CloudKid Says Goodbye

In 2009 when we started CloudKid, we set out to create an artist-driven studio that took risks, collaborated with top talent, and found the sweet spot where technology meets creative. Above all, we wanted freedom to work on internal projects that inspired us and challenged us to grow, even in the thick of client productions. Our initial team was small, dedicated and very passionate about children’s media.

Fast-forward six years, we fulfilled that vision and achieved many more successes – we were nominated for four Emmy awards, built an amazing team and network of artists and collaborators from all over the world, partnered with the top children’s media companies, landed a TV development deal, and even generated $1.6 million revenue in 2015. And while CloudKid’s run has been impressive, our growth has required us to focus exclusively on a myriad of client projects to sustain the studio.

Over the last year, it became apparent that we’ve veered from our original vision and goals, and running a service-based studio was not sustainable for us or our employees. Recently, a friend told us “enough is a feast” and we could relate. We live in a bigger-is-better culture, and we’re told to keep going, keep building, keep making, but to what extent? With so many other studios generating a dizzying amount of kids content for the same platforms, we asked ourself if anyone (other than our clients or employees) would notice if CloudKid ceased to exist. The answer was no. We have made the very tough decision to walk away from CloudKid while we’re on top.

While the decision is a bittersweet one, we’re extremely excited to announce we have accepted an offer to join social robotics startup, Jibo. Jibo has the potential to positively transform our relationship to technology in the home, classroom and beyond, and for that reason we feel like it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Moreover, Jibo is a perfect fit for our team: It enables us to explore innovative ways of telling stories and building experiences no one has seen; represents a fun and thrilling creative and technical challenge; and gives us the opportunity to work with literally some of the smartest people in the world. Most of all, we’ll be building a fucking robot! 

Over the next two months, we will be fulfilling all our existing commitments to our wonderful clients and contractors, end on a high note, and make the transition to Jibo.



Several years ago after moving into our current space, CloudKid began a weekly tradition of shout-outs during our Friday team lunch. This popcorn-style sharing organically began as a way to acknowledge the hard work between peers that often went unmentioned in the flurry of production. The generosity that CloudKids showed each other became one of our most successful achievements. In this tradition, we’d like to give some final shout-outs to those individuals and organizations that supported us creatively, professionally and personally.

First, to our wonderful clients: you paid our bills, kept us fed, challenged us, and enabled us to do what we love for a living. A “front hug” shout-out goes to Houghton Mifflin, Random House, WGBH, Sesame Workshop, Fred Rogers Company, Spiffy Pictures, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Scholastic, PBS KIDS, Hasbro, Sprout, 9ate7 Productions, and Romotive.

Second, to our amazing friends at PBS: you have inspired us to do some of our best work, you’ve allowed us to take risks making games and producing animation, and to help define new formats for kids. Without your support, CloudKid would not have existed or flourished. For that, we will always be indebted to the power of public media. An “ugga mugga” shout-out goes to Linda Simensky, Sara Dewitt, David Lowenstein, Jen Rodriguez, Karin Jue, Jer Roberts, Aaron Morris, Shannon Bishop and Chris Bishop.

To all those who provided these humble and eager art school graduates with business advice and helped us navigate the ins-and-outs of running a business: A “Warren Buffett” shout-out goes to Bill Shribman, Nancy Kay, Steve Schlafman, Andrew Goloboy, Laurie Megery, Jay Francis, Kevin Morrison, Scott Scornvacco, and Scott Nash.

To our network of creative offsite collaborators: you’ve helped us pull off projects intended for industry titans and wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. You trusted us with your creations and made our jobs so much easier. A “brotha from anotha motha” shout-out goes to Adam Shonkoff, Daniel Koren, Joe Gaudet, Joe Pleiman, Brian Smith, Dan Flynn, Jon Renoni, Isaac Orloff, John Loren, Geoff Marian, Allison Craig, Patt Kelley, and Louie Zong.

