Hiro Capital, a specialist games, esports and sports technology venture capitalist, plans to invest €100m (£87m) in about 20 European gaming startups.
The VC fund will make Series A and Series B investments in games development studios and deep tech for esports and professional athletes, which it has identified as a post-seed capital gap, especially in the €1m-€20m range.
The new VC has been founded by gaming industry veterans Ian Livingstone, who helped create Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft and the Warhammer fantasy games; Luke Alvarez, former founder of Inspired Entertainment; and Cherry Freeman, a former executive of Computacentre and founder of LoveCrafts, an online marketplace for crafts enthusiasts.
The founders of Hiro Capital, who between them have founded games, sports and tech startups worth over $5bn, will work with its entrepreneurs to help them scale, from assisting with early stage planning and product development, through to strategy, worldwide expansion and, eventually, exit.
In 2018, global revenues in games, esports and digital sports exceeded those in music, video and Hollywood combined. Last year, Europe produced 123 PC and console games titles compared with Asia’s 103 and America’s 78. Half of the top 30 mobile games worldwide were developed in the UK/EU. There are 2,500 games studios in the UK alone.
However, only 2pc of these studios receive any form of VC funding. Europe’s total VC investment across all industries in 2018 was one fifth that of the US — $21bn compared with $102bn – with only a fraction of that going to games and sports technology.
Ian Livingstone said: “Having played a major part in building two billion-dollar games companies in my career and have angel invested in many mobile game superstars, I have witnessed first-hand the frustration of battling the post-seed capital gap.”
Cherry Freeman added: “The scaling opportunities combined with the capital efficiency in the games and sports technology sectors make it a uniquely exciting area. You start from nothing and end up on a million handsets in a year. If you’ve got an idea, you can talk to the entire planet. There are very few sectors which are total global, totally consumer facing and instantly scalable and our new fund will be looking to tap into that potential.”