ESL founder gathers renowned investors for multi-million esports fund
Some of the biggest influencers and investors in esports just paired up to create a multi-million esports investment fund. ESL founder and esports veteran Jens Hilgers is leading a team of high-profile individuals and investment groups from various industries such as sports, entertainment, and gaming to pour money into early stage esports companies.
The BITKRAFT Esports Ventures fund’s partners include Kristian Segerstrale, CEO at Super Evil Megacorp, maker of Vainglory; esports ownership group aXiomatic, headed by Ted Leonsis and Peter Guber, which holds a controlling share in Team Liquid; Modern Times Group’s esports investment arm MTGx, which acquired ESL and DreamHack, and a range of other prominent investors and entrepreneurs.
“This fund is the culmination of building and scaling esports and creating outstanding services and products that increase enjoyment for both players and fans,” said Hilgers. “This fund is also about living my passion and creating a platform to support those who share this dream and have the drive to create intrinsic value in esports. Everyone involved in BITKRAFT has had outstanding entrepreneurial success in esports or closely related industries.”
Investing since March 2016, BITKRAFT’s portfolio consists of 10 esports companies to date, including training platform DOJO Madness—which Hilgers also heads as CEO— business news portal The Esports Observer, and Level99, the agency behind the rebrands of H2K and G2 Esports, and co-founders of the OG Dota 2 team. BITKRAFT also invested in Boom.tv, a 3D livestreaming platform founded by Sumit Gupta, who is one of the fund’s partners.
BITKRAFT has raised €18 million ($19.6m) in its first closing, targeting a final close of €30 million ($32.69m). The fund is set to invest between €100,000 ($108,950) and €400,000 ($435,820) in each startup.
“With its seasoned investment team who bring a mix of expertise across technology, media, and games, as well as deepest possible esports experience, BITKRAFT is incredibly well positioned as an accelerator and fund to support this rapidly emerging ecosystem,” commented Super Evil Megacorp CEO Segerstrale.
In fact, BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, by its own account, is the world’s first esports specific fund. It not only brings together investors like the aXiomatic group, which are already engaged in esports, but also non-endemics like Fabrice Grinda, which has seen over $300 million in exits, or Rick Thompson, one of the most prominent investors in the gaming industry.