Some of Hollywood’s better known execs and financiers — led by Peter Guber and Ted Leonsis — have caught the esports bug: This morning they unveiled a deal to buy a controlling interest in Team Liquid, a major franchise with more than 50 players on 10 teams that compete in tournaments with games including StarCraft 2, League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, Halo, Street Fighter,and SSBM.
Guber, who’s CEO of the Mandalay Entertainment Group, and Leonsis, majority owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, will be Co-Executive Chairmen of a new esports ownership group called aXiomatic. Other backers include NBA star Magic Johnson, AOL co-Founder Steve Case, entrepreneur Tony Robbins, and Dick Clark Productions CEO Alan Shapiro.
Bruce Stein will be CEO of aXiomatic. His background includes leadership stints at Mattel Toys, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Hasbro’s Kenner Products.
Team Liquid Co-CEOs Steve Arhancet and Victor Goossens will keep those jobs. Goossens says in a blog post that “everything will be the same but better.” He also plans to “write a long-form blog post in the coming weeks that will provide more insight into our decision and newly formed partnership. It will describe my hopes and aspirations, but it will also touch upon worries and concerns that we have had to think deeply about.”
The new ownership group hopes to turn Team Liquid into a major sports entertainment franchise.
“Ted, myself and the individuals that comprise our ownership group have an enormous wealth of experience and talents across virtually every major media and sports business category,” says Guber — who’s CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group and co-owns the Golden State Warriors (NBA), Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) and Los Angeles Football Club (MLS).
Leonsis says that Team Liquid “has the potential to create all new experiences for esports audiences worldwide.”
The former AOL exec’s Monumental Sports & Entertainment owns the Washington Capitals (NHL), Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Mystics (WNBA), Washington Valor (Arena football) and Washington, D.C’s Verizon Center. Leonsis also is co-founder of Revolution Growth, a $1 billion set of investment funds.
Here’s the full list of investors backing aXiomatic:
• Monumental Sports & Entertainment – One of the largest sports and entertainment companies in the country, Monumental own and operates professional sports teams such as the NHL’s Washington Capitals, NBA’s Washington Wizards, and WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the AFL’s Washington Valor
• Magic Johnson – Hall of Fame basketball player and serial entrepreneur
• Steve Case – Chairman & CEO Revolution, Co-Founder of AOL
• Donn Davis – Co-Founder of Revolution and Managing Partner of Revolution Growth
• Dick Glover – Representing Mandalay Sports Media and their current President and CEO, former EVP of ESPN, former CEO Funny or Die.
• Tony Robbins – Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and life & business strategist
• NextVR – Industry leading VR company specializing in live VR sporting events for FOX Sports, NBC Sports, HBO/Golden Boy, etc.
• Alan Shapiro – CEO of Dick Clark productions
• Mike Mahan – President of Dick Clark Productions
• Lon Rosen – EVP, Chief Marketing Officer of the Los Angeles Dodgers
• Tucker Kain – CFO, Los Angeles Dodgers and Managing Director, Guggenheim Baseball
• Rick Welts – President, COO of the Golden State Warriors
Brandon Schneider – SVP Business Development of the Golden State Warriors
• Kirk Lacob – Assistant General Manager at Golden State Warriors, Co-founder of imoji
• Harry Tsao – General Partner of Juvo Capital, Co-founder of Juvo+
• Paul Schaeffer – Vice Chairman, COO of the Mandalay Entertainment Group
• Jason Sugarman – Founder, Chairman, CEO of Valor Group Holdings
• Blake Byers – General Partner of Google Ventures (GV)
• Chad Byers – Co-founder and General Partner of Susa Ventures
• Mark Scher – Founder, Principal of Scher Investment Group
• Jordan Rambis – VP Development IDW, tech/esports consultant
• Fred Schaufeld – Managing Director SWaN & Legend Venture Partners
• Zachary Leonsis – VP and General Manager of Monumental Sports Network
• Eric Lefkofsky – Co-founder of Groupon, Innerworkings, Echo, Uptake Technologies and Lightbank
• Brad Keywell – Co-founder of Groupon, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Lightbank, CEO of Uptake Technologies.
• Lerner Enterprises – Managing principal owners of the Washington Nationals MLB team, Owners of Lerner Enterprises
Tom Kartsotis – Founder, CEO of Bedrock Manufacturing (owner of Shinola and Filson), founder of FOSSIL
• Russ Ramsey – Chairman, CEO of Ramsey Asset Management, co-founder of investment firm Friedman, Billings, Ramsey
• Jeong Kim – Chairman of Kiswe Mobile; Former President of Bell Labs
• Mark Ein – Chairman of Kastle System, CEO Capitol Acquisition Corp, Founder and Owner of World TeamTennis franchise the Washington Kastles
• Crane Kenney – President Baseball Operations, Chicago Cubs
• Larry Barden – Chair, Management Committee at Sidley Austin LLP
• Dhani Jones – Entrepreneur; Investor; TV Host; Former NFL Linebacker
• Tony Nader – Managing Director SWaN & Legend Venture Partners
• Paul Strauss – EVP Mandalay Pictures