The month of November saw a fair dose of action, both on positive and negative ends of the investment spectrum. We saw Juked close its doors for good, Misfits create a large creator-focused fund and Fnatic launch a lofi hip hop album. EXCEL also acquired an e-learning platform and the Chinese city of Hangzhou announced that it might invest £11m into esports and gaming.
There’s certainly a lot to unpack, so let’s start right away.
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Esports and gaming company Misfits Gaming Group will launch a $20m (~£17.8m) fund called the Misfits Creator Fund.
The fund, which will be open to creators and influencers, is expected to provide resources and infrastructure to kickstart creative and sustainable projects. The new fund will allow Misfits to help finance a large number of projects, ranging from high-profile ventures like television and streaming shows to smaller ventures such as live events, conferences, merchandise lines or streaming shows.
North American esports organisation Beastcoast has announced NBA star Gordon Hayward as its latest investor.
With his investment, Hayward joins Beastcoast as a senior advisor, with the goal of further deepening the organisation’s connection with his home state of Indiana. Financial figures behind the investment have not been disclosed. Hayward is an active National Basketball Association (NBA) player, currently playing for Charlotte Hornets and having previously played for Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics.
Chinese city Hangzhou has pledged 100m yuan (⁓£11.5m) in annual funding to support video games and esports, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.
The city has become a tech and esports hub in the last few years — opening its own ‘esports town’ in 2018 — with the goal to set several esports projects in motion by the end of 2022. As part of the investment, a number of major academic institutions in Hangzhou will create academic programmes based on video game animation and esports. The institutions that will take part in the initiative include Zhejiang University, China Academy of Art, and Zhejiang Media Institute.
Esports social media network Juked will end operations in the coming weeks following a breakdown in negotiations with potential acquirers, CEO Ben Goldhaber has announced.
The company had initially kept some of its key services online after it found a potential acquirer, but Goldhaber revealed that the deal had been pulled following the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX last week.
Goldhaber expanded on the reasoning behind Juked’s eventual demise on his personal blog, saying that while he had high expectations for the app, the investment environment had become more hostile to esports startups in recent years, which had made fundraising more complex for his small team.
British esports organisation EXCEL ESPORTS has announced the acquisition of assets belonging to esports e-learning platform Hitcap.
As a part of the acquisition, EXCEL will now run Hitcap’s social media channels, as well as its content archive and learning product. Hitcap is an esports coaching platform that focuses on League of Legends, known for its in-depth approach and for clarifying the ins-and-outs of the game in a simple manner. Hitcap’s website was offline at the time of writing, but its social media profiles are still online.
European esports organisation Fnatic has launched its own music label, simply called Fnatic Music.
The organisation’s debut album, Fnatic Island Vol. 1, features 31 lofi hip-hop tracks in collaboration with 40 artists. According to a release, the album is designed to be an accompaniment to casual gaming.
The announcement is yet another attempt by Fnatic to expand its operations as a gaming lifestyle brand. Fnatic’s music venture joins its pre-existing lineup of gaming peripherals, merchandise, and college partnership scheme. The album launch also builds on the organisation’s previous dive into music, following its collaboration with UK hip-hop artist Che Lingo in April.
British esports organisation Fnatic has announced a strategic partnership, as well as investment, from cryptocurrency asset manager Hivemind Capital.
The deal is part of a funding round that includes a raft of other cryptocurrency organisations, ranging from metaverse platform GuildFi to gaming and Web3 investment fund WW Ventures. The organisation claims that its new investors will help ‘further tech ambitions’ and allow Fnatic to develop its own Web3 applications. The team will explore scaling digital economies to enhance gaming performance and the quality of gaming experiences.
British esports organisation LDN UTD has been acquired by venture capital and Web3 company Ludus Gaming.
As a part of the acquisition, LDN UTD will be integrated into Ludus Gaming’s group and work together with other companies under its umbrella. Oliver Weingarten, LDN UTD’s Founder, will become Chairman of the new venture, with Ludus Gaming’s Daniel Gee acting as CEO. In addition, James Sheehan of sports and media finance group SM22 will join the company’s Board as Non-Executive Director.
Vietnamese esports organisation Saigon Buffalo, known for its League of Legends team, has been acquired by South Korean company JUEGO.
The new owners have acquired 100% of the organisation and will retire Saigon Buffalo’s branding. The team will continue existing as CNJ Esports going forward, to align with JUEGO’s existing esports brand. Financial details were not disclosed.
UK esports organisation Team Delirium has announced nightclub Tape London as its latest investor.
The deal will see Tape London acquire part of Team Delirium, according to a report by Esports News UK, in a bid to bridge the gap between gaming and music culture. Financial figures behind the investment have not been disclosed. The companies are looking to achieve their goal through content creation and marketing opportunities. At the same time, Team Delirium will also reportedly receive capital to help with its gaming content and esports work, and further progress with its team operations.