Esports fan competition platform Taunt raises $1.75m

Esports startup Taunt has today announced that it has closed $1.75m (£1.33m) seed financing round. 

Taunt is ‘a social competition platform for esports fans. It uses data and machine learning to create companion experiences for fans watching broadcasts’. 

Ben Gilbert, Pioneer Square Labs

The financing round was led by Foundry Group, an early stage Zynga investor, Brad Feld and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital. Taunt is the fifth spinout of Pioneer Square Labs whose founders, Geoff Entress, Greg Gottesman and Mike Galgon participated in the round. 

Ben Gilbert, Co-Founder of Pioneer Square Labs, is the interim CEO of the new venture. He said: “We’re looking to make watching esports a much richer experience.

“The status quo today is an unreadable river of chat messages and message boards. The fans deserve a real social layer with competition, reputation, and statistics to engage around the game.”

As part of the financing, Brad Feld of Foundry Group will be joining Galgon and Gilbert on the board. Feld made a comparison between Zynga and Taunt: “Zynga built social games on top of the tidal wave of social networks. The phenomenon of esports provides a new frontier for similar types of interactive experiences.”

The Taunt team (giving their best esports pro team pose)

Galgon meanwhile made a bold assessment of esports’ future: “Esports will dwarf traditional sports in global viewership.

“A competitive social fabric like Taunt will be foundational to this growth as it electrifies the game experience for experts while also providing an on-ramp to esports for new fans. And, importantly, it connects all of these fans in a single experience. Being an esports fan is still largely a single-player experience. With Taunt, it’s a multi-player one.”

Taunt will be releasing an alpha product to fans for feedback during the League of Legends World Championship. Early access is available at www.TauntNow.gg.

Esports Insider says: Another sizable investment into a company focused on the esports space, and another group of seed investors convinced of esports’ sizable potential to continue to grow its audience. We’re intrigued to see how this one plays out, and what Taunt come up with to add value and fun to those watching games.