- 🎮 Riot Games' Valorant Finals Are Another Jewel In LA's Gaming Crown
🎮 Riot Games' Valorant Finals Are Another Jewel In LA's Gaming Crown
dot.LA Weekly Update
🎮💥🔫 “USA, USA, USA!” If you wandered into the Kia Forum this past Saturday and listened to the cheers, you might have thought you had stumbled into a secret Olympic Games, and honestly you’d kind of be right.
Photo courtesy of Riot Games
I was lucky enough to attend, and, as I sat in the sold-out crowd of 11,500 screaming fans, watching (real) fire erupt from the stage and (CGI) explosions and gunshots flash on the jumbotrons, I felt like a kid on his first day at a new school. Everyone around me seemed to know exactly what to do, and I was just sitting there, confused and overwhelmed, looking exactly like this emoji → 😮
For those of you not familiar with Valorant, it’s a first person shooter game (á la Call of Duty) where two teams of five compete to shoot each other or finish various tasks while avoiding being shot by the other team (sorry to all of the Valorant fans out there for butchering this description). Last month, more than 20 million people played the game, and over a million fans tuned in online to watch the Championship Finals live, according to Riot. While those numbers are obviously huge, Valorant is tiny compared to Riot’s flagship game League of Legends, which counted over 150 million players last month.
So why the “USA, USA, USA!” chant? For the same reason traditional pro sports teams are built around cities. People love cheering for the home team. Riot has organized the professional Valorant league (Valorant Champions Tour or VCT) into regional teams. Saturday’s eventual champion was the North American team, Evil Geniuses - an underdog who triumphed against the heavily favored Southeast Asian Paper Rex team. Fans couldn’t get enough of both sides, though “EG” was the definitely a little more hometown love.
These fans didn’t just come for the 3+ hour actual competition, though. Attendees started showing up more than four hours before the Grand Finals started, hanging out in the baking hot parking lot at the Riot-organized “Fan Fest” before watching the wildly impressive opening musical acts performing Riot-created music from the Valorant game. It was, dare I say it? A Riot of a good time.
So what does this all mean…
This competition is living proof of how gaming is now the largest category in entertainment, and it’s not even close. The industry’s estimated $192B in 2022 revenue is double the size of the TV and movie businesses, and more than 7x the size of the music industry.
It also demonstrates the strength of gaming as one of LA’s core tech sectors. Riot is an LA company, through and through. It was born out of founders Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill’s USC dorm room, opened its first office in Santa Monica in 2006, and maintains its headquarters on Olympic Blvd in West LA to this day. For more evidence of LA’s gaming prowess, look no further than our Around the Internet section below. 😎
Have you ever watched Esports?
🤝 Venture Deals
MFast, a financial services distribution network, raised a $6M Series A led by LA-based Wavemaker Partners, with participation from Krungsri Innovate, Headline Asia and insiders Do Ventures, JAFCO Asia and Ascend Vietnam Ventures - learn more
Pi-xcels, a startup that manufactures an NFC-enabled point of sale device that can issue interactive e-receipts, raised a $1.7M Seed Round led by LA-based Wavemaker Partners, and joined by Hustle Fund, Amand Ventures, and Black Kite Capital - learn more
TeamSense, a platform that helps manufacturers manage the attendance of their deskless workers, raised a $4M Seed Round led by LA-based Bonfire Ventures, with additional funds provided by Operator Collective - learn more
New LA Funds
Black Ostrich Ventures, an LA-based venture capital firm, has launched a $20 million pre-seed and seed stage fund to support African founders to grow their businesses in the cleantech, supply chain, ag-tech, and edtech sectors. The newly created firm says it will mainly support startups in Tanzania, Zambia, Morocco and Uganda, with check sizes ranging from $50,000 to $200,000. - learn more
⚒️ Open Roles
Operations Associate @ Techstars Space Accelerator
Techstars Space Accelerator is hiring a Los Angeles based Operations Associate. This role is responsible for the administrative duties and operational execution throughout the duration of the accelerator program. Logistics experience as well as familiarity with the early stage venture backed company ecosystem is preferred. A willingness to learn and comfort tackling new problems is a must.
It’s a chance to get amazing experience, broaden your network in ways you could never imagine, get exposure to some of the greatest up and coming companies and teams in the country. Historically, most associates end up being employed by one of the teams or by someone they met during the span of the three months. Many also go on to build their own companies. Apply directly here.
Plug In South LA is hosing its Accelerator Cohort 4 Founder Showcase on September 14th.
Hosted by our friends at Plug In, this event will showcase Early Stage Black and Brown Founders rolling out new service and platform solutions in Digital Health/Healthcare Tech, FinTech, Digital Media, PropTech, and EdTech.
🚀 For Early Stage Investors looking to diversify their portfolios with high-potential companies led by Black and Brown Entrepreneurs, this showcase is a must-attend. We also extend a warm welcome to the LA Tech community, including LPs, Corporate Executives & Foundations, and Family Offices.
🎟️ Secure your spot now and immerse yourself in a night of innovation, inspiration, and boundless opportunities. Register for the Plug In Accelerator Cohort 4 Founder Showcase here.
Want your event featured? Shoot us an email!
📅 LA Tech Calendar
Tuesday, September 5th
Tacos and Tech 🗽 - ScaleHealth’s monthly happy hour for tech and healthcare innovators.
Thursday, September 7th
JFE Startup and Tech Mixer - JFE Networking mixers bring together LA's top startup founders, technologists, and business professionals in the Jewish community.
Opus Research Happy Hour at Gridspace: The ROI of AI - Join Opus Research for a free, happy hour discussion about the "ROI of AI in the Enterprise.”
Other events to add to the calendar
🗽 - Free
Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!
🌍 Around The Internet
Over the past few years, there has been a shift in startup dynamics that has resulted in a dispersion of funding across the country. This geographical redistribution of seed investments mirrors the evolving landscape of venture capital, propelled by trends such as remote work and the strength of emerging startup ecosystems.
Unsurprisingly the Bay Area stands as the preeminent force in startup funding taking the top spot for capital invested in 7 of the 10 verticals listed below. That being said Los Angeles had a strong showing in the first half of 2023 and dominated the gaming vertical. Total capital raised by gaming companies based in Los Angeles during in the first half of 2023 was nearly $85M, more than 4X the next leading market, Dallas/Fort Worth. 🎮👾🕹️