Rather than pick apart the still nacent details of Riot’s deal with Coke and the farm league the two will be putting together for League of Legends, I felt the need to throw a quick post up recounting Riot’s path to this point, and the nature of the company. Exhibit A:
- July 2008: Raised $7m from Benchmark and Firstmark to begin work on their unannounced first title.
- October 2008: League of Legends announced.
- September 2009: Raised $8m from Tencent, Benchmark, and Firstmark – brings total investment to $15m.
- October 2009: League of Legends launches.
- Feb 2011: Tencent, out of China, buys out all other investors for $400m; values company at about $472m.
- October 2013: The third World Championship for League of Legends sells out the Staples Center.
Two rounds, fifteen million, turns that into a half billion valuation in about five years, and is running what has become a large part of the esports scene, particularly in my neck of the woods.
Maybe it’s right-place-right-time, maybe they’re an exceptional story that can’t be repeated; at the least they probably didn’t forsee that their path to success would run at least partially through the land of esports. But when their case is considered from the standpoint of other esports ventures, particularly American ones, it would seem they might have found the best way from start to boom. Unfortunately for those others, it involves starting with a homegrown game, instead of running with other organizations’ intellectual property for years.
Worth some reflection, and respect, I think.