This article was originally published on 01/25/2019
Video games are a billion dollar industry. The success of titles like Fornite, which is valued at around $15 billion, have shown us how profitable gaming can be for investors.
Now, some of the biggest names in hip-hop are making waves in the gaming industry. Last year Drake became co-owner of 100 Thieves, a gaming company with over $25 million in funding and Soulja Boy even launched his own game console and handheld that offers 800 preinstalled games.
Now, Tech Cypha, T.I’s newest venture focused on early, growth and late-stage startups has announced that its first investment will be Cali-based startup Culture Genesis, a digital gaming studio targeting urban and multicultural audiences.
“We’re interested in driving the culture,” T.I. said of the initial investment. “We’re looking to find opportunities and bring them back to the table.”
T.I. said that he and his business partner Jason Geter wanted to invest in a black-owned gaming company because they know that the industry is booming.
“As an entrepreneur, you’re always looking for ways to get into various businesses. I’ve learned that nine out of ten startups aren’t going to make it,” Geter said. “So, I’ve just learned to bet on ten.”
According to a report by the Entertainment Software Association and NDP Group, the video gaming industry reached a record $43.4 billion in revenue in 2018, up 18 percent from 2017.
T.I. and Geter founded Grand Hustle Entertainment together and have been working with each other for more than a decade. The pair first invested in a website called Streetcred.com over a decade ago, a deal that ultimately fell through.
Culture Gensis was founded by Cedric Rogers and Shaun Newsum. The pair launched their first product, TriviaMob — a virtual game show modeled after HQ Trivia — last year.
Whether or not T.I. will continue to invest in gaming companies is unclear. He and Geter have said they’re starting slowly with investments, but are looking to fund more companies throughout the year.
“We’re trying to support people moving from consumption to creation,” T.I. said.
Hip-hop culture is spreading across the gaming industry and in some cases, companies have used the likeness and dance moves of artists without compensating them for it. Since December, Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite, has piled up a number lawsuits for allegedly copying dance moves from black rappers including Blocboy B and 2 Milly.
If recent investments by some of the biggest names in music are any indication, we’ll see more and more figures in the hip-hop community cashing in on this growing industry.