The pandemic has forced many gyms to close and emptied others, catapulting the at-home fitness industry.

Zwift, a social fitness application that lets users virtually train together on their treadmills and bikes, is taking advantage of the shift.

The Long Beach-based company announced Wednesday it raised $450 million to build out Zwift-branded "hardware' for fitness buffs that uses the company's 3-D generated worlds to ride or run alongside others. It's also looking to expand into esports as it builds out the 10 virtual worlds it offers in the platform. In the summer, Zwift hosted a virtual Tour de France in July.

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The headlines seem to come every day now. From VC investment to audience growth, all metrics point to an explosion in the popularity of esports, even before the COVID-19 pandemic sent many people indoors. Now, as leagues, developers, publishers, players and the media all sit poised to ride this wave, it's important for all of us, especially the industry veterans, to pause and take a look at the bigger picture.

How do we ensure that this new influx of users and players become a true part of the community – not just for the short term, but for years to come?

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  • L.A.-based Gamelancer, a two-sided platform to match top-tier gamers and personalities with users searching for teammates, launches Tuesday.
  • The founders, Razvan Romanescu and Darren Lopes, have raised $800,000 to build the platform and hope to begin a new round within 90 days.
  • Gamelancer offers gaming talent new ways to make money and users the opportunity to make sure their teammates aren't duds
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