Team

Jeff Pobst

Jeff Pobst | Founder and Chief Executive Officer



Jeff has been heavily involved in the gaming industry for almost fourteen years holding such roles as game programmer, producer, and chief operating officer. Most recently, before breaking off to found HPE, Jeff was a group leader at Microsoft for the Xbox and Xbox 360 platforms.

Jeff has shipped over 20 different game titles on four different platforms. He's also had the privilege of bringing games in the Half-Life, Homeworld, and Lord of the Rings franchises to market.  Jeff acted as Sierra Studio's first external producer in 1998, granting him atypical involvement in all elements of the publishing business including developer acquisition, contract negotiation, profit and loss planning, forecasting, production oversight, manufacturing, documentation, interaction with quality assurance, marketing, and public relations.

Later, when Jeff was a part of WXP, an independent game development house, he worked on the other side of the negotiation table, dealing with several publishers on contracts, overseeing budgets and executing business strategy.

Jeff joined Microsoft in 2002 to head up a group of developer liaisons working closely with game developers on the Xbox and Xbox 360 platforms to help improve the potential of their titles. Jeff was the primary spokesperson for Microsoft when talking with game developers about Xbox 360 plans. He also represented the Advanced Technology Group on the third-party portfolio management team for the platform.  Before Jeff entered game development, he earned a doctorate in Aerospace Engineering. At various times, he was a film student, a researcher, a systems engineer, and a project manager.

Mark Terrano

Mark Terrano | Founder and Chief Creative Officer



Mark was a lead designer, designer, and programmer on titles in the Age of Empires franchise and held the lead designer position on the best-selling strategy game of all-time: Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings. The titles Mark contributed to have sold over 17 million copies worldwide. Mark has lent his expertise towards aiding other game developers working on Xbox through his role as a Technical Game Manager for the Xbox organization and supporting game developers around the world.

Mark's expertise and passion have not only made him a remarkable asset to HPE, they have also allowed him to share his knowledge worldwide. Mark has written papers on multiplayer networking, game design, and usability. He has given dozens of insightful and critically acclaimed presentations at universities, conferences and events on five continents (he says he is just waiting for South America and Antarctica to call). Mark has been a panel leader for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Academy Awards Nomination group, has served on the Austin Games Conference advisory board, and worked with International Game Developer Association special interest groups.

Before his career as a game designer, Mark has been associated with both large and small companies. He started and sold five profitable entrepreneurial companies and worked as a programmer/analyst on some of the largest critical transactions systems in the world for Mobil Oil Pipeline, The Toronto Stock Exchange, A.G. Edwards, GTE, and others.  (reddit AMA)

Michael Austin

Michael Austin | Founder and Chief Technology Officer



Michael is one of the few experts in the world on the Xbox 360 CPU architecture. In addition, he has eleven years of games and platform development experience, during which he's had the opportunity of working on nearly every major subsystem from graphics to animation to collision. He has chosen to focus on architecture and low-level optimization.

As part of Xbox's Advanced Technology Group, Michael has worked with dozens of game studios across ten different countries and consulted on numerous top selling games. Michael has worked on several successful console titles including Amped: Snowboarding. He has also been involved with several Xbox titles including Prince of Persia, Counterstrike, and Spiderman 2.

Michael was an instrumental part of the 360 launch team, helping release titles including Call of Duty 2, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and Project Gotham Racing.

Michael has a strong technical innovation background: he has invented many new algorithms and approaches for content generation, computer vision, audio processing, and text analysis.

James (Jim) Garbarini

James (Jim) Garbarini | Founder and Chief Operations and Financial Officer



Jim has been a part of the interactive entertainment industry since 1996 when he was hired as CFO of Virtual World Entertainment Group (VWEG) in Chicago. Like HPE, at VWEG, Jim was responsible for all aspects of finance, legal, risk management, human resources and information technology of this multi-company organization. 

Jim was instrumental to the negotiation and consummation of the $30 million cash-for-stock sale of this entity in 1999, which included FASA Interactive.  Simultaneously, Jim organized and led the buyout of the location-based entertainment subsidiary of VWEG, Virtual World Entertainment LLC (VWE).  Jim was President of VWE from 1999 until its sale in 2005. While at VWE, Jim returned distributions to members of more than forty times their original investment through successful implementation of a harvesting strategy to maximize return from assets purchased.

Jim began his career in Chicago at Arthur Andersen LLP where he spent seven years and specialized in acquisition diligence for financial and strategic buyers in purchase transactions ranging from $5 to $500 million.