With an expanded audience and new revenue streams, Esports is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
In 2017, the Esports audience was slightly less than 335 million. That number ballooned to 454 million in 2019. Revenues also skyrocketed, according to data from newzoo. In 2018 the global Esports market generated $865 million. That jumped to $1.34 billion in 2020 and has an estimated growth to $1.79 billion by 2022.
It wasn’t the rapid expansion, bump in revenue, or growing global audience that led Unikrn CEO Rahul Sood to leave his “dream-job” at Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report to start Unikrn, an Esports betting and entertainment media company. Instead it was his passion and love for video games. TheStreet asked if people thought he was “crazy” for leaving a job at tech-giant Microsoft only to go out on his own and start a company based around gambling on Esports. With a big smile and a quick laugh, Sood responded “always, there’s no doubt.”
Sood tells TheStreet he grew up playing video games and still now in his mid-40s, he plays every day. He’s spent most of his professional career building computers and gaming systems including Voodoo PC, which he eventually sold to Hewlett-Packard. Sood describes himself as a serial entrepreneur and following his personal passions, like video games, has fueled his career in the gaming and tech industry.
Unikrn’s unique sport betting platform is backed by investors like Mark Cuban, Liz Murdoch, and Ashton Kutcher. The entire Esports industry has some notable investors including Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. Several publicly traded companies like Activision ATVI, Take-Two Interactive TTWO and Electronic Arts EA now host their own Esports tournaments around the globe.
Unikrn gives gamblers the ability to bet on those tournaments but also place wagers on amateur matches. During the coronavirus quarantine and shut down of mainstream sports, gamblers flooded to betting on Esports which helped increase the awareness of the rapidly growing global trend.
Some analysts predict Esports will eventually have the same or more fans across the globe as soccer, which is the world’s most popular sport with 3.5 billion estimated fans.
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