(Sports Business) Basketball superstar Michael Jordan is the latest sporting legend to invest in esports following in the footsteps of fellow NBA stars Rick Fox, and Shaquille O’Neal.
Jordan is leading an investor round worth $26 million into aXiomtic Gaming, the parent company of professional esports franchise Team Liquid.
“I’m excited to expand my sports equity portfolio through my investment in aXiomatic,” said Jordan in a statement. “Esports is a fast-growing, international industry and I’m glad to partner with this great group of investors.”
AXiomatic was formed in 2015 to capitalize on the eSports industry, which features professional video game players competing for prize money in front of often huge audiences. The following year it acquired a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a business now worth about US$200mil according to recent valuations by Forbes. That would make it the third most valuable eSports franchise in the world.
In more recent years, competitions have spread to the US and beyond, packing audiences into venues like Madison Square Garden.
AXiomatic is co-chaired by Ted Leonsis, owner of the National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards and National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals; Peter Guber, part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Football Club; Jeff Vinik, owner of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning; and Bruce Karsh, co-founder of Oaktree Capital and a Warriors minority owner. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, another NBA Hall of Famer and minority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, also is an investor.
Jordan, who retired for the final time in 2003, has been active since he stopped playing. He became a minority investor in the Hornets, then the Bobcats, in 2006 and bought the rest of the franchise in 2010. In addition to his work with Nike Inc, he’s an investor in global sports data firm Sportradar, alongside Leonsis. He also has backed the hiring startup Gigster and headphone maker Muzik.