Venture Capital: Sony Pays $250M for a 1.4% Stake in Fortnite Game Maker Epic
That values Epic at $17.86 billion.
Sony (NYSE: SNE) announced Thursday its deal to buy a minority stake in Epic Games, the private company behind the battle-royale juggernaut of a game known as Fortnite. It is the world’s largest game with over 350 million accounts and 2.5 billion friend connections. Sony is paying $250 million for its 1.4% stake in Epic, which also develops Unreal Engine – the software used by game developers the world over and which powers the top games across the globe. (Essentially Sports)
Epic’s fundraising record
Tim Sweeney founded Epic originally as Potomac Computer Systems in 1991 in his parents’ home in Potomac, Maryland. He is currently also the CEO of Epic.
Tencent (HKG: 0700) bought a sizable chunk of 40% of the company in 2012 for $330 million.
Epic has now raised a total of $1.83 to date, including the new money from Sony.
Arrangement with Sony
Epic has not agreed to an exclusive tie-up with Sony, which is a minority partner with only a sliver of a stake.
Though it is described as a strategic investment deal that builds upon an existing, long-term relationship between the two companies, Epic still has the liberty to publish to other platforms, as confirmed by VentureBeat.
“Epic’s powerful technology in areas such as graphics places them at the forefront of game engine development with Unreal Engine and other innovations. There’s no better example of this than the revolutionary entertainment experience, Fortnite. Through our investment, we will explore opportunities for further collaboration with Epic to delight and bring value to consumers and the industry at large, not only in games but also across the rapidly evolving digital entertainment landscape,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, Chairman, President and CEO, Sony Corporation, in a statement.
“Sony and Epic have both built businesses at the intersection of creativity and technology, and we share a vision of real-time 3D social experiences leading to a convergence of gaming, film, and music. Together we strive to build an even more open and accessible digital ecosystem for all consumers and content creators alike,” said Tim Sweeney.
It appears that as games are converging with other media turfs such as music and cinema, Sony is seeing an opportunity to build products with Epic beyond games and relevant for other Sony businesses such as Sony Pictures and Sony Music.
Epic recently held a virtual Travis Scott concert inside the Fortnite game, which more than 27 million people attended.
Epic’s Unreal Engine also provided the live visual effects for the Star Wars series “The Mandalorian.”
Sony PlayStation 5 console
Sony will launch its next-generation PlayStation 5 (PS5) console later this year as a holiday release. The console is usually pitted against Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Xbox, which is coming out with its Series X.
Fortnite running on PS5 is sure to be a big draw.
In May, Epic announced the Unreal Engine 5 and showcased it on PlayStation5 in the video below.
At the time, speaking to The Verge, Sweeney said about the PS5:
“We’ve been working super close with Sony for quite a long time on storage,” he says. “The storage architecture on the PS5 is far ahead of anything you can buy on anything on PC for any amount of money right now. It’s going to help drive future PCs. [The PC market is] going to see this thing ship and say, ‘Oh wow, SSDs are going to need to catch up with this.”
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