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From Taco Bell Lunches to Messi's Co-Founder: A Timeline of Razmig Hovaghimian's Rise


Razmig Hovaghimian is born in Cairo, Egypt to Armenian parents.


Razmig leaves his family and immigrates from Cairo to Los Angeles in search of better education. He is only 16 years old. 


While attending high school, Razmig works at a Subway and does the graveyard shift at a gas station to support himself. He tells TechInAsia.com in 2014,“I knew where every Taco Bell in my neighborhood was, and where I’d get the best $0.99 lunches. It’s still hard for me not to stop by a Taco Bell when I see one.”

Razmig Hovaghimian for Tech in Asia.

Razmig starts a late-night pizza delivery service using a bakery’s kitchen during after hours. The company fails. Razmig begins exporting used Levi’s jeans to Europe. This also fails. He applies and is admitted to UC Berkeley.


Razmig graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Economy of Industrial Societies and a minor in Business Administration. 

Serial entrepreneur Razmig Hovaghimian speaking at a Rakuten press conference.
Serial entrepreneur Razmig Hovaghimian speaking at a Rakuten press conference.

Hired as a business analyst for the consulting firm Mitchell Madison Group.


The company sends Razmig to Tokyo to help start Dentsu’s strategy practice Denstu MarchFirst.


Razmig begins pursuing his MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. 


Razmig spends the summer and fall living in a tent in South Sudan working for the United Nations in their Growing Sustainable Business Program. 


Returning from Sudan to finish his MBA at Stanford, Razmig co-founds the non-profit. Embrace. Finds 20 million premature and low birth weight babies are born every year, and nearly 3 million babies die in the first 28 days globally. His team develops an infant incubator using NASA space suit-style technology to keep the babies warm without electricity. The team finds a way to manufacture each incubator at $25 USD. Razmig eventually transitioned to a board member position. 

Embrace's infant incubator in use. Photo by Embrace.
Embrace's infant incubator is in use. Photo by Embrace.

Razmig begins working at NBC Universal in Strategic Initiatives after graduating from Stanford. Netflix has just launched its streaming service. 


Teaming up with friends from Stanford, Razmig begins working on a streaming service Viki. They use YouTube APIs to have fan volunteers translate videos into their own language, giving them data for language learning technology for subtitling. 


Razmig is promoted to Senior Vice President of International Studio Ventures, managing the financial slate and partnerships. Razmig and the team notice a big draw to Asian dramas on Viki. Razmig also foresees traditional entertainment studios can only grow if they extend deeper into global markets.


Razmig leaves NBC Universal to focus full-time on Viki.

Razmig Hovaghimian (right) with Viki co-founders Changseong Ho (middle) Jiwon Moon (left) at their office in Singapore.
Razmig Hovaghimian (right) with Viki co-founders Changseong Ho (middle) and Jiwon Moon (left) at their office in Singapore.

Razmig and his co-founders raise $4.3 million in Series A funding from Reid Hoffman’s Greylock Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, then Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, among others. They officially set up headquarters in Singapore to stay close to the Asian market, and so Razmig could be close to his then-fiance and future wife while she attended graduate school. 


The Viki team continues to build out the Asian market for streaming television and movies. They raise $20 million in Series B funding from BBC and Planet SK. 

The cast of the Korean thriller series Strong Girl Bong-soon. Viki continued to dominate the Asian streaming market.

Razmig’s co-founders leave Viki to start a new company in South Korea. Viki invests in the company and Razmig sits on their board, but is now the lone founder still leading the company as customer growth soars.


Viki reaches 163 languages and over 400 million words subtitled via their crowdsource volunteers of 22 million users. 

Old Viki interface for translating volunteers after Rakuten's purchase of Viki.
Old Viki interface for translating volunteers after Rakuten purchases Viki.

Viki adds Sling Media’s Armenian founder Blake Kirkorian and Survey Monkey’s CEO Dave Goldberg as new investors, adding over $24 million.


To continue to rival Amazon and Netflix, Japanese juggernaut Rakuten buys Viki for $200 million. 


Viki grows to over 30 million monthly active users in over 200 countries. 


Razmig joins the early-stage fund Graph Ventures as a Partner. 


Forbes names Razmig to their 2014 list of Next Gen Innovators. 


Razmig leaves his CEO post at Viki and joins Rakuten as their Senior Executive Officer overseeing Digital Video across the company. He becomes a Rakuten Board Observer.


Rakuten becomes the official sponsor of FC Barcelona, Lionel Messi’s club.


Razmig launches Ripple News, which combines machine learning with local signals to produce local editorial news stories for underserved markets. It is renamed t Pixel Labs. Pixel Labs acquires Hoodline, which began as a blog about the famous hippie neighborhood of San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury. Pixel Labs adopts the name Hoodline. They begin producing stories for ABC, MSN, Yahoo, Hearts, and Yahoo. 

Razmig Hovaghimian (second to the left) with his Ripple News team. Photo by Media Shift.
Razmig Hovaghimian (second to the left) with his Ripple News team. Photo by Media Shift.

Hovaghimian meets Messi and his family in an undisclosed story. 


Hoodline raises $10 million in Series A funding.


NextDoor, the app focused on information for local communities, acquires Hoodline to integrate editorial into its product. 


Razmig co-founds Matchday, a startup focused on combining blockchain with soccer collectibles and gaming. 


Lionel Messi enlists Razmig Hovaghimian to run his holding company to invest in sports, media, and technology. They call it Play Time Sports-Tech Holdco. The new company takes in Matchday to boost its launch. 

Razmig Hovaghimian and Lionel Messi after an Argentina National Team training session.
Razmig Hovaghimian and Lionel Messi after an Argentina National Team training session.

Ahead of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, Messi & Razmig announce the new company and announce a stake in the soccer tech startup AC Momento, which sells game-worn jerseys.

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