NBA legend Michael Jordan is playing the esports game now, leading a $26 million round of funding for the ownership group aXiomatic.
For Jordan and new co-investor Declaration Capital — the family office investing the personal wealth of David Rubenstein, who co-founded and serves as co-executive chairman of the multi-billion-dollar private equity firm, The Carlyle Group — investing in esports looks like a slam dunk.
The company announced the investment from Jordan, Declaration Capital and Curtis Polk, the managing partner and alternate governor of Hornets Sports & Entertainment, and manager of the financial and business affairs of Michael Jordan and his related companies, earlier today. Bloomberg reported the $26 million figure.
As owners of the TeamLiquid esports franchise, which Forbes estimates as the second most valuable gaming team in the industry, aXiomatic has a solid base in the budding world of esports — an increasingly lucrative market.
Indeed, the most successful esports company, Cloud9, just raised $53.6 million in a new round of funding, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“I’m excited to expand my sports equity portfolio through my investment in aXiomatic. Esports is a fast-growing, international industry and I’m glad to partner with this great group of investors,” said Jordan, in a statement.
Athletes and owners of professional sports teams have flooded into the esports industry, plunking down $20 million to own teams in the officially sanctioned Overwatch League and placing similar-sized and smaller bets on companies developing services for the esports ecosystem.
The Philadelphia 76ers were among the first NBA teams to dip their toe in the esports waters when they acquired Team Dignitas in a deal that was rumored to be worth up to $15 million at the time. Earlier this year, Dignitas brought home a world championship in RocketLeague for the Sixers.
Now, the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets are all backing esports teams in Riot Games’ League of Legends tournaments, according to a recent report in Bloomberg.
“The next generation of sports fans are esports fans,” said Ted Leonsis, co-executive chairman of aXiomatic and the founder, chairman, chief executive and majority owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment (which owns the Washington Wizards, Capitals and the WNBA Mystics franchise), in a statement. “Esports is the fastest-growing sector in sports and entertainment, and aXiomatic is at the forefront of that growth. We are thrilled to welcome Michael and Declaration Capital to aXiomatic and look forward to working together on some truly cutting-edge opportunities.”