Anzu’s CEO on The Clutch victory and immersive ad developments
The third and latest edition of esports insider The coupling Sweepstakes concluded with to wearan immersive, programmatic advertising company that was crowned by as the youngest winner on the final day ESI Digital Summer – the largest online conference in the esports industry to date.
Now, a few weeks after Anzu’s triumph at The Clutch, we spoke up Itamar Benedy, CEO and co-founder of Anzuto learn more about how he prepared to appear before the judges and what the future holds for Anzu in such a rapidly evolving sector of esports and gaming.
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Speaking about Anzu’s preparation for The Clutch, Benedy explained, “My career has been a little bit different than most people’s. I never had a resume and never went for an interview because my partners and I have always been building projects and businesses.”
“I was lucky enough to be on stages and similar competitions from a young age, so I didn’t need a lot of training to be honest. More than half of my work day consists of meetings and pitching for Anzu, so I felt quite comfortable. It’s funny, now that we’re working from home, the most stressful thing for me was worrying about my internet connection!”
Reflecting on the competition and the feedback his start-up received, Benedy revealed, “The judges were definitely veterans in the industry, so it was really useful to get their feedback. 3D target trainer – one of the companies we competed against in The Clutch – is a client of ours so it was quite a nice experience to see them as part of the competition as well.”
While Benedy felt more comfortable live streaming than some of the other competitors, he was just as happy to win The Clutch. “Anzu’s vision from day one was a combination of a gaming offering and an eSports offering. For us, this tournament was a really exciting opportunity to build our presence around the eSports offering,” he said. “When The Clutch was over, we were delighted to be associated with ESI, the leading esports [publication]but we also felt confirmed by the market.”
As if confirmation by a successful pitch at The Clutch wasn’t enough, Anzu’s mission was validated by a successful Series A funding round last August. Along with BITKRAFT, an esports-focused venture capital fund, WPP was an investor in the latest round, raising $6.5 million in investments. As we spoke, Benedy made it clear that he believes the investment by WPP — an advertising group that manages $50 billion in media spend annually — is representative of a broader shift in how games and players are perceived.
“The perception of the player has changed a lot in the eyes of a marketer,” explained Benedy. “I can tell you that three or four years ago, brands and agencies said to me, ‘What you’re doing is really cool, but those geeks in your basement – I’m not sure if that’s the audience I’m targeting advertise.’ Fast forward to the present and gaming is a pop phenomenon, it’s a metaverse and every brand wants a piece of it.”
When we asked Benedy if Anzu’s two recent successes could open up more opportunities for the company, he confidently replied, “Yes, definitely! In our view, we have only just begun. We are still early in the journey and have many plans for future funding rounds and activities in APAC. Our way of doing business is increasingly becoming a model for game developers and is beginning to evolve into a new advertising category for brands. All of this positive feedback helps and helps us steer our journey.”
Alongside the game developers, Benedy feels his Anzu is finally ready to be in the right place with the right product at the right time. With partnerships signed with the likes of Ubisoft, VERITAS Entertainment and ELEAGUE – the latter deal there will be more news soon, Benedy teased – the advertising company is poised for a bright future. “Our challenge is to stay laser focused! I’ve spoken about the importance of staying laser focused for many years and with recent developments at Anzu, it’s important to stay laser focused and not get distracted by many of the other opportunities or distractions that we see.”
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