SBJ/June 19-25, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

ReKTGlobal positions itself as a clearinghouse for all things esports

An investment platform controlled by New York Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon is among the backers of ReKTGlobal, a new esports agency that plans to connect brands, venues and festival organizers to competitive gaming opportunities.

Sterling Select, a division of Wilpon’s Sterling Equities, joins Skylark Marketing founder Dave Bialek and Charlotte-based investor Amish Shah in founding ReKTGlobal. Bialek, a 2009 SportsBusiness Journal Forty Under 40 honoree, will be CEO.

Chris Steele, managing partner of Sterling Select, said an agency approach appealed to him as a way of helping the broader Sterling portfolio, including Citi Field, profit off esports while stopping short of the higher-risk tactic of buying a team as other pro sports owners have done.

“We see esports as basically a very large chapter in the book of differentiated content coming to venues, and bridging those venues to millennials, and Generation Xers with their families,” Steele said. It’s the second esports play from Sterling Equities, which in 2015 invested in mobile esports platform Skillz.

ReKTGlobal builds on an agency Shah launched himself last October. It will operate several business lines:

ReKTAgency, a corporate consulting shop, ReKTVenues, which will provide gaming content and programming to sports and event venues; ReKTLive, which will help bring gaming events to conventions and festivals; ReKTMedia, a production company; ReKTJobs, a jobs board; and ReKTUniversity, a collegiate consultancy.

It will work on revenue-sharing deals, joint ventures and consulting fees. “Our ReKTLive festival business will very quickly be a significant driver of revenue for us,” Bialek said.

Along with the founding backers, ReKTGlobal has raised a $2 million seed round from as-yet-unnamed investors. Sterling Select is a venture development platform, not a venture capital fund, and its initial investment is the in-kind labor of Steele and fellow adviser Chris Golden.

O’Melveny & Myers partner Chuck Baker is on board as general counsel.

To demonstrate its industry bona fides, ReKTGlobal has hired Kevin Knocke, a veteran esports content producer, as its vice president of esports, and has enlisted Ryan Griffin, a 2016 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate who organized the Clash of the Carolinas esports event. The business and its accompanying website, www.rektglobal.com, will launch June 26.

Bialek said he saw an opportunity in esports after he realized how much difficulty corporate clients were having in navigating the industry.

“One of the primary drivers for me into this market was the fact that the nonendemic brands just simply don’t know what to do here, and I also know that those brands, almost every one of them, has an incredibly difficult time reaching this millennial audience,” Bialek said.


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