Peter Moore is an ultimate Convergence Trailblazer who grew up in Liverpool and was set for a career as a PE teacher before he opted to embark on a new life in America. There, he worked his way up through the sporting goods industry to become head of global sports marketing for Reebok. He switched to the video gaming sector and learned how to shape the future of entertainment, working for Sega, Microsoft’s Xbox and Electronic Arts (EA). In 2017, after 38 years in the USA, he came home to become CEO of Liverpool Football Club, the team he had followed since boyhood. In 2019, Liverpool won the UEFA Champions League for the sixth time.
Gaming → Sport
As he sits in the boardroom at Anfield stadium, the Liverpool CEO Peter Moore reflects on how close he came to turning down his “dream job” and missing out on his destiny of running the club he has supported for 60 years.
“My first reaction was ‘no’,” he says of his initial response to the call to leave his life as an outstandingly successful California-based technology executive and test himself in the football industry. “I thought the transition would be too difficult. I was loving what I was doing.”
Moore was Chief Operating Officer of EA, the video gaming empire that created the FIFA series, and had built his name working for the tech giants Microsoft and Sega. He had lived in America since 1980. But then he felt a familiar itch. “Something continued to scratch at me, that I could give it one more crank of the reinvention wheel in my career.”
Not for the first time in his life, Moore packed everything up and switched sectors.
“Something continued to scratch at me, that I could give it one more crank of the reinvention wheel in my career”
The deciding factor in the 2017 transition was Moore’s sense of connection with his late father, who gave him his first taste of Anfield as a small boy in 1959, and who has the club’s motto, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, written on his tombstone: “How proud he would have been looking down on me to see his son as the Chief Executive Officer of Liverpool Football Club.”
Moore felt a similar sense of gratification in June 2019, when he accompanied the Liverpool players and manager Jurgen Klopp on an open-top bus parade through the city’s crowded streets, “looking at the joy of people’s faces in an area [where] I grew up”.
That moment capped a relationship with the club that stretches back to when, as a six-year-old, he watched the team from the ‘Boy’s Pen’ enclosure at Anfield, while dreaming of joining the swaying masses on the famous Kop terrace. “Football was all we had. We lived and died for three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon because we were going through such a difficult period in this city’s history. The salvation where we could all come together and laugh and smile was football.”
Yet, for all this perfect symmetry, Moore’s career path has been “a very fragmented journey” that has spanned continents and involved multiple changes in direction.
It began modestly when he graduated in physical education and began work at a school in North Wales. “I always wanted to be a PE teacher and that was going to be my life.” But summer visits to the United States broadened Moore’s horizons and he decided to quit his job and have an American adventure. “I moved to Long Beach, California, as an immigrant and…really struggled for the first year.”
His luck changed when he was offered a commission-only deal with Patrick, the sporting goods company. “Commission-only means if you don’t sell shoes, you’re not eating, you’re not putting gas in your car, you’re not paying the rent on your apartment,” Moore points out.
He would drive from town to town, selling to sports shops. After 11 years with the company he had risen to President of Patrick USA and was head-hunted by Reebok to boost its ambitious global growth.
He moved across America to Boston, Massachusetts, and led Reebok’s advance into major sports, even clinching a shirt deal with his beloved Liverpool. “One of the proudest moments in my life was holding that Reebok shirt that we had developed and created for that team.” While Moore was promoted to Reebok’s SVP global sports marketing, he soon realised that efforts to take on Nike and stretch an athleisure brand “to the fields of the NFL, [and] to soccer pitches around the world” were ultimately destined to fail. But his efforts had once again drawn attention.
“At 45 years of age, I thought, ‘What the heck, I can learn this stuff’”
“Out of the blue”, he was contacted by a recruiter looking for a head of marketing for Sega, the San Francisco-based games company known for Sonic The Hedgehog. When asked about his knowledge of the sector, Moore replied “not much”. But he had bought his son a Sega console and he was used to selling to that same demographic. “I was intrigued, I started to read up a little,” he recalls. “At 45 years of age, I thought, ‘What the heck, I can learn this stuff, I can apply my learnings of marketing to teenage boys (in the sporting goods sector).’”
He took the job and rose to become President and Chief Operating Officer of Sega of America, overseeing the development of the Dreamcast home video game console and launching – on 9/9/1999 – the first online gaming device. “I got a feel for the fact that this was going to be the superior entertainment medium of the future; interactive entertainment,” he says. “And I coined the phrase, ‘We’re taking gamers where gaming is going’ and gaming was clearly, even then, going online.”
In 2003, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer took Moore to lunch and persuaded him to become a corporate vice president linked to the Xbox team. The role allowed him to spend time with Microsoft luminaries, including Bill Gates. “I learned so much at Microsoft,” he says. “We were moving away from you versus your mate on the couch to you versus millions of people… around the world. That’s what online gaming was going to power. We looked at the Xbox 360 and created a singular sentence for it, a living entertainment experience powered by human energy.”
Xbox gave Microsoft the “ability to engage with a consumer they would never have dreamt of being able to engage with in the days when they were just really a computer operating system and an internet browser company”, says Moore. He learned lessons that he is still applying today at Anfield. “It taught me about the utilisation of building out global networks, global database management, global billing systems, so that you can engage with people no matter where they are. Fast forward to where we are as a football club here at Liverpool and we’re using a similar mentality of reaching out to our fanbase.”
“All of those lessons and learnings were brought over here to Liverpool Football Club and we hopefully lead the way in reaching out”
When Moore arrived at EA in 2007 he was able to put gaming and football together. “We at EA and the FIFA team were creating this love of the game that would otherwise be inaccessible for people around the globe,” he says. “We pointed with pride that people were learning all around the globe about football, about football clubs, about the history, about individual players.”
When he thought of his father and opted to leave America, the confidence that he had transferable skills formed part of his decision-making: “All of those lessons and learnings (from EA and FIFA) were brought over here to Liverpool Football Club and we hopefully lead the way in reaching out through content, through engagement, through merchandise, all of the things that fans yearn for [and] I certainly did as a (Liverpool) fan in San Francisco.”
As CEO, Moore oversees a team of 800 people “who don’t kick a ball for Liverpool Football Club but make football work”. His job is to make it easier for Klopp and his players to win trophies.
He describes himself as a “three-part player” who has spent 20 years in the sporting goods sector, 20 years in interactive entertainment “and hopefully 20 years of being in football”. He is “in my mid- sixties” but credits his career philosophy of “constant refresh” for “keeping me on my toes and fresh and learning and yearning for new experiences.”
When he arrived back in Liverpool he turned first to Anfield’s HR team to gain a better understanding not only of the workings of the industry of football but also to “reacquaint myself with being British” after being away for so long.
He has no regrets over making the move. “If you’d have told me that this lad who grew up a mile and a half down the road, 60-plus years ago, would end up sat here in this boardroom and sit in the number one seat in the director’s box…I would’ve thought you were crazy.”