The Esports Observer, Leading Esports Business Publication, is Wholly Acquired by American City Business Journals, Owner of SportsBusiness Journal
We are elated to announce today that The Esports Observer, the world’s leading source for esports business news and insights, has been wholly acquired by Advance Publications. This marks the first acquisition of a BITKRAFT portfolio company.
"The Esports Observer was one of our first incubation projects in BITKRAFT. We built the company to solve a specific pain-point in our industry: the lack of a central credible source for esports business news and insights. We were convinced that this was a real need and addressing it we could also accelerate the growth of the industry at large. Just three years in the making we have succeeded in the mission we set for ourselves and we are very excited to be selling this great asset to a leading North-American publisher and operator in the sports and media space, commented BITKRAFT Founder and Managing Director, Jens Hilgers. “If anything this further validates the industry focussed investment strategy of BITKRAFT which we continue to develop and expand across various segments in the esports industry."
This transaction is part of Advance’s continued investment in the business of esports, games and traditional sports. TEO will join Advance’s growing group of companies dedicated to serving the professionals that operate in and around these industries. These companies include the Sports Business Journal and Leaders, the leading brands in sports business news and events, and Advance’s recent majority acquisition of Newzoo, a market intelligence and analytics firm with a primary focus on games, esports and mobile. TEO’s facilitation of industry networking through curated events in the esports ecosystem will enhance the efforts of both SBJ and Leaders, which both cater to an audience trying to gain a better perspective on the growing global esports phenomenon. TEO will also now be able to offer its audience greater access to even more granular data in the business of esports and games through closer collaboration with Newzoo.
It’s a pivotal day in the world of esports as we work to see the global expansion of the industry.
Read more here.
BITKRAFT Portfolio Company, Quarterback, Raises $2.5M To Help Streamers and Pros Monetize Their Downtime
Today we announced that we lead Quarterback’s $2.5M round which included participation from Crest Capital Ventures, Deep Space Ventures, UpWest Labs and angel investors. Quarterback, an esports fan engagement platform for streamers, professional players and teams, will use the funding to further develop the platform and accelerate the company’s growth globally. We are optimistic about the impact Quarterback will have on the esports industry.
Quarterback is a first-of-its kind platform that enables streamers and professional players to continuously engage with their audiences by creating their own fan-club gaming leagues. These leagues can host daily challenges, give away prizes, compete against other clubs worldwide and offer other perks. Being able to foster engagement with the gaming community around the clock, not just when streaming, will help create a new revenue stream while simultaneously boosting community involvement.
Check out the press coverage in TechCrunch, Forbes, VentureBeat.
Runtime originally began as our incubated company and we continue to invest in its future plans to improve nutrition for gamers. The esports nutrition company recently raised a seven digit seed round that was led by Everblue Management with participants including BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, Döhler Ventures, Food Angels Germany, and angel investors. The funding will be used to expand operations, support marketing and sponsorship efforts, and further extend the range of products.
Runtime, the first complete nutrition solution specifically designed for esports athletes, produces products that eliminate sugar crash, supply vital nutritional benefits and stabilize performance to strengthen stamina. Nutrition experts work closely with teams to show how they can prepare for matches and achieve peak performance levels by maintaining consistent energy and focus.
View the official press release here. Don’t miss the international coverage in Esports Observer, Deutsche Startups, Games Wirtschaft, and Esports Insider.
We are excited to play a role in the success of FanAI, a platform that unlocks the value of fan data in order to optimize sponsorship engagement within esports. Recently FanAI announced the closing of a $2.5M round, for a total of $4.5M raised to date. Courtside Ventures and CRCM Ventures led the round with participation from BITKRAFT Esports Ventures and other key players.
As the esports industry grows, data is needed to tap into the fan base. FanAI gives brands the opportunity to optimize their market spend by supplying unique purchase behavior and lifestyle data on their fan base on a granular level. With actionable data unlocked, sponsors can improve their return on investment with targeted sponsorships, rights holders can turn audiences into a monetized asset, and consumers benefit from better segmented content.
The official press release can be found here. Don’t miss the coverage in Venture Beat, Tech Crunch, The Esports Observer, LA Biz Journal, Sport Techie and Esports Insider.
BITKRAFT Portfolio Company, H4X.gg, becomes the official apparel supplier of ESL and DreamHack events
We’ve worked with Moniker to develop and introduce H4X, high quality performance wear and casual streetwear for esports athletes and fans. Esports gamers have specific preferences when it comes to apparel and the H4X line was intentionally created with those needs in mind. From thumbholes to strategically placed padding, this apparel is designed to maximize comfort during those intense gaming sessions.
There’s an absence of esports apparel on the market, and we are excited that H4X is the official apparel supplier of ESL and DreamHack events. The collection will be available both online at H4X.gg and through select ESL One, Intel® Extreme Masters (IEM) and DreamHack circuits through 2018.
The official press release can be viewed by clicking here. Check out the coverage in Rolling Stone, Esports Insider, Heavy, UPROXX, and Keen Gamer.
Today we couldn't be more proud to announce the launch of The Story Mob—a dedicated esports communication consultancy—as well as our first investment in a women led team.
The Story Mob was founded by three esports executives (including a BITKRAFT alum!), with years of experience in the industry under their belts. Anna Rozwandowicz, formerly ESL’s VP of Communications at ESL, Nicola Piggott, formerly Riot Games’ Communications Lead for esports, and Kalie Moore, formerly Head of Communications at BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, have created their firm with the goal to fill a genuine gap in the market for brands, teams and companies who want to effectively reach esports fans and can't quite speak their language. Equally, The Story Mob recognizes the enormous B2B communications opportunity. In addition to reaching their fans, teams also need to attract attention from potential investors and sponsors. The Story Mob founders have vast experience with both.
