NBA Legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan makes his first foray into esports as part of a $26 million investment in a Series C funding round for aXiomatic, the parent company of the renown esports franchise Team Liquid.
Jordan will be joining his 1992 Olympic ‘Dream Team’ teammate Magic Johnson as a co-owner in aXiomatic. Other investors include the likes of Golden State Warriors’ co-owner Peter Guber, Oaktree Capital Management cofounder Bruce Karsh, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.
Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest NBA player of all time, reaping six championships in his storied career with the Chicago Bulls. He is also one of the richest sports icons, with a net worth of $1.7 billion from his brand deals with Nike, Hanes, and Gatorade, along with his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets—a franchise worth $1.05 billion.
“Probably no other franchise has the championship pedigree as we do with now Michael and with Magic,” said Ted Leonsis in an interview with Forbes.
Leonsis’ own Washington Capitals earned its first Stanley Cup victory earlier in May this year, netting him one championship ring, followed by another in August when Team Liquid’s Dota 2 roster were presented with their own rings for winning The International 2017, which also netted the team a prize of over $11 million.
Team Liquid is headed by Steve Arhancet and Victor Goossens. Alongside its Dota 2 title in 2017, the organization’s League of Legends team also won its first North American championship in spring this year, followed by a repeat win in the summer.
Forbes has recently ranked Team Liquid as the third-most valuable esports organizations in the world – coming in at $200 million.
“I think you’ll see sports team owners and venue operators looking at esports as viable tenants, or esport owners one day saying, hey we need our own building. I think you’ll see a wave of investment and partnerships and building over the next decade. That’s going to be a very, very hot new area,” said Leonsis.
“Esports for us is more than just a sport. It’s a culture change,” added aXiomatic CEO and Cofounder Bruce Stein.
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