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Esports company Gen.G raised $46 million in new funding from celebrity investors including Will Smith and soccer player Keisuke Honda to help pay for a global expansion and a new headquarters in Los Angeles.
Smith and Honda were joined by Michael Zeisser, former chairman of U.S. investments at Alibaba Group Holdings and Los Angeles Clippers minority owner Dennis Wong. Investors are diving in as the popularity of esports rises dramatically, with revenues for the industry expected to top $1.1 billion this year, according to analytics firm Newzoo.
The esports audience will grow an estimated 15% this year to 453.8 million, Newzoo said in a report.
The new cash will help fund a new headquarters, scheduled to open in July, as well as a youth esports academy program, Gen.G said. Gen.G plans to expand its global footprint, which already includes teams in the U.S., China and Korea.
“I am excited that Dreamers Fund, the fund that I co-launched with Will Smith, is now investing in Gen.G,” Honda said in a statement. “Esports is not yet big in Japan, but we are seeing tremendous growth there and globally, which is very positive.”