Early Zynga Investor Brad Feld and Paul Allen’s Vulcan back latest Pioneer Square Labs spinout in fast-growing esports market
SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–September 7, 2017–
Esports startup Taunt announced today that it has closed a $1.75 million seed financing round, led by Foundry Group. Taunt is the fifth spinout of Pioneer Square Labs (“PSL”), whose founders, Geoff Entress, Greg Gottesman and Mike Galgon participated in the round. In addition to Foundry Group and the Pioneer Square Labs co-founders, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital and multiple angels invested in the financing.
Ben Gilbert, co-founder of PSL, is the interim CEO of the new venture.
“We’re looking to make watching esports a much richer experience,” Gilbert said. “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. Foundry Group was previously an early-stage investor in Zynga, and sees a similar opportunity here. “Zynga built social games on top of the tidal wave of social networks,” Feld said. “The phenomenon of esports provides a new frontier for similar types of interactive experiences.”
Esports is a fast-growing industry with an enormous global footprint. According to research firm NewZoo, the estimated 2017 global audience will reach 385 million people. The 2016 League of Legends World Championship Finals alone had 43 million unique viewers, as reported by Riot Games.
“Esports will dwarf traditional sports in global viewership,” said Galgon. “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.”
Gilbert concludes, “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.
Taunt is a social competition platform for esports fans. It uses data and machine learning to create companion experiences for fans watching broadcasts. More information is available at www.TauntNow.gg.
About Pioneer Square Labs
Pioneer Square Labs is a Seattle-based startup studio that tests and validates startup ideas, then funds and recruits a founding team around the most promising concepts. For more information, visit www.pioneersquarelabs.com.
About Foundry Group
Foundry Group is a venture capital firm that invests in information technology, Internet, and software startups. It works alongside entrepreneurs to give birth to new technologies and to build those technologies into industry-leading companies. It is located in Boulder, CO but invests in companies across North America. For more information, visit www.foundrygroup.com.