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Jeff Spangenberg is an American entrepreneur and the original founder of Retro Studios. However, he left the company in 2001, before development of Metroid Prime had commenced. Spangenberg is also the founder of Iguana Entertainment (best known for Turok), Team Design, Punk Development and Topheavy Studios (best known for The Guy Game).
Spangenberg founded Retro in 1998 as a second-party developer to Nintendo. Retro was poised to develop mature titles for the then-upcoming GameCube console. Spangenberg believed that Retro would become an American equivalent of Rare. On May 2, 2002, Nintendo purchased $1 million worth of stock in Retro Studios from Spangenberg, which gave them full ownership of Retro and turned it into a first-party developer. While Nintendo officially stated that Spangenberg sold his shares and left the company to "pursue new business interests," it is believed that Nintendo forced Jeff from his position due to unethical behavior (see below).
Employees of Retro during Spangenberg's tenure report that he was frequently absent, and between late 2000 and early 2002, delegated much of his role in Retro's projects and did not supervise them. This caused communication between Retro Studios and Nintendo to suffer. Additionally, in summer 2001, photos of Spangenberg in hot tubs with topless women surfaced on a website registered to a Retro Studios mailing address. The site and the photographs disappeared quickly once discovered. Nintendo bought out Retro from Spangenberg shortly after the photos were discovered. He later went on to found Topheavy Studios, best known for the highly controversial Guy Game. Spangenberg was succeeded as Retro president by Steve Barcia.
Since Spangenberg's departure, Retro had released the Prime Series to great critical acclaim, and revived the Donkey Kong Country series as well. In 2014, a new project was announced, although the status of it is unknown. An anonymous source for n-sider stated that they had heard from friends still working at Retro Studios that the corporate culture had vastly improved, and credited the complete shift of the upper management.