E-sports is gaining on regular sports. Globally, e-sports brought in $865 million in revenue last year, and projections for this year are even higher. So it's no surprise more startups are trying to get in on the action.
Santa Monica-based FanAI recently announced an $8 million Series A funding round led by Japanese conglomerate Marubeni, bringing the e-sports company's total funding to more than $12.5 million.
FanAI has built its business on monetizing e-sports audiences — or, in layman's terms, the crowds that tune in to watch professional gamers play video games. The company's platform uses AI to analyze user data and help e-sports brands and sponsors track demographics across broadcasting channels, or project buyer behavior for e-sports fans.
The company plans to use its new funding to fuel its expansion into Asia, where the e-sports industry generates the bulk of its revenue.
“We couldn’t imagine a better strategic investor than Marubeni to help realize our business objectives in a brand new market,” Johannes Waldstein, CEO of FanAI, said in a statement. “Marubeni has forged incredibly strong business relationships throughout the region, and with this partnership we are positioned to expand our team and continue to build out our self serve sponsorship data platform.”
FanAI has partnered with a handful of known brands in e-sports, including Capcom, 100 Thieves and the Cavs Legion NBA2K league.