For the past 10 months I’ve been in a back and forth discussion with Azubu to obtain full ownership of Esportspedia. I had kept up with the events that transpired between Azubu and River with regards to Esportspedia and felt deeply for the way the Esportspedia team was treated. During this ordeal, my conversations continued with Azubu and it wasn’t until news broke that I became aware that there were simultaneous conversations taking place surrounding Esportspedia. The only thing I knew about was that Azubu didn’t feel Esportspedia aligned with their business model going forward and would potentially be releasing the site.
At this point I was all but certain that my own negotiations were all for not and was thrilled to learn that Gamurs didn’t allow for everything that went into Esportspedia (and Leaguepedia prior) to be lost and decided to copy the site and start Esports Wikis.
When I started Leaguepedia more than 5 years ago I did so on the basis that I would put the community first in every decision I made and that the staff and I would always stay true to the saying ‘By the Community, For the Community’.
With that in mind, immediately after I received a signed contract from Azubu for the transfer of Esportspedia I reached out to River directly and set up a time for the two of us to talk. During our conversation I first checked on how she was doing and told her how sorry to hear about how she was treated by Azubu. I wanted her to know that it wasn’t all for nothing and that Esportspedia was no longer owned by Azubu and was transferred to myself earlier that day.
I wasn’t very confident that I would be able to acquire Esportspedia from Azubu and thus didn’t start building out a business plan until everything was official. What I did know was that I wanted River to have a large ownership stake in the site and made sure she knew this. I also explained my new plan to provide staff with equity into the site and that I was setting aside 10% of Esportspedia to be divided out to her team.
As the conversation continued, River seemed excited about the potential of rejoining Esportspedia and even expressed how upset members of the team were when they first left Esportspedia and that this would bring new level of excitement back to everyone. I told her that I would do whatever she needed me to do to help her out and so we both agreed that she would introduce me to the owner of Gamurs in the hopes of working out a deal that would prevent any sort of conflict.
I knew that working together would be the best case scenario for both parties and was very open to coming up with a deal that was fair and worked for everyone. I had already left Unikrn, cashed out my 401k and savings so that I could get back to my entrepreneurial roots and rebuild Esportspedia.com as well as launch Esportsology, LLC and Esports Calendar.com So once I spoke with Gamurs I explained that I was fully devoted to rebuilding Esportspedia and that my only condition was that I wouldn’t give up majority ownership in Esportspedia. I still regret my decision to let go of Leaguepedia when I did and I just couldn’t live with myself if I did it again. Unfortunately, after a week of back and forth with Gamurs we were unable to come to an agreement that didn’t involve transfer of ownership.
Starting from the Beginning
To back up a bit here, one thing to be reminded of is that Esportspedia was a direct descendent of Leaguepedia, not to the extent of Esports Wikis but the majority of content on the site was indeed migrated from Leaguepedia to Esportspedia.
After starting and managing Leaguepedia for two and a half years and building a close knit relationship with the League of Legends community, it was a very unsettling decision knowing I would be on the other side of the fence when I made the decision to join Azubu and run their Content Department. What made this opportunity unique and unlike any I had faced before was that I would be building an entire department and was able to hire eight full time employees, all of whom came from my team at Leaguepedia.
It took a couple of months to get everyone on board, as most of the team was relocating to Los Angeles. During this time, I knew my first major initiative would be focused towards the community. I was worried about what would happen to Leaguepedia and the volunteers that remained. At one point I was even given approval to attempt to acquire Leaguepedia but was unable to strike a deal within budget.
It was at this point that I was surprised to learn that Azubu had purchased the domain “Esportspedia.com” months earlier. With a strong team of volunteers essentially in limbo after I left Leaguepedia, I knew I could build a dynamic product that incorporated multiple esports, all the while being community oriented. It was during the initial stages of esportspedia that I changed the Leaguepedia social networks sites that I still owned over to esportspedia sites, including all Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Within the first 6 months Esportspedia was covering four separate esports titles (League of Legends, Call of Duty, Halo & Smite) and was being maintained by 1000’s of contributors. During this growth I realized I wouldn’t be able to continue devoting as much time as I was, while also running the rest of the Content Department. Due to the success of the site however I was provided with enough budget to hire a few staff members to run each game division full time. I knew River would do a great job overseeing the sites and it put me at ease knowing the day to day operations were in good hands. I would meet on a daily basis with River as well as Daniel, both of which were responsible for various site operations. We were in constant conversation which included the discussion of all ongoing projects and proposals as well as addressing any outstanding issues they were facing so that I could take care of them. As their manager, it was my job to give them the tools and resources that allowed for the success of Esportspedia. Whether it was obtaining budget for editors that focused on the Chinese region to running events like the Korean Solo King on Esportspedia’s channel to having the Azubu engineers develop a module that integrated a broadcaster’s Esportspedia page into channel.
