Veteran Financier Jason Sugarman Talks Investing in E-Sports

Jason Sugarman is best known for his private equity and debt-based investing. He has also made a fortune in the asset-based lending sector. So it comes as a surprise to some that Mr. Sugarman’s latest endeavor is e-sports investing. Perhaps, not so surprising to his closest friends. Mr. Sugarman is a famous sports lover and has made a number of investments in traditional sports. He is one of the many famous investors in the Los Angeles Football Club, which will debut next year. He owns several other sports teams including the Oklahoma City Dodgers. So how does a football loving financier bet his stakes on online games like Overwatch?

The Next Big Sports Investment

E-sports is already raking in massive profits. For Mr. Sugarman, who regularly deals with major profit-making sports, investing in e-sports is only natural. E-sports refers to games that are played via an electronic system, like a gaming console or a computer. Video gaming is no longer a cornered subculture. The industry earns billions in profits each year, and established titles, like Halo and Starcraft, have huge global followings. There’s a lot of money to be made in e-sports for both developers and sports investors.

It’s estimated that e-sports revenue may pass the $1 billion markers by 2019. In 2015, the industry made about $325 million, over a 40 percent increase over the annual profits of the previous year. It’s hard to believe that the growth of the industry could be stalled, especially when countries like China are adding new games each year.

Mr. Sugarman’s interest in e-sports follows his love of classic games like football and baseball. Sure, there’s a lot that can be made by investing in teams. But there’s also the thrill of the game that surpasses profit motives. So far, Mr. Sugarman is still a “noob” or a newcomer when it comes to e-sports. He is not heavily involved in playing the games, but closely watches rising talent that gets ranked globally.

Team Liquid

Mr. Sugarman’s choice e-sports team is Team Liquid, one of the biggest in the whole gaming world. He has made considerable investments in the team. He is not alone. A number of other celebrities have also invested in Team Liquid, including easily recognizable business celebs like Tony Robbins, the “CEO whisperer,” Paul Schaeffer of Mandalay Entertainment, and Eric Lefkofsky, the co-founder of Groupon. Even the basketball luminary Magic Johnson is an investor in the team. Team Liquid is a star player in immensely popular online games like StarCraft 2, Overwatch, and Halo.

Are Virtual Sports the Future?

While Mr. Sugarman is quite excited about his e-sports investments, his mind is never off his real sports passion, football. He believes that e-sports will play a major role in the future, but do not think that it will be able to surpass classic sports like football.