October saw a clear trend emerge in esports across the globe. From London to Latin America, superstar athletes and musicians are pushing their chips to the centre of the esports table.
The key domino was David Beckham and his co-ownership of Guild Esports, which led to highly successful funding rounds and a lucrative initial public offering. Other stars, like Sergio Aguero, Dion Waiters, Swae Lee and JuJu Smith-Schuster, soon followed with investments of their own.
It can be difficult to keep track of industry investment news. That’s why Esports Insider sifts through the month’s key headlines, collating important investment news from the period—including new mergers and acquisitions—into one article.
This month saw gargantuan levels of esports investment, beginning with Guild Esports. In early October, Guild completed its floatation on the London Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of £41.2m. This came after the organisation raised £20m towards the end of September.
The details of David Beckham’s agreement with Guild were later revealed by The Esports Observer. Beckham has been guaranteed £15.25m by Guild over a five-year period, allowing Guild to use Beckham’s name and likeness to promote its brand. Guild has raised an eye-watering sum of money almost exclusively by straddling Beckham’s name, with no significant esports history to speak of. Beckham owns a 4.78-percent stake in the company.
Tencent Holdings tightens its grip on the esports industry, leading a close-to $100m (£76.23m) Series B funding round in esports solutions provider VSPN. Led by Tencent, VSPN secured investment from Tiantu Capital, SIG (Susquehanna International Group), and Kuaishou. Lighthouse Capital was named as the exclusive Financial Advisor for VSPN’s round of funding.
VSPN currently operates in content creation and organising esports tournaments, whilst also having divisions in commercialisation and offline venue operation. According to the firm, VSPN has partnered with over 70 percent of Chinese esports tournaments and currently houses more than 1,000 employees across its five business divisions.
The news comes after Tencent consolidated Douyu and Huya—two of the largest live-streaming platforms in Asia—earlier this year.
Malta-based gambling firm Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) has entered an agreement to acquire venue company Helix eSports and B2B software provider ggCircuit. The transaction, valued at approximately $43m (£32.85m), is expected to close before the year’s end.
ggCircuit offers a cloud-based management system, tournament platform, and integrated point-of-sale solutions for enterprise customers. Helix eSports operates five gaming centres in the US, including one in Massachusetts in partnership with the Kraft Group, which serves as the training facility for Overwatch League franchise Boston Uprising.
Gaming and entertainment live-streaming network VENN announced on October 20 the close of a $26m (~£19.94m) Series A financing round.
The round was co-led by seed-round investor BITKRAFT and Nexstar Media Group, Inc. Eldridge, WISE Ventures, Alumni Ventures Group, Josh Kroenke (Vice-Chair of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment), and the majority of the existing series-seed investor group also participated in the round.
David Levy, former Turner President and former Brooklyn Nets CEO, has joined New York organisation Andbox as an investor and Chairman of the company’s advisory board.
Levy’s investment and appointment come as part of Andbox’s Series B funding round which attracted various notable investors, including Sterling Equities, Allen & Company, and The Pohlad Companies.
Sergio Aguero and Dion Waiters invest in esports
Manchester City striker and Latin American superstar Sergio Aguero has founded his own esports organisation, KRÜ Esports. Dion Waiters, NBA Championship winner with the Los Angeles Lakers, also announced he is investing in Miami-based organisation Centric Gaming.
Aguero has been named KRÜ’s Founder and CEO, and is a passionate gamer. The City striker has been streaming consistently on his Twitch channel following his injury earlier this year. Waiters’ investment has allowed the previously dormant Centric Gaming brand to kickstart again.
Global esports firm ReKTGlobal, the parent company of Rogue and London Royal Ravens, raised $35m (~£27m) in October. The funds were raised by private equity and investment firm Summit Partners—a company that oversees more than $21 billion (~£16.2bn) in total assets.
With this debt capital raise, ReKTGlobal plans to further expand its product portfolio, attempt to accelerate growth by hiring additional executives, and further monetise its existing assets. ReKTGlobal oversees companies such as Greenlit Content, fan engagement platform Fullcube, and media agency Fearless Media.
Swedish esports startup G-Loot revealed in early October it has raised $56m (£43.2m) in its latest funding round.
The online esports platform is said to be preparing for expansion across gaming platforms and into other markets. In particular, the capital will purportedly be used to prepare the platform’s entrance into console gaming.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, wide-receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers—who has long been active in the esports and gaming space—has launched Team Diverge.
In contrast to Aguero’s and Waiters’ investments, Smith-Schuster’s organisation will focus more on gaming as opposed to strictly focusing on esports. Team Diverge aims to be a fulcrum of crossover content between sports, gaming and culture.
Hong Kong-based organisation Talon Esports has announced a $2m (£1.52m) seed funding round. Investing firms included Widus Strategic Investments, EMC Capital, and Felix LaHaye, Founder of United Esports.
In June, Talon Esports joined forces with the esports arm of French football club Paris Saint-Germain. The deal saw the formation of the PSG Talon League of Legends team, which successfully qualified for the 2020 World Championship.
Gamesquare Esports Inc., the parent company of Code Red Esports, began trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange last month.
Following the listing, it is expected that Gamesquare will continue pushing its agency and talent management services through Code Red. According to a press release, the company also continues to “build its pipeline of potential acquisitions to accelerate growth, and scale with a focus on companies with a proven track-record of high growth and profitability.”