My name is Sean Blanchfield, and I am a technologist and entrepreneur from Dublin, Ireland. My most recent company was PageFair, where I was CEO and co-founder, helping web publishers stop revenue loss due to adblocking. PageFair was acquired by Blockthrough in late 2018. Prior to PageFair, I was best known as as the technical cofounder of Demonware, which pioneered online technology for the world’s leading video games, including Call of Duty and Guitar Hero, and which was acquired by the largest video games company in the world in 2007. I also founded and co-organize Techpreneurs, an invite-only monthly meetup for Irish technical founders. I have written occasional pieces for Sunday newspapers, try to help young startups where I can, and have very occasionally invested.
I am currently an entrepreneur-in-residence at Dogpatch Labs, taking on consulting projects here and there, and am quite excited about hardware and IoT.
I’ve been starting companies since I was 19, beginning with a web 1.0 consultancy in the mid 90s, and graduating through Phorest (then specializing in SMS groupware apps in early 2000s) to DemonWare, which I co-founded with Dylan Collins in 2003.
We specialized in online video gaming. I had an amazing time hiring geniuses, inventing new technology to solve hard problems, throwing wild parties on double-decker buses in LA, and getting to work with the best companies in the business on popular Playstation and Xbox games like Guitar Hero and Call of Duty.
DemonWare was acquired by Activision Blizzard in 2007, and I moved on in 2008. Apparently unhindered by my absence the company has gone from strength to strength, growing to over 300 staff in Dublin, Vancouver, Montreal and Shanghai, and operating the most successful video game of all time, Call of Duty. I see this as a great culmination of our original vision: In 2003 we had a lone conviction that games like Counter Strike were going to catch on, and multiplayer was going to be big. Eight years later, that conviction has been borne out in Counter Strike’s spiritual descendant, Call of Duty, which not only features ground breaking tech from DemonWare, but is a multiplayer game first and a single player game second.
After DemonWare I immersed myself in web-based social gaming, a continuation of the arc of multiplayer gaming, distilled down and gone mainstream. With Brian McDonnell I re-engineered and run Utopia, which is a massively multiplayer team-based online strategy game. I believe it to be oldest running game of its kind, with an extremely dedicated base of users, many of whom have been playing since the game’s launch in the late 1990s. Utopia was acquired by MUGA Gaming in 2017.
I was consulting CTO in Jolt Online for six months in 2010. Jolt made social games, and was founded by my former collaborator, Dylan Collins. After it was acquired by GameStop, Brian and I were brought in to rapidly build a technology team, and establish a new and effective culture that would support their work.
After Jolt was Front Square, with Brian McDonnell and Geoff Beggs. We created an enterprise learning platform, with an initial focus on using social gaming to teach the principles of Lean Manufacturing. This scalably solved a very difficult education-delivery problem in the large enterprise.
In September 2011 Brian McDonnell and I regrouped as Scale Front, a venture lab in which we perform rapid-execution of multiple Lean Startup projects. In our first 18 months we investigated 50 business concepts, launched 5 products and produced 2 businesses. One of these businesses, PageFair, soon became our core focus.
Together with Neil O’Connor, Brian and I built PageFair into an internationally-recognised brand in digital media, researching the growth of adblocking, publishing widely-anticipated annual adblocking reports, placing the challenge of advertising sustainability on top of the online media industry’s agenda, and working with hundreds of leading online newspapers, magazines and other websites to recover lost revenue through high-quality non-blockable ad technology. In November 2018, PageFair was acquired by Blockthrough Inc.