The Gaming Business – How Echo Fox Began
Two years ago, I experienced something that really moved me. I was in Madison Square Gardens and the packed arena was shaking. This was something I had encountered many times throughout my basketball career, however this occasion was unique – rather than being in the company of basketball enthusiasts, I was surrounded by thousands of gaming fans.
I had chosen to go to the North American Legends League Championship in 2015, to spend some quality time with my son, who is a budding designer of video games. I have always regarded gaming as a pursuit that can unite people of all backgrounds. Having said that though, I was still inspired by what I saw at that event.
I was involved in fiercely competitive college basketball matches against Duke in North Carolina. As a Lakers player, I won a few NBA championships. I have been lucky enough to play at the most revered venues, while being watched by some of the world’s most passionate supporters. Attending the MSG for the Legends League event caused all those memories to flood back. The degree of enthusiasm and passion I saw made me decide there and then to enter the esports industry.
This would enable me to follow an interest that my son also shared, and to develop a team that could compete at the top level. In addition, it was a chance to profit from an emerging industry at an early stage. To do this though, I knew that I would have to assemble a solid team.
This is the reason that I contacted Amit Raizada, who I had worked with before in other profitable business ventures.
I really respect Amit, Raizada due to his integrity, transparency and vision, and his understanding of how to construct deals. He is confident in his ability, which is vital in sport and a big factor in business too. Amit was a hard worker behind the scenes, giving up his personal life to help the business. Even better, he was prepared to spend some time teaching me how to build a business.
I had to do some persuading, however after some looking at my proposal, Amit realized the potential and helped to draw up a franchise plan. Echo Fox was cofounded by myself and Amit in 2015, with the intention of becoming the world’s leading esports organization.
With regards to the Echo Fox team Amit Raizada helped me to recruit seasoned business executives for the front office, along with regulatory, legal and finance specialists. He persuaded previous San Jose Sharks coowner and Verisign CEO, Stratton Sclavos, to be the coowner and chairman of our business. Together, we recruited a legend of the gaming industry, Jace Hall, to serve as our CEO.
While having the correct management assembled was an important piece of the jigsaw, a franchise can not thrive without players, so spotting the best prospects for our different teams was possibly the most satisfying part of this venture.
I recall when I first met ‘Froggen’, who is a Legends League player from Denmark.
The thing that stuck out to me was how similar he was, in many ways, to the amazing players I had competed against during my career with the NBA. Here was someone who devoted himself to one activity for sixteen hours per day, because he wanted to excel at it. Aside from his lack of celebrity status, he was exactly the same as men like Larry Bird and Kobe Bryant in this respect.
Froggen was one of many players we enrolled to set up teams that now compete in virtually all popular games on every platform. Currently, we have signed thirty-five players, own eight teams, have formed partnerships with Facebook and Asus computers, and have arranged a reality TV show deal that will give our players media exposure.
We oversee all parts of their preparation and training, including their fitness, sleep patterns and diet. We give them access to industry leading coaches and cutting edge training facilities.
During the past few years, I have talked to many people who want to understand this industry better. My stock response is that esports represents an evolution in competition, and that it has far more to recommend it than the stereotypical image of gaming.