Will Apple or Disney really try to buy Activision? - Dexerto
Business

Will Apple or Disney really try to buy Activision?

Published: 23/Jul/2019 9:09 Updated: 26/Sep/2019 12:34

by Miguel Lozada

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Activision Blizzard‘s share price has been in sharp decline throughout the start of 2019, potentially making it a “takeover target” for the likes of Disney and Apple.

Investment advisor Nick Licouris, of Gerber Kawasaki, thinks Walt Disney Inc. should be interested in a takeover of Activision Blizzard, especially given their ties already through the Overwatch League.

They already televise the Overwatch League through ESPN, Disney XD, and ABC, and Licouris thinks that Disney’s potential to take esports to TV would match perfectly with Activision’s own esports projects.

The Overwatch LeagueDisney already televises Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League.

Disney aren’t the only ones being advised to takeover Activision Blizzard though, as JPMorgan also highlighted the game company as a potential asset for Apple Inc. back in February, because it would “leverage to an industry rapidly transitioning to mobile.”

Licouris said “Ideally for an investor you want this to happen now,” speaking of the the potential for Disney to purchase Activision. Investment firm Kawasaki already owns around 90,000 Activision shares, worth approximately $4.3 million, according to Bloomberg.

However, Disney’s history with the game industry might put them off, after failed projects with Playdom and Club Penguin. Now, they simply license their characters to publishers like EA to make the games.

Activision Blizzard’s market value is about $37 billion.

In February, Disney CEO Bob Iger said “We’ve just decided that the best place for us to be in that space is licensing and not publishing,” meaning a move to takeover Activision might not be in their immediate plans.

Apple, however, has been taking their interest in gaming up a notch. The recently announced Apple Arcade, a subscription service set to launch with over 100 original games, is coming in Fall 2019.

Despite a 43% drop in Stock, Activision’s market value is still at a hefty $37 billion, so it would be a major decision for even the likes of Apple or Disney.

Both companies could have some serious interest though, be it Disney’s penchant for story-telling and televising transposing to esports, or Apple’s interest in the mobile gaming market, which continues to expand rapidly.

Call of DutyThe new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is one of Activision’s most anticipated new releases.

Activision Blizzard is best known for popular titles like Call of Duty, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft. They also acquired King in 2016, which makes the popular mobile game Candy Crush.

Even though share value has been in decline, they will expect an upswing later in the year as new releases come out, particularly the launch of Modern Warfare, the newest Call of Duty title.

Business

Rainbow Six champs DarkZero deny conflict of interest with Raven investment

Published: 26/Oct/2020 18:18

by Adam Fitch

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DarkZero Esports respond to conflict of interest concerns after Dexerto found documents revealing they’ve invested in merchandise company Raven.

Despite declaring themselves as partners in the public domain, it has not been announced publicly that DarkZero had acquired an ownership stake in the merchandise company until now.

DarkZero compete in Rainbow Six Siege, recently placing first in the North American Six August Major and Season 1, Stage 2 of the North American League — results that arguably position the team as the best in their region.

Raven produces and sells merchandise for partner teams Excel Esports, Rogue, Spacestation Gaming, and Tribe Gaming. DarkZero are also listed as a partner on their website.

DarkZero Esports Raven Sleeve
DarkZero
DarkZero Esports has a merch line available for purchase with Raven.

On April 27, Raven published on their site that they had raised $1.4m in a seed funding round with a “US-based private equity fund.” The fund’s identity was not revealed in the blog post, nor had there been any public declaration of ownership beyond company records on Companies House — the United Kingdom’s official registrar.

You had to have purposefully gone seeking these documents to find DarkZero’s involvement in Raven.

In a confirmation statement published to Companies House dated July 22, it’s revealed that DarkZero Esports LLC owns 6666 ordinary shares in the company. Raven’s managing director Samuel Wells owns 8500 ordinary shares, making the North American team the second-largest shareholder.

Other shareholders include Adam Cooper and Robert Loveday, Raven personnel who both hold 750 ordinary shares each. DarkZero’s CEO Zach Matula and director of operations Robert Stamey were both appointed as directors of Raven on April 24, according to documents.

Conflict of interest?

Dexerto contacted Wells to ask why DarkZero’s position in Raven had not been declared in the initial announcement, nor on social media or their website. He replied: “As long-term partners, DZ took a minority share in Raven to grow their ecosystem as an esports organisation which in turn allows Raven to grow and expand as an endemic esports apparel brand. All information is readily available in the company registrar.”

There is nothing inherently wrong with DarkZero not declaring their ownership interest in Raven, but it raises conflict of interest concerns such as them gaining access to information about Raven’s partner orgs that they otherwise wouldn’t be privy to. DarkZero and Raven partner Spacestation Gaming both compete in North American Rainbow Six Siege, for example.

DarkZero’s Matula responded to Dexerto’s request for comment on the investment, why it had not been announced to their fans, and conflict of interest concerns.

“DarkZero has a minority financial interest in Raven and this has never been something that we have attempted to conceal and is even a matter of public record,” he said. “If the investment is of interest to the public we would be thrilled to have Dexerto readers be aware that DarkZero is proud to have invested in the most innovative esports apparel brand in the world!”

People having ownership stakes in multiple companies is nothing new and there have been plenty of concerns voiced surrounding conflicts of interest — even in esports.

Examples include OpTic Gaming founder Hector Rodriguez used to be a shareholder in Dexerto and was declared as such in relevant articles, ESPN covers esports and their owners, Disney, are also investors in Team Liquid’s parent company aXiomatic, and Valve has had to issue multiple orders to resolve such conflicts in Counter-Strike. Earlier this October, it was unearthed that the CEO of Better Collective, the parent company of CS:GO news site HLTV, is also a co-owner of Astralis.