Forget Going Pro, Los Angeles eSports Pivots Toward Amateur Leagues
Two companies betting on the Los Angeles eSports market aren't throwing in on glitzy, state of the art stadiums or sinking big bucks into the pros: They're banking on the average Joe.
The video game industry has been red hot, surpassing $120 billion last year. Many in the marketplace think the next area for growth is in the amateurs; a vast pool of recreational players who can, if provided the infrastructure, make hay for investors as competitive players.
Southland stalwarts like Blizzard Entertainment and Riot Games both have investments in the unpaid ranks, building programs around blockbuster offerings like Overwatch and League of Legends.
But companies without game development programs have found a way in.
Santa Monica-based Super League wants to anchor its tournaments and one-off events with geography, drawing crowds to local sites set up for tournaments at the local Buffalo Wild Wings, or maybe even a Dave & Busters. The company already has, launching the program four years ago.
In the age of wireless internet, any place with a strong connection is a potential tournament site.
Matt Edelman, Super League's chief commercial officer, wants to convert the millions who watch competitive gameplay on Twitch or YouTube gaming channel into Super League community members.
Think recreational league sports at the local YMCA or community center.
"Super League is not in the pro eSports business. We have really focused on the fact that every viewer, every player is a participant. And that's not the way it is in traditional sports," Edelman said. "Every single person who goes to a League of Legends event also plays the game. How do I get to play in person? That's where Super League comes in."
The cost structure includes games for as little as $5 or leagues that cost about $80.
Newzoo, a games and eSports analytics firm with offices in San Francisco estimates there are more than 2.5 billion gamers world wide.
Gaming has long offered the advantage of remote competition, allowing communities to grow nationally and even overseas. But Edelman wants to capitalize on the lure of local community, and the chance for digital friends to share a laugh and a high five in person.
The company also streams these events on services like Twitch, offering packages that beam the most captivating gameplay moments to a user's computer screen or television. It's like NFL Red Zone for gamers.
Super League is playing with the on-location model, holding 275 events in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The company announced last month that it had partnered with Chinese-based Wanda Media to bring its model to more than 700 locations in the Middle Kingdom. Super League has not invested in brick and mortar locations, but has amassed a hoard of users, and sponsors who advertise through signage or commercials on gaming highlight videos.
The pro ranks are also sinking more focus into physical locations. Blizzard's Overwatch League will require teams, like the Los Angeles Gladiators, to play more games in their chosen city.
Nerd Street Gamers wants in on the Los Angeles market, too. It finished a round of funding last October, bolstering it with $12 million to help it bring its gaming centers, branded Localhost, nationwide. Fellow Philadelphia company and discount retailer Five Below provided the capital, following a long line of investors including Comcast, SeventySix Capital, Elevate Capital, and angel investor George Miller. The deal is a bet on the value of amateur eSports.
CEO and founder John Fazio said the appeal is largely because of its high school district, which is ranked the largest in the country.
"Those schools are full of kids who would love to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities," he said.
Fazio's company plans to build a massive gaming center where players can compete, and friends can watch. The facility, located in Hawthorne, is a planned 26,000 square-feet or, as the company reports, the size of five-and-a-half NBA regulation basketball courts. Loaded with 375 gaming PCs, it would have capacity for 120 teams and has planned its opening for summer 2020. It's the gamer equivalent of a basketball court or a soccer field. The company announced the arrival Feb 12 of a Southland addition to its previously established foothold in Huntington Beach located at 1524 Transistor Lane.
"I think the growth has accelerated. Right now is what's kind of crazy is we've seen growth with really just investment at the professional level," Fazio said. "We're taking hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of students and turning them into esports fans, if not future professionals."
He noted that developers have closely controlled the leagues they've created for college eSports teams, of which there are more than 250 nationwide. The casual gamer with competitive aspirations, he said, is where his company can find opportunity.
Both companies have their eye on the high-school market, too, but Santa Monica-based PlayVs has focussed their efforts on cornering that market. The company has been raking in investments, including $50 million in funding announced last September, designed to spread its platform to all 50 states.
Sari Kitelyn, director of eSports and project development at Full Sail University, a for-profit college with a focus on eSports, is keeping her eye on the unpaid ranks.
But the market remains in flux. Super League is still growing, recording year-over-year growth in of 350,000 or 129% during the third quarter. Nerd Street Gamers doesn't release financials because it is privately held, but received seed funding from Major League Baseball slugger Ryan Howard and is backed by Comcast.
Whatever the growth potential, Super League and Nerd Street Gamers have already made the commitment, investing in the amateurs in hopes of making big league dollars.
"I think this is the biggest area of market opportunity," Kitelyn said.
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If you've ever watched Shark Tank and wished that you could hop in the waters and invest alongside Mark Cuban and Mr. Wonderful, Going Public may be just the show for you.
The new series will showcase five companies preparing to go public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Over the course of 10 episodes, viewers will follow the company founders as they promote their offering and receive feedback and advice from mentors, professional investors and other executives. Those watching at home who think they've spotted a winner will have a chance to get in on the action at the initial public offering (IPO) price for the companies that end up going public.
