VENN Gaming Network Raises $26M and New Distribution

VENN Gaming Network Raises $26M and New Distribution

VENN leveled up in its quest to become the 24/7 streaming network for gaming on Tuesday, announcing it has closed a $26 million Series A financing round. The Playa Vista-based company has also turbocharged its leadership and distribution network.

The Videogame Entertainment and News Network launched in August with $17 million in seed funding. That round was led by Bay Area gaming fund BITKRAFT, which also co-led the Series A — this time with Nexstar Media Group, a NASDAQ-listed telecoms company headquartered in Irving, Texas.

As part of its investment, Nexstar, which claims to reach nearly 63% of U.S. television households, received exclusivity for local television broadcasting and the right to appoint a member to VENN's board.

In a statement, Nexstar executive Thomas E. Carter said, "VENN is a new kind of TV network built for the streaming and digital generation, and it's developing leading-edge content for the millennial and Gen Z cultures who are obsessed with gaming. Gaming and esports are two fast growing sectors and through our investment we plan to distribute VENN content across our broadcast platform to address a younger audience; utilize VENN to gain early access to gaming-adjacent content; and present local and national brands with broadcast and digital marketing and advertising opportunities to reach younger audiences."

In addition to the new financing, VENN announced Tuesday it will now be available on The Roku Channel, complementing its existing distribution channels, which include Plex; LG Channels, powered by Xumo; Samsung TV Plus; and VIZIO.

Similar distribution agreements have helped VENN attract advertising partners, including brands such as Subway, Draft Kings and Adidas.

Also announced Tuesday: Jeff Jacobs, formerly a production head at Viacom and MTV, and most recently president of a third-party production firm whose clients included Viacom and the NBA, has joined VENN as executive vice president and general manager. His responsibilities will focus on growth and expansion.

VENN broadcasts from its 8,000 square-foot studio space in Playa Vista. It was co-founded by Ben Kusin, formerly of Electronic Arts and Vivendi Games and son of GameStop co-founder Gary Kusin; and Ariel Horn, a pioneer of esports with experience at NBC Universal and Riot Games. He was also an early employee at Twitch.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

The age of the creator is upon us.

After years of gaining momentum, the creator economy has gone mainstream. Payment processing platform Stripe estimates the number of individuals who now see themselves as full-time “creators”—those who use online tools to sell digital content—grew 48% in 2021, while earnings across the industry are expected to soon eclipse $10 billion.

Read more Show less
Jolene Latimer
Jolene Latimer has her Master of Arts in specialized journalism and writes about sports, entertainment and personal finance.

It started as a real estate company for startups. Today, Plug and Play operates what it calls an “innovation platform” that offers young companies office space, an accelerator program and — in some cases — invests in them.

On this episode of LA Venture, Plug and Play's CEO and founder Saeed Amidi talks about how he evolved the company into an accelerator and investment firm, and how he uses his platform to introduce many of the world’s largest corporations to startups that are re-envisioning their industries.

Read more Show less
Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.