Riot Games Inc., maker of the online battle game “League of Legends,” recently sold the last 7% of shares held by the company and employees to Tencent Holdings, giving the Chinese conglomerate complete ownership. Tencent first invested in Riot in 2009, eventually spending $232 million in cash in 2011 to take majority control. Terms of the latest purchase were not disclosed.
Great: Riot said it would begin offering cash bonuses instead of stock options to employees, as part of the transaction. The stability offered by the compensation scheme could help Riot attract a different set of workers. Riot employs more than 1,000 people at a vast campus in West Los Angeles, and many more work around the world. Some experts buy that rationale.
Good: Up to 100 million people play “League of Legends” on their computers each month, together spending more than $1 billion annually on optional add-on items to improve their experience, according to analyst estimates. (Riot said in early 2014 that it has 67 million monthly players.)
Ugly: After Tencent’s 2011 investment in Riot, other shareholders gained the right to force Tencent to buy their shares at a specific price anytime during the following 10 years, according to Tencent’s financial report at the time. So it seems odd that a sale would happen not even five years into that period. Is it a sign that the game -- and the value of those shares -- has peaked? Riot said it’s working on a second game, but a release date hasn’t been announced.
Shaved off: Gillette is going to court to take on Dollar Shave Club, the grooming products’ rival whose lower prices and ship-to-home business model has attracted millions of consumers and more than $100 million in annual sales.
Gillette alleges in a patent infringement lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Delaware that Dollar Shave Club’s razors illegally borrowed ideas aimed at make the blades more durable. Marina del Rey-based Dollar Shave Club and its investors, who’ve given the start-up about $150 million and valued it at $630 million, aren’t commenting on the lawsuit.
L.A. to D.C. Former Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss is now president of an app start-up in Bethesda, Md. His company, BlueLine Grid Inc., announced an undisclosed investment from Motorola Solutions’ venture capital unit last week. BlueLine previously raised funds from In-Q-Tel, the venture fund tied to the CIA. BlueLine sells encrypted chat and data-sharing services to law enforcement and first responders. Weiss, a former federal prosecutor, served on the city council from 2001 to 2009.
Elsewhere on the Web. Marie Claire has short profiles on Meredith Perry, founder of wireless charging technology start-up uBeam, and Whitney Wolfe, a former executive at dating app Tinder. Perry says she’s been taking meetings with potential customers, such as hotels, airlines and restaurants. Wolfe, who went on to develop the dating app Bumble, says she originally envisioned the service as a social media app for teen girls. But her current partner, European entrepreneur Andrey Andreev, encouraged her to turn into a dating service.
In case you missed it. Our tech team put together a list of gadget gift ideas including drones and robot vacuums, and our resident grinch Tracey Lien told them why they’re all terrible. Virtual reality, connected cars, e-sports, Snapchat the on-demand economy — all are becoming important elements in the Southland economy, and all are poised for rapid growth in 2016. We made predictions for each.
Tastemade, a Santa Monica-based digital network for food and travel videos, closed a $40-million round of funding led by Goldman Sachs. RideAmigos, based in Venice, is developing ride-matching software to revive the decades-old idea of carpooling to work. And University of California officials announced the launch of a $250-million venture fund led by entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé that will invest in innovation from the UC ecosystem.