Silicon Round-up: Video games are a spectator sport and London aims for a staring role

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Video games have long been big business but the prospect of video games as a spectator sport is a newer proposition that businesses are starting to wake up to.

Last August Amazon paid $970 million for Twitch, a video game streaming website that draws 55 million people a month to watch people play games like League of Legends.

YouTube stars such as PewDiePie who publish videos of themselves playing can earn millions.

Gfinity boss Neville Upton hopes the new arena can help London take prime position in the new ‘eSports’ scene, saying: “It’s very exciting for London. eSports is probably the only proper global sport other than football. You can’t dominate it but what I want is London to be one of the main hubs.

“If there’s going to be a world tour, you really want London to be on the map as a place players go to. And there’s such demand in the UK, there’s over 5 million fanatical eSports fans.”

His company plans to fly in top gamers from around the world to compete in weekend events, treating them like top sports stars. Upton said: “It’s going to be a competitive stage.

“There’s going to be a proper players’ lounge, a green room. We want them to be in a venue that’s good fun and a good place to be.”

WorldRemit’s $100 million raise shows London is world’s FinTech capital of the world

$100 million is a fair old chunk of change.

It’s the sum Silicon Valley venture capital firm Technology Crossover Ventures this week ploughed into WorldRemit, the five-year old international money transfer start-up aiming to make it easier and cheaper for people to send cash to the developing world.

Founder Ismail Ahmed hopes to use the cash to crack the US.

The funding round shows London’s FinTech dominance in two ways. Firstly, the scene is attracting Silicon Valley cash in a way not seen before. A few years ago it was almost unheard of to have Valley money invested in London.

But the WorldRemit investment came just weeks after Silicon Valley firm Andreessen Horowitz backed TransferWise, another London money transfer business.

Secondly, WorldRemit’s history itself is testament to London’s ability to dominate financial tech. Founder Ismail Ahmed was born in Somali and worked for the UN on cracking down on money laundering in Africa.

But Ahmed chose London to base his business, demonstrating the advantage we have in attracting financial based businesses.

Pitch to the PM

Start-ups pitching their businesses to investors is nothing new but twelve London companies are taking part in a pitch with a twist today – it’s held at Number 10 Downing Street.

The second Pitch 10 event, organised by TechCityUK, takes place today, pitching to representatives from Passion Capital, Tech Stars and Ballpark Ventures, as well as TechCityUK boss Gerard Grech and Baroness Martha Lane-Fox.

The start-ups include a big data company from Scotland, an app developed in Wales to help schools keep in contact with parents and public bodies, and a Northern Irish luggage shipping service.

TechCityUK’s Grech said: “This year’s Pitch 10 competition provides further proof that digital businesses with diverse specialisms are thriving across the UK.

“Showcasing the breadth of talent from across the UK’s clusters will be a factor in raising awareness and driving investment.”

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February 21, 2015 |
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