Griffin Gaming Partners Closes Massive $750 Million Fund Focused on Booming Gaming Sector

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

​The team at Griffin Gaming Partners.
Courtesy of Griffin Gaming Partners

Sign up for dot.LA's daily newsletter for the latest news on Southern California's tech, startup and venture capital scene.

Griffin Gaming Partners has closed a new $750 million fund that ranks as one of the largest venture funds solely focused on the fast-growing gaming sector.

The Santa Monica-based venture capital firm said Monday that the new fund was oversubscribed, meaning that investors offered more money than it was seeking. Griffin now has more than $1 billion in assets under management after previously raising a $235 million fund in 2020 to back gaming companies.

The global video game industry saw staggering growth during the pandemic and has now become larger than movies and North American sports combined. Gaming revenues are expected to surpass $218 billion by 2024, according to research from Newzoo, which noted that 3 billion people—more than a third of the world’s population—now play video games.

“It's an exciting bellwether for the trajectory of the industry,” Griffin managing partner Peter Levin said of the $750 million fund.

Griffin Gaming Partners\u2019 Phil Sanderson, Peter Levin and Nick Tuosto.Griffin Gaming Partners’ Phil Sanderson, Peter Levin and Nick Tuosto.Courtesy of Griffin Gaming Partners

Levin told dot.LA that the new fund will allow the firm to invest in companies across all stages and provide Griffin with the capacity to hand out larger checks and continue its strategy of investing globally. He added that it will not be a “spray-and-pray” fund with dozens of companies in its portfolio at any given time. “We'll keep it at a [conservative] number, probably somewhere around 20, with perhaps a bucket of very early seed stage companies,” he said. Levin declined to share the new fund’s investors.

Griffin was founded in 2019 by managing directors Levin, Phil Sanderson and Nick Tuosto, who are “passionate gamers” with decades of investing, advising and operating experience in the games industry, according to the firm. Investment bank LionTree is a strategic partner of Griffin’s.

The venture firm invests in a broad range of gaming companies including content, software infrastructure, social platforms and gaming-related Web3 companies, as well as those that use blockchain technology. Notable Griffin investments include messaging platform Discord, mobile gaming studio Spyke and blockchain gaming platform Forte.

Locally, Griffin has backed local firms such as Irvine-based game developer Frost Giant, Los Angeles-based virtual concert platform Wave and game development technology company N3twork.

The Griffin team said it reviews over 1,300 qualified investment opportunities per year to inform perspectives on growth, retention, and monetization. By seeing that many opportunities a year, “we get a bird's eye view into the industry and what it will take to succeed in the next phase of interactive entertainment across platforms, genres and demographics,” Griffin managing director Phil Sandersom said in a statement.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.


Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

Read moreShow less

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

Read moreShow less

PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.