LA Tech Updates: Fisker to Go Public; LA Bars, Gyms and Salons Go Dark Again; Apple Gives $400M to Stem Housing Crisis
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Southern California Bars, Restaurants, Salons, Gyms, Places of Worship Must Shut Down Indoor Operations Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQyMDM0Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyOTEyNzMzOX0.iAGyu93QLg4u7of6jR5kB1LcjJs1dH_dlc2ndkknWGs/img.jpg?width=980" id="a7312" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="deb62c3b61d59ad6fe2da2d592929dd4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Image courtesy of Musso & Frank's<p> Bars, gyms, places of worship, salons and offices for non-critical sectors will largely go dark again in Southern California. As coronavirus cases surge, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a list of new statewide restrictions and targeted closures in 30 counties including Los Angeles. </p><p> Statewide, all bars, dine-in restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, museums, card rooms and entertainment centers must close indoor operations, Newsom said on Monday. </p><p> "This is a new statewide action effective today," he said. </p><p> <span></span>In counties on the state's watch list, which include Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, personal care services including salons and barbershops, along with indoor malls and fitness centers must close indoor operations. </p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet">Effective immediately, CA is closing some indoor business operations statewide and additional indoor business operations in counties on <a href="https://twitter.com/CAPublicHealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CAPublicHealth</a> Monitoring List for 3 consecutive days.<br><br>📍Find the updated list of counties here: <a href="https://t.co/snYe5v55Rw">https://t.co/snYe5v55Rw</a> <a href="https://t.co/W3wBJp2ap5">pic.twitter.com/W3wBJp2ap5</a><br>— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) <a href="https://twitter.com/CAgovernor/status/1282754914821656576?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 13, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async="" src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p> Those on the watchlist are among the most populous parts of the state, containing about 80% of Californians. </p><p> Restaurants are still allowed to stay open for outdoor dining and takeout. <br> </p><p> As of Monday, California had more than 329,000 cases and 7,040 deaths. </p>
Fisker Set to Go Public with $2.9b Valuation, EV SUV to Roll Out by 2022<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ1MzYxNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MzAwMzU5MH0.KjTk7UCExD0E7jgdTCxdRO7pR0kI-TbtMYQgsD6_HJw/image.jpg?width=980" id="00531" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d9feb4bf17ba371882a99b14ebfa134a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Electric car startup Fisker is set to go public through a merger that values the company at $2.9 billion and allows it to begin producing its first vehicle by 2022. </p><p>Los Angeles-based Fisker <a href="https://www.fiskerinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Fisker-Press-Release-NYSE-Merger-Apollo-Spartan-Energy-FINAL-Sunday-1530PST-D360-FINAL.pdf" target="_blank">announced the deal </a>with Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company backed by private equity firm Apollo Global Management on Monday. It comes as investors look for the next Tesla Inc, which has seen soaring valuation in recent weeks.</p><hr><p>The deal - expected to close by the end of the fourth quarter - will give Fisker more than $1 billion in gross proceeds to jumpstart production of Fisker Ocean, the vision of founder Henrik Fisker, CEO and chariman of the eponymous named startup. The arrangement spotlights the use of special purpose acquisition companies, known as a SPACs. Another SPAC enabled electric-vehicle startup Nikola Corp to go public last month. Nikola shares have soared since their debut. </p><p>The Fisker Ocean, which premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, starts at $37,499 and is being billed as the most sustainable vehicle, replete with a vegan interior and recycled carpet. Reservations for the either purchase or lease start at $250. </p><p>"This vote of confidence from investors, coupled with our exciting progress on the development of our first vehicle, lays out Fisker's path to 2022 and beyond," said Fisker, a one time Aston-Martin designer. <br></p><p>He <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/13/ev-startup-fisker-to-go-public-through-merger-with-apollo-backed-firm-at-combined-value-of-2point9-billion.html" target="_blank">told CNBC </a>that the agreement was the best way to get the line of vehicles produced, but said the company does not intend to build its own plant. While the EV market is expected to soar in coming years, startups struggle to find funding for the capital intensive demands of building a car. </p><p>"Our funding, product plans and brand development actions are on course," Fisker said in the announcement. "Prototype vehicles are expected to start durability testing by the end of this year, and we continue to make significant progress on the development of our sales and service proposition."</p><p>Fisker's previous venture, Fisker Automotive, fell into bankruptcy in 2013 and was bought by a Chinese group that rebranded it Karma. That company, which has been struggling after several layoff rounds and restructuring, <a href="https://dot.la/karma-car-2646367624.html" data-linked-post="2646367624" target="_blank">last week secured $100 million from investors</a>. It hopes to use that to raise a total of $300 million and roll out a line of electric vehicles.<br></p>
Apple Allocates $400M to Stem California's Housing Crisis<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ1Mzk5My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5NTcxMzA4NX0.K86VfE92hD0CjisMGk5r9Uc-uVxIrfDtuG4pHn1wbb0/image.jpg?width=980" id="9b774" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f9eea1ac10a1579d146be0552a48fec0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />white and brown wooden house during night timePhoto by Carl Nenzen Loven on Unsplash<p>Apple announced today that it has allocated its first $400 million toward addressing California's housing crisis. The Silicon Valley giant had said last November it would commit $2.5 billion to the effort over multiple years. </p><p>Apple first partnered with Housing Trust Silicon Valley in hopes of bringing affordable housing and mortgage assistance to the Bay Area. Now, they're expanding their partnership to California House Finance Agency (CalHFA), a state agency that supports renters and homebuyers in two ways: Their single family division allows families to apply for loans and work with loan officers directly to tailor a plan to their income. Their multifamily division helps housing developers apply for loans to create more affordable housing.</p><p>The funding is heavily concentrated around the Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, but cities statewide will be able to apply for their housing assistance in areas throughout the state where the company is present, including Culver City.</p><p>"Affordable housing means stability and dignity, opportunity and pride. When these things fall out of reach for too many, we know the course we are on is unsustainable, and Apple is committed to being part of the solution," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, in a press release. </p><p>The company is dividing its financial assistance to have the broadest possible impact: $1 billion for an affordable housing investment fund, $1 billion for first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund, $300 million Apple-owned land for affordable housing, $150 million Bay Area housing and $50 million to support vulnerable populations.</p><p>The low-cost housing efforts will roll out over the next five years across the Bay Area, but two of the four programs are already underway.</p>
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