Newly formed UK eSports investor Hiro Capital has launched a €100m fund to back UK and European leaders in the games and eSports industry.
The new London-based VC was founded in 2019 and includes industry heavyweights Ian Livingstone, a former chairman of Eidos, the publisher of Tomb Raider, a co-founder of Games Workshop, a BAFTA Interactive Special Award winner, and owner of an OBE and CBE for services to the computer games industry.
Livingstone has recently been a successful angel investor in several leading game developers including Playdemic, Fusebox and Mediatonic, and is the non-executive chairman of Sumo Group, one of the largest independent video games developers in Europe.
Livingstone is joined by firm partner Cherry Freeman, co-founder of global community and eCommerce brand LoveCrafts.
Freeman has spent 10 years working with venture-backed tech companies including Mimecast and New Voice Media. She is a judge at Tech Nation and a contributor to Tech Nation’s ‘Upscale: what it takes to scale a startup, by the people who’ve done it’.
Leading a team with more than 100 years collective experience in these sectors, the Partners will use the fund to accelerate the growth of around 20 UK and European Games and Sports innovators.
Hiro Capital said it is looking to invest at the post-seed stage, at Series A and B. The fund will back deep technology entrepreneurs and creative studios in games, eSports and digital sport and in sector-specific applications of technologies including cloud, mobile, streaming, big data, AI, wearables, AR and VR.
“Fifteen years ago, the video games sector was niche, eSports was underground and digital sports tracking was only available to elite athletes” said Luke Alvarez, managing partner of Hiro Capital.
Alvarez, the managing partner, was co-founding CEO and President of Inspired Entertainment, a Nasdaq-listed mobile games and Virtual Sports technology company, as well as a co-founding non-executive of The Cloud Network, the EU’s largest public access Wi-Fi operator.
He was also previously a Case Leader at the Boston Consulting Group.
Alvarex leads Hiro’s investment strategy and compliance and focuses on Hiro’s digital sports and games technology investments.
“Now there are three billion gamers globally, 600 million game stream fans, and over 500 million sports monitoring smart watches and trackers,” he continued.
“2018 and 2019 have been breakthrough years for these sectors – from record-breaking streaming events in Fortnite and the real FIFA World Cup, to the recent announcements of Apple Arcade, Google Stadia, the Apple Watch 5, Facebook Horizon and Alibaba+Intel’s AR/VR Athlete tracking for the Tokyo Olympics…”
The VC said that last year global revenues in the games, eSports and digital sports sectors exceeded those in music, video and Hollywood combined, and Europe produced 123 PC and console games titles compared to Asia’s 103 and America’s 78, it said.
But it claims that 2 per cent of the UK’s 2,500 games studios receive VC funding, and Europe’s total generalist VC investment in 2018 was $21bn compared to the US, which saw $102bn.
Livingstone said he had witnessed first-hand the ‘capital gap’ in post-seed gaming firms.
“Through investing and nurturing the right talent in Europe and the UK, our goal is to generate great returns for our investors and bring much-needed capital to the industry,” he said.
“We are focused on innovative games and games technologies. We’re gamers at heart and strongly believe in the positive power of play culturally, socially and economically.”