A Frisco startup aims to capitalize on the rapidly growing esports industry with its big-name backers, renowned teams, and multifaceted approach to the business.
Infinite Esports & Entertainment, founded in 2016, is backed by Texas Rangers co-owner Neil Leibman and Infinite co-founder Chris Chaney. In November, the two acquired a major stake in esports organization OpTic Gaming, with Leibman committing to invest at least $10 million over time and serving as the majority owner. OpTic has since begun relocated from Chicago to Frisco. Infinite Esports & Entertainment will serve as a holding company that along with OpTic Gaming will comprise an esports youth development program, an event management and broadcast production arm, a creative studio, and a business development division. The company expects to employ about 50 people across its different businesses this month, says Chaney.
“The team [OpTic] is the crown jewel, but around that we can build complimentary businesses,” Chaney says, adding that the businesses could potentially support other esports organizations. “That’s the beauty of it—a lot of the infrastructure [for esports organizations] hasn’t been built.”
OpTic Gaming will operate out of the Frisco headquarters at LaunchPad City, a sports and esports accelerator and incubator that located at the space formerly occupied by NTEC. Infinite’s other businesses employ more than 40 people. The company currently generates revenue mostly via sponsorships, merchandise sales, prize money, and streaming content. But the main sources of revenue could soon all change once the ancillary businesses are beefed up, Chaney says.
“You’re starting to see a spike and resources that are put behind teams all with an overall goal [of] … looking to drive revenues and ultimately create … stability in the space,” Chaney says. “If there’s one big headline, it’s a fast-growing industry … that’s changing drastically right in front of our eyes.”
The popularity of esports has been on the rise, with viewership of professional video gamers reaching new heights. In 2015, Mark Cuban jumped into the game when he invested in Unikrn, an esports platform. Leibman now joins the growing list of big betters on the emerging industry industry.
Infinite has also raised smaller amounts of funding from a group of investors, who funded different aspects of its business. That group included Deep Space Ventures, led by Stephen Hays.