In addition to being the first esports focused communication consultancy, The Story Mob is also in the unique position of having three female co-founders, in an industry still very much dominated by male voices. Even after the #MeToo movement has shaken up the venture capital industry, it has not resulted in women receiving more funding. Only 2.2% of VC funding went to female founding teams in 2017. At BITKRAFT, we could not be more proud to support this winning team.
You can read more about The Story Mob launch on Inc, The Esports Observer, Esports Insider, and Inven Global.
BITKRAFT Portfolio Company, Epics.gg, a Digital Trading Card Platform for Esports, Raises a $2M Seed Round
We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce our investment in Epics.gg, a digital trading card platform for esports. We've seen several successful trading card companies in traditional sports and entertainment space, and, up until now, trading cards have been completely missing from the esports market. BITKRAFT believes that Epics.gg is the perfect combination of games, sports, and entertainment intellectual property with a digital and mobile first approach, and we couldn't be more thrilled to help the Epics team bring this to market.
Each card includes an epic design, rich media, stats and can also include digital signatures and in-game items. For more information, you can check out the full release here. Don’t miss the coverage in VentureBeat and Forbes.
Manticore Games announced today that it has secured a $15 million Series A round led by Benchmark. BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, Correlation Ventures, CrunchFund, Macro Ventures, SV Angel and several high-profile gaming and tech entrepreneurs join the round of funding.
"The Manticore team is working in stealth mode on a new form of hardcore multiplayer gameplay, leveraging user generated content," said Frederic Descamps, Chief Executive Officer. "One of our core mottos is to create gameplay worth sharing," added Jordan Maynard, Chief Creative Officer. "We want to make something truly original for gamers and creators alike."
The official press release can be found here. Coverage can be read on both VentureBeat and TechCrunch.
Tier One Entertainment, a gaming and esports talent agency recently launched by cosplay queen, Alodia Gosiengfiao, and esports veteran, Tryke Gutierrez, announced today a significant investment from BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, the world’s first esports specific fund.
Tier One Entertainment, which launched in April of this year, aims to revolutionize the esports landscape in Southeast Asia by developing gaming talents with a focus on shoutcasters, streamers and professional teams in the region while also helping brands work with top esports influencers to reach the coveted gaming audience. The infusion of capital will enable Tier One to purchase equipment for production, expand their team, and build a studio for talents.
"We are fortunate that BITKRAFT has shown faith in the region," said Tier One Co-Founder, Tryke Gutierrez. "We have always believed that Southeast Asia has what it takes to take off in the international arena. With BITKRAFT on our side, the investment will fast track our plans.”
Tier One Co-Founder Alodia Gosiengfiao added, “There are still limited opportunities in the esports and gaming world, particularly in the Philippines. With BITKRAFT's investment, we now have the power to create real careers in the esports industry by investing in talented people and supporting their growth."
BITKRAFT Esports Ventures is led by Jens Hilgers, a 20-year esports veteran and founder of ESL. His team is composed of investors from both the gaming and sports world, including Delivery Hero co-founder Markus Fuhrmann and gaming industry veteran Minard Hamilton.
Based in Berlin and Los Angeles, the epicenters of the western esports world, BITKRAFT Esports Ventures incubates, builds, and invests in esports startups along with a group of the industry’s most influential companies and executives. BITKRAFT has raised €18M in its first closing, which was announced last month.
"South East Asia is the fastest growing esports market and we feel that Tryke, Alodia and their team are outstanding entrepreneurs with great passion and undisputable esports experience. We are proud to support the Tier One team,” said Jens Hilgers.
We are thrilled to officially announce the launch of BITKRAFT Esports Ventures. Based in Berlin and Los Angeles, the epicenters of the western esports world, BITKRAFT Esports Ventures incubates, builds, and invests in esports startups along with a group of the industry’s most influential companies and executives. BITKRAFT has raised €18M in its first closing, with a target final close of €30M, and will invest €100k-400k in each startup.
The team is led by Jens Hilgers, a twenty-year esports veteran and the founder of ESL, the world’s largest esports company which was acquired by MTG in 2015. Markus Fuhrmann, co-founder of Delivery Hero, and Minard Hamilton, a senior executive who previously held roles at EA Mobile/JAMDAT, ESPN and Activision, round out the founding partnership.
The fund’s limited partners include several leading investors and entrepreneurs in the world of sports, entertainment, and gaming including Sumit Gupta, Fabrice Grinda, Hany Nada, Rick Thompson, MTG, Segerstrale Family Trust, aXiomatic Group, Bertelsmann's BDMI, Inner Circle Sports LLC, among others.
Investing since March 2016, BITKRAFT has already backed ten esports companies in Europe, Asia, and the United States including Boom.tv, Kek.tv, and DOJO Madness. The firm plans to add four more startups to their portfolio in 2017.
Esports is a global phenomenon, and BITKRAFT’s worldwide investment strategy, combined with the partners’ extensive international experience, including scaling Delivery Hero to 40 countries; rolling out ESL globally, with a focus on China; and driving ESPN’s international expansion are a huge value-add for startups in the esports space.
Make sure to check out our coverage in Bloomberg, Forbes, and Venture Beat. The official press release can be found here.