Esports analytics and marketing firm FanAI Inc. raised a $8 million Series A round Nov. 14 led by a new investor, Japan-based Marubeni Corp.

Santa Monica-based FanAI will use the funding to expand its team over the next year to 30 employees from the current 20 and to boost its existing United Kingdom and European business, according to Chief Executive Johannes Waldstein.

“We will roll out more self-serve platforms for brands and agencies and expand further into pro sports and entertainment (analytics),” Waldstein said.

He added that FanAI’s Series A will carry it through the next year of operations, but said the company will need to raise another $10 million before its targeted Series B date in 2021.

Since its 2016 launch FanAI has raised $12.5 million.

Waldstein told the Business Journal the Marubeni investment is “strategic for a few reasons.”

“They are one of the biggest trading houses in Japan and are very strong in Asia-Pacific, which is the largest market globally for gaming and esports, bigger than the United States,” Waldstein said. “They have a new venture arm in the U.S., and we are one of the first investments."

The Series A will help the company expand its physical presence into Asia-Pacific markets, beginning in Japan. FanAI plans to open an office in Japan in 2020 or 2021, said Waldstein.

Though it conducts business in the U.K. and Germany, FanAI does not maintain a physical presence there. Instead, it works with European channel partners who generate sales and manage client interactions on its behalf.

FanAI acquired New York-based Waypoint Media in January 2019 for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition gave FanAI access to a valuable set of data generated by users of esports streaming service Twitch Interactive Inc. (owned by Inc.), similar to the kind of analytics used by streaming giant Netflix Inc.

The data enables FanAI to track not just how long viewers spend on Twitch but also what they are watching to gauge their loyalty to particular streamers or brands.

“These are in-depth analytics our brand clients use to choose which streamers or influencers to work with and increase their reach,” Waldstein said.

Tech reporter Samson Amore can be reached at or (323)-556-8335. Follow him on Twitter @samsonamore.

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