VY Esports raises seed round led by Raine Ventures

VY Esports, a content and services platform based in Los Angeles that’s aiming to bridge the gap between esports and brands, announced last week that it has raised a seed round led by Raine Ventures.

This round saw participation from Courtside Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures and other notable investors in the esports space. VY Esports will use the financing to ‘invest in talent acquisition and build its operations as well as partner relationships’. In addition as a part of the arrangement, Blair Ford, Venture Partner of Raine Ventures, will join the company’s Board of Directors.

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Oleg Butenko, CEO and Founder of VY Esports commented: “Esports remains a largely untapped market for brands due to fragmentation and lack of structure across the many events and titles in the industry.

“Our goal is to bring non-endemic brands and media companies into esports by aggregating the inventory around existing events and by creating branded content linking separate events together. Given their respective experience and reach in the worlds of sports, media and technology, Raine, Courtside and Elysian Park are important partners and we are excited to work with them and leverage their expertise to grow the business.”

Blair Ford, Venture Partner of Raine Ventures added: “The VY Esports platform will create new opportunities for marketers to tap into the highly engaged and growing global esports audience at much greater scale, while also helping event organisers better monetise their tournaments.

“Oleg has an impressive history of creating and leading businesses, including in the esports space, and we are excited to work with him to help bring this new platform to marketers around the world.”

VY Esports will look to work with advertisers to develop and distribute branded content for esports events and tournaments globally. The aim is that they’ll bring together ad inventory across events, titles and distribution channels into one central platform.  

Content will include narrative-driven video around the players, game highlights, in-depth analysis, recap shows, news, behind-the-scenes content and more.

VY will also develop its own events and tournaments, including college tournaments and showcase events. VY will partner with existing players in the event organisation space as opposed to producing another Major or Minor for a specific title. 

Oleg Butenko’s business experience to date is varied. He has worked across music, telecom, and esports; he helped grow OTT services platform Megalabs, launched United Music Agency, a leading music aggregator in Russia, and he co-founded ESForce.

Esports Insider says: With Oleg Butenko at the helm of VY Esports, the company stands in good stead to succeed given his track record in business to date. It’ll be fascinating to see which partners they establish themselves with for the events side, and we can assume, given the ESForce connection, that they may look to do something in Russia first.