Esports company 100 Thieves just raised another $60 million, tripling their company valuation over the past two years and making them one of the largest companies in competitive gaming. For those who don't quite know what that means: gaming culture is turning into a big business, and a lot of people are hungry to be part of it.
What Is 100 Thieves?
If you don't know what 100 Thieves is, you can kind of think of the company as a sports team or race team. They have players who compete in different games professionally to win championships and prize money.
But 100 Thieves is also an apparel and entertainment company, which is where it makes about two thirds of its revenue so far — which kind of makes it seem like 100 Thieves is more of a lifestyle brand that also has teams in competitive gaming. The company recently bought another boutique company called Higround, which makes gaming keyboards and other peripherals.
So 100 Thieves is kind of like a sports team if that sports team, you know, also manufactured sports equipment, sports clothing, and worked with influencers in the sports space.
All of this activity just goes to show that despite what your parents may have told you years ago, playing video games very much can be a career — or lead to a business valued at nearly $500 million in only four years.
Gaming Culture As Business
A lot of people outside the world of competitive gaming still don’t understand just how big it is — and how quickly it’s ballooning. It's the fastest growing sport and is already worth over $1B, with sponsorships accounting for over half the revenue.
As competitive gaming expands, so too does the culture and fandom around the sport. That's exactly where a company like 100 Thieves slots in — as a lifestyle brand that could potentially be the "Nike" of gaming. It's not just about having teams and sponsoring gamers. It's about younger gamers buying into the idea of brand affiliation when they're young and positioning yourself as a company that genuinely cares about the success of esports.
It makes sense, then, that 100 Thieves was co-founded by a Major League Gaming gold medalist in Matthew Haag and a major sports franchise owner in Dan Gilbert (who owns the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers). The company also counts major names among their investors and board members, including Drake, Scooter Braun, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
The Big Lesson From Esports Company Growth
We can safely assume that 100 Thieves' newest investment round is geared at expanding the company's footprint, acquiring more companies within the esports space, and expanding its brand visibility. As with many entertainment industries, building a business around the culture of the product rather than the product itself can often lead to diversification and longevity.
That was confirmed by Andy Miller, the CEO of another major competitive gaming company (NRG) and a co-owner of the Sacramento Kings NBA team. Miller told Forbes last year, “If your goal is just to be the Dallas Cowboys and just operate in competitive gaming, that is cool, but it’s a long way off. There’s not going to be one thing in gaming making you money.”
Other companies are expanding their services by building facilities for training and content creation. Some of the top companies in competitive gaming make major revenue by creating content and videos around gaming, not simply participating in big live events.
And even if you're a one-person operation just getting started in the world of entertainment, that's a valuable lesson to how you should be approaching your business. The main thing you "do" may not be the main thing that makes you money. Instead, find out how what you do fits into the culture and fandom of your space and use that knowledge to expand what you can offer both your fans and fans of your space.