Ballin’ in Business: Warriors’ Andre Iguodala’s eSports Investment Paying Off
Andre Iguodala has advised younger teammates to “cut out the Fortnite” in order to focus on their financial future. Nowadays, the Golden State Warriors wing and former Finals MVP, who’s been one of the leading tech investors among NBA players since 2013, is making his money work by putting his teammate and peers on game—of every kind.
Last summer, Andre joined fellow Warriors star Stephen Curry as part of a $37 million investment round, led by Bessemer Venture Partners, in Swift, an eSports organization that owns Team SoloMid (TSM), one of the leading franchises in Fortnite and League of Legends.
The capital raised was set to help fund acquisitions and investments in the gaming space, with $20 million allocated for franchising fees and a gaming facility in Los Angeles. Other notable investors included NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young, Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang and Stephen Simon, owner of Simon Equity Partners and son of Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon.
Since that investment, TSM has logged three top-five finishes in League of Legends events and two top-20 results in Fortnite competitions.
Andre’s investment in TSM marks his first entry into the gold mine that the eSports industry has become. Newzoo, the gaming research firm, noted the industry is on pace to rake in more than $900 million in revenue for 2018. By 2020, those dollar figures could balloon past $2.4 billion.
Andre and Steph, though, are hardly the first NBA players to delve into eSports, let alone the only Warriors. Forward Jonas Jerebko has been an investor in the space since 2016, when he led the acquisition of Renegades, an eSports team that subsequently moved to Detroit, where he started his career. Kevin Durant has a minority stake in Vision Venture Partners, which is the parent company of Rick Fox’s eSports team Echo Fox.
Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Paul George owns his own squad, Endemic Esports. Even Michael Jordan recently got in on the frenzy with an investment in aXiomatic, which owns Team Liquid.
Moreover, no fewer than four of Golden State’s co-owners—Joe Lacob, Peter Guber, Bruce Karsh and Chamath Palihapitiya—are invested in eSports organizations, aside from the Warriors’ own entries into the NBA 2K League and North American League of Legends Championship Series.
With the way eSports are exploding in popularity—and, thus, in business—it’s only a matter of time until Andre and company welcome a whole host of NBA affiliates to the party.
Olivier Auguste is an NBA lifestyle writer based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter.