Meg Whitman, the former head of eBay and Hewlett-Packard, has decided that there’s a big future for eSports.
Whitman, who is also CEO of an as-yet-unnamed media platform incubated at WndrCo, has invested in and joined the board of Immortals, the competitive videogame organization that fields teams in games such as Rainbow Six Siege and Arena of Valor. According to a Wall Street Journal article, Whitman’s investment has no public figure on it, but it values Immortals at over $100 million.
The eSports industry is growing fast, to the point where some have floated the idea of the genre’s inclusion in the Olympic Games.
That won’t happen anytime soon, though—International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said a few days ago that the decision to include eSports in the Olympics probably wouldn’t happen during his tenure, due to a variety of “unanswered questions.” Bach may be re-elected in 2021 for another four-year term, in which case eSports will remain off the Olympic menu until at least the 2028 Los Angeles Games.
According to Whitman, the global audience for the phenomenon now totals some 400 million people, and annual revenue is over $800 million, which is more than double what it was four years ago. As with “real” sports, the cash comes from things like ticket sales and corporate sponsorships. “I’ve seen very few things capture people’s imagination like this,” Whitman told the Journal.
Immortals has also seen investment from AEG and Lions Gate Entertainment. Founder Noah Whinston told the Journal that he was keen for Whitman to come on board because she turned eBay from a “niche, community-oriented site… into something mainstream.”