Ariel Horn and Ben Kusin are the entrepreneurs behind VENN (Video Game Entertainment and News Network), an MTV-style startup looking to cover all things games and esports. As other industries dial back or cancel plans due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis, the VENN founders are pushing to launch ahead of schedule, while lockdown conditions have increased the visibility of the gaming world, Bloomberg reports.
With traditional sporting leagues cancelled, esports have taken the spotlight–sometimes even replacing traditional sports, as in the case of the NBA 2K20 Players Tournament or the MLB The Show 20 Players League. In response to this new situation, Horn and Kusin are now trying to launch VENN in July, three months ahead of the intended date.
The to-do list leading up to launch includes building a studio in Los Angeles, bringing creators who can work from home on board, and hiring 30 more staff on top of its existing 35. The work still to do before July also includes raising money–with $17 million already invested in the company, the pair are seeking $40 million more before launch.
“Our core thesis is to deliver a 24/7 linear network for the streaming generation,” said Horn, who has previously worked on esports at Riot Games. Among those who have invested in VENN are Riot co-chairman Marc Merrill and Mike Morhaime, co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment.
While the initial launch will be on YouTube and Twitch, the pair are also looking to make the leap to TV in some form or another, with talks underway with smart TV makers, subscription services, and pay-TV companies.