(CNBC) — Guild Esports, a start-up backed by soccer star David Beckham, has listed on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation around £40 million ($52 million).
Founded in London in September 2019, Guild is the first esports firm to go public on the LSE. It raised £20 million through the initial public offering.
Shares reversed early gains to drop as much as 7.63%. on Friday.
Guild wants to develop and manage a global esports team that can enter competitions and win prize money. Talented young gamers can earn millions of dollars a year through competitions, sponsorship deals, merchandise and events.
It said the listing will “raise the public profile and provide new funds for the company’s expansion and long-term growth.”
Using a roster of scouts to find and sign the best talent, Guild said it plans to train young gamers and equip them with the skills they need to compete professionally.
Guild said its “inaugural team” will debut this fall and enter competitions for games like EA Sports FIFA, Fortnite, and Rocket League — a game that combines cars and soccer.
Beckham, who is the co-owner of Major League Soccer team Inter Miami CF, now owns 4.78% of Guild, while Blue Star Capital, Toro Consulting, and Pioneer Media Holdings are the other main shareholders.
“Throughout my career I’ve been lucky enough to work with players at the top of their game, and I’ve seen firsthand the passion and dedication it takes to play at that level,” said Beckham at the launch event of Guild in June.
“I know that determination lives in our esports athletes today and at Guild we have a vision to set a new standard, supporting these players into the future,” the former Manchester United and England player added. “We are committed to nurturing and encouraging youth talent through our academy systems and I am looking forward to helping our Guild Esports team grow.”
Esports have become big business in the last few years and have surged in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic.
The global esports market is currently valued at $1.1 billion and is estimated to grow 42% to $1.56 billion by 2023, according to gaming analyst Newzoo.
Last year, 443 million people tuned in to watch people play games online and that number is set to grow to 646 million by 2023, Newzoo estimates.