When we got an e-mail informing us of the pending departure of Akira Chiba, president of "Seattle-based" Pokemon USA, we were a bit perplexed. Seattle-based? We didn't even know Pokemon USA existed, let alone had an office here.
Well, the company in charge of the ultra-popular kids entertainment brand in the United States does in fact have a 45-person Bellevue office that handles the trading-figure game, trading-card game and more product-focused stuff, said J.C. Smith, marketing director of Pokemon USA. It's not quite a headquarters, though. The "Seattle-based" descriptor was in error.
So what's Pokemon USA doing here? Being close to Nintendo is part of it -- Pokemon has been a popular title on several Nintendo platforms -- although most of that relationship is managed out of the New York headquarters, Smith said.
Anyway, the outgoing president, Chiba, "joined Pokemon USA in 2002 when the company's New York office was established, the brand's first corporate headquarters outside of Japan," according to the company's release. He's off to "to pursue other opportunities" and will be replaced by Kenji Okubo, previously executive vice president and head of Pokemon USA's Seattle office, effective Jan. 1.