Gaming and eSports company Unikrn has raised $7 million in a funding round led by Jonathan Teo and Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital.
Similar to Twitch, Unikrn offers live video of gaming tournaments from all over the world. The platform takes this a step further by letting viewers bet on the outcomes of the games — in areas that allow online betting, that is — with real cash. Betting on the platform is similar to traditional sports betting, only the games are “Leagues of Legends,” “Heroes of the Storm,” and “Dota-2” instead of basketball, baseball, and football.
Binary Capital, which invested early in hugely successful companies like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Taskrabbit, joins other Unikrn investors including Mark Cuban, Indicator Ventures, 500 Startups, Advancit Capital and Freelands Group. The new round brings the eSports company’s total funding up to $10 million.
This big bet from high-profile investors reflects the rapidly-growing popularity of eSports. ESPN puts the number of people who watched the 2014 “League of Legends” World Championship finals at 27 million, which is more people than watched the NBA Finals (18 million).
There’s money in these gaming tournaments, too. The Third Annual Call of Duty Championship, which took place this past March, offered a total of $1 million in its prize pool, $400,000 of which went to the first place team. As far back as 2013, over $14 million was awarded to eSports players worldwide. And that’s outside of betting.
Rahul Sood, the former GM of Microsoft Ventures, left Microsoft to co-found Unikrn. Sood also created VoodooPC, an early gaming PC bought by Hewlett-Packard in 2006, and has been a serial entrepreneur for years. He is now working on the new version of Unikrn Arena, which will come out in early July.