Epic Games, the developers of the online gaming sensation Fortnite, announced a $1.78 billion round of funding on Thursday, raising the company’s valuation to $17.3 billion.
This round, coming from primary capital and secondary purchases from employee equity holders, includes a previously announced $250 million from Sony Corporation, along with investments from Baillie Gifford, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper.
“Having the support of leaders in the financial community accelerates Epic’s efforts to build a new kind of digital ecosystem using real-time 3D technology, services that connect hundreds of millions of people, and a digital storefront that offers a fair business model,” Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said.
Since beginning the studio in 1991, Sweeney has been able to lure in big-time investors to the Cary, N.C.-based company. In October 2018, Epic received a $1.25 billion investment from KKR, Smash Ventures, Vulcan Capital and five others, and the Chinese internet and tech conglomerate Tencent is a 40% stakeholder, having bought in for $330 million in 2012.
The money eventually led to Fortnite having one of the largest esports prize pools to date with $30 million divided amongst the winners of the 2019 Fortnite World Cup. And even with the battle royale gaming market expanding, Fortnite, which debuted in 2017, has still managed to dominate its opponents from player count, esports competitions and tournament earnings.
Though Epic had to cancel the 2020 Fortnite World Cup due to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, the game has still enjoyed immense success. Drawing in more than 350 million players worldwide, it hosts a wide variety of modes for players to play competitively or leisurely. In addition to Fortnite, Epic Games also developed the Unreal Engine, a popular gaming engine that has been used for award-winning games within the Batman: Arkham series and Injustice: Gods Among Us and has also been used in film and television effects production.
Credit Suisse and The Raine Group acted as joint placement agents to Epic, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati provided legal counsel to Epic.