Fnatic, the high-performance esports brand, has announced a $17m funding round led by one of the largest conglomerates in Japan, Marubeni Corporation (“Marubeni”). This investment will incorporate a strategic partnership to support Fnatic’s expansion into the growing Japanese esports sector, and the substantial Asia-Pacific market.
Marubeni’s investment in Fnatic builds upon twelve months of growth, including an 80% year-on-year increase in revenues year-to-date and expansion as a high-performance esports brand. Fnatic will now strengthen its position in the rapidly growing esports market, which Newzoo anticipates will generate $1.08bn in revenues in 2021.
The previous twelve months have also accelerated the growth of the global esports industry, particularly in cornerstone markets such as China and East Asia. Newzoo projects that the worldwide esports audience will grow to 474 million people in 2021, with 92.8 million enthusiasts in China alone. This global audience is expected to reach more than 577 million by 2024.
To tap into this global and growing market, Fnatic has recently strengthened its leadership team with the addition of Georgina Workman (Head of Studios, Previously Appear Here), Julien Dupont (Partnership development, previously Vitality/Havas), Oliver Royce (Head of Apparel, Previously Gymshark) and Patrick Foster (CFO, previously Getaround). It has also continued to develop its high-performance esports brand through expanding its digital and physical performance products – revenues from these ranges have increased by 91 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2021.
The investment from Marubeni will also accelerate Fnatic’s growth in the substantial Asia-Pacific market with a new strategic partnership that will incorporate the expansion of Fnatic’s base of operations in Japan and support for Fnatic’s Rainbow 6 Siege team who plan to relocate to the country. The Japanese esports industry is a significant and growing market, expected to increase in value by more than 250 per cent between 2019 and 2023. More than 6.9 million people attended esports events in Japan in 2020, a 42 per cent increase on the previous year.
The current round includes a range of international family offices and institutional investors, alongside venture debt from Bootstrap. The round comes after Fnatic’s groundbreaking crowdraise in 2020, which was joined by more than 3,500 investors.
Fnatic CEO Sam Mathews said: “We’re so excited to have the strategic know-how of Marubeni leading this funding round. Marubeni’s knowledge of Japan’s business landscape will be a huge asset to Fnatic as we expand our commitment to APAC.”