1) Esports startup Stan raises $2.7 million in a funding round
Stan had earlier raised $2.5 million in a funding round led by US-based venture capital firm General Catalyst in May 2022, it said in a statement. General Catalyst also took part in the latest round.
Esports fan engagement platform Stan announced that it successfully secured $2.5 million in a recent funding round. Notably, the round saw participation from various entities, including web3 firm Aptos Labs and early-stage venture firms like Pix Capital, Maelstrom Fund, GFR Fund, CoinDCX Ventures, Climber Capital, TDV Partners, and Coinswitch Ventures. The company did not disclose the valuation associated with this funding.
In May 2022, Stan had previously raised $2.5 million in a funding round led by the US-based venture capital firm General Catalyst, which also participated in the latest round.
Stan's platform facilitates users in purchasing collectibles and interacting with popular esports personalities, be they players or influencers, through chat and audio rooms, as well as exclusive communities on the platform. Some of these collectibles are web3 items, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
With the latest funding injection, Stan is now equipped with a runway of approximately two years, according to Chadha. The allocated funds will be directed toward marketing expenses, enhancing product features, and bringing more creators onto the platform. Additionally, the company is exploring API integration with some of the more popular games available on the platform.
2) Meta expands its partnership with the NBA to offer 52 games in VR
Meta revealed an expansion of its collaboration with the NBA and WNBA, aiming to provide over 50 live VR games on Meta Quest. The Meta Quest headset is the official device for the NBA, as per the partnership established in 2020 when Facebook signed a deal with the league.
As part of this extended partnership, Meta plans to deliver a comprehensive package featuring 52 live NBA games. This includes five immersive 180-degree monoscopic VR games accessible in 2880 on Xtadium and Meta Horizon Worlds. Additionally, Meta will offer a diverse selection of WNBA, NBA G League, and NBA 2K League games throughout the season. Within Meta Horizon Worlds, users will have access to game highlights, recaps, and archival content.
Meta announced a collaboration with the league to introduce NBA-licensed apparel in Meta's Avatar Store in the upcoming weeks. This initiative enables users to purchase their preferred NBA or WNBA team apparel for their avatars, showcasing it not only on Meta Quest but also across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.
3) BARSTOOL, DRAFTKINGS NEAR SPORTS BETTING DEAL AFTER PENN LOCK-UP
Barstool Sports, now under the ownership of its founder Dave Portnoy, is reportedly in advanced discussions with DraftKings for a comprehensive sports betting deal. The potential agreement is anticipated to be a conventional marketing partnership, wherein Barstool would promote DraftKings odds and receive benefits from customers directed to the sportsbook. Notably, Barstool is not considering lending its name to a sportsbook or betting app in this arrangement.
Although no formal agreement has been reached yet, the ongoing talks revolve around a multiyear deal that could see Barstool earning a yearly sum in the low eight figures. The negotiation details are kept private, and the individuals disclosing this information prefer to remain anonymous. Barstool is currently restrained from finalizing any betting deal until after the Super Bowl due to a lock-up period resulting from its recent separation from Penn Entertainment.
This development occurs within a year of gaming giant Penn (Nasdaq: PENN) selling Barstool back to Dave Portnoy for $1. Initially, Penn acquired 36% of Barstool for $163 million and subsequently purchased the remaining 64% for $388 million, intending to leverage Barstool's brand and dedicated consumer base for a sustainable betting app, namely Barstool Sportsbook. However, these plans did not materialize, leading Penn to divest Barstool for $1 and partner with a different sports media brand, ESPN, for a newly branded sportsbook called ESPN Bet. Penn later reported an $850 million write-off on the Barstool acquisition.
4) FanDuel Announces New Financial Literacy Partnership in Expansion of Effort to Empower Responsible Gaming
FanDuel, North America's premier online gaming company, and Operation HOPE, the nation's leading non-profit dedicated to financial literacy, today announced a multi-faceted partnership focused on promoting financial empowerment and offering free financial counseling to residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The partnership marks an important evolution of FanDuel's commitment to responsible gaming practices by improving access to personal financial literacy education.
Through the partnership, Operation HOPE will implement its HOPE Inside program, giving Massachusetts residents access to Financial Wellbeing Coaches who will offer virtual and in-person financial health sessions across the state at no cost. These coaches will provide individuals with financial knowledge and tools to create a secure future, including helping with strategies to build savings, improve FICO (credit) scores, and decrease debt. Additionally, Operation HOPE coaches will counsel participants on how best to manage entertainment spending.
5) GamePLAI secures £1.5m investment from betting industry veterans
Sportsbook trading supplier GamePLAI has secured £1.5m in new investment from industry veterans including former Pinnacle trading director Marco Blume.
The investment will see the supplier, which offers AI-powered automated trading products for player props pricing, micro betting, and risk management, look to expand its footprint globally.
According to GamePLAI, the financing will be used to accelerate its growth at a “pivotal point” this year, supporting the company’s technology and product roadmap over the next 12 months.
6) Oddschecker rebrands to FairPlay Sports, explores AI M&A
Sports betting affiliate Oddschecker Global Media (OGM) has 25 January unveiled a rebrand to FairPlay Sports Media (FPSM).
Group CEO Stuart Simms, formerly of XLMedia, suggested the refresh was part of a drive being implemented by the group’s private equity ownership to acquire brands potentially outside of betting.
The rebrand follows the purchase of Italian sports betting affiliate SuperScommesse from Catena Media last November.
OGM was sold by operator Flutter Entertainment to PE company Bruin Capital in 2021 in a deal worth up to $215m.
CEO Simms expanded on the reasons behind the rebrand on a media call, where he addressed plans to explore the possibility of buying into both data and AI-led companies.
7) 3thix has raised $8.5 million in funding to help monetize Web3 games
Austin, Texas-based 3thix wants to reshape the landscape of game monetization, incorporating web3 infrastructure, and addressing issues of privacy, user experience, and sustainable growth.
Xsolla plans to integrate 3thix as the Web3 infrastructure for its operations and collaborative ventures. The partnership aims to introduce enduring solutions for free-to-play monetization challenges, maximize monetization potential, build real-world economies through innovative in-game transactions, and create a model that values data for both players and developers.
One of 3thix’s key innovations is the implementation of a fully decentralized Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) model, ensuring the protection of user data privacy while providing valuable insights for developers and advertisers, the company said. This approach aligns with the company’s mission to simplify in-game experiences and democratize the gaming process.
8) ANDRE AGASSI, DAVID KASS, AND RAINE VENTURES ACQUIRE CONTROLLING INTEREST IN DUPR, INVEST $8M
DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating), pickleball’s most accurate international rating system, announced a new board, ownership, and investors, as well as an influx of $8M in funding, to further advance its mission to unify the fast-growing sport with innovative technology and a dynamic global rating.
The group includes tennis legend Andre Agassi, Raine Ventures (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Raine Group), Jay Farner (CEO, Ronin Capital Partners), Brian Yeager (chairman/CEO, The Champions Companies), and R. Blane Walter (founder, InChord Communications), and is investing $8M to buy shares and fund DUPR.
DUPR, which rates pickleball players on a scale of 2.00-8.00 based on a weighted algorithm synthesizing user-submitted match results, has a presence in more than 140 countries and works with the MLP and Professional Pickleball Association (PPA). The plan, Kass said, is for DUPR to remain the official rating system of the PPA/MLP’s joint entity once those two leagues put pen to paper on their merger.