Esports Insider’s monthly roundups of the most important esports investment stories is back in 2024. The first month of 2024 was unfortunately plagued by layoffs in multiple companies, however, there was some positive news on several fronts. Disguised partnered with BLEED Esports, NODWIN invested in Freaks 4U Gaming, and 100 Thieves spun off Juvee, among other news.
Here is a roundup of the most important esports investment stories from January 2024.
To learn more about esports investments, make sure to subscribe to ESI’s Angels & Unicorns newsletter — a monthly roundup of the biggest stories in the world of esports investments, mergers, and acquisitions.
Game developer and esports company Riot Games has announced a round of layoffs that will affect around 11% of its total workforce with 530 global roles being terminated.
Riot said the reason for the layoffs is a shift in focus for the company, which resulted in shutting down its third-party publishing label Riot Forge and reducing the size of its Legends of Runeterra teams. Various esports personnel at Riot Games also appear to have been affected.
Multiple individuals associated with Riot Games’ esports department have also publicly announced their departure from the company. This includes the likes of Jianhua Chen (PR for Riot EMEA) and Ashley Washington (Product Lead, Game Changers EMEA at Riot Games), among others.
Lando Norris-founded esports and gaming organisation Quadrant raised ‘seven figures’ through an investment round to help fuel its growth.
The company also announced that William Jonathan Lenney, known as WillNE, will join as Quadrant’s newest Co-Owner. The exact amount raised was not disclosed by Quadrant, but the company did say that it amounts to ‘seven figures’, which makes it one of the largest investment rounds in recent months globally.
The new funds will be allocated to fund the expansion of the Quadrant business, alongside creating an ‘industry-leading’ subscription platform, according to the company.
Software company Microsoft laid off 1,900 employees spread across recently-acquired Activision Blizzard and the company’s gaming workforce.
The layoffs were announced via an internal memo sent by Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer. It has also been revealed that Blizzard president Mike Ybarra as well as Allen Adham, Blizzard’s Chief Design Officer, left the company. In addition, Blizzard’s untitled new survival game was cancelled as the company aims to ‘shift some of the people working on it’ to other projects in the early stages of development.
Indian esports company NODWIN Gaming made a substantial investment into German esports production company Freaks 4U Gaming.
A total of €8m (~£6.85m) will be invested into Freaks 4U, making NODWIN a large (13.51%) shareholder of the company. There is also an option to acquire majority control in the future.
The new investment into Freaks 4U will give NODWIN access to Freaks 4U’s network in developed markets such as Europe and North America, while Freaks 4U will get access to NODWIN’s infrastructure across the emerging markets NODWIN is present in.
North American esports organisation 100 Thieves sold its energy drinks company Juvee to US-based brewery Sprecher Brewing.
As part of the deal, Juvee production has been moved to Sprecher’s headquarters in Greater Milwaukee. Financial details surrounding the acquisition have not been announced.
In November 2023, 100 Thieves announced a round of layoffs and spun off Juvee and the company’s game development studio. This meant that Juvee became its own independent company.
Esports tournament platform Challengermode acquired assets from rival tournament platform Stryda following the latter’s bankruptcy.
Challengermode told Esports Insider that it had acquired Stryda’s intellectual property and technology through Stryda’s bankruptcy estate.
Stryda’s website now also redirects to Challengermode, where a landing page says that Challengermode has acquired ‘certain parts’ of the platform and that Stryda has shut down. Swedish media outlet BreakIt reported that Challengermode had acquired Stryda’s assets but not the company itself.
Esports organisations BLEED Esports and Disguised have announced a partnership that will see both entities work together on a VALORANT team in the SEA region.
With the support of BLEED Esports, Disguised has created a VALORANT roster in the Malaysia/Singapore region to compete in the VCT Challengers league.
The partnership with Disguised will see both organisations work on activations in the new region, but also marks Disguised’s official exit from the VALORANT North American region for Disguised.
Esports agency ULTI Agency and CS2 streamer Ohnepixel have been announced as co-owners of Counter-Strike skin trading platform Skinbid.
The company has also officially relaunched with a new visual identity. The goal for the company is, according to its owners, to become the number one skin trading site worldwide.
The new co-owners have close ties to gaming and esports but come from two separate segments of the industry. Content creator Ohnepixel is one of the most prominent names in the CS skin trading and betting community, regularly making content about new skins and updates to the skin market in Counter-Strike.
North American esports organisation Complexity Gaming confirmed it will continue to compete in Counter-Strike for the coming season, announcing contract extensions for several of its players.
The announcement comes amid speculation over what parent company GameSquare Holdings will do with its Complexity Counter-Strike team in light of the company’s pending acquisition of rival FaZe Clan.
Esports holding company OverActive Media‘s deal to acquire Spanish esports brands KOI and Movistar Riders have entered definitive agreements, according to an update issued by the company.
In addition, Movistar Riders partner Telefónica has signed a multi-year partnership extension with the Spanish organisation. If the brand’s acquisition goes through, the telecommunications company will become an OverActive Media shareholder. Currently, Telefónica FILIALES is a minority stakeholder of Movistar Riders, owning 15%.
OverActive Media entered into a non-binding letter of intent (LOI) to acquire KOI and Movistar Riders earlier this year, strengthening the company’s foothold in the Spanish market alongside its other brand MAD Lions. As a part of the acquisition, OverActive’s LEC team was renamed to MAD Lions KOI.
UK-based esports organisation Guild Esports received investment in 2023 from Norway-based esports organisation 00Nation, Guild’s 2023 fiscal year results reveal.
00Nation invested £500,000 in Guild through the purchase of shares in the company. The identity of the investor and the exact invested amount had not been previously disclosed by Guild.
In a release outlining its 2023 fiscal year results, Guild described 00Nation as a ‘strategic investor’ that will help embed its brand and services into the industry, as well as facilitate international expansion. It says 00Nation established a base in the UK in 2023, and will ‘continue to focus on youth culture while partnering with Guild on professional esports’.