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All of those firms were formed in the past decade, and they are making up for the fact that no game-specific VC funds served game startups from 1972 to 2009, said Evan Van Zelfden, managing director at Games One, in an interview with GamesBeat.
Based on the list, the largest fund is the New York-based Galaxy Interactive, which has $260 million under management in a fund established in 2018. Griffin Gaming Partners of Santa Monica, California, was started in 2019, and it is second with $235 million under management, and Makers Fund of Singapore is third with $200 million under management.
But it gets interesting with Bitkraft Ventures, the Berlin-based fund started in 2016 with $183.5 million under management. Bitkraft recently filed papers with the Securities & Exchange Commission saying it is raising $200 million for a second fund, and it is also raising $100 million for an opportunity fund.
Van Zelfden said that he expects the amounts under management to rise as more funds raise larger amounts for their second or third funds.
“The scary thing is how fast all of this capital is being amassed,” Van Zelfen said.
The 15 funds will draw down an estimated $300 million in management fees over their lifetime. Based on performance, they may achieve additional earnings of $552 million from carried interest, Van Zelfden said.
To meet expectations, their successful portfolio companies — the game startups that they are investing in — will need to reach an estimated total lifetime value exceeding $45 billion through acquisition or public listing, according to Game One.
The total staff at the funds is about 125 people. The funds are in cities where the money is: New York, Santa Monica, Hong Kong, London, Berlin, Moscow, Denver, San Francisco, Singapore, Helsinki, Tel Aviv, Kirkland, and New Delhi. It’s striking how little presence the game VC funds have in Japan, which is a fountain of creativity when it comes to creating video games, Van Zelfden said. It may be because Japan doesn’t have as strong of a startup culture as other countries.
The list doesn’t include most corporate investors — with the exception of the relatively independent MGVC as part of My.Games — such as Chinese firms Tencent and NetEase. The list also doesn’t include multi-industry VC funds that have game-focused partners, such as Kleiner Perkins, which includes Bing Gordon as a chief product officer.
All told, I’ve counted more than 30 funds, corporate investors, and multi-industry VCs investing in the game industry. Recent historical data suggests that 10% of total money raised is from game-specific VCs, while the remaining 90% comes from the broader VC ecosystem.
“The modern gaming entrepreneur is more empowered than ever before via specialized VC, although they face increased competition for capital from other game start-ups,” Van Zelfen said.
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