In his new role, Huang will hunt for new acquisitions and IP investment, develop new partnerships and help create IP.
"This is a newly-created position for Eric, as we redefine ourselves as a new kind of children's publisher," says Francesca Dow, managing director, Penguin Children’s. "Eric will now have a broad role across Penguin Children's to accelerate our transition from a publisher to a content provider on multiple platforms including digital, media, entertainment and merchandising. At Penguin Children's we make stories, and now, we make brands. We want to do this more speedily and Eric's new broader role will help this."
Huang is already making moves to build Penguin Children’s licensing and consumer products business with the acquisition of tween brand Hattie B Magical Vet, preschool brand Ollie: The Boy Who Became What He Ate and an appointment as global licensing and TV agent for the gaming app, "Whale Trail."
"It's no longer a matter of digital publishing versus physical publishing," says Huang. "Our focus is on storytelling across both new and old formats, and I'm looking forward to forging new partnerships in the wider children's media community."
During the course of his career at Penguin, Huang has acquired publishing rights for key brands including Moshi Monsters, Peppa Pig and Club Penguin. Recently he has established a partnership for Penguin with the digital developers Made in Me to create new digital formats and projects for Penguin, and acquired the publishing license for Skylanders.
Plans are already in the works for Huang’s newest acquisitions. Puffin will publish both physical and digital stories for the Hattie B brand in the U.K. in 2013, which follows an ordinary girl who discovers a magical world where injured mythical creatures need her help. Penguin is also actively seeking global partners for the brand across TV, digital and consumer products.
The group is planning an enhanced e-book that will serve as a prequel story to the mobile game “Whale Trail,” which will be published in December. "Whale Trail" is a psychedelic flying game where players control Willow the Whale through the magical Rainbow Kingdom, dodging angry clouds and attempting to escape an evil octopus. "Whale Trail" features a soundtrack by U.K. artist Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals.
Finally, Penguin Children’s will publish a storybook app for the Ollie brand in early 2013 with picture and sticker books to follow in 2014. Ollie: The Boy Who Became What He Ate launched in the U.K. in September in the form of educational packs for schools, nurseries and local authorities and features a young, fussy eater who becomes what he eats. Penguin Children’s has global rights to Ollie for TV/film, digital and consumer products.