UK-based esports organization Fnatic is receiving financial backing from some high-profile sources.
Fnatic announced on its website that it has secured $7 million financing round with a board of investors, including James Pallotta’s Raptor Group Holdings, which has ownership stakes in the Boston Celtics and the Italian Serie A’s A.S. Roma.
Pallotta will be joined by Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, and Hannes Wallin, CEO and founder of Fractal Design. Hersh Interactive, which owns the Houston Astros, is also involved in the funding round.
Fnatic said the investment will be used to boost the organization’s London headquarters’ infrastructure, which includes hiring new coaches, sports psychologists and academy teams. The group also plans to “continue advancing esports into mainstream culture” through its esports peripheral, Fnatic Gear, and clothing lines.
“There has been strong growth in esports, which has accelerated in recent years, but the major shift has been in the acceptance and inclusion by sports franchises, media companies and high profile individuals who have entered and advanced the industry rapidly,” Fnatic founder Sam Mathews said in a statement.
Fnatic is considered to be one of the most successful esports organizations in history, worth an estimated £30 million. Last year, reports surfaced that the group had been involved in a battle with the Manchester United to acquire an Overwatch team.
The franchise’s expansion plans couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Market research firm Newzoo paints a rosy picture for the eSports industry, excluding eSports betting. It forecasted that eSports’ total revenue will grow from $325 million in 2016 to $1.488 billion in 2020—a CAGR of 35.6 percent. The forecast revenue totals include media rights, advertising, sponsorship, merchandise and tickets, and game publisher fees.