Alexander Garfield’s new Popdog venture aims to improve esports
The esports pioneer, Alexander Garfield, has set up a new company called Popdog with the aim of making esports more transparent and scalable. Popdog will gather together three pre-existing companies that have worked in influencer management, Twitch analytics and esports brand development.
The new project has already got off to a strong start with $9 million raised from esports venture capital funds, and Popdog’s services will aim to bolster the technological backend needed to help esports continue its incredible growth rate. As a result, it’s hoped that esports teams, tournaments, investors and publishers can benefit from how Popdog can put their expertise to good use.
Who are the key players behind Popdog?
Popdog will be based in Los Angeles, and whilst it only has 25 staff members, it has gathered some of the most impressive and experienced professionals in the esports realm.
Most of the press attention around Popdog will inevitably be focused on its founder, Alexander Garfield. Not only is Garfield the only individual to have won the International Dota 2 tournament twice, but he has also been pivotal in helping develop two of the biggest esports teams. His work with Evil Geniuses and Alliance made these teams some of the largest names in the competitive gaming realm. Whilst Garfield sold the parent organisation of these teams to Twitch in 2014, he has remain a key player in the esports domain and many people will be fascinated to see what the esports pioneer can achieve as the CEO of Popdog.However, Garfield has also been careful to ensure that he has surrounded himself with plenty of authoritative figures in his new Popdog venture. Andreas Thorstensson is well known as being a formidable Counter Strike Global Offensive player, and the Swedish entrepreneur has already used his expertise to set up SK Gaming. This hugely successful esports organisation has become a team to be feared in titles like CS:GO, League of Legends and Hearthstone, and Thorstensson has further used his entrepreneurial skills to found companies ranging from the news aggregator, Njuice, to the SoGamed gaming community.
Thorstensson will be acting as chief technology offer, whilst Niles Heron will be Popdog’s strategic officer. Heron has previously worked as a startup consultant who has plenty of experience with startup accelerators such as TechStars and Gener8tor. Popdog’s team will also feature Colin DeShong who, as chief creative officer, will be able to bring expertise gained alongside Garfield at Evil Geniuses and Alliance.
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How will Popdog operate in the esports domain?
Popdog’s core objective appears to be helping brands get into esports. By developing technological products and services that can quantify the often impenetrable world of competitive gaming, Popdog will aim to help everyone take advantage of this rapidly growing industry.
However, Popdog isn’t just one entity. Instead, it is being set up to merge together three pre-existing esports organisations. Many headlines have focused on the fact that Loaded will be Popdog’s influencer division. Loaded are famous for managing the hugely popular Fortnite star, Ninja, and they will be taking care of all sponsorship and merchandising opportunities. By having many more famous gamers like Shroud and LIRIK on their books, Popdog will be hoping to make it much easier for big corporations to sponsor a top-level esports star.For brands wishing to gain an extra level of insight into the constantly changing realm of esports broadcasting, NoScope should be able to provide a few answers. NoScope was set up with the vision of providing analytics for live streaming services like Twitch, and it can help in making the data accountable and useful for publishers, marketers and broadcasters.
Finally, Catalyst Sport and Media will be lending Popdog their expertise in advising businesses who want to enter the esports industry. As such, Popdog look well poised to help strengthen the intersection between the occasionally murky world of esports and big business.
Can the Popdog venture achieve its objectives?
Some recent industry reports have claimed that the overall value of esports could grow to reach a staggering $180 billion in revenues by 2021, and we have seen many big businesses taking steps to take advantage of this rapidly growing market.
From the likes of McDonalds and Intel sponsoring ESL esports tournaments, to Monster Energy and Deezer partnering with competitive gaming teams like Fnatic, it seems that few industries are adverse to investing in esports.
Despite the huge potential of competitive gaming, its fragmented and dynamic structure has meant that some firms have issues with understanding the true nature of esports. Just last week we saw the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship tournament abruptly cancelled, and so it’s clear that brands will need the expertise of new ventures such as Popdog. And with the likes of Alexander Garfield at the helm, we can expect Popdog to become a key player in the gaming industry.