurial alums who have made such a broad impact on the world. Guha and I are looking forward to coming back on campus to meet the next generation of Rensselaer entrepreneurs.”

“I’m honored to be recognized in this manner,” said Guha Bala. “Being an entrepreneur is not an objective or a milestone; it has been a way of life for me and Karthik. By choosing to work entrepreneurially and shaping our organization to do the same, we have reinvented and consistently grown our business in its economic and cultural impact.”  

“I think that what Vicarious Visions has become is a wonderful reflection of what we try to foster in student entrepreneurs at Rensselaer, combining the technology, the creative process, and effective management,” said Jason Kuruzovich, associate professor and director of the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship.

Today, the William F. Glaser ’53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year Award has become part of a tradition at Rensselaer. Each year, the award celebrates entrepreneurs whose vision, commitment, and creativity exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit that is part of the past, present, and future of Rensselaer.

Past winners include: Harry Ruda ’68, president and CEO of Wing Power Energy; Sean O’Sullivan ’85, co-founder and managing director of Avego Corporation; Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen Fund; Amba Preetham Parigi, managing director, Entertainment Network (India) Limited, and managing director and CEO of Times Infotainment Media Limited; William G. Pomeroy ’66, founder and CEO, CXtec; Brendan L. McKernan ’00, co-founder and VP of operations, Agencourt Biosciences Corp.; Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president and CEO, FedEx Corp.; James Q. Crowe ’72, CEO, Level 3 Communications; John J. McDonnell Jr. ’61, founder, chairman, and CEO, Transaction Network Services Inc.; and Mukesh Chatter ’82, founder, president and CEO, Axiowave.

Additional recipients include: Curtis Priem ’82, co-founder and CTO, NVIDIA Corp.; Nancy S. Mueller, founder and president, Nancy’s Specialty Foods; Arthur L. Goldstein ’57, chairman, president, and CEO, Ionics Inc.; John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59, co-founder, CFO, VP-finance and treasurer, Arrow International Inc.; Paul J. Severino ’69, founder and chairman, Bay Networks; Warren Bruggeman ’46, VP and general manager, General Electric Nuclear Business Operations; Salvator Alfiero ’64, founder, chairman, and CEO, Protective Industries LLC; Thomas LeFevre ’71, co-founder, Intuit; and William Mow ’59, founder, Bugle Boy Industries.

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