Unikrn, a startup focused on esports betting, has raised a fresh $7 million, bringing its total capital acquired to $10 million. Binary Capital led the infusion. Previously, Mark Cuban invested in the company.
The startup, whose name is pronounced ‘unicorn,’ helps people place bets on upcoming video game matches. Competitive gaming, commonly known as ‘esports,’ is a growing content niche with global draw. Games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and Starcraft 2 have large professional scenes, where teams sporting sponsorship from large corporations and deep rosters.
Once dismissed as the vestige of nerds alone, esports has grown over the past few years from niche, to cottage industry, to outright field. Large tournaments can draw global viewership in the millions.
If you recall, Amazon purchased Twitch, a company that specializes in video game live streaming, for around $1 billion; Unikrn has a Twitch presence on its own website.
Betting on the outcome of matches is something popular across sports genres. To see it come to esports isn’t surprising. However, given the prudish gambling laws that are part of this nation, you can’t wager real money on Unikrn if you live in the United States. Unikrn, perhaps unsurprisingly given that parameter, operates in partnership with Tabcorp, a separate firm that focuses on gambling.
It might seem easy to dismiss the concept of esports, but it’s now grown to sufficient scale to allow firms like Unikrn to build secondary apps on top of its general audience. That’s to say that Unikrn wouldn’t work if esports were smaller, but given its scale, there is likely sufficient market size for the startup to succeed.
Unikrn is also notable for one of its executives, Rahul Sood. Sood founded VoodooPC, an early high-end computer brand favored by gamers. The entrepreneur next landed at Microsoft, where he led its startup investment activities for some time.
Esports has grown in the last few years on the back of several breakout titles, especially League of Legends. I’m curious as to what might provide the next growth spurt. Unikrn, however, plans to be there to make sure that you can lay a bet.
Top Image Credit: Blizzard