Esports team Cloud9 has raised $25 million in a recent Series A funding round. Owner Jack Etienne said in a statement that the funds would be used for improving the team's facilities, including housing for the players.
The investment came from many sources with minor investors from an earlier round this year upping their stakes in the Esports outfit, including Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian. However, some big names were involved including the owner of the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards sports franchises, Raul Fernandez, San Francisco Giants outfielder, Hunter Pence, and sports entertainment company WWE. Pence and WWE will become board advisors while venture capital firm Founders Fund’s Brian Singerman will take a place on the board following its investment.
Many will know WWE’s involvement in gaming from its yearly franchise, which is currently published by 2K, but it has expanded with many cross-promotional opportunities. WWE superstar Xavier Woods created a gaming YouTube channel called UpUpDownDown, which is now produced in-house already has over 1.2 million subscribers and WWE superstar Bayley recently competed in the Nintendo World Championships. WWE has one of the biggest reaches of combined social media platforms with over 800 million social followers globally.
The move into esports investment is one the company has considered for some time according to WWE’s chief strategy and financial officer, George Barrios. “We just looked around the space, looked at all the players and did our own evaluation of who we thought would be successful in the long term," Barrios told sports broadcaster ESPN.
"We just thought that the Cloud9 team had developed lots of expertise and we're just really, really impressed with Jack and the rest of the staff; how professional they were, how organized and how much infrastructure they had built for a small organization. We thought they were on their way. We looked at a lot of players, and they were the ones we put in the top tier."
Cloud9 was formed in 2013 by Eteinne and his wife after the former TeamSoloMid Vice President purchased a League of Legends team. Since then it has expanded to compete in other esports including PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, CS:GO and Rocket League.