Vision Esports, a holding company set up to invest in esports businesses, has closed a $38 million round of funding led by Evolution Media, the investment firm backed by CAA and private-equity fund TPG Growth.
Other investors — who join the New York Yankees in backing the venture — include NFL star Odell Beckham Jr.; NBA star Kevin Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman; MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals; Shamrock Holdings, the private investment arm of the Disney family; Seth Bernstein Capital Management; and Simon Tikhman of First Access Entertainment. In addition, the company said individual pro athletes and others in the entertainment biz have also invested.
Formed in 2017, Vision Esports is now the largest shareholder of three esports-related companies: Echo Fox, founded by former NBA all-star Rick Fox, which maintains a roster of 40-plus gamers who compete in 12 leagues; Twin Galaxies, a league operator and provider of video-game performance validation and player rankings; and Vision Entertainment, a producer of original esports content such as “H1Z1: Fight for the Crown,” which aired on the CW in April 2017.
Stratton Sclavos (pictured above), managing general partner of Vision Esports, said in announcing the funding, “Our investors are some of the smartest and most accomplished names in sports and media and they share our passion, committing not only capital, but also their organizational resources and relationships in our quest to change the professional sports landscape.”
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Before moving into the venture-capital world, Sclavos was chairman and CEO of internet infrastructure and security firm Verisign. He also was part owner of the San Jose Sharks and served as the team’s CEO from 2011-15.
Vision Esports’ offices, production studios and esports training facilities are located in 30,000 square feet of commercial space in Beverly Hills. In addition to Sclavos, the general partners of Vision Esports are Jace Hall, former GM of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Chris Nordling, previously a top exec at MGM Resorts International.
Evolution Media has spent several years advising and analyzing companies in the esports sector, according to Rick Hess, founder and co-managing partner. With respect to Vision Esports, “we’re particularly excited to partner with a world-class management team led by Stratton, whom we’ve known since his days running [mixed martial arts organization] Strikeforce and the San Jose Sharks,” he said.