100 Thieves president explains why making profit isn’t their priority

Adam Fitch
John Robinson and Nadeshot for 100 Thieves

100 Thieves president and COO John Robinson spoke candidly about the organization closing their first chapter, expanding their core businesses, acquiring companies, and if they’re making a profit.

Ever since 100 Thieves came onto the scene in late 2017, it’s been very clear that they’ve had ambitions beyond simply being an esports organization. The approach to their three core businesses of competing, content, and clothing have allowed them to stand out from the crowd.

Four years and millions of dollars raised later, 100 Thieves are a multimedia and gaming company valued at $460m with an army of popular creators and players under their banner.

One of the key people in their ascension, president and COO John Robinson, was recently featured on a podcast with sports business enthusiast Joe Pompliano to discuss all things Thieves.

Having recently raised $60m in their Series C funding round, 100 Thieves have proven themselves to be among those at the forefront of esports and gaming entertainment, and the conversation was as wide-ranging as the org’s ambitions. The investment they’ve received and the health of the business were two major topics throughout.

The business side of 100 Thieves

$60m is a lot of money for any company in esports, especially considering 100 Thieves have previously raised plenty in the past. They received a multimillion-dollar investment from Cleveland Cavaliers owner in 2017, $25m in a round led by Drake and Scooter Braun in 2018, and $35m in July.

So, what do Matthew ‘Nadeshot’ Haag and his partner Robinson plan to do with the money?

“A good portion of that is going to be earmarked for growing our existing businesses and then we’ll reserve a little bit of money for launching some new businesses, we have a lot of great entrepreneurs and projects that we’re thinking about,” the 100T president explained. “If there are companies that we really admire where we share the same philosophy and the community can get really excited about them being part of the 100 Thieves family of brands that would make sense.”

While raising money is important to keep fueling growth, whether that’s through existing businesses or acquiring or establishing new verticals, building sustainable revenue streams is vital for one day having a profitable company. They placed their early bets on esports, apparel, and entertainment, and Robinson revealed that they’ve all been providing some returns.

“The reason why we’re really glad we made all three of these bets is because our revenue mix is roughly a third, a third, a third between them,” he told Pompliano. “Esports is a good investment, entertainment is a good investment, and our apparel business is a good investment because they’re all paying off for us.

“Esports revenue is a combination of the money we make from our publishing partners like Riot and Activision as well as the sponsors and partners that support our esports efforts. On the entertainment and content sides, it’s things like our popular entertainment shows. With our apparel business, it’s pretty straightforward, it’s direct-to-consumer where we have always-on apparel with our new Foundations line as well as our traditional drop model.

“All three businesses are going well, all three are growing at very strong rates year-over-year and have gotten to be pretty substantial for us. You’ll continue to see us invest in all of those.”

Nadeshot wearing 100 Thieves Foundations apparel
100 Thieves have previously claimed that their ‘Foundations’ line generated over $2.5m in revenue in its first month.

On exactly how strong those rates of growth have been over the years for 100 Thieves, the org’s president and COO revealed some promising results.

“We’ve roughly doubled our revenue every single year and this year, between 2020 and 2021, we had the fastest-growing year we’ve ever had in terms of gross dollars added to the top line,” he added. “I think it was 110% growth year-over-year so the business is in a really good spot.”

The aim for any for-profit company is to generate more money than they spend. This has proven to be difficult for organizations of all shapes and sizes in esports to date, and profitability still evades 100 Thieves in 2021. That appears to be by design, however.

“We were at a point where we could have remained a mid-sized esports and gaming organization and really been thoughtful about watching costs and investment for the future and become profitable,” Robinson explained. “Our ambitions got much bigger, we wanted to make better content, have World Championship-quality esports teams, make great apparel, and expand into things like Higround. If you’re going to do that you’re going to have to make some investments for the future and that’s going to be pretty expensive.

“We’re all big enough believers that there’s so much growth that’s going to happen in this industry, making bets now for the future that we think we could pay off was the right way to go. Rather than take the more conservative approach, we’ve gone down the more optimistic and opportunistic path forward.

“In a lot of ways, 2021 is the closing of the first chapter of 100 Thieves. We feel like we really delivered against all the promises we made. Now we’ve raised more money, we’re excited to expand and go after some even bigger opportunities.”

100 Thieves’ future

Higround Founders with Nadeshot
100 Thieves acquired Higround for an undisclosed sum in October 2021.

Looking to the future of 100 Thieves, Robinson made it clear throughout the podcast episode that they would be investing more and more into their existing core pillars while also establishing more elements to their business.

“For the four years we were so laser-focused on making sure that the three things are healthy parts of our business,” he said. “We feel like in 2021 we got those in a place where they have strong leaders, great trajectory, we understand what the future looks like for those and we felt like they were in a good enough place where Matt and I could turn our attention a little bit to the future and that’s where we saw the potential for Higround. In a lot of ways, Higround and peripherals is probably the fourth pillar of our business now.”

One trend Dexerto has observed throughout 2021 is the emergence of esports companies going public, allowing retail investors to buy a piece of the pie. Perhaps the most prominent example to date is FaZe Clan, who are expecting to achieve a $1b valuation when they list publicly in the first half of 2022.

This doesn’t appear to be in the pipeline for 100 Thieves any time soon, though, as Robinson, Nadeshot, and their growing team are keeping their heads down to continue to execute their long-term strategy.

“The time horizon we’ve always thought about is decades, not months,” said Robinson. “We’ve been able to raise all the capital that we need in the private markets and we feel like we’ve got great investors and built an amazing team.

“For now, we’re focusing on executing our existing business, thinking about acquisitions, and scaling, so I can’t say that going public is a big priority for us just because we’re able to do all the things we want to do while remaining private.”

While we shouldn’t expect 100T to follow in FaZe’s footsteps in 2022, it’s clear that they’re hoping to continue their impressive rates of growth as they look to cement themselves as leaders in the wider gaming industry.

About The Author

Based in Lincolnshire, UK, Adam Fitch is a leading business journalist covering the esports industry. Formerly the lead business reporter at Dexerto, he demystified the competitive gaming industry and and spoke to its leaders. He previously served as the editor of Esports Insider.