Meet the Latest Startup to Catch Mark Cuban’s Eye

Meet the Latest Startup to Catch Mark Cuban's Eye

This story originally appeared on Fortune magazine

Mark Cuban turns to the world of esports.

The entrepreneur, Shark Tank star and owner of the Dallas Mavericks is part of a team that has invested $ 7 million in the Seattle start-up Unikrn (pronounced “Unicorn”), which offers bets on game tournaments competitive video. The round, led by Binary Capital, brings the company’s total guaranteed funding to $ 10 million.

“I did an interview with CNBC a few months ago and within two minutes of the interview, Mark Cuban called me,” said Rahul Sood, co-founder of Unikrn and creator of the company. PC games Voodoo PC. “We exchanged a few emails back and forth and in two days, he said” I’m in it “.

Cuban has been watching eSports for some time. Two years ago, during an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, he said he had talked to people about eSports and watched Major League Gaming. At the time, he called it “interesting,” but said he hadn’t had the time to dig deep into the business.

Cuban joins several other notable names who have invested in the business, including media executives Shari Redstone (daughter of Sumner Redstone) and Elisabeth Murdoch (daughter of Rupert Murdoch), said Sood, who was previously CTO of the HP’s global gaming business and founded and directed Microsoft Ventures.

Unikrn was launched last November and publicly launched in April. Players can bet on tournaments for games like League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Sood says the company plans to use the money from this cycle to increase staff and drive marketing and partnerships.

Unikrn’s betting services are currently not legal in the United States – the company obtains most of its customers from the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia. (Domestic customers can still access the site to view ratings and chat.) However, Sood says the company plans to find a way to get to the U.S. soon, but will not say how it plans to get around the obstacles. legal.

“If you’re in the United States, Unikrn Arena will be available next month and it’s going to be great,” he said.

Esports quickly gathered an audience. Last year, 27 million people logged on to watch the finals of the League of Legends world championship. And on the game streaming service, Twitch viewers watched an average of 16 billion minutes of live game streaming per month in 2020.

With this growing enthusiasm, Unikrn does not plan to limit itself to its current concentration on betting, says Sood. And its media-centric investors and partners can play a role in this expansion.

“We will be offering a lot more in the near future,” says Sood. “We are clearly working in partnership with these people and there is a reason for that. And that goes beyond the betting side. “

The Cuban, for his part, seems ready.

“The rapid growth of eSports has created a whole new category of competition and I am proud to partner with Rahul Sood and his team to help deliver eSport to an even wider audience,” said Cuban in a statement. “I am thrilled to be participating in a new sport as it is poised for enormous growth.”

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