E-sports coaching app gets $6 million, because that’s the world we live in now

Dojo Madness, a Berlin-based startup that sells analytics and coaching tools to casual and professional online gamers, has raised $6 million in a new round of financing.

Setting aside the on-its-face absurdity that this is actually a thing (I am old and stopped understanding the world about two releases of World of Warcraft ago), e-sports is quickly turning into a business that our current president would characterize as “YUGE.”

The global audience for e-sports is expected to reach nearly 400 million this year (larger than the population of the U.S.), split between enthusiasts and casual viewers, and is expected to grow by 50 percent over the next three years, according to data Dojo Madness cited from the research firm Newzoo.

The latest round of financing for Dojo was led by Raine Ventures, the venture investment arm of the boutique investment banking shop, The Raine Group, and K Cube Ventures, the investment arm of Korean messaging platform Kakao.

Previous investors March Capital and DN Capital also participated in the funding, which brings the total funds that Dojo has raised to $12.75 million.

 “Many popular esports titles exhibit a very steep learning curve. DOJO’s products improve the experience and engagement of players in their favorite games, and as such, are equally of great value to publishers. We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with such an experienced and passionate team,” said Blair Ford, a venture partner at Raine Ventures, in a statement.

Dojo Madness sells automated coaching tools for League of Legends, Overwatch and Dota 2, under the brands LOLSUMO, DOTASUMO and OVERSUMO. The company also acquired the coaching marketplace Leaguecoaching.gg to add interactive coaching with live training sessions to more professional gamers.

If those products aren’t compelling enough to warrant the company’s $12.75 million in funding, consider its data and analytics tools for teams and broadcasters involved in competitions for Global Offensive, League of Legends and Dota 2.

Dojo Madness was founded in 2014 by e-sports veteran and Esports League founder Jens Hilgers, Markus Fuhrmann, the co-founder of Delivery Hero, and Christian Gruber, a digital marketer who previously owned his own agency after a stint at Red Bull Media.

YouTube’s live TV streaming service goes live in five US cities for $35 per month

Back in February YouTube announced YouTube TV, a $35 TV streaming service it hopes might kill your cable box. At the time, they didn’t say exactly when it’d launch — just that it’d be “soon.”

“Soon,” it seems, means today. YouTube is rolling out the service in five major US cities this morning.

YouTube TV takes a bunch of the more popular U.S. cable channels — ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC, CW, Disney, SyFy, ESPN and 40+ more — and crams them into one app. It’ll cost $35 a month, which gives you access to Live on up to six accounts with up to three devices streaming simultaneously. 

Alas, working around the existing monolith that is the cable industry takes a while… so YouTube TV will roll out in different regions over time, starting with today’s launch in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Google sent me a pre-release build of the YouTube TV app, and I spent a bit of time with it prior to launch. Not enough for a full review, but enough for a few thoughts.

The app is well-designed and intuitive. It’s composed of just three tabs: Home, Library and Live. Home is your standard “stuff we think you should watch” page, Library is where you’ll find movies and shows you’ve saved (more on that in a second) and Live is a big ol’ list of everything currently playing on every channel YouTube TV currently offers up.

This Live interface is particularly slick; as you scroll, a preview of each channel’s live feed slides into place at the top almost instantly. It feels a lot like flipping channels to see what’s on the ol’ cable box — a concept that, in this age of picking and choosing anything you want to watch on demand, seems to be fading away. As someone who dropped his cable subscription half a decade ago, I forgot how natural it feels to just turn on some channel and let it babble in the background. I also forgot how absolutely horrible daytime TV is.

 After a few frame-rate hiccups that YouTube was able to patch away, the video quality was quite solid. Even fast-moving sports and action flicks look pretty darn good.

Don’t want to watch TV on your phone or tablet all the time? As you’d expect from a Google-built video app, it’s got Chromecast support — and like everything that has Chromecast, it’s super simple. Tap the Chromecast icon, pick which TV you want the video on and you’re set.

There’s a built-in “unlimited DVR” feature that lets you tap any show to record any and all future instances of it. It’s a nice touch for sports or shows that aren’t on Hulu/etc. (or those that make Hulu/etc. wait a week after airing) — but beyond those scenarios, if I’m going to be planning ahead to watch something after it’s live, I’m probably turning somewhere else for it.

(One curious bit in an otherwise straightforward design: If you want to browse a specific channel’s shows, you first tap into the search bar. It’s not the first place I thought to look, but it works.)

So, should you sign up?

If you’re one of those people who ditched cable TV long ago for Netflix/Hulu/etc. and haven’t looked back, you might not be missing much here.

If, however, you’re staying tied to your monthly cable bill for the sake of catching things live every once in a while (news/sports/etc.) and YouTube TV is available in your area and it’s got the channels you watch, it’s worth a look. The first month is free, and if you pay for a month beyond that, they’ll throw in a Chromecast… which, with an MSRP of $35, makes that second month kinda-sorta free too.