BITKRAFT Ventures often appears in esports trade publications’ headlines, leading investment rounds for startups across the industry. The venture capital firm provides more than just money, however—it provides a solid platform on which the esports industry so desperately needs to grow and thrive.
Who is BITKRAFT?
BITKRAFT is a global, early-stage investment platform for gaming, esports and interactive media. The California-based company has invested a good $70 million into several facets of the gaming industry, ranging from studios to interactive platforms and events organizers.
The platform was founded in 2017 by Jens Hilgers, an esports industry veteran known for founding ESL and co-founding G2 Esports as well as Bayes Esports Solutions GmbH. BITKRAFT itself is the first and currently only dedicated investment fund for esports.
Malte Barth, a 20+ year veteran of the esports, gaming and entertainment industries, is a founding general partner of BITKRAFT, as is gaming and financial industry veteran Scott Rupp.
Besides providing esports investment capital, BITKRAFT positions itself as a mentor to founders and their ideas. In 2019, the company partnered with Roundhill Investments to create an esports-centric exchange-traded fund (ETF), which tracks various industry-related companies for its investors.
BITKRAFT takes a broader approach to support the esports industry. Since launch, it has expanded outreach to include not only esports but interactive media in general that is based in gaming and esports. Rather than fund individual esports teams, the company focuses on nascent innovations that will benefit the industry.
The Impact of BITKRAFT Esports Investment
One such nascent innovation in BITKRAFT’s portfolio is BoomTV. BITKRAFT led BoomTV’s $10 million series funding round in June 2020. This esports entertainment platform helps tournament organizers to register players, track scores and broadcast gameplay. BoomTV is also home to the Code Red Pro-Am tournament series.
BoomTV offers a platform to underserved esports communities, including those in college and high school programs, as well as city leagues. In this way, BITKRAFT’s investment is being used to foster new talent while providing the tools to be seen online in a competitive industry.
Another recent investment is VENN, a new, 24/7, post-cable network aimed at gaming and esports audiences. The network launched in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and intends to “elevate and promote a culture traditionally overlooked by broadcast media.” BITKRAFT co-led the company’s $17 million seed funding round.
Esports has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic. As in-person events are canceled or postponed, audiences turn to digital outlets for the latest esports content. VENN hopes to fill this void during the pandemic and beyond while creating a home for esports fans in America. The Americas are a crucial region for esports, according to analyst firm Newzoo, representing 25% of the global esports audience and 40% of revenues generated within the esports industry.
In December 2019, PatronGG closed a $1 million seed funding round led by BITKRAFT. The company’s fan engagement platform, Kokyo.gg, creates a community and monetization tool for esports teams worldwide. The site aggregates teams’ social channels, news and video content from across the web and team’s match calendars and discussion boards.
By investing in the Kokyo.gg platform, BITKRAFT helps to champion a sustainable esports ecosystem in which teams and fans exchange support, entertainment and additional funding.
Investing in the Future of Esports
BITKRAFT offers a unique value proposition to founders by sharing its leaders’ combined experience, which began in the early days of esports. Entrepreneurs who have partnered with BITKRAFT have praised the company’s ability to provide not only working capital but guidance on strategy, recruitment and valuable connections within the industry.
As esports continues its explosive growth, it’s incredibly important to have investors like BITKRAFT supporting the new companies—especially when it comes to innovation. It may be a $1 billion industry, but esports is just like any other tech bubble in that you have to keep moving forward, or audiences will lose interest.
MySpace seemed unstoppable until Facebook came along, and the same thing happens in esports. A handful of franchises endure the generations, but new trends and games come and go. Knowing how and where to invest can be a challenge in this turbulent climate.
However, investors can learn a great deal from how BITKRAFT approaches esports investment, namely, learning from one another and supporting the entire ecosystem. The company hosted a summit in February that brought industry leaders together to share insights and ideas.
Rising tides lift all ships, as they say, and tomorrow’s esports company founders must have a support system where they can thrive. Esports, by nature, is competitive, of course—but investors should make sure that partners can weather the storm of changing public tastes.
“Those who bet on the right startups and consumer trends will benefit from a tectonic shift in entertainment preferences and economics that could upend today’s media conglomerates, technology giants, and social networks,” said BITKRAFT.
Written by HB Duran | Image credit: Bitkraft