Fornite is officially a school sport:
Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular games, will now be an official high school sport and college sport, thanks to an LA-based startup called PlayVS.
PlayVS launched in April of 2018 with a mission of bringing esports to high school, with a league akin to traditional sports like basketball or football. Through a partnership with the NFHS, high schools (or parents, or the students themselves) can pay $64/player to be placed in a league to compete with neighboring schools, just like any other sport.
Like all things tech, first it infiltrates, and then it transforms. Esports is infiltrating sports. How long before it is considered a/the sport for Gen Z and beyond, period? No one talks about mobile internet anymore as distinct from the internet. Similarly, we won’t be talking about ecommerce as distinct from commerce anymore.
Activision’s Call of Duty esports league finally launched:
Activision Blizzard Inc.’s league for Call of Duty — the best-selling first-person-shooter game — launched Friday in Minneapolis, marking the latest attempt by the video-gaming giant to dominate esports.
The company expects several thousand fans to attend a three-day fest that will include matches among the new league’s 12 city teams, as well as musical acts. There’s more at stake than fun and games, though. Activision is trying to build its own version of an NFL, NBA or NHL — one that could eventually become a material contributor to its bottom line.
The Call of Duty league will strive to offer family-friendly events — with celebrity appearances and music performances — so that a gamer son can bring his parents, and get them hooked on games, too. Filming of the events will be more cinematic than many other esporting experiences, said Johanna Faries, Call of Duty League’s commissioner.
“CoD as a franchise just continues to break barriers and records,” Faries said. “Now bringing the esports vision to life is an expansive opportunity for us to widen the funnel of fandom.”
While the most immediate and direct takeaway from this is that Activision Blizzard is very well positioned as an esports play, (which I think continues to be underpriced), the bigger picture is also worth noticing:
1) Activision launched this in middle America (Minneapolis)…this is a broader movement than people think;
2) As discussed in the first article above, first tech infiltrates and then it transforms. Esports is for Gen Z now, but the whole Activision esports strategy is to eventually use that tie to Gen Z to bring in the whole family. Facebook went from college students to everyone. Tiktok is currently on track to go from Gen Z to everyone as well. Fundamentally, human society has transformed to idolize youthfulness…the more and more relevant esports become for Gen Z, the more and more relevant it will become for everyone else.
Uber sells loss-making Uber Eats India operations to Zomato:
Uber Technologies Inc. will sell Uber Eats in India to local rival Zomato in a $172 million deal, according to a person familiar with the transaction, underscoring the ride-hailing giant’s effort to cut back on loss-making operations.
Uber agreed to offload the business in return for 9.99% of the Indian startup, maintaining a foothold in one of the world’s fastest-growing internet arenas, the companies said in a statement. As part of the deal, the U.S. company will shutter operations but direct all restaurants, delivery companies and diners to Zomato. Neither company offered up financial details but the person said the value of the Zomato shares Uber gets is estimated at about $172 million. The Indian startup was last valued at $2.2 billion.
Well that was fast…I had anticipated a curtailing of losses at Uber, not least because the CEO said he was aiming to make Uber profitable by 2021, but this is a lot faster than expected. Uber Eats India is the single biggest drag on Uber profitability at the moment. Christmas is came 12 months early.
Uber as a stock still has some hair on it due to the AB5 regulatory issues playing out in California right now (and potentially globally), but I think it is hard to argue that the overall direction is not up. And possibly up a lot more from here.
Apptopia releases 2019 worldwide download top charts:
Things that stood out:
1) Free Fire was the most downloaded game globally in 2019. SE/Garena is likely to plateau in 2020 just given the level of success, but the level of success they achieved is just incredible for a first effort;
2) Pinterest is top 10 in social networking. Pinterest stock has been on a tear since this report came out – Lots of people starting to see what should have been fairly clear: Pinterest is not going to take the world by storm, but it is a very sizable community with a fairly straightforward path for monetization, especially through ecommerce.
3) Tiktok…I have a lot to say here, but I’ll save it for a future post.
4) Uber and Uber Eats is #1 for travel and food category, respectively. Yet so many people think Uber is doomed. Yes, the company is loss-making but its balance sheet is quite strong. And the path to profitability isn’t impossible, especially with Uber Eats India sale. Uber is ahead of Google Maps in travel category…
5) Tinder/Match – No one else even close…Bumble is the most realistic competitive in the West. Pretty far behind if you ask me.
6) Shopee and Mercadolibre looking good on top 10. Wish at #1 is an interesting surprise.
7) Paypal at #2 and Square/Cash App at #4 (ahead of Alipay and Venmo).
Disclosures: I own shares in ATVI, UBER, SE, MTCH. I have no intention to trade any shares mentioned in the next 48 hours.