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Activist Investor Creates A Monster With PokémonGo

If you’re loving running around catching all the damned Pokémons with Pokémon Go you have a Hong Kong-based activist hedge fund, Oasis Management, to thank. Players explore real world locations hunting Pokémon characters. Free to download, it makes its money off in-app purchases that make capturing Pokémon easier.

The hedge fund is finally making money on their Nintendo position after a near three-year push to get Nintendo to focus more on mobile. The fund has repeatedly called for Nintendo to target the mobile market and has 4% of its fund invested in the name. Here’s Oasis’ presentation on Nintendo from 2013.

Oasis is one of a handful of activists investors taking on sleepy Japanese companies and looking to overhaul corporate governance there. Note that Dan Loeb’s Third Point has been one of the pioneers of activism in Japan, taking on the parent company of 7-Eleven, Sony, and Suzuki.

Thanks to Pokémon Go, shares of Nintendo have soared more than 50% in just the last week. If you ask Nintendo, they’ll say the move to mobile was the brainchild of its in-touch C-suite, but it’s hard not see Oasis’ impact. In a 2013 presentation, Oasis had a slide that simply said: We want Nintendo to publish games for iOS and Android.”

They also put out this slide, showing that Nintendo was asleep at the wheel it when it comes to not targeting iOS and Android gaming.

When asked about it today, Oasis says that the move into mobile gaming was “so obvious, but nobody was talking about it.”

The problem, Japan operates in a completely different way. It’s very different from the Silicon Valley method of being eccentric, but at the end of the day being rational. Oasis says, “In Japan, analysts are looking at what the companies are doing and not what they could do.”

It took awhile, but Nintendo management appears to have realized that the same people who used to play Donkey Kong and Super Mario are still into gaming, but their engagement is smartphone focused these days. Lest, we forget that the idea of console gaming is quickly declining among millennials. The latest round of XBOX Ones and PS4s could easily be the last iteration of console systems. If you want stuff like this directly in your inbox, sign up for our free activist weekly newsletter.