A “tear-soaked” shout-out goes out to each and every CloudKid, no matter where you are today. You’ve been like family and have made this journey all worth it. You took enormous risks and believed in what we were doing. Your creative passion and enthusiasm inspired us all and made everything we did better. In particular, we’d like to give Mike Annear and Kendra Mattozzi a special “poo on the wall” shout-out for being with us since day one. These two took the biggest leap of faith and for that we are eternally grateful.

Last but not least, a “home is where the heart is” shout-out goes to our families, partners, roommates, friends, and pets who put up with the ebbs and flows of running CloudKid. You kept us grounded and supported us unconditionally through the challenging times and cheered us on during the exciting ones.


Thirteen years ago, we met in the MassArt café and decided to collaborate on a small project. That small project became the genesis of a friendship and CloudKid. Just as the creative process brought us together, it has connected us with so many amazingly kind, thoughtful, and creative people over the last six years. And while CloudKid will fade, these friendships will remain for the rest of our lives. So, this isn’t goodbye, it’s catch you on the flip side.

– Dave and Matt

The Content Kingdom

Last week, Josh Selig (Wonder Pets!) wrote an interesting Kidscreen article about how all content, specifically video, is finally kingless and created equal. With the ever-growing number of websites, videos apps and subscription VOD services, the sheer amount of video is dizzying. As a result, we’ve been talking a lot about the future of content and what it means for consumers and kids. I decided to use Josh’s parable as a jumping-off point and pen my own ending.


…Content was just content. And the people rejoiced.


Ultimately, everyone abandoned the castle and the kingdom was fractured. The former kings devised plans to retain land they once controlled while new nobles emerged. Lord YouTube promised the people an audience, notoriety and riches. The commoners wanted their voices heard so they rolled up their sleeves and crafted billions of videos at no cost, all while the former kings churned out hours and hours of original programing in distant lands. Content poured out from big castles, remote villages, young settlements. And not just video – apps, games, books, and toys. What a glorious time it was!

The people fully embraced it. They dedicated their waking hours to binge watching seasons of the latest “it” show and countless videos of kittens attacking laser pointers. It was exciting! On the surface, everything seemed merry but slowly content became unruly – it was everywhere and it was pervasive. It infiltrated Lord Hemorrhoid’s bathroom. It interrupted Sir Flapjack’s pancake dinner. It even made its way into Lady Heartstomper’s bed (which many handsome noblemen failed to access). It became impossible for people to stop and enjoy a rainbow because the double rainbow on their screens were more alluring. Somehow the once relaxing content became noisy, pesky, and in-your-face. And while the people could watch the content they wanted whenever they wanted to, they had to pay the various kingdoms for monthly access. And if the people weren’t willing to pay for it, they were forced to watch an annoying jester sing a jingle about laundry detergent. Over and over again.

The people grew dizzy and numb to the dozens of services, hundreds of ads, thousands of shows, millions of episodes, billions of videos. Despite the infinite content pool that existed, the divided kingdom continued to churn out more and more at lower costs to keep up with the demand. As a result, quality suffered and ads became an inevitable symptom of cheap, homogeneous and ubiquitous content. And while content was just content, it became an unstoppable force, far greater than the entire kingdom itself.

And the people just watched.

Dinosaur Day Care

The CloudKid crew is bubbling with excitement over the launch of our latest project with Sesame Workshop: Ernie’s Dinosaur Day Care! Dinosaurs are so in right now, (thanks in part to Jurassic World), and this mobile-friendly game takes you straight into the prehistoric lands of these friendly giants. Join Ernie as he imagines going back in time to take care of dinosaurs in his very own day care, and help him to feed the dinosaurs, stomp with them in the mud, wash them up until they’re squeaky clean, jump rope, and even tuck them into bed! There are five different dinosaurs and five activities, with unlimited possibilities for fun and engaging play. Head over to the Sesame Street website and check it out!

The Legend of Zelda Guide to Startups

Each spring, I visit art schools in the northeast and present about CloudKid, our work, and my career path from art school student to entrepreneur. After I finish my spiel, students and professors always ask, “How did you learn how to start and run a business?” I always give the same answer, “It’s kind of like playing the Legend of Zelda.” People laugh but I’m 100% serious. There are valuable business lessons that students, artists, and young entrepreneurs can learn from Link, the pointy-eared hero. Without further ado, I present The Legend of Zelda Guide to Startups.

