Daryl Holt, Vice President and General Manager of Electronic Arts  (EA-Tiburon, EA SPORTS Austin, & EA SPORTS Madrid) at Electronic Arts (EA), talks about Orlando’s growing experience economy and how the region is where living is brought to life.

The Orlando innovation ecosystem is rich with high-caliber tech talent and boundary-pushing entrepreneurs. In an effort to foster a more connected community, the Orlando Tech Council presents “Profiles in Tech,” a new series highlighting the region’s top executives, innovators and movers and shakers whose ideas and companies are changing the world right from our own backyard.

This edition of Orlando Profiles in Tech features Daryl Holt, Vice President and General Manager of Electronic Arts  (EA-Tiburon, EA SPORTS Austin, & EA SPORTS Madrid) at Electronic Arts (EA), discusses Orlando’s growing experience economy and how the region is where living is brought to life.

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Have you experienced an “only in Orlando” moment? If so, what was it? 

There too many “only in Orlando” moments to mention from my 16+ years living in Central Florida. When you can catch a sunrise on a beach, visit a theme park for some fun as a “regular” (or resident), grab a great dinner and catch a major sporting event all in one day… that’s a full day. Orlando is full of different opportunities to create such moments through work, play, food, culture, and entertainment.

What brought you to the Orlando region? What’s kept you here? 

I’m a Floridian, born and raised, and I’ve lived my whole life in this state (minus a few long-term consulting engagements early in my career). So the Orlando region has had a role in my upbringing even though I didn’t live here until I relocated in 2004 to begin working with Electronic Arts. However, I’ve had family, friends, and clients in Central Florida over a great many years and, prior to moving here, found myself visiting and working here often. 

What keeps me here is a fully engaging life… from innovative and rewarding work, to a family-friendly environment, to a never-ending plethora of things to do. If you take advantage of everything Orlando has to offer, you will never be bored. It all keeps me young at heart!

What makes Orlando the right place for your business? How does being in Orlando contribute to your business success or personal growth?

Electronic Arts has been part of the digital media landscape in Central Florida for over 27 years. We’ve grown from a start-up studio of three people to over 850 strong, and the partnerships we have created, such as our work with the University of Central Florida in creating the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA), has helped us continue to grow and develop talent.  We have a great tech ecosystem here, wonderful educational partners along the Florida High Tech Corridor, and a growing culture of innovation that feeds a creator economy. We are proud to call Orlando home to our studio here, and we look forward to completing construction and moving into our new studio location in the Creative Village, which is behind me in the photo.

What makes the Orlando tech ecosystem unique? 

Orlando is a wonderful nexus point of industry, education and government, all rowing in the same direction to grow our region from a perspective of talent, innovation and technology. We have a potent mixture of established businesses and new start-ups all rooted in technology that will ensure our continued dominance in modeling, simulation, and training, while also allowing us to grow emerging tech sectors and give rise to a creator-led experience economy. This is a rapidly growing tech ecosystem that looks out for each other and dares other regions to continue to underestimate us.

What‘s one thing you wish Orlando had? What will it take to make that a reality?

Other than a completed “I-4 Ultimate” project and a professional NFL football team, it would be more outside understanding and acknowledgement of this region. For years, we’ve been collectively talking about “Orlando… you don’t know the half of it” as we educate industries, media, venture capitalists, etc. on the value of this region beyond the tourism and vacation destination that everyone knows.  As individuals hear the “other half”, they become believers (or at least give Orlando a level of well-deserved respect), but it takes effort to shift perception and assumption. The more we succeed on multiple levels, the more real that mass recognition will become.

If you had to describe to an out-of-town friend what it’s like to live, work, learn and play in Orlando, what would you say?

It’s where living is brought to life. Buy a house, raise a family, experience job and career growth, become a “foodie”, walk on the beach, visit a theme park as a regular, take in a world-class show, attend a major sporting event, catch a sunset, start a company… without hibernating in the winter or hoping for a sunny day a few times a year.

It’s all here… waiting for you to create in the “City Beautiful”.

The Orlando Tech Council is composed of private industry, resource organizations and public partners that work to develop new programs with the core objectives: strengthen the Orlando region’s innovation resources, create new opportunities for companies to scale, and to amplify the region’s success stories, raising the global profile of Orlando as a leading community for entrepreneurship and innovation.

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