Mar 22, 2022 - Economy & Business

Exclusive: FaZe Clan adds media heavyweights to board ahead of IPO

Photo illustration of Snoop Dogg, Stephanie McMahon and Ross Levinsohn.
Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Shedrick Pelt/Getty Images for SXSW, Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images, Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.

FaZe Clan, one of the biggest global esports companies, has added a slew of media and gaming heavyweights to its board as it prepares to soon go public.

The big picture: FaZe Clan is currently targeting $1 billion valuation after it merges with a blank check company called B.Riley Principal 150, which will take it public in the first half of the year.

  • Some have been skeptical of the valuation, given FaZe Clan's relatively recent push to monetize.
  • Like most esports organizations, FaZe Clan makes far more money off of entertainment deals and lifestyle content around its players and creators than it does actual esports games.

Driving the news: New FaZe Clan board members include...

  • Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer of WWE
  • Snoop Dogg, who was announced last week
  • Ross Levinsohn, CEO of The Arena Group (theMaven,Inc.) and Sports Illustrated
  • Zach Katz, founder and CEO of Carte Blanche

Catch up quick: FaZe Clan was started more than a decade ago by teens who met online playing Xbox and engaged their audiences by uploading entertaining gaming clips to platforms like YouTube and Twitch. Today, it relies on media deals elevating its esports players as viral personalities.

  • FaZe Clan's power comes in its ability to attract celebrities organically to its brand, often ones that grew up watching FaZe Clan players online.
  • The company’s investors include NFL quarterback Kyler Murray, rapper Pitbull and NBA star Ben Simmons.

The esports giant in May will debut a new show on Twitch called "FaZe1 The Warehouse," a 15-day, 24/7 livestream show.

  • The show will be one of the first live competition shows that will be on 24/7, representing a new type of reality programming for Gen Z.
  • It will be produced by Real Housewives and Big Brother veteran Peter Targtaglia, and will feel like a more interactive, digital version of Big Brother.

By the numbers: FaZe Clan began building out its business around four years ago, FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink said in an interview with Axios at South by Southwest last week.

  • Now that its audience has reached a critical mass, the company feels better about turning on monetization opportunities.
  • It brought in $53 million in revenue in 2021, up from $38 million in revenue in 2020. Half of that revenue came from brand sponsorships, but the company is starting to build out alternate revenue streams, including content deals, which represented 33% of revenue last year, as well as consumer products.
  • Trink sees huge opportunities for FaZe Clan in the web3 space.
  • Trink said he plans to use some of the money raised during its SPAC IPO to acquire companies to help it scale, including possible consumer product brands and gaming assets.

What's next: The SPAC money will also be used to fuel more long-form content, tailored for Gen-Z, like the reality show on Twitch.

  • The company will trade on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “FAZE.”
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