Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with comments from SeventySix Capital and John Fazio of N3rd Street Gamer regarding SeventySix Capital’s investment.
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Radnor-based venture capital firm SeventySix Capital is placing a bet on the burgeoning esports industry—competitive multiplayer video gaming—with an investment in N3rd Street Gamers (NSG), a venture led by entrepreneurs John Fazio and Rob Hilsky. A spokeswoman for SeventySix Capital declined to disclose the dollar value of the investment, but said the firm typically makes investments in the range from $250,000 to $1 million. John Fazio, CEO of N3rd Street Gamers, declined to be specific about the investment.
“All I care to say about the investment number is that it’s enough capital for us to double the size of our current location and expand to two new cities,” he said in reply to questions from SmartCEO.
SeventySix Capital is managed by Wayne Kimmel, who founded the firm in 1999, Jon Powell, who also leads Kravco Company, a real estate developer as CEO, and Ryan Howard, Major League Baseball 2005 Rookie of the Year, and the fastest player to log 100 and 200 home runs in MLB history.
“There’s no denying that esports are rapidly growing in popularity,” said Howard. “Events and leagues are now broadcast to tens of millions of viewers online and on traditional television.
Founded in 2009, NSG empowers esports communities with arena facilities, production studios, gaming equipment, administration and broadcast services. SeventySix Capital invests in consumer-facing technology companies in the sports, retail and health industries.
With the investment from SeventySix Capital and private investor George Miller, NSG will expand its dedicated esports arena – Localhost in Philadephia, open new locations across the United States to empower more esports communities, and partner with additional major brands and athletes to bring esports further into the spotlight.
“As the success of leagues continue, the esports industry desperately needs infrastructure like N3rd Street Gamers and Localhost for players to practice, compete and succeed,” said Kimmel.
NSG will also have access to SeventySix Capital’s industry connections, portfolio company Whistle Sports, a digital sports media company with more than 350 million fans and followers, and partner firm Rubicon Talent, a sports and entertainment agency in New York representing a wide range of clients, including MLB legend Cal Ripken Jr.; NFL All-Pro running back DeMarco
Murray; NBC Sports’ Dan Hicks; and three-time Olympics gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings.
“I want to thank our loyal gaming communities here in Philadelphia and the surrounding region for getting us to where we are today, and our partners at SeventySix Capital for their confidence and investment, which will allow us to deliver our unique experiences to people all over the country,” said Fazio.
NSG produces both small- and large-scale esports events for games like “CS:GO,” “StarCraft II,” “Hearthstone” and the recent official “Madden Challenger,” one of four sanctioned in the United States by publisher Electronic Arts (EA). The firm also hosts an annual summer championship event attracting more than 2,500 casual and professional gamers to Philadelphia from across the world. On the popular streaming platform Twitch, the 2017 summer event attracted over 22,000 live concurrent viewers.