Above: The ESL esports finals for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in Katowice, Poland. Image Credit: ESL
Greycroft venture partner Jon Goldman has closed a $15.6 million fund to invest in virtual reality, augmented reality, games, and esports. Greycroft Partners is a limited partner and investor in the GC VR Gaming Tracker Fund, but Goldman will be investing the fund on his own as he looks for smaller investments ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 per startup. While Goldman recently closed the fund, he has already made 20 investments in since early 2016, Goldman said in an exclusive interview with GamesBeat.
Goldman’s portfolio includes Mindshow, LiveLike, SliverTV, Littlstar, UploadVR, and FanAI. The fund has committed more than $4 million in investments so far, but Goldman said that he expects he’ll have money to invest through 2019.
“We have a lot of dry powder,” Goldman said. “That’s because we are not likely to be making follow-on investments, as that is the kind of thing that Greycroft would do if they wanted.”
Tracker is the a vertically focused seed fund that taps Goldman’s industry expertise. And the larger Greycroft Partners has already made a larger, later-stage investment in one of Goldman’s picks. Goldman said the new fund will help Greycroft invest more strategically in AR and VR.
“AR, VR, video games and e-sports continue to grow tremendously and spawn entirely new user experiences and industries,” said Goldman. “Through our investments, we can help these startups reach the next stage of market adoption. We are committed to helping new teams, not only through capital, but also with connections and strategic advice.”
“We have been working together for four years and are excited to dive deeper into VR, AR, e- sports and video gaming with an operator like Jon who has lived in the space for years,” said Dana Settle, cofounder and partner of Greycroft, in a statement. “We have already co-invested with Tracker in a number of companies and believe this sector-specific approach will help us develop expertise and relationships in these quickly emerging ecosystems.”
“Jon understood the vision of our company, supported us enthusiastically and evangelized us to fellow investors to help us to fill our round quickly,” said Gil Baron, cofounder and CEO of Mindshow, in a statement. Mindshow has a platform that lets anyone create interactive, animated VR.
Goldman is based in Los Angeles, but he said he will look at investment opportunities in all areas.
He will also remain a managing partner for Skybound, the intellectual property holder of The Walking Dead and other top intellectual properties.
He earned his chops in gaming as chairman and CEO of Foundation 9 Entertainment, which was once the largest independent video game developer in the world, with 11 studios and 1,000 employees globally. He sold the company in 2006 to Francisco Partners and has been an active investor for the past decade.
While VR has taken off slower than expected, Goldman said he believes that VR still has real revenues ahead of it.
“The main message of the slowdown is you have to be a little more realistic,” he said. “When you have frothy valuations, companies run into a wall when they’re raising their next round of money. As you move on from a seed stage, a startup should be able to show facts on the ground, like user growth and revenues. If you don’t have those, it’s a real red flag.”
Goldman said the fund invested $300,000 into Floreo, which makes therapeutic VR simulations for people with autism. He said the fund would focus on pre-commercial seed stage companies.
“I am bullish on these industries despite the trough of disillusionment,” he said. “There has been a historic trend in games where the drive for more immersion just keeps growing. It’s not going away, as gamers will always want more of it. Esports is not going away. These are not just fads of the moment.”