Mentioned in this article
- Korean private equity firm ATU Partners announced the launch of its $17M USD esports private equity fund called ATU Esports Growth Fund.
- The fund acquired Korean esports organization DragonX (formerly Kingzone Dragon X) and California-based talent agency AZYT pre-launch.
- The fund’s limited partners include corporations such as Kakao Games and CJ E&M, as well as institutional investors Woori Technology Investment and SB Partners.
Today, Korean private equity firm ATU Partners announced that it has launched an esports fund, the ATU Esports Growth Fund, with an initial capital of $17M. Furthermore, the firm made public that it has made two acquisitions to add to its esports fund’s portfolio, the Korean esports team DragonX and talent agency AZYT.
The fund’s limited partners include corporations such as Kakao Games and CJ E&M, as well as institutional investors Woori Technology Investment and SB Partners. Allen DeBevoise, an investment expert in media and esports, who is serving as managing director of marketing firm Third Wave Digital, will serve as the chief advisor to the fund and help with access to the North American market as well as setting up strategies for the fund’s portfolio companies.
Jamie Jungmoo Park, a former consultant at McKinsey & Company and head of the Global Business at OGN (an esports broadcasting channel), is managing the ATU Esports Growth Fund. Park founded ATU Partners in May 2019 as a private equity firm focusing on lifestyle companies and also serves as the firm’s CEO.
“The esports industry has been growing rapidly at 30% YoY over the last couple of years. Followed by the investment boom in K-Pop and K-Beauty, we forecast that esports will become the next big investment trend capturing Korea’s strength in the industry,” said Park in a release.
Both of the fund’s current portfolio companies have a common denominator; they pursue bridging the cultural gap between the Asian and the U.S. esports markets. Park met the leadership of AZYT and DragonX through his previous occupation at OGN.
DragonX is an esports organization currently competing in the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK). In a phone call with The Esports Observer, Park talked about several plans for DragonX. He explained that one reason behind the acquisition of DragonX is that the LCK is the last remaining major League of Legends league that is not franchised yet, but according to his sources, franchising is scheduled pretty soon, so owning a current top Korean team increases the chances to attain a franchise slot when the league makes that change.
Furthermore, Park mentioned plans to expand into China and the U.S. by bringing Korean talent into those regions through the establishment of regional teams, especially in games that don’t have a good competitive infrastructure in Korea, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Fortnite.
Park also revealed that ATU Partners wasn’t the only potential buyer for DragonX. Still, the leadership of the team decided to join forces with ATU Partners due to their shared vision for the team and ATU Partners’ esports network and resources, despite receiving higher bids.
The second company added to the fund’s portfolio pre-launch is Los Angeles-based talent agency AZYT. The agency was established in June 2018 by two Korean Americans under the name eBuff and holds an official talent agency license in California. The agency signed more than 70 esports players since its establishment and is expecting to surpass 100 players in management in 2020.
Park further elaborated that ATU Partners is targeting to create a second esports growth fund in Q3 2020, aiming at initial funding of $50M to seek investment in Asian and American digital data platforms & analytics solutions, and coaching platforms.
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