Will Smith, Stanford University Among Investors Raising $46M For E-Sports Organization Gen.G

Inset: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Overwatch League (Inset: Will Smith)

The new capital will support Gen.G's expanding global footprint, its youth e-sports academy program and the launch of the company’s Los Angeles headquarters opening in July 2019.

E-sports organization Gen.G has raised $46 million in funding led by a group that includes Will Smith, Stanford University and Los Angeles Clippers minority owner Dennis Wong, among others.

Also backing Gen.G is Japanese soccer star Keisuke Honda’s Dreamers Fund; Michael Zeisser, former chairman of U.S. investments at the Alibaba Group; and MasterClass co-founder and CEO David Rogier. Additional participants in the fundraising round include New Enterprise Associates, Conductive Ventures, Battery Ventures, Canaan Partners and SVB Capital.

The new capital will support Gen.G's expanding global footprint, its youth e-sports academy program and the launch of the company’s Los Angeles headquarters, which is set to open in July.

Former NBA All-Star Chris Bosh currently serves as Gen.G's player management advisor. Smith and Honda will join Bosh in supporting the company’s creative and commercial endeavors, advising Gen.G players and content creators.

Established in 2017, Gen.G is a global e-sports company that operates teams for e-sports titles such as Overwatch, League of Legends, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Clash Royale, Fortnite, Call of Duty and APEX Legends.

“We are grateful for the support of a remarkable group of investors that is as diverse as the future of esports itself,” Gen.G. CEO Chris Park said Wednesday in a statement. “Our partners in this round share Gen.G’s mission to reimagine sports entertainment as only an authentically global e-sports organization can.”

In addition to announcing the funding, Gen.G also revealed that Silicon Valley Bank has been named as the company’s banking partner. The two firms will continue working together on upcoming events and content this year and in 2020.

E-sports has become a major business in North America over the past few years, with the launch of the Overwatch League (OWL) last year backed by traditional sports leaders such as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Sacramento Kings co-owner Andy Miller; Hollywood veterans like former Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore (who manages OWL's Los Angeles Gladiators); and such sponsors as HP, Intel, Toyota and T-Mobile. Already massively popular in Asian markets, e-sports global revenue is expected to grow to over $1.6 billion by 2021.