Anzu, the global advertising platform dedicated to gaming, has announced $9 million in new funding. The round was co-led by BITKRAFT Ventures and HBSE Ventures, with participation from the world’s largest marketing services organization WPP and Sony Innovation Fund, the investment arm of one of the world’s largest gaming groups and the owner of PlayStation, as well as Alumni Ventures Group, the leading LGBT+ VC Gaingels, iconic baseball team The Chicago Cubs, Goal Ventures, and prominent angel investors Marc Merrill, Co-Founder, Co-Chairman, and former Co-CEO of Riot Games and Dylan Collins, Co-Founder and CEO of SuperAwesome, the industry’s leading kid-safe ad platform recently acquired by Epic Games. This funding will be used to catalyze Anzu’s commercial growth and fuel sales and marketing activities to propel the company forward on a global scale. The investors will act as strategic partners and Anzu will remain an independent company.
The gaming industry is now larger than the music and film industries combined and is expected to reach approximately $257 billion by 2025. Brands have recognized the potential of gaming and have finally begun to venture into gaming as an advertising channel. “Gaming is one activity that has exploded over the past year and increasingly an important advertising channel,” said WPP CEO Mark Read. “In partnership with Anzu, together with our agencies, we can make it simpler for them to reach the growing audience in the esports and gaming space.”
Operating across console, PC, and mobile platforms, Anzu’s state-of-the-art programmatic technology blends real-world ads into the highest quality video games, esports tournaments, and live streams, enhancing games’ realism and transforming game objects into valuable advertising opportunities. Clients include game publishers Ubisoft, Lion Castle, and Nacon and global brands Pepsico, Samsung, American Eagle, and Vodafone.
“Anzu has been delivering the technology they promised and growing their industry footprint. We are excited to join this funding round and support Anzu, entering a new phase of growth in in-game advertising. The company’s gamer-first attitude will enable developers to access new business models and bring advertisers closer to gamer audiences without disturbing gameplay,” says Gen Tsuchikawa, CEO and Chief Investment Officer at Innovation Growth Ventures, Sony Innovation Fund.
With battle-tested technology in place, Anzu’s roadmap includes new products that will complement and amplify its core technology. Planned expansion to the U.S., starting with Los Angeles and New York, as well as to Singapore, China, and other core locations will strategically position Anzu globally, facilitating opportunities to network and nurture relationships with global game developers and local advertisers critical to Anzu’s growth.
“We are proud to have global leaders in advertising, entertainment, gaming, esports, and venture capital invest in Anzu’s next stage of growth,” says Itamar Benedy, Co-Founder and CEO at Anzu. “These trailblazers are the perfect combination of strategic partners to help us maintain our dominating position as we enter 2021.”
“Since our initial investment, the Anzu team has built the most sophisticated platform to deliver blended in-game advertisement at scale in the higher-end games segment. The impressive line up of game integrations combined with brands executing unique campaigns on the platform has validated Anzu’s market position and technology. We are proud to invest alongside this stellar group of co-investors and look forward to seeing the Anzu team continue to redefine in-game advertisement!” says Jens Hilgers, Founding General Partner at BITKRAFT.
BITKRAFT Ventures is a global early- and mid-stage investment platform for gaming, esports, and interactive media. Founded by esports veteran Jens Hilgers, BITKRAFT serves a worldwide network that spans the industry’s most forward-thinking startups and founders working to build and operate the virtual worlds and economies of the future. BITKRAFT started actively investing in 2015, operates four Venture Funds with a total of over $240M USD in assets under management and has over 50 companies in its global portfolio.
BITKRAFT’s experienced international team creates significant value through early candid partnerships, unparalleled domain expertise, entrepreneurial history, and a global ecosystem of strategic partners.
HBSE Ventures is an early stage venture capital fund committed to finding and partnering with entrepreneurs to build the next category-defining companies in sports and entertainment technology. The HBSE Ventures team includes world-class venture inventors with technology domain and operating experience. HBSE Ventures is investing out of its second fund, and was created in 2018 within Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, a leading sports and entertainment company with a focus on inspiring possibilities in people and enhancing the communities where we live, work, play and win.