Looking at the dashing Will Smith, you wouldn’t think that he’s interested in rather ‘nerdy’ pursuits such as esports. But the 50-year-old actor has recently invested in a Korean gaming team called Gen G.
As of latest, Gen G reports to having raised around $46 million after some celebrities and sports figures helped them raise funds.
These investors include Smith and Keisuke Honda, a professional Japanese soccer player. There’s also Dennis Wong, an owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and Michael Zeisser, who used to head Alibaba’s United States investments division.
According to Chris Park, Gen G’s CEO, the funds they raised is a sign of the growing excitement that the industry has for esports.
He even said that they were ‘oversubscribed’ with the number of potential investors and sponsors they found. In the end, they had to take a small step back and choose which people they would want as partners. Park said that they were looking for people who had some expertise and experience with esports.
Apparently, Gen G is set to cement itself as a global esports organization. The Korean group is currently fielding teams in eight esports leagues all over the world. For Park, the group intends to bridge the East with the West while also focusing on big technology.
For years, Asia has been the ground where esports thrived. But now, they’re planning to expand competitions to other continents like Europe, North America, and Latin America. For NEA partner Rick Yang though, esports has already become a worldwide phenomenon.
NEA is a venture capitalist firm with over $20 billion invested in technology and healthcare. It’s currently got $15 million channeled on Gen G, which is their second investment in the esports industry. It also financed PlayVS, a project focusing on building the esports landscape at the high school level.
Further proving the unique mix of partners that Gen G has attracted is the support it got from these institutions.
It got the support of David Rogier, MasterClass CEO, Canaan Partners, Conductive Ventures and even Stanford University. Gen G has also named the Silicon Valley Bank as a partner and expressed a desire to work with them for all events until 2020.
According to a research group, Newzoo, the esports industry is predicted to end the year with $1 billion in profits. More than a third of all this revenue is expected to come from the market in North America alone.
Even just tournament prizes in esports gaming leagues are big enough to make players filthy rich. Dota 2 leagues have seen its price pool reach almost $20 million. The game is one of the most popular video games in the world.