The Long and Winding Road to Rock Band 4

It’s here. And you know you want it. You can buy just the Rock Band 4 software (if you have your old instruments) or, if you are like me and you’ve given your instruments away, you can buy a new full bundle of everything.

And, in case you missed it, Spark Capital joined us an investor last week with a few other long time friends in a $15 million round.

I originally invested in Harmonix as an angel investor in 1995. It’s rise was well chronicled in this awesome Inc. Magazine long form story titled Just PlayBasically, Harmonix tried to go out of business every year between 1995 and 2005 and just managed to fail at that, always coming up with a new revenue deal or a small amount of financing to stay alive before it became an overnight success in 2005 with the original launch of Guitar Hero.

MTV acquired the company in 2006 for $175m plus an earnout, which after a long “discussion” that ended in 2013, resulted in a total purchase price over $700m. MTV decided to get out of the video game business in 2010 and sold the company back to the founders (Alex and Eran) and a small investor group.

In 2013 Alex and Eran asked me to join their board. We arranged a financing that made sense for both parties so Foundry Group could invest. Harmonix is easily the most accomplished video game company in the world around music and rhythm games and with the eventual, and long awaited emergence of VR, I can think of no better company around our HCI theme to work with. Spark Capital, which was one of the original investors in Occulus, agrees, which makes me very happy.

Rock Band 4 is now out. In states like Colorado where a certain substance is now legal, I expect we’ll have a new marketing tie in. In the rest of the world, let me just suggest that having played the new game, you’ll want to get a copy and dust off your old equipment.

And get ready for some stuff that is just going to blow your mind – now and over the next 12 months – from my friends at Harmonix in Boston.

  • Grats!! But I play in real rock bands… 😉

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  • Brad, I’ve been asking myself this question for a while now, was it you that came up with pretty much all of the themes for Foundry as the basis for your firm’s investment thesis? I’m just being curious.

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  • Dave Linhardt

    Without a doubt this is the company you’ve backed that has given me the most joy.

    • It’s one of them.

  • I didn’t realized the founders got the company back like that and you were able make it a VC investment after your early angel investment.

    I love this story – it’s a great example of how you can succeed even after great difficultly over many years. And the founders are still at it? They sound amazing.