VY Esports, a content and services platform that bridges the gap between esports and brands, today announced it has raised a seed round led by Raine Ventures with participation from Courtside Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures and other notable investors in the esports space. VY Esports will use the financing to invest in talent acquisition and build its operations as well as partner relationships. As part of the fundraising, Blair Ford, Venture Partner of Raine Ventures, will join the company’s Board of Directors.
“Esports remains a largely untapped market for brands due to fragmentation and lack of structure across the many events and titles in the industry,” said Oleg Butenko, CEO and founder of VY Esports. “Our goal is to bring non-endemic brands and media companies into esports by aggregating the inventory around existing events and by creating branded content linking separate events together. Given their respective experience and reach in the worlds of sports, media and technology, Raine, Courtside and Elysian Park are important partners and we are excited to work with them and leverage their expertise to grow the business.”
“The VY Esports platform will create new opportunities for marketers to tap into the highly engaged and growing global esports audience at much greater scale, while also helping event organizers better monetize their tournaments,” said Blair Ford, Venture Partner of Raine Ventures. “Oleg has an impressive history of creating and leading businesses, including in the esports space, and we are excited to work with him to help bring this new platform to marketers around the world.”
VY Esports will enable advertisers to reach esports fans and tell a continuous story across multiple distribution formats and game titles by bringing together the ad inventory across many of the highly-viewed esports events into one platform. The company will work with advertisers to develop and distribute branded content for popular global esports events and tournaments. This content will include narrative-driven video around the players, behind-the-scenes content, game highlights, in-depth analysis, recap shows, news, and more.
In addition to providing a content and services platform, VY will develop its own multi-game and industry-wide live events and tournaments, including college tournaments and showcase events. VY will create original events and experiences by partnering with existing players in the event organization space as opposed to producing another Major or Minor for a specific game title. These VY live esports events will offer new broadcast and sponsorship opportunities to brands and media companies.
Market intelligence provider, New Zoo, predicts brand investment in esports will double by 2020, pushing the total market to $1.5 billion as the global esports audience grows to almost 600 million people. In addition to this strong growth, more than 60 percent of esports viewers are under age 25 and half have a household income of more than $76,000 annually, making them a valuable audience to advertisers.
VY Esports is led by CEO and founder Oleg Butenko, a digital entrepreneur who has founded businesses focused on music, telecom, and esports. Butenko served as the CEO of Megalabs, the OTT services platform for the leading telecommunications company Megafon, and helped grow the company from the first few employees to almost 500 people and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. In 2014 Butenko launched United Music Agency, Russia’s leading music streaming content aggregator, which represents all music on internet market leader Mail.ru. He also co-founded ESForce, a global esports holding company.
About VY Esports
VY Esports is a content and services platform focused on bridging the world of esports, traditional brands, and media companies. Based in Santa Monica, California, the company is comprised of a global team of esports aficionados with a strong track record and deep connections in the media and gaming industries. For more information, visit http://www.vyesports.com
About The Raine Group
The Raine Group is a global merchant bank focused exclusively on technology, media, and telecommunications. The firm has offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Shanghai, and Mumbai. With a global reach, Raine focuses on investment and advisory opportunities where its deep industry experience and unique network of strategic relationships can create value for portfolio companies and clients. For more information, visit www.raine.com.
About Courtside Ventures
Courtside Ventures is an early-stage venture capital fund, investing across media and gaming, with a particular strategic focus on sports. Backed by investor Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Rock Ventures, Quicken Loans and majority owner of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers; WPP, the world's leading advertising firm; and Bruin Sports Capital, Courtside Ventures invests in companies across the US and internationally. For more information, visit www.CourtsideVC.com.
About Elysian Park Ventures
Elysian Park is a private investment firm created by the ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers to invest and partner with exceptional entrepreneurs operating at the intersection of sports, technology, and entertainment. Based in Los Angeles and New York, Elysian Park invests across stages from seed to growth, and also provides entrepreneurs with strategic, operational, and management resources through the Los Angeles Dodgers Sports Accelerator with R/GA.