NBA superstar Kevin Durant and his agent Rich Kleiman have invested in New York esports organisation Andbox through their investment vehicle, Thirty Five Ventures.
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Kevin Durant said in a tweet: “Proud to announce our newest investment in [Andbox and the New York Subliners] to continue the growth of esports in New York and beyond.”
Durant and Kleiman will join the Andbox team as investors and creative partners, according to a release. Durant and Thirty Five will be active partners across different initiatives for Andbox, including the creation of new entertainment content and the design of new merchandise collections.
Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman are the latest in a long line of high-profile Andbox investors. The org has raised funds from the likes of Michael B. Jordan, David Levy (former President of Turner), Jeff Raider (Co-founder and CEO of Harry’s), Neil Blumenthal (Co-founder and CEO of Warby Parker), Adam Leibsohn (Co-founder and COO of GIPHY), and Roham Gharegozlou (Founder and CEO of Dapper Labs).
Andbox currently has two franchise slots — one in the Call of Duty League through the New York Subliners, and one in the Overwatch League via New York Excelsior (NYXL) — and has a VALORANT team that competes under the Andbox brand.
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“There is no bigger stage in the world to compete on than here in New York, and that’s what drives superstars like Kevin Durant here and thankfully to us, just as it did with Clayster, a back-to-back Call of Duty champion who joined us this offseason,” said Farzam Kamel, Co-founder and President, Andbox. “The New York Tri-State area is the country’s largest market and a global hub for practically everything from sports and media to youth culture and fashion, yet it’s been long overlooked in the gaming industry. We’re changing that with Andbox and promise to keep delivering for New York’s fans and elevate New York esports on the world stage.”
Esports Insider says: Being owned by a venture capital firm and owning two franchise spots whets the appetite of investors, it seems, despite Overwatch’s clear decline in the West and persistent questions of how teams will recoup the money spent to enter franchised leagues. Perceived competence of executive staff is a massive factor for investors, but time will tell if spending tens of millions on franchise slots is the right decision.