1) Talk with the Old Man (or Woman)


When Link is lost or needs some direction, he seeks out townspeople or merchants who provide valuable information and help him make sense of the world. Sometimes, they even point him toward someone or something to support his mission. Link talks with the Old Man in the cave who tells him to visit a merchant under a waterfall. Then he treks all the way across Hyrule to get the next piece of helpful (and sometimes crucial) information. In the early days, I talked with people who knew more about everything than I did—budgeting, accounting, hiring, renting space, insurance, contracts, producing projects, etc. I asked family, friends, friends of friends, ex-colleagues, and sometimes strangers…It also helps that my twin brother works in VC. This expert info was invaluable because it helped me understand things outside of my comfort zone and spared me from wandering aimlessly in uncharted territories.

2) Add to Your Arsenal


Link is only as strong as as the tools he has to work with. Early on, he is given the Wooden Sword and that transforms him from a boy into a warrior. Throughout his adventure, Link acquires tools and skills such as the Bow, Stepladder, Raft, Magical Key,Silver Arrow, and Book of Magic—they enable him to navigate more freely, see in the dark, kill bigger enemies, take more damage, etc. These items are a company’s employees. It was impossible for me to have every skill needed to start a business and produce projects so the first thing I did was expand my “tools” by finding a tech co-founder, hiring an animation director, and working with people who had different and more specialized skills than I did. Even a few years in we’re still expanding our arsenal—just last week we hired a HR Specialist. By upgrading the team with new expertise, it enables CloudKid to be more efficient, adaptable and intelligent. Most importantly, we can fight bigger enemies.

3) Keep your Eye on the Triforce


Link travels around Hyrule battling enemies, solving puzzles, exploring dungeons, and defeating guardian monsters, but his mission revolves around one thing—saving Princess Zelda. In order to do that, he must complete the Triforce of Wisdom by collecting all eight pieces to be powerful enough to defeat Ganon. Princess Zelda is a company’s vision while each dungeon/guardian monster that you defeat and piece of Triforce earned is a launched product, a new feature, or a completed client project. Early on, projects such as Fizzy’s Lunch Lab and Negative Nimbus were little victories that fit into our longterm vision of building transmedia brands, but we haven’t been totally immune to distractions. Internal projects such as Emogo and 3D-Play didn’t quite reinforce our mission and goals (although they were inspiring and creatively fulfilling). Luckily, we were able to refocus our sights on a new piece of Triforce and the next guardian monster that we needed slay.

4) It’s All About the Rupees Baby


Throughout his adventure, Link needs items such as arrows, bombs, potions, and food for survival, but he also needs Rupees to purchase them. While Rupees are abundant throughout Hyrule, it takes hard work to earn them—Link must put his own butt on the line and slay lots of baddies! If Link has ample Rupees, he can stock up on items that will come in handy during long dungeon missions, but if he doesn’t, his inventory will be depleted and survival will not be easy. While it is possible to prevail without money, having it undoubtedly provides an advantage. By having cash to invest in everything from product features to employees to computers/software to office space to insurance, companies are able to attain their goals more efficiently. We are fortunate to have loyal clients who have enabled us to build a studio and awesome team, but it comes at a cost. At our size we need a constant flow of projects (and cash) to keep the lights on and people employed. Sometimes this endeavor becomes all-consuming. One must be careful because the pursuit of cash can take your eye off the mission, but without it, the road will always be more difficult.

