Skillz Inc. has become the first publicly traded mobile esports platform following completion of its merger with Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp., the public acquisition vehicle headed by Hollywood industry veterans Harry Sloan and Jeff Sagansky.
Skillz Inc. and its common stock will begin trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “SKLZ.”.
The company announced Wednesday it has $250 million in cash and no debt on the balance sheet at a time when the mobile gaming market is expected to more than double by 2025 to $150 billion.
“We built Skillz on the founding belief that esports are for everyone, and have made significant progress toward our vision of enabling everyone to share in the future of competition,” said Andrew Paradise, CEO and founder of Skillz. “We stand at the intersection of mobile gaming and esports, perhaps the two most exciting growth opportunities of the next decade. I thank the entire Skillz team for their dedication, passion, and creativity, which have led us to this incredible moment on our journey to build the competition layer of the internet.”
Skillz asserted that it has pioneered the future of the gaming industry, enabling developers to monetize their content five times better than ads or in-app purchases by enabling developers to expand the reach of their games and scale their businesses.
“I’ve had a front row seat to the video game and entertainment industry’s evolution over the past two decades, from my role as founding investor and board member of Bethesda Games to recently taking DraftKings public,” said Sloan, chairman of Flying Eagle. “We believe that Andrew has positioned Skillz to lead the convergence of mobile, gaming, and player enablement into the future of entertainment itself.”
The transaction includes the $158.5 million PIPE investment led by Wellington Management Company, Fidelity Management & Research Company, LLC, Franklin Templeton, and Neuberger Berman. Paradise and Chief Revenue Officer Casey Chafkin will continue to lead the company.
Flying Eagle Acquisition is the sixth investment vehicle founded by Sloan and Sagansky. It is their largest to date, as they raised $690 million. Sloan and Sagansky also closed a deal in April for sports betting giant DraftKings to become a public company following approval of a merger with SBTech and their Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp.
Sloan and Sagansky launched Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp. in March with a $600 million initial public offering. These kind of acquisition companies have gained in popularity in recent years as a means for investors to participate in new players in the media and digital sector — particularly with rivals emerging to Netflix in streaming technology.
Sloan served as chairman and CEO of MGM between 2005 and 2009 prior to the completion of its restructuring via a pre-packaged bankruptcy. He was also the founder, chairman and CEO of SBS Broadcasting, Europe’s second-largest broadcaster. Sagansky worked for three decades in show business, including serving as president of CBS Entertainment between 1990 and 1994, and as CEO of Paxson Communications from 1998 to 2003.