The Rise Of Esports Continues, Plus The Backstory Of Legendary Hedge Fund Investor George Soros

by 2 years ago

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“The idea that the internet should be free and open for everyone.”—Mark Zuckerberg protesting for net neutrality on Day of Action. Over 100,000 websites and organizations participated.


Market Corner

Market Snapshot

  • The Nasdaq rose for a fourth straight day of gains.
  • The Dow closed at a record high.
  • Bank of Canada raised rates for the first time in seven years.
  • The dollar fell against the yen in the wake of Yellen’s testimony.

Esports, It’s in the Game

With the rise of esports, the Super Bowl will now be something you hit before playing the game, rather than the game itself.

Video game media company Activision Blizzard (+5.24%) unveiled a list of team owners participating in its new esports league, Overwatch.

It’d be nice if we told you about Overwatch, right?

Overwatch is just your run-of-the-mill first-person shooter with a roster of cartoon characters to choose from.

And although it sounds like a game you’d only play in your parents’ basement after a few too many late-night Red Bulls, it actually has a worldwide following of 30 million players.

Now, back to Activision’svision

Looking to add to its $6.61 billion top line and meet the demands of couch-ridden gamers, Activision is expanding beyond its online gaming universe and creating a full-blown sports league.

The 28-team league will span from Los Angeles to Shanghai (this year’s favorite to win the AL Far East)—with some pretty notable investors pulling out their checkbooks.

New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, is part of a group backing a team in Boston, while Mets operating chief, Jeff Wilpon, is at the helm in New York.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

This past August, after Comic-Con finally let out, ewoks and trekkies filed into Seattle’s Key Arena to watch 80 grown men button-mash their hearts out for the coveted International Dota 2 Championship.

The five-person winning team took home $9.13 million—that’s $1.83 million each.

And if you haven’t already dragged that PS4 into your shopping cart, you might after considering this: Danny Willett only pocketed $1.8 million for winning the Masters in 2016.

Yea, it’s kind of a big deal

Even crazier, almost 22% of U.S. male millennials are followers of this ecult—that’s on par with viewership for baseball and hockey…

No wonder Activision and other investors are trying to capitalize on an industry that raked in $493 million (73% of it from ads) last year with projections to hit $1 billion by 2019.

As the current agreement stands, the Overwatch League and team owners will share in all forms of revenue (ads, merch, ticket sales, broadcasting rights, you name it).

Additionally, teams can host up to five of their own events each year and keep all the money generated.

So grease up those joysticks and get those thumb curls going—esports is here to stay.

Fed Chair with Flair

Although inflation is rising slower than the Fed’s 2% target rate (sitting at 1.4% in May), Yellen stood tall in front of Congress and gave the crowd a Brooklyn-style thumbs up (clearly she’s into esports).

The fearless Fed Chair cited strong job growth (unemployment down from ‘09 highs of 10% to 4.4%), steady household consumption, healthy business investment and promising economic conditions abroad as key reasons to push forward with tighter monetary policy.

To do so, the Fed will move forward with raising rates and reducing its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

One big question still remains: “How will slowing inflation affect wage growth?” Fair question, but Yellen’s always got an answer. “The Fed will remain flexible,” she said in her most politically correct voice.

Home Field Advantage

Countries can encourage foreign investment with either a carrot or a stick.

Well, China is pretty darn good at using the stick—and Apple’s (+0.14%) got the bruises to prove it.

The tech giant will build its first data center in Guizhou province to comply with a new measure requiring foreign companies to store Chinese customers’ data in…you guessed it…China.

In a statement, Apple reassured users that their data remained secure from any “back door” shenanigans.

It’s playing nice in public, but behind closed doors you can be sure that Apple and other U.S. cloud-service firms are fuming about a law they consider protectionist.

But, that’s the price you pay to access a market of nearly 1.4 billion.

What Else Is Happening…

  • Power plant owner and operator NRG Energy is selling up to $4 billion in assets.
  • Google won its court challenge surrounding a $1.3 billion charge in French back taxes.
  • Hyperloop One completed its first full-scale test.
  • WeWork raised $760 million (at an ~$20 billion valuation) making it the world’s fifth most-valuable startup.

Economic Calendar

  • Monday: No Events Today
  • Tuesday: PepsiCo(+) Earnings
  • Wednesday: No Events Today
  • Thursday: Delta Earnings
  • Friday: Citigroup, Wells Fargo Earnings

Water Cooler

The Backstory (George Soros)

$25.2 billion. That’s a pretty little pile of cash, huh? Well, that’s exactly how much legendary hedge fund investor George Soros is sitting on.

But, as these backstories go, that wasn’t always the case.

Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1930. By the ripe age of 14, he faced the true reality of “hardship.” Soros lived through years of Nazi occupation and Soviet Communist rule before escaping to England.

The penniless teenage refugee quickly learned to get by as a railway porter and a waiter.

Then, he got a second chance at life, when he was accepted to the London School of Economics.

After years of schooling and apprenticeship, Soros finally made his way to New York City in 1956. He hustled as a merchant banker and shifted through a slew of different roles until finally, in 1963, he got his big break.

With $250,000 of his own savings and $4 million from investors, Soros started his first fund, Double Eagle (later changed to Quantum Fund).

Fast forward to 2013—Quantum Fund is worth $40 billion.

The Breakroom

Question of the Day

If 1+9+8=1, what is 2+8+9?

(Give Up?)

Who Am I?

  1. I first hit the spotlight as a star on a retro 90’s sitcom.
  2. I was an actor for years, but recently I got interested in venture capital.
  3. I’ve even been featured as a shark on Shark Tank.
  4. Some of my investments include Uber, Skype, Airbnb and Warby Parker.

(Any guesses?)

Stat of the Day

2.9 billion

That’s how many times YouTubers watched Wiz Khalifa’s *[See You Again], making it the most watched YouTube video of all-time. Psy’s Gangnam Styl*e has finally been dethroned.


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