Back in 1975, Franz Koch formed a company called Koch International Music in Austria, which specialised in the distribution of German Folk and classical music recordings.
Franz is a natural entrepreneur, so expanded his interests into the manufacturing of CDs soon after with Koch Digitaldisc. The company extended its music operations into other European countries and, most notably, the US. I joined the London office of Koch Music in 1993, starting my long-term relationship with Franz and Klemens Kundratitz.
The vision to create a distribution company that could take advantage of the opportunities that appeared because of the CD ROM was Klemens' and was realised in the UK when Klemens and Franz acquired two companies that formed the basis of the company we have today, Koch Media, which I joined as UK MD.
THE MAKING OF KOCH MEDIA
At this time, with the internet in its infancy, Koch Media was publishing its own range of edutainment products, which were designed to provide consumers with information that was only previously available in paper form onto their PCs using a CD-ROM. We were also distributing hardware such as DVD drives and towers from vendors including Toshiba and Plexus.
In 1997 the company expanded to a team of about 25 people, employees from Koch Music moved into our new office and we obtained warehousing space in Basingstoke. Our key customers were educational suppliers, Dixons and PC builders. Does anyone remember Mesh computers?
"The vision for Deep Silver was to develop games that
would complement the games that Koch was distributing."
Craig McNicol, Koch Media
As time moved forward and the use of the internet exploded into a phenomenon we now all use on a daily basis, it meant that the titles we were bringing to the market were becoming less relevant and useful to consumers – why use a CD-ROM when all of the information you need was right there at the click of a button?
Learning from our entrepreneurial shareholders we were always hungry for new opportunities to bring something innovative, entertaining and different to consumers. Through the creation of a new model in the UK, that of ‘publishing partner', we had started to handle more video games and were working with some of the smaller publishers to bring their games to the market. By small I include the London Racer franchise, which truly heralded our arrival with more than one million units sold in the UK.
THE DEEP SILVER YEARS
By 2002 our interest in video games distribution had expanded sufficiently for us to form a subsidiary of Koch Media which, after much discussion internally, we named Deep Silver. The vision for Deep Silver was to develop games that would really captivate gamers' imaginations and complement the games that Koch Media was still distributing on behalf of other publishers. To date, Deep Silver has brought more than 200 titles to consumers.
In 2005 we moved again into the office space that we are still using now, a gorgeous converted barn in Herriard, near Basingstoke. The office space, to me, is a perfect example of how we like to be a little bit different – the atmosphere is calm and relaxing, allowing us to focus on creativity and content. We also partnered with the mighty Kuehne + Nagel logistics giant to run our dedicated warehouse.
"Koch now owns two video game development studios,
gaming IPs that have consistently hit the number one spot and
has some incredible movies coming in the next year."
Craig McNicol, Koch Media
We had been in this space for less than a year when we were in discussion with Nintendo about becoming their preferred official UK distribution partner, a long standing relationship that still continues to this day. Planning the Wii launch allocations in this country location was such a juxtaposition, however, our 400,000 sq ft logistics centre could handle anything we threw at it.
The past three years have defined the contributions of all Koch Media employees since the company was formed. We now have two offices: one for Koch Media UK in Herriard, and one in Hammersmith for the Koch Media Film team. We now have more than 60 employees in the UK.The group owns two video game development studios, gaming IPs that have consistently hit the number one spot and has some incredible movies coming in the next year, working with some of Hollywood's top acting talent such as Richard Gere, Vanessa Hudgens, Simon Pegg, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack and Susan Sarandon.
As a final word, I've worked with Koch Media from the beginning, after 20 years, my feelings for Koch Media remain as they ever were. Where in this world would you find a company whose ownership creates the culture more than at Koch? Branson at Virgin I am sure comes to mind, but truly the Koch/Kundratitz pairing is even more uniquely defining. A mix of understated brilliance, supportive and trusting in their style to their management, and a desire to nurture entrepreneurism places them in their own realm. The journey through music, video games and film is an added bonus.