The Croquet Team

John Payne is the Chairman and CEO of Croquet, and a member of its Board of Directors. He also serves as Executive Chairman of GIGXR, Inc., an early stage extended reality (XR) medical training business serving medical and nursing schools, hospitals, higher education and the U.S. Department of Defense. Mr. Payne has significant public company executive experience as the former CEO of two public Internet software companies, (STMP), where he also served as Chairman, and Day Software (SW: DAYN). While at Stamps, he led the development of its operating business, its $65 million IPO and a $365 million secondary offering co-managed by Goldman Sachs and Salomon Smith Barney.

He served as Chairman and CEO of SimpleAir, Inc., a technology licensing company, from 2004 to 2020. Mr. Payne is an Inventor who has been awarded more than 20 patents by the USPTO covering Internet, cybersecurity and digital mail plus wireless technologies which are widely licensed across the smartphone industry. Mr. Payne holds a B.A. in Economics from University of California, Irvine. He started life as a Wilderness Ranger for the US Forest Service working on foot, horseback and skis. In a post COVID world, he splits his time between Laguna Beach, CA and Boise, ID.
John Payne
CEO, Chairman

David A. Smith
CTO, Founder
David A. Smith is the Founder and CTO of Croquet and a member of its Board of Directors. He has more than 30 years of experience as a pioneer of AR and VR, and has founded 7 companies, including The Colony, the world’s first 3D adventure/shooter game, and Virtus Corporation, the first real-time 3D PC design tool, in addition to creating the visualization software behind James Cameron’s “The Abyss”. He has sold 10’s of millions of games and applications.

Early in his career, he was co-founder of Red Storm Entertainment with Tom Clancy and Brian Upton. He was also Chairman of Gensym, the first large-scale public AI company, and most recently was Chief Innovation Officer & Senior Fellow at Lockheed Martin, leading their AR and VR efforts. He invented 3D portals and co-invented the core tech behind Croquet. He has been issued 32 patents in 3D, AR, VR and AI by the US Patent and Trademark Office, and holds a BS in Mathematics from University of Chicago.

Brian is a 20-year veteran of the game industry. He was one of the founders of Red Storm Entertainment where he designed the original Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon. He spent fifteen years as a senior designer at PlayStation, guiding external teams through every stage of production, including innovative indie titles such as Fat Princess, Warhawk, Sorcery, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Bound, and Here They Lie. Brian is the author of the books The Aesthetic of Play and Situational Game Design.
Brian Upton
Chief Creative Officer

Vanessa Freudenberg
Chief Architect, Co-founder
Vanessa designed Croquet’s client/server architecture, and implemented its client framework as well as the networking protocol and global Reflector infrastructure. A former member of Alan Kay’s research group, she has been developing interactive systems for more than 20 years with a focus on live, self-supporting architectures (including Squeak Etoys, Scratch, Lively, Frank, and even a revival of Smalltalk-78). Vanessa’s PhD was awarded for new real-time non-photorealistic 3D rendering techniques.

While he was attending the graduate school of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Yoshiki joined Walt Disney Imagineering R&D in 2000 as an intern and helped developing prototypes of Disney’s theme park attractions. He also has been involved in Alan Kay’s research group, and participated in the research and development effort of education programming environment Squeak Etoys and later took the leading role. Yoshiki has worked at the Viewpoints Research Institute, SAP Labs CDG, and Y Combinator Research, all of which Dr. Kay founded or helped found. He was awarded his PhD. for designing and implementing a massively parallel particle programming system from Tokyo Institute of Technology.
Yoshiki Ohshima
Chief Scientist, Co-founder

Aran Lunzer
System Visioneer, Co-founder
Aran is another Co-founder who transferred from Alan Kay’s former research group, having started working with David Smith in 2017 on bringing Croquet into the JavaScript world. Aran’s background includes 20 years of interaction research, focusing on his concept of "subjunctive interfaces": information interfaces designed to inform users about the context surrounding a computed result by hinting at alternative results from nearby, subtly different computations. He is always on the lookout for ways to stir those ideas into the Croquet ecosystem.

Dennis is the Director of Product Marketing at Croquet. He has over a decade of experience as a product leader in companies ranging from startups to large enterprises. He has led product development in a variety of areas including Operational Tools, Big Data Analytics & Infrastructure Services such as Content Delivery, constantly keeping an eye on the value proposition from the customer’s perspective. Prior to starting his career in product management, he led Operations teams for retailers such as FAO Schwarz and Rakuten, where he streamlined processes to improve service quality, and holds a BA in Economics from UC, Irvine.
Director of Product Marketing
Dennis Au

Saad Sahawneh
Chief of Staff
Saad started his career in Jordan, leading account management for brands including Orange and Royal Jordanian at a global ad agency. He later joined his father's construction business, where he co-launched a construction collaboration software startup, helped win a design management contract for a Zaha Hadid opera house project, and then moved to Lebanon to start a second office and grow the business. He received his BBA in management at the American University of Beirut, and his MSc in construction management at the University of Reading.

Isaac Smith enjoys being a Quality Assurance Specialist at Croquet Corporation. His gaming background makes this a natural fit. He also has many CompTIA IT certifications. He is a graduate of The Fletcher Academy.
Isaac Smith
Quality Assurance Specialist

Kai Oldman
3D Designer
Kai is an industrial designer from the San Francisco Bay Area with a background in digital modeling and transportation design. As a modeler for 3D spaces, it's Kai's goal to create interesting-to-look-at and engaging-to-work-with worlds for Croquet's Microverse.

Katie has more than 20 years’ experience leading integrated communications campaigns for emerging technology companies. Her team at Market Street Group delivers a mix of strategy and tactics that ensure that the various facets of marketing work together to drive business growth.
Katie Pierini
Public Relations

Margaret Solano
Margaret is our Controller based in Southern California. She has extensive experience as a Finance Executive with startups and multinational corporations. She served as Controller and VP of Operations for Mitsubishi Materials Corporation for over 10 years, helping them set up their first US-based operations. Margaret also has over 15 years in the software and gaming industry, building Finance and Ops teams in game development and localization. Margaret is a hands-on Controller who is passionate about helping companies grow and succeed.

Velveeta Mason uses her strong organizational skills and her passion for process development to assist clients in creating and maintaining HR functions such as HRIS set up, benefit administration, payroll, onboarding and offboarding, and other compliance related processes. Before joining the Talent Distinctions team, Velveeta worked for 15 years in the Real Estate Industry. She handled all the legal cases for an investment property firm in Marina Del Rey by attending court cases and negotiating deals. She also handled their employee relations function and hiring process. Additionally, she managed their properties in New Mexico and Oregon. Velveeta is very passionate in the community and volunteers with homeless shelters on a regular basis. She also travels abroad for medical and building missions. She is always looking for an opportunity to give back.
Velveeta Mason
Human Resources