Former CSL Esports Chief Commercial Officer Neil Duffy has joined Ohio-based gaming talent discovery and competition platform eFuse as its new chief revenue officer.
In addition to Duffy, eFuse has also hired Herb May, former director of partnerships at the Houston Outlaws as its new director of partnerships. May left the Beasley Media Group-owned Overwatch League team in December where he served as its director of corporate partnerships for a year. Prior to joining the Outlaws, May worked at Roundhill Investments as head of growth.
eFuse describes itself as the “LinkedIn for Gamers,” giving amateur players a networking platform to be discovered, connect with people in the community and the esports and gaming industries, promote content, get involved in competitions through its eRena platform, or find a job to jumpstart their careers.
A month prior to the launch of its platform in December 2019, eFuse secured a $1.4M USD seed financing round from venture capital firm Ohio Innovation Fund (OIF) and OIF’s managing director Bill Baumel joined eFuse as a board member. Before founding the company in November 2018, eFuse founder and CEO Matt Benson held an entrepreneur-in-residence position with OIF in 2018.
Speaking to The Esports Observer, May said that he joined the company because he sees the potential of the platform and believes in the team building it: “I’ve always been really passionate about fueling the personal growth of fellow gamers. At eFuse, I know I’ll make a real impact and further their mission to help gamers get discovered. Beyond that, the culture at eFuse was the deciding factor when plotting my next move. I feel very blessed to be a part of this team and am excited to build something great with them.”
Duffy told TEO that he joined eFuse because he wants to help solve a problem that plagues esports, particularly at the amateur/collegiate level: “Esports is struggling through a major discovery and diversity challenge and we [eFuse] are committed to sharing a spotlight with the talent that needs it the most.”
Duffy left CSL Esports on Jan. 6, shortly after the departure of long-time CEO and Chairman Wim Stocks exited the company (who later joined Vindex-owned Belong Gaming Arenas as its senior vice president, partnerships & commercial). Duffy explained why he decided to leave CSL Esports: “We were fortunate to be able to sell the business to a private equity firm in June 2020. The business strategy shifted, so I made the tough decision to depart at the end of the year. Looking back, I’m so proud of the product and experiences we created through building the company over the past six years. My contributions at CSL pioneered collegiate esports and I plan to do even more here at eFuse.”
Finally, Duffy explained how eFuse will put his expertise to work to help grow the company, tackling another big problem for a lot of esports-related companies: revenue generation.
“I have worked with brands across the industry and it’s all about creating immersive and engaging experiences. This can be created through content, tournaments, streaming, influencers, or opportunities but it needs to add value to a gamer’s viewing or participatory experience.” Duffy added that he has learned the importance of thinking long-term and not letting “immediate wins compromise the company’s big vision.” Ultimately he’ll help build partnerships with sponsors to help generate revenue, in turn using it to pay for the things the company wants to do in 2021 and beyond. “I’m a big believer in putting partners over profits to build for the long-term,” he said.
In a release announcing the new hires, eFuse said that it held six celebrity-driven “eRena” events in 2020 that generated “160M impressions” and over 18+ hours of live broadcasting on its dedicated Twitch channel.
For 2021, the company plans to host 24 events and increase its total prize pool from $300K in 2020 to at least $500K in 2021. Duffy and his new team will help support these efforts by developing a direct relationship with “brands, advertisers, and agencies,” the company said.
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