I want to first state just how much respect I have for River and the work she has done for the League of Legends community. Throughout my career in esports I’ve had the honor of working with some phenomenal individuals that were just starting to step into the industry. She was one of those hidden gems that will really excel when in an environment that utilizes her strengths and Esportspedia really brought it to the forefront.
Although I’m disappointed that we were unable to come to an agreement on behalf of the community and their best interest, the future plans for Esportspedia and Esportsology will continue as scheduled and are outlined below.
- By the end of next week Esportspedia will have completed its migration to a new infrastructure after undergoing an in-depth overhaul of its system’s architecture. These massive improvements will put us on track to ensure 99.9999% uptime and <500ms response time for 95% of our user base by the end of 2016. (Response time is specific to pages that are <1mb in size)
- Esportspedia is a community driven website and similar to that of Wikipedia, we rely heavily on user contributions. Without the community there wouldn’t be an Esportspedia and thus as part of our relaunch we want all of our contributors to have their own vested interest in the site.
Later this year, Esportspedia will be announcing the official launch of the Esportspedia Contributor Equity Initiative and will be going live with beta testing in the coming months. A microsite is currently in development with all the details and should be out later this month.
- We want new community activations to be a seamless process once viability has been established. To make this process easier we will be launching Esportspedia Auxiliary, which will completely overhaul how a new esport community website is created with the goal of providing all the tools and expertise for success.
A brief summary of Esportspedia Auxiliary is as follows:
- Once viability and interest has been shown as well as the selection of a manager or management team a custom esports wiki will be built specifically for that individual esport.
- The management team will receive 25% ownership of their respective site with an additional 25% to be allocated to their community and volunteers as part of the Esportspedia Equity Program. Additionally, 70% of all revenue after expenses, from the website will be paid to the management team on a monthly basis.
- 360° transparency into the finances of how well the site is performing, including cost and revenue gains.
- 3rd party tool set for analytics, social media, marketing and technology.
- Custom templates and widgets will be tailored to the specific esports title allowing for content to be easily transformed that appeals to your audience. This includes everything from customized categories for players, teams and events to control panels for stats and data management that is geared towards your sites audience.
- Team of advisors to help every step of the way.
We expect to release the beta of Esportspedia Auxiliary for two major esports titles by Q4 of this year. All the details will be released later this month.
The details of our other major initiatives that are underway will be shared in a separate blog in the coming weeks. Each will be a part of the same organization and will uniquely complement one another, including Esportspedia.
- Launch of esportscalendar.com & esportsology.com by Q4 ’16.
- Announcement of an esports specialized engineering & consultancy firm.
If you’ve made it this far into the blog post, I want to thank you for reading what all I had to say. You’re almost to the end!
Almost six years ago I made the decision to leave my job and devote everything I had into the esports industry when I started Leaguepedia. As with esports itself, there have been bumps along the way but I’ve come out stronger every time. It hurts to my core when I see how certain individuals react towards my acquisition of Esportspedia and my hope with this blog post, more than anything else would be for you to see that my intentions were pure. When I started Leaguepedia I would spend days on end creating and updating 100’s of pages on the site. I’ll admit that this wasn’t the case after I started Esportspedia and it wouldn’t have been in the best interest of the site if I had. I needed to focus my attention towards building out a team, managing the budgets, analyzing user flow and site trends, constructing a detailed roadmap and executing the strategy to prevent the same issues that River had to deal with from occurring months earlier. I had to make sure that everyone on my team whose livelihood relied on receiving a monthly paycheck didn’t come to an end.
When it’s all said and done, I’m here because I love esports, love the communities and want more than anything for this industry to succeed. Esportsology LLC and the subsidiaries, Esportspedia and Esportscalendar illustrate my commitment to the industry and continued investment in the community. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and to have had the chance to work with the people I have over the years. And I’m only getting started!
Esportsology LLC | Esportspedia | Esportscalendar