Why Kleiner Perkins invested in Azarus
Tuesday, June 11th 2019
Jeff Bezos famously focuses on "what's not going to change in the next 10 years." Azarus believes that what's not going to change in gaming is that players want "skin in the game."
One of the earliest esports games was John Madden Football, the first esport game on American college campuses. In fraternities, student unions and dorms, Madden tournament stakes were liquid refreshments, cash money and pride, staring in the early 1990s. Madden was "the ultimate judge" of who had game. It led to nationwide ladders and even an ESPN TV show at the Super Bowl, between trash-talking music artists, pro athletes and homebrew games (who always seemed to win).
Azarus, the first company to build a distributed, user-generated game challenge system, has been born from those Madden roots. In fact, the company's CMO, Erik Whiteford, actually ran those Madden tournaments. So Azarus starts with a deep understanding of the psychology of competition in games.
To this customer expertise, the founding team brings exactly the right stuff to 2019: blockchain expertise (CEO Alex Casassovici) and game company scaling (Andrew Lacy).
Why now? Twitch just launched a 3rd party development platform called "Extensions," and all new platforms need and reward killer apps. Esports are growing fast, capturing attention, and inspiring more gamers to compete, as Madden players have been doing for almost 3 decades. And blockchain (EOS platform) offers a wallet-free, frictionless settlement system, so that challenge "contracts" can't be ducked by the loser.
Why Azarus? We believe the company has first-mover advantage, industry credibility, and spectacular early test results with Ubisoft's Rainbow Six Siege™, which increased sessions and Concurrent Viewers by 3-10x for a cohort of streamers.
What's next? Azarus is rolling out publisher-to-player challenges first, followed by streamer-to-viewer and eventually gamer-to-gamer challenge types.
How big can it get? In the words of the founders, Azarus can become "what Twitch is to streams, what Discord is to chat, we will become to challenges."
We'll take that bet.