During April 2021, The Esports Observer tracked 13 investments raised by esports-relevant companies. Disclosed investments amounted to 1.1B$ USD, bringing the total sum of disclosed investments in 2021 to $3B.
Financial terms were not disclosed for all deals highlighted in this article.
NHL Franchise Montreal Canadiens Joins OverActive Media’s Ownership Group
Toronto-based esports company OverActive Media completed a second closing on its previously announced private placement, bringing the aggregate gross proceeds of its brokered and non-brokered financings to more than $40M. The parent company of three esports franchises, the Overwatch League’s Toronto Defiant, the Call of Duty League’s Toronto Ultra, and the MAD Lions, the current champions of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC), also announced that the National Hockey League (NHL) franchise Montreal Canadiens joined its ownership group as part of the funding. The Canadiens strategic investment in OverActive is their maiden voyage into the esports industry.
The company also announced that Phil Kessel of the Arizona Coyotes and Carl Hagelin of the Washington Capitals have joined its list of celebrity and athlete owners. These current NHL stars join Toronto Maple Leafs star forward Mitch Marner and Canadian Grammy Award-winning music artist The Weeknd, who were announced previously as members of the OverActive ownership team.
GRID eSports Secures $10M Series A Investment
Berlin-based esports data firm GRID eSports secured a $10M Series A financing round from investors including Alinea Capital, Bumble Ventures, Tar Heel Capital Pathfinder, Agileo Ventures, and NFL player JuJu Smith-Schuster. The investment brings GRID’s total funds raised to $11.6M.
The company, which launched its esports data services in September 2018 during the FACEIT Major: London 2018, a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition, revealed that it intends to use the investment proceeds to grow its data platform and scale its U.S. presence after expanding to the market earlier this year.
Epic Games Closes in on $30B Valuation
Fortnite developer Epic Games completed a $1B financing round bringing the company’s equity valuation to $28.7B. Its latest investment round includes an additional $200M strategic investment from Sony Group Corporation. Following the financing round, Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney remains the controlling shareholder of the company.
According to Sweeney, the investment will support the long-term vision for Epic Games metaverse by accelerating the developers work “around building connected social experiences in Fortnite, Rocket League, and Fall Guys, while empowering game developers and creators with Unreal Engine, Epic Online Services and the Epic Games Store.”
Czech esports supplement startup MADMONQ raised a €500K EUR ($598K) seed financing round from investors, including poker player and esports professional Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Twitch streamer Lex Veldhuis; content creator Radek “sterakdary” Starý, Lukáš “lastgameblitz” Křítek, Vojta Roček, and AdRock Ventures. MADMONQ revealed that it intends to use the funding “to raise awareness around the need to prioritize health in gaming, new product development, scaling the team, and paving the way for Series A round, planned for late 2021.”
Warsaw-based live-streaming sponsorship platform start-up inSTREAMLY secured a €1.1M ($1.32M) seed financing round led by British early-stage venture capital firm Supernode Global to expand into new markets. Further investors that participated in the round include Colopl Next and PKO TFI.
Series A Investments
U.S.-based high school esports infrastructure startup Generation Esports closed a $10.8M Series A financing round led by early-stage investment firm Altos Ventures with participation from FJ Labs and other investors. Generation Esports revealed that it intends to use the investment proceeds to support its community and student esports initiatives, including the Middle School Esports League and the High School Esports League (HSEL), which was created by Generation Esports’ founders and is currently partnered with more than 3.4K schools.
French tech startup Unique Entertainment Expérience, which is doing business as Powder, secured a $14M Series A financing round led by Paris-based venture capital firm Serena. The startup, which was founded in 2018, revealed that it intends to use its Series A proceeds to “increase the pace at which we are building the video infrastructure of social gaming.” This round of funding brings Powder’s total funding to $18M.
Miami-based racing game developer, publisher and esports ecosystem provider Motorsport Games acquired about 10.1% of 704Games outstanding common stock from Ascend and 7.6% of 704Games outstanding common stock from PlayFast Games. With the completion of both transactions, NASCAR Heat game franchise developer 704Games became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Motorsport Games.
Women-focused gaming organization Queens Gaming Collective added NFL pro and gaming ambassador Juju Smith-Schuster and his mother Sammy Schuster as investors. The investment, alongside contribution from women-owned venture capital firm Reign Ventures, closes out Queens Gaming Collective’s seed funding round with an additional “half-a-million dollars.”
Australian esports organization ORDER announced closed a $.5.3M AUD ($4.12M) financing round, which it launched early in 2021. The group of investors included CPS Capital managing director Jason Peterson and Gemelli Group chairman Harry Karelis, who has also been appointed to ORDER’s board of directors. The organization’s chairman Gerard Murphy revealed that ORDER intends to use the investment proceeds “to diversify our operations into the content and lifestyle space, while continuing to attract the best operational talent to support our aggressive growth strategy.”
Philippines–headquartered esports and gaming talent agency Tier One Entertainment secured a Pre-Series A financing round led by venture capital firm Gobi Partners through its Gobi-Core Philippine Fund, a joint-venture fund with Core Capital. In addition, entertainment and record label Warner Music Group joined the round as part of its strategic investments in the region. Tier One Entertainment intends to use the investment proceeds to “to hire back-end teams that will further support their talents, expand their esports operations in Blacklist International, Tier One’s Esports team, and set-up their first content creation hub in the Philippines.”
Singapore-based Southeast Asian gaming and esports organization RSG raised a $1M investment from the Tembusu Partners managed esports private equity fund FrontSight Capital Fund. The investment into RSG is FrontSight’s first of up to 10 planned investments into Southeast Asian esports teams and companies of $1M to $2M each. The organization revealed that it intends to use the investment proceeds “to support RSG’s mission to engage the youth audience through esports and gaming content creators, by grooming and expanding the regional talent pool, growing its market reach, and strengthening its capabilities with new technologies.”
Swedish esports venture capital form RightBridge Ventures, which is majority owned by Abelco Investments, raised kr55M SEK ($6.5M) in funds to finance its esports strategy led by Scandinavian fund Modelio Equity. Following the investment, Abelco Investments owns a 53% stake in RightBridge Ventures and the firm is valued at kr145M ($17.2M). While raising funds itself, RightBridge Ventures acquired a 10.7% stake in the developer of esports platform EPULZE, Esports Pulze, as part of a kr57M ($6.76M) financing round with further participation from Svea Ekonomi and Norwegian Carucel Finance.
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