Chernin’s TCG Capital announced a $30 million investment in the independent tabletop game company, giving TCG a minority stake in Exploding Kittens.
Founded in 2015, Exploding Kittens plans to invest the capital to develop more games, expand into live events — with the Burning Cat festival next year — and other formats including potentially TV and film, as well ad build out its team and control more of its production and distribution.
Game makers Elan Lee and Matthew Inman started the company through a crowdfunding campaign to launch their first card game, Exploding Kittens, raising $8.8 million from over 219,000 backers in 30 days. Since then, the team has launched Bears vs Babies, You’ve Got Crabs, On a Scale of One to T-Rex, and Throw Throw Burrito, the world’s first dodgeball card game.
“As a small team that doesn’t get to sleep much, we needed some help to keep up with the demand and the pace,” Exploding Kittens’ Lee said in announcing the funding. “TCG is the perfect partner for us because they share our vision for the future. We couldn’t be more excited.”
The startup’s flagship Exploding Kittens card game — described as a “highly strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian roulette” — has sold more than 8 million units to date.
The global board games market is projected to grow to $12 billion by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate of over 9% during 2017-2023, according to a forecast by ResearchAndMarkets.com.
With the funding, Jesse Jacobs, co-founder and partner of TCG, has joined the board of Exploding Kittens. “Elan, Matt, and the Exploding Kittens team have done the hard work,” Jacobs said in a statement. “They have harnessed their creativity and game design skills to create and distribute multiple games that millions of people love without spending much, if any, capital on marketing.”
In addition to new game launches, Exploding Kittens will host its first gaming convention, Burning Cat, in May 2020 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Ore. The company sees Burning Cat as a reinvention of the typical fan convention with more emphasis on community, tabletop gaming — and having fun. The confab will feature new game designers showing off experimental prototypes, the infamous Exploding Kittens Vending Machine, vendors showing off their latest games and accessories, and a central arena featuring stunts and “insane spectacles” every hour on the hour.
TCG Capital, an affiliate of the Chernin Group, also owns majority stakes in Steven Rinella’s MeatEater (in which TCG recently invested an additional $50 million) and Barstool Sports and has invested in Headspace, maker of a mindfulness and meditation app, and the Action Network, a roll-up venture geared around sports-betting stats and analytics.