Aug 18, 2022 - Technology

Scoop: Top gaming agent moves to private equity

Photo of Ophir Lupu wearing a suit and eyeglasses
Ophir Lupu in 2011. Photo: John Shearer/Variety Staff via Getty Images

Video game industry super-agent Ophir Lupu has joined Haveli Investments, one of the largest private equity funds focused on gaming.

Why it matters: One of the best-connected people in the business now has the funds to help shape the direction of myriad game companies.

  • Lupu has rarely been a bold-faced name in games coverage, instead operating effectively in the background as an agent during a decade-long run at United Talent Agency. His clients have included Bioshock’s Ken Levine and Mortal Kombat chief creator Ed Boon.
  • He’ll be an operating partner at Haveli.

Details: Haveli is trying to build a $750 million fund, according to a source familiar with the matter, more than the $500 million initially reported in February based on SEC filings.

  • The Haveli fund was created by Brian Sheth, the gaming-savvy co-founder of Austin-based Vista Equity Partners, who is now focused on building a large video game fund.
  • Haveli’s pitch will be oriented toward providing capital to a dozen or so largely established studios, to help them retain talent and take creative risks, a source familiar with their plans said.
  • The fund’s first two disclosed deals: leading a $20 million investment in start-up Omeda Studios and an infusion into decades-old Montreal-based studio Behaviour Interactive.
  • A rep for Haveli declined to comment.

The big picture: Money continues to pour into the game industry as companies merge and investors place bets on the next big thing.

  • The industry saw more than $100 billion in deals in the first half of 2022, including $3.6 in disclosed private placements, according to Drake Star partners. Much of that is venture capital going into companies on the early end of things, but not all.
  • “Private Equity firms have been increasingly more interested in the gaming space and many are eager to do deals,” Drake Star’s Michael Metzger tells Axios.
  • He noted Carlyle’s acquisition of Jagex, General Atlantic’s investment in Tilting Point and Joffre Capital’s bid for Playtika.

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