Backers include Adidas and Declaration Partners, an investment firm backed by the family office of Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein. Bitkraft has now raised more than $183 million to date and invested in more than 50 companies.
The group hopes that the surge in online gaming as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will translate into new opportunity across the industry. There are 244 million gamers in the U.S., up 15% from two years ago, according to NPD Group data, and the vast majority say they’re playing more often since the pandemic started.
“While we are living in challenging times, our industry is experiencing strong tailwinds and unprecedented opportunities,” said Jens HIlgers, Bitkraft’s founding general partner. “There is no better time for Bitkraft to invest.”
Bitkraft officially launched in 2017 as the world’s first esports-specific venture fund. It raised an initial $18.5 million from a group that included Inner Circle Sports and aXiomatic, an esports company led by pro sports team owners Peter Guber (Golden State Warriors) and Ted Leonsis (Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards).
The company’s mission has since expanded beyond esports to include the larger gaming industry and other forms of media. Its portfolio includes Bit Fry Game Studios, which has licensing deals with the NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLB and NFL Players Association, and Venn, a new digital media company hoping to become the ESPN of esports.
Other investors in the new fund include Jonathan Soros’s investment fund and computer hardware company Logitech.