Sulake names Disney exec CEO in social gaming push

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish Internet company Sulake said it was naming Paul LaFontaine as its new chief executive in a move aimed at shifting the company known for its teen networking site Habbo Hotel more toward social gaming.

Sulake said LaFontaine, who will replace current CEO Timo Soininen, was previously responsible for publishing Disney’s Playdom social games on global social networks and has held senior leadership roles at eSolar and Ticketmaster.

“We have been turning that direction for two years and are now accelerating it with this new CEO,” Chairman Mika Salmi told Reuters.

Sulake's virtual world Habbo Hotel ( -- designed to resemble videogames from the 1980s -- creates revenues from small payments via credit cards and mobile phones for items such as virtual room furniture.

Sulake was looking at going public before the financial crisis, but has said it would take years to reach that goal.

Sulake’s 2010 sales rose more than 20 percent to 56.2 million euros, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose ninefold to 5.4 million.

The company’s owners include Finnish advertising agency Taivas, partly owned by Britain’s WPP, venture capitalists, telecom operator Elisa and Japan’s Movida Group.

Reporting By Tarmo Virki; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter