Indoor Cycling App Zwift Secures $120m Investment To Aid Esports Expansion
Multiplayer online training and racing platform Zwift has secured $120-million in Series B funding. Part of the cash injection will be spent expanding into esports tournaments.
“Zwifters” ride their bicycles on indoor trainers while watching a gaming-style doppelgänger cruise through virtual street scenes on a hooked-up TV screen or tablet device. The other on-screen riders are doppelgängers of other at-home riders; some could be professional cyclists, using the platform to train in comfort. 65 of the 176 professional riders in the 2018 Tour de France were Zwift members, enabling amateur cyclists to race in real-time with their at-home heroes.
Earlier this week Zwift announced plans to create a virtual league table for professional cycling teams, although critics have pointed out that at-home riders will not be subject to doping checks. The KISS Super League has already secured participation from four professional cycling teams, the UCI Pro Continental Team Hagens Berman Axeon, and the UCI Continental Teams, Team WIGGINS Le Col, Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka U23.
Esports is a rapidly growing sector. Amazon.com-owned Twitch announced a two-year deal earlier this year to host Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch game, worth an estimated $90-million.
Zwift’s Series B round was led by Highland Europe whose investments include eGym, Huel, WeTransfer and Malwarebytes. Other investors include True, the investment firm that owns U.K. online bicycle retailer Ribble, and Causeway Media, a sports-specific investment vehicle led by Wyc Grousbeck, lead owner of the Boston Celtics basketball team, and Mark Wan, part owner in both the Boston Celtics and the San Francisco 49ers American football team…