With eSports conitinually growing (≈150M users/month), the world might have found the most globally unifying actvity since real sports. As the gaming world expands to new horizons, one company is succesfully keeping up. Azubu, the eSports livestreaming platform has reached global porportions with headquarters in 3 countries connecting gamers from around the world for an unprecedented viewing experience.
We chatted with CTO Reed Anderson, and spoke about their recent funding as well as about the emerging industry of eSports.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Sapinda is our investor, and with our latest bond issuance, we raised 55 million Euros.
Tell us about your product or service.
Azubu is the global streaming platform focused on eSports and the eSports lifestyle, offering unparalleled features that make it the smart choice for eSports broadcasters, fans, and brands.
From in-depth stats modules to customizable channel layouts to clickable overlays and more, Azubu offers an unprecedented level of detail for gaming professionals, up-and-coming streamers, the fans that support them, and brands that are committed to this space.
What inspired you to start the company?
Azubu was founded in 2011 in Korea, and in 2013, the entire management team and mostly all of the employees shifted. The focus and business strategy completely changed after bringing in Ian Sharpe as the new CEO, and we’ve been thriving ever since.
How is it different?
Azubu has a few different features that really set us apart from the competition. First and foremost, we’re truly a global network. We work with broadcasters and eSports fans around the world. Origen, for example, is based in Berlin, Germany, and they’re one of our biggest partnered competitive eSports teams. In addition, we have major exclusive broadcasting partners in Brazil, China, Korea, and Russia, just to name a few.
The rest comes down to innovation, and ensuring we’re always putting the broadcaster first. We have developed a very unique channel creation experience which allows broadcasters to create their own personalized channel, including inserting modules that can be placed anywhere on their page and can be any size the broadcaster would like. The modules can contain a wide range of images and information, including links to social profiles, artwork, personal profiles, stats, etc. In addition, we have 24/7 live customer support in four separate languages: English, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian. Our platform is 100% in the cloud and global and our new video player supports HLS, 4K, 60fps, and clickable overlays.
With all of these unique features provided by Azubu, we feel confident that we provide a one-of-a-kind destination for the eSports community.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
To really answer this question, I think it’s important to acknowledge the size of the eSports economy in general. Accoding to NewZoo, eSports viewers were up to 147 million per month in 2015. With that said, Azubu is truly global and we focus on a number of regions. In the last 6-8 months, we have really focused on emerging markets, including Brazil, China, and Russia. But we look to grow and develop partnerships and audiences all over the world.
What’s your business model?
Azubu is a global streaming platform focused on eSports. Our business model leans towards growing the community tied to viewing and streaming gaming content, and building partnerships with professional broadcasters, publishers, developers, and a broad range of companies across the gaming and entertainment spectrum that want to engage with our highly-coveted users. In addition, this year we plan on focusing even more on monetization, with new features in development that are monumental for both endemic and non-endemic advertisers.
What was the funding process like?
We have worked with Sapinda since the beginning, so the process was smooth.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The biggest challenges are managing expectations around delivering innovative technology in a timely fashion.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Livestreaming and eSports have grown exponentially over the last year, and so has Azubu. Our investors know the value in this business, and see the growth of the company and the industry is only going up. Because of this, they felt confident continuing to work with and fund our operation.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Our goals are to continue to advance our product and technology, offering incomparable streaming services worldwide. In addition, we’d like to target and develop emerging eSports regions, and build and execute ongoing long-term partnerships with teams, players, organizations, and companies.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Be focused on what you do and what sets you apart. Target a specific area and try to perfect that before branching out and widening the net. Have a clear 6-12 month plan in place and an overall strategy before pitching your company to investors. And don’t give up!
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Azubu will continue to develop in our technology and rolling out platform features that set us apart from the rest. One key feature is our video player. We have built a bleeding edge live video player that supports clickable overlays but is delivery and encoder agnostic. We leverage Open Source and have added our own features that are directly for the eSports broadcasters (e.g., clickable stream overlays and real-time statistics). We’ll also look to build partnerships, and hone in on regions all over the world. Those are currently our main focuses.
What’s your favorite LA bar, when you need to kick back and relax?
I’d have to say Blue Dog Tavern. It’s right near our offices, and it’s fun to just hop over after work with some of your colleagues for a pint, catching up, and some relaxation!