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Actor Will Smith attends the Centerpiece Gala Premiere of Columbia Pictures’ ‘Concussion’ during AFI FEST 2015.
Esports organization Gen.G announced Wednesday it has raised $46 million in a funding round led by some big names in sports and entertainment.
The latest investors include actor Will Smith and Japanese soccer player Keisuke Honda’s Dreamers Fund, as well as Los Angeles Clippers minority owner Dennis Wong and Alibaba Group’s former chairman of U.S. investments, Michael Zeisser.
The round also brought in tech-focused venture capital firms such as New Enterprise Associates and Battery Ventures.
Gen.G CEO Chris Park, a former executive vice president at Major League Baseball, told CNBC that the $46 million investment further cements the “incredible excitement” around the growing esports industry. “We were actually over-subscribed” in terms of potential investors and sponsors, he said. “We had to take a step back a bit and determine the right kinds of partners for what we’re trying to do, [to see] who had their own unique way to contribute their time, expertise and experience to areas we’re trying to grow.”
Park stressed that Gen.G, which fields teams in eight professional esports leagues, is focused on a mission to be a global esports organization. The Gen.G CEO says the investors reflect the organization’s desire for worldwide expansion and “have a very specific vision, through investment, to bridge East and West” while also putting a big focus on tech.
“We have a roster of investors that understand the challenge of being truly global and have a record of helping brands and companies meet that ambition,” added Park. Rick Yang, partner at NEA, said esports’ status has become a “truly global phenomenon.”