100 Thieves in action during esports Call of Duty World League in London. Getty Images
Rapper Aubrey Drake Graham is the 4th richest rapper in the world. E-sports is now a big part of his business world. Drake is co-owner of ‘100 Thieves’.
As reported in the NY Post, “Drake’s competitive gaming team, 100 Thieves, is also going for the gold by raising a fresh round of money that could allow it to win a slot in an up-and-coming Activision Blizzard video game league.”
“100 Thieves, which competes in popular video games like “Fortnite” and “Call of Duty,” is out seeking as much as $25 million from potential investors in a round of funding that could give the so-called e-gaming team a valuation of roughly $150 million, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said.
“The team was valued at roughly $90 million in October when the artist behind the popular song “Hotline Bling” became an investor, according to Forbes. Besides competitive gaming, 100 Thieves sells apparel, and in June will be launching its own streaming shows.
“Other 100 Thieves investors include Scooter Braun, agent for pop stars like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and billionaire tech chief executive Marc Benioff.
“If 100 Thieves joins the Activision league, it would become the official Los Angeles team, a title that would allow it to start selling tickets to competitions at LA-area arenas. Electronic gaming, or e-sports, is gaining fans at such a rapid pace, some insiders predict its best teams could soon become as valuable as NHL teams.
Mike Rufail, chief executive of Envy Gaming, noted that his team — Dallas Fuel, which competes against 100 Thieves — recently drew 4,500 fans paying an average of $50 a pop for an e-sports contest, he told The Post. “I think you could see valuations for some teams reach the level of National Hockey League teams,” or about $500 million apiece, he said.
What this could mean? FCDN and The Redemption & FEC Report has been following e-Sports for the past few years and has previously reported that e-Sports may surpass professional sports as the Baby Boomers die off and the younger generations take over. It should be obvious by now that every professional sports team owner group wants to have a piece of e-Sports. They have the arenas that remain empty when their teams are not playing and of course wish to fill the seats every day if possible.
E-Sports covers all of the bases. My take is that more professional sports team owners like Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers will invest in the top e-Sports Teams and even individual players. Maybe top current and past sports stars will invest in teams. Some of these e-gaming players are already earning tens of millions of dollars a year and that is not including the endorsement money that will surely be available.
The out-of-home (OOH) leisure entertainment industry (that would be ‘us’) needs a slice of this huge billion(s) dollar pie. Companies like Virtuix are showing ‘us’ the way with their VR Arena and e-Sports competitions with weekly prizes of only $2000 bringing in an average of $7000/week. But let’s do a reality check. Any pay for play attraction manufacturing company trying to obtain hundreds and then thousands of FEC locations will also have to borrow many millions to be able to continue to grow quickly. Perhaps some of the professional sports team owners will realize that FEC’s are the ‘practice’ and ‘fun’ seeds that will help them grow their e-sports sector. Maybe they will help innovative manufacturers like Virtuix grow. Or maybe it will be companies like Walmart and Top Golf that roll out the e-Sports practice sites. Maybe it will be the casino industry. Maybe all of them. Just my 2 cents.