Dignitas have competed a $30 million funding round of Series A Preferred Stock to finalize its merger with Clutch Gaming, the team told ESPN. A new corporate entity, New Meta Entertainment, will act as the merged organization's parent company.
Controlling shareholders Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment and Fertitta Entertainment-owners of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets, respectively-led the funding round. The two companies struck their initial deal in March out of conversations between Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey and HBSE CEO Scott O'Neil at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in February. Terms were finalized in May.
As part of the Series A round, new institutional investors include Delaware North, Loud Records founder Steven Rifkind and Susquehanna Private Equity Investments. Among a portfolio of diverse holdings, Delaware North owns TD Garden, home to the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics.
Former Dignitas CEO Michael Prindiville has been named CEO of New Meta Entertainment, a business that will approach the world of gaming and esports via competitive esports teams, content and marketing, and strategic investment. While a percentage of the Series A funds will go towards completing the merger between Dignitas and Clutch Gaming, most has been allocated to further NME's three-pronged approach.
"NME will be an industry innovator, and will operate at the intersection of esports, media, technology and entertainment," Prindiville said in a press release. "Our shareholders embrace the vast potential of esports, gaming and digital entertainment, and we will be leveraging their resources, relationships and brand insights to grow the NME and Dignitas brands."
Dignitas currently fields esports teams in the League of Legends Championship Series, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros, SMITE, and Clash Royale. Wearing the Dignitas black-and-gold, Clutch Gaming will compete at the League of Legends World Championship Play-Ins in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday, October 2.
Prindiville sees CS:GO and League of Legends as the two big anchors of the esports world. Last week, Dignitas tweeted that it was looking to form a new CS:GO team after releasing their men's roster in August 2018.
"[CS:GO] is an incredibly intoxicating esport," Prindiville told ESPN. "... And within the last couple weeks, we as a board and organization made the decision that this was the next step for us. We are actively in conversations with players and teams looking to bring in a top-tier Counter Strike team with the hopes of turning them into World Champions."
Alongside its esports teams, NME seeks to establish a content and marketing business that will utilize influencers to reach audiences across the media landscape. Their 3,000-square foot gaming and content studio inside HBSE's Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, will serve as a hub for this entertainment-centered endeavor.
"There is digital engagement in the form of music, sports, gaming and esports," Prindiville said. "That is the confluence where we believe we have the assets, infrastructure and ownership to play. When you want to grow a global and digital business like we do, clearly content is one of the most important pieces there.
"We believe we are uniquely positioned, being backed by traditional sports organizations, to have the capabilities to leverage the events, the personnel and the superstars that are within that zeitgeist to create compelling content."
NME will also seek to invest in companies within digital sports and entertainment in an attempt to strengthen the wider ecosystem. Through HBSE's Sixers Innovation Lab, the organization has already invested in the League of Legends coaching platform U.GG.
"We feel that there is such a rich amount of talent in the digital sports and entertainment space that we can steward and help grow that talent through our investment and resources, to help them scale and get off the ground," Prindiville said. "We want to be the first call when those companies seek capital."