Veloce has secured £4m (€4.4m/5.2m) in private investment to merge and expand its Veloce Esports gaming operation and its motorsport division, which includes Extreme E team Veloce Racing.
The new investors include Darryl Eales, Veloce Racing chairman, former chief executive of Lloyd’s Banking Group’s private equity division and a former owner of Oxford United. One-time Liberty Global executive Eric Tveter has also bought a stake in the business alongside former Marussia Formula 1 owner and renowned Russian-born scientist and mathematician Andrei Cheglakov, and Andy Webb, the former chief executive of Marussia.
Veloce Esports has come to prominence during the Covid-19 pandemic, organising a series of well-publicised esports events to fill the void while traditional sports events have been off-air.
The company’s #NotTheGPSeries event saw professional racing drivers, esports stars, influencers and stars from other sports competing on the F1 2019 video game which launched ahead of F1’s official Virtual Grand Prix. The company’s esports division also recently added McLaren Racing’s official esports team to its portfolio.
A spokesperson said the publicity and audiences generated by Veloce’s digital events during the lockdown helped to attract the private investment.
Last year the company’s motorsport division also acquired a team to compete in the Extreme E electric SUV racing series which will race under the Veloce Racing banner and which is now merging with the esports division.
The spokesperson for the company said the merger would be mutually beneficial for the two parts of the business and would lead to economies of scale and talent crossover. SportBusiness understands Veloce plans to draw on its experience in building online communities to grow audiences for Extreme E in the important 13-30 age group.
Rupert Svendsen-Cook, Veloce Esports chief executive said: “The world has changed in the last few months and it has deeply impacted all sports, even esports. Our team took the initiative very early on and showed immense determination to come out of this moment in a considerably stronger position than when the pandemic started.
Beyond that – and speaking as someone who has recently recovered from Covid-19 – we used this time as an opportunity to raise our head above the parapet. We were there to capitalise on the surge and leverage the enhanced exposure to raise significant capital, bringing our two businesses closer together to further boost our growth plans. Between both esports and racing, we are all extremely excited for what the future holds.”
The lines between motorsport and esports are becoming increasingly blurred with James Baldwin, the winner of the World’s Fastest Gamer esports competition winning the first race of his professional racing career with victory in the British GT Championship yesterday.
Baldwin’s prize was a full season of racing for British GT Championship team Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren, co-owned by 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button.