Griffin Gaming Partners Launches Fund to Invest in Video Game Businesses

Griffin Gaming Partners
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Former Lionsgate executive Peter Levin has teamed with venture capitalist Phil Sanderson and LionTree’s Nick Tuosto on the venture.

A trio of investing veterans have teamed up to launch a new fund dedicated to backing video game businesses.

Griffin Gaming Partners has assembled a $235 million fund to invest in startup game studios, up-and-coming platforms and infrastructure companies that form the backbone of the gaming industry. The firm isn’t disclosing its backers but a source says that they says that they represent include some of the biggest gaming, media and tech businesses around the world.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, GGP is led by managing directors Peter Levin, Phil Sanderson and Nick Tuosto. Levin, the former CEO of Nerdist Industries who most recently served as president of interactive ventures, games and digital strategy at Lionsgate, has spent many years building businesses and investing in the gaming industry. He also serves as the chairman of e-sports organization Immortals Gaming Club.

Sanderson has spent more than two decades as an investor in interactive businesses like Discord and Telltale Games. Nick Tuosto, managing director at LionTree, brigs his years of internet and digital media investing experience to the team. He has served as an advisor to Tencent in its acquisition of Supercell and FoxNext in its sale to Scopely.

Through GGP, they have set their sights on the video game industry, which has seen a boom in business amid the coronavirus pandemic this year. Research firm NewZoo estimates forecasts that revenue will grow 20 percent to $174 billion in 2020, led by growth in mobile and PC gaming. Online games have helped to drive the popularity of the medium for a range of players. In 2019, streaming giant Netflix acknowledged to investors that it "competes with (and loses) to Fortnite more than HBO."

“Consumer behavior and technological advances have created unprecedented engagement and monetization opportunities,” Levin said in a statement. “GGP recognizes these opportunities and remains laser-focused on investing in companies that are serving the three billion gamers worldwide.”

GGP has found a sweet spot investing in companies at the the series A through growth stages, particularly because its partners are hands-on with portfolio companies. The firm has already made investments into several companies, including game publishing platform N3TWORK, studio Frost Giant and virtual concert startup Wave. Its portfolio also includes app company AppLovin, which Reuters reported in October has hired Morgan Stanley as it prepares for an IPO, and mobile gaming firm Skillz, which is set to go public through a merger with Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp.

“In the last few years, we’ve seen such remarkable innovations in gaming which ultimately expands and diversifies the gaming audiences,” said Sanderson. “The opportunities to support innovative entrepreneurs in gaming have never been better.” Tuosto added, “By combining our collective experiences and networks, GGP is committed to working closely with our portfolio companies and LPs to create a differentiated type of partnership.”

True to its focus on gaming, the 12-person GGP regularly meets virtually to play Animal Crossing, Mario Kart and other titles together.