PLLAY Labs' Plan to Make Gaming Profitable for Everyday Gamers

Breanna De Vera

Breanna de Vera is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is currently a senior at the University of Southern California, studying journalism and English literature. She previously reported for the campus publications The Daily Trojan and Annenberg Media.

PLLAY Labs' Plan to Make Gaming Profitable for Everyday Gamers
Photo by Igor Karimov on Unsplash

Shawn Gunn has been waiting for gaming to get to this moment for 20 years.

He ran e-tournaments from his college dorm in the 1990s, long before esports exploded. Since then, Gunn has worked on Wall Street as a trader, at Nokia as the head of monetization and at HERE Technologies, before founding his first company, GUNN Inc, in 2008.

All the while, he watched as video games became lucrative for top competitors. And he decided to find a way to make them profitable for average gamers like himself.

Last year, Gunn founded PLLAY Labs Inc. with Christine Krzyzanowski. The video game wagering app lets users play video games like Fortnite and Call of Duty against each other for money. Since its launch in June, PLLAY has added 10,000 users, bringing its total user base to 60,000.


"Gaming has always been a big part of our demographic's life. And I think now with the ability to not just gain but derive revenue, cash from your skill level and your competitions, is going to be an interesting thesis," said Gunn. now the chief executive at the company. "We've already seen users that today are, you know, literally generating or augmenting their current revenue stream with playing matches on PLLAY. In some cases, depending on your situation, you can be doing well in those matches and paying your rent or just having extra cash in your pocket."

PLLAY Labs Inc. raised a $3 million seed round to add more games, consoles and platforms to their service. This round of funding was led by Screen Play Ventures and included investors such as NBA all-star Bradley Beal, Obsidian Works Managing Director Chad Easterling and GE Power Portfolio Chief Executive Officer and President Russell Stokes.

PLLAY Labs

Skill-Based Betting

PLLAY uses an artificial intelligence-driven platform to monitor video game matches, detect cheating and guarantee payment to winners. It is not considered gambling under federal law because players make bets on their own performance in a skill-based game.

Gunn said there is already a lot of peer-to-peer betting happening online, with or without the app. The wagering is often informal and done through game chats, with no guarantee the other player will send money via CashApp or PayPal. PLLAY ensures that each player is paid appropriately from pooled money that PLLAY secures in escrow.

PLLAY's background check process also ensures wagering laws in users' states are honored and confirms users are 18 or older.

Beal — a PLLAY investor, two-time NBA All-Star and shooting guard for the Washington Wizards — is a gamer off the court and away from his day job, as is Easterling.

"They're both gamers, in their own regard, and they fit our profile. So they're not professional gamers, obviously, they have other really cool day jobs," said Gunn. "But they know how big the gaming market is and where it's going."

Gunn said he sought out high net-worth investors that were passionate about gaming.

"I'm not just investing in a product; I'm investing in people. I believe in supporting minority- and women-owned businesses," said Beal in a statement, adding that Gunn and Krzyzanowski "have built more than a gaming platform, they've built a diverse and creative culture at PLLAY that fuels their vision."

All of PLLAY's employees are gamers. Gunn is a longtime fan of Electronic Arts' Madden franchise and Krzyzanowski plays Epic Games' Fortnite and Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty. As a result, all three games are part of the five that PLLAY initially offered. The other two are Electronic Arts' FIFA 21 and 2K Sports's NBA 2K21.

"There's been a lot of attention on the esports sector, or part of the industry, which we really look at as the more professional level of gaming," said Gunn. "But we have always believed that there's a much bigger opportunity for what we call the competitive amateur, which are those users that gaming is not going to be their profession, but they use it as an entertainment mechanism and the ability to unwind and have some competition."

Gunn anticipates PLLAY will release five more games early next year, some chosen to attract PC gamers. He said the company receives several emails daily requesting games like Riot Games' League of Legends and Valve Corporation's Dota2.

🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.

Pickleball

Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle


Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out


Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities


Top Golf

Image Source: Topgolf

Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo


SoFi Stadium Tour

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A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours


Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch


Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


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