This eSports founder used a brilliant method to land a big investment from legendary tech exec Paul Maritz

This eSports founder used a brilliant method to land a big investment from legendary tech exec Paul Maritz

RumbleMonkey CEO Jacob Rapoport RumbleMonkey Former VMware CEO Paul Maritz likes to make angel investments in companies that he understands. "[RumbleMonkey CEO] Jacob [Rapoport] has taken me in a direction I never expected to go. Other investments I have are much more in my background in enterprise software. Maritz first met RumbleMonkey CEO Rapoport back in the late 1990's, when he worked for Maritz at Microsoft. Rapoport has come to Maritz with startup pitches several times before. What lured Maritz to say "yes" this time was when Rapoport convinced Maritz to come with him to the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX). Pivotal Executive Chairman Paul Maritz Business Insider/Julie Bort Rapoport used the opportunity to tell Maritz about the money in professional eSports these days. Rapoport wanted to bring the excitement of playing video games for a real cash prize to the average gamer. "The equivalent of people who go out to a golf match, put money into the kitty and play for the kitty," Maritz says. So he built RumbleMonkey to be a platform that handles tiny wagers, verifies who won, and helps gamers find other players of similar ability to play and bet against. But the real selling point for Maritz was when RumbleMonkey tested his idea at PAX with a pro gamer. Any gamer could challenge the pro to a match for a $5 wager. And when Maritz saw people literally lining up around the block to wager on a game, he opened his wallet wide. "It is the mirror image of the sports world that's growing up in cyberspace," Maritz says. "It's a new opportunity for me to learn about a world that is emerging very rapidly." All in all, Maritz has a half-dozen angel investments, including a scheduling software company called BoldIQ and an aircraft company in his home country of South Africa. That last one is close to his interests — he may not play video games, but he's a seasoned pilot in real life.  As the ex-CEO of VMware, Paul Maritz is a well-known name in enterprise software . But he's the first to admit he knows nothing about video games, much less the hyper-competitive world of eSports. That's why even he was surprised when Maritz become the key angel investor for RumbleMonkey, a year-old eSports platform that launched in March. It lets gamers play head-t0-head games for small wagers. Maritz described his stake as a "Series A." The total investment was in the "very low millions," he says. Maritz was a key executive during Microsoft's early days, before he was poached to become CEO of VMware. Later, Maritz was tapped to be the CEO of Pivotal, a VMware spinoff.

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