5) Don’t Let Enemies Kill You


Hyrule is a dangerous place, so it’s only natural that Link runs into nasty critters who slow him down. These obstacles are everywhere and Link must face them head on in order to survive, but it’s also inevitable that he goes unscathed. From simple nuances such as the Red Octorok to the downright pesky Wizzrobe, it’s important that Link learns how to defeat enemies, adapt, and have the right tools to do so. In a company, enemies are unforeseen obstacles and distractions such as server and network issues, an ineffective employee, a leak in the ceiling, late client payments, etc. They are inevitable and we have definitely felt their wrath, but when they have surfaced, we’ve been proactive in identifying the cause and creating solutions (to the best of our ability) so they don’t happen again. It’s important to recognize “enemies”, address them and adapt quickly. If not, they can kill you.

6) Be a Good Guy


Link’s adventure begins when he decides to rescue Princess Zelda. Humble but brave, he puts himself in harm’s way to save Hyrule and make his world a better place—he’s the ultimate “good guy” and hero. Businesses and entrepreneurs also need heart and humility. With an endless and dizzying stream of new gadgets, games, apps, sites, features, and videos launched daily, it’s more important than ever to provide something meaningful beyond your latest product and contribute to the greater good. This might include fostering a supportive work environment for employees, regularly contributing to open source projects, taking part in local community service, or building technology that reverses climate change. In addition to the educational media that we produce, we try and give back via our production tools such as Keyframe Caddy and PixiParticles, and contribute to the Github community. These efforts aren’t about boosting our bottom line, but rather supporting the larger creative community to make better stuff. We’re all in this fight together, and sometimes one little hero can change the world.

Peg + Cat Emmy Nomination!

High five! Last week CloudKid was notified that we have been nominated for a 2015 Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding New Approaches – Enhancement To a Daytime Program or Series category for our work on Peg + Cat. While we have been nominated three other times for Fizzy’s Lunch Lab, it’s especially exciting because this is the first nomination for a client project. We have been so fortunate to work on the Peg + Cat interactive content alongside our awesome partners at The Fred Rogers Company, 9ate7, and PBS KIDS. They’ve created a show with so much heart and vision and it has been inspiring to watch it unfold and contribute.

A huge thank you goes out to our awesome team at CloudKid. Over the last three years, we’ve produced A LOT of Peg + Cat content: a responsive website, 18 HTML5 games and activities, and the Big Gig app. It’s the result of countless hours by our artists, designers, animators, producers, and last but not least, our developers. Shout out!

The 2015 Daytime Emmys take place on April 24th in Los Angeles. Hopefully, we’ll have some good news to report though it will require taking down Elmo and Ellen. Not an easy task. In the meantime, our fingers are crossed.

Sandbox Summit: Highs, Lows, and Hopes

This week, we attended the Sandbox Summit at MIT for the third consecutive year. As expected, it was an inspiring two days filled with brilliant speakers who helped us reframe what is possible in the world of children’s media. This year was especially enlightening and entertaining, so we decided to reflect on the highs, the lows, and what we’d like to see come next.

While there were many great speakers and sessions, three projects that truly inspired us were Giver, KidZania, and Caine’s Arcade. At the core, these projects promote creative play, but more importantly, hope – hope for more playful neighborhoods, hope for freedom from parents (even for a couple hours), and hope for dreams coming true. They inspire kids to believe that anything is possible and provide outlets to explore untapped creativity, optimism, and confidence. With an abundance of technology and media targeted at kids, it’s inspiring to see adults who put so much effort and passion into providing tactile, real-world experiences that encourage kids to interact with the world in more playful and collaborative ways. Some of the other awesome people/projects that inspired us include The Creative Coalition, Call Me Ishmael, and DK.

With so many great presentations that explored BIG ideas about play, games, learning, and creativity, only one session seemed to miss the mark (and the spirit of the conference). While it is important to hear an executive perspective, it probably makes sense that the person doesn’t spend the time talking about their professional accomplishments and failing to mention their team and collaborators (well, excluding celebrities). Yes, the session was intended to inspire business development strategies but after talking with a number of attendees, it seems creative team building strategies may have been more inspiring. As someone who has started a business and produced dozens of projects, none of it would have happened without a team of talented collaborators. In a conference geared towards creating a more playful society, the presenter had the opportunity to discuss how collaboration (at all levels) results in more playful and creative media for kids, young and old.

