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Playboy Hires Founder of Failed Ouya Console to Create New Products

Julie UhrmanJulie Uhrman
Julie Uhrman attends Visionary Women Presents "Women In Technology" at SLS Hotel on February 26, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. Stefanie Keenan—Getty Images for Visionary Women

Playboy Enterprises has tapped Julie Uhrman, the founder and CEO of the Ouya video game console, as president of media.

The new role will put Uhrman in charge of Playboy’s media offerings and she will be charged with creating “new products” for the company, expanding the subscriber base, and strengthening product offerings in the digital and physical space.

Uhrman most recently worked at Lionsgate as executive vice president and general manager of Over-The-Top Ventures, where she oversaw the company’s streaming franchises. To most of the online community, though, she’s best known for her work with Ouya.

That system, an Android-based game console, burst out of the gate, raising a then-unheard of $8.6 million via Kickstarter and subsequent venture capital funding. Within three years, though, the company was floundering and was put on the auction block.

Many of the problems could be tied directly to Uhrman. Prior to launch, she declared Ouya had decided not to work with the ESRB, the video game ratings board, and it wasn’t planning on having any parental controls at launch. And there was no plan in place for compliance with COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

When initial reviews of the system were negative, the company adopted a combative stance, alienating much of the community that had supported it. Attempts to pivot the business model flopped. The company was ultimately purchased by Razer, which discontinued the product.

Playboy heralded Uhrman’s “deep knowlege of the gaming business” in announcing her hire, saying she would leverage it to create new products.

“From its very earliest days, Playboy has been an organization that has stood for personal and social freedom,” said Uhrman. “It’s a brand that actually helped trigger shifts in social awareness and continues to push the envelope in ways that make its offerings more inclusive than ever. I’m thrilled to be joining the Playboy team to help tell this evolving story through all mediums around the world for current and future generations.”