So, where do we go from here? Well, we’d like to float an idea for next year’s conference theme: Radical Approaches to Collaboration. Artists, educators, parents, developers, and researchers are not birthed in isolation chambers, and there is a Renaissance-era cultural bias towards the individual that is as compelling as it is pervasive, but times are rapidly changing. Technology has destroyed geographical barriers and computers have made creative collaboration easier than ever before. Teams of people are working together to solve incredibly complex problems and create transformative works of art and media. Collaboration and cross-pollination helps build a foundation for larger creative networks and more powerful cultural institutions. As an industry, let’s celebrate innovative and radical approaches to collaboration and see how this can make all our work more transformative and impactful. Because if we’ve learned anything as a company, we not only need to provide innovative and enriching experiences for younger minds, but we also must inspire each other on a daily basis. 

Either way, we’re already looking forward to the 2016 Sandbox Summit.

Nick Pilot: Earth To Allen

We’re pretty psyched to announce that Nickelodeon has released our second digital pilot, Earth to Allen: Hunger Pains. The short follows 12-year-old Matty Mota as he tries to feed Allen (a tremendously incompetent intergalactic assistant) enough metal to stop his growling stomach from destroying the town. So many talented artists contributed to the development and production of the pilot, and we had an awesome time bringing the characters and world to life. Grab some popcorn and watch short HERE!

R.I.P. Soup2Nuts

For what’s starting to seem like a weekly occurrence, yet another U.S. animation studio has shut its doors, and this time it hit close to home. This week it was announced that Soup2Nuts, Boston’s largest studio, is folding after 22 years. “Soup” wasn’t a big fancy studio working on primetime TV shows or blockbuster movies, but much like Boston, it was a scrappy group that created brilliantly-written cult hits like Dr Katz and Home Movies, and later Wordgirl.

The studio gave hope to young writers, animators, illustrators, filmmakers, and actors who weren’t ready to move west and endure the bottomless talent pool in LA. Will Shepard, longtime Soup writer and producer, once likened it to the “minor leagues” (in the best possible way). The studio was a place that gave bright-eyed grads a chance to learn new skills, gain experience, and most importantly build confidence. If you watch cartoons today, you’ll see the names of many Soup alumni in the credits of well-known animated shows such as Breadwinners, Looney Toons, TRON: Legacy, Teen Titans Go!, Super Jail, Archer, and many many more.

The studio also helped launch the careers of successful writers, comedians, and creators. Loren Buchard (Bob Burgers), Brendon Small (Metalocapalyse), and John Benjamin (Archer) all got their start at Soup. Many up and coming comedians such as Louis CK, Maria Bamford, and Eugene Mirman got some of their first TV credits because of this relatively unknown animation studio in Watertown, MA. In many ways, Soup2Nuts quietly influenced “adult animation” for generations to come.

The studio’s closure is especially sad for me, because I got my start in animation at Soup2Nuts. I learned more about animation during my short two year stint than I ever thought possible. During that time, I wrote my first TV script, pitched my first ideas, and directed my first project. Soup gave me the confidence as an artist and a writer to start developing my own ideas and making them a reality. Above all, Soup fostered a community of collaboration. I worked with so many creative and talented artists and writers who taught me volumes about animation, art, design, production, writing, and comedy. These people helped shape my career and ultimately CloudKid (as well as other Boston-area studios such as Clambake and Planet Nutshell).

The Boston creative community didn’t just lose an employer. We lost a creative cheerleader, a mentor, a teacher, a lottery ticket, and a shot at the big leagues.

Detective Elmo

We’re super excited to announce Detective Elmo, our latest collaboration with Sesame Workshop and PBS KIDS. Connected to Sesame Street’s hour-long TV special, Cookie Thief, this mobile-friendly HTML5 game picks up where the TV special left off—a string of copycat thieves have begun stealing more art from The Museum of Modern Cookie Art. These cookie crooks must be stopped, and Elmo takes it upon himself to solve the crime! Help Elmo navigate through the museum at night, search for clues at the scene of the crime, and catch the art thieves. Check it out here!