Capitalizing on its strength in video gaming, UTA is in the process of raising $200 million through a SPAC designed to pursue acquisitions of gaming-related companies.
On Wednesday, UTA confirmed that the UTA Acquisition Corp. has launched an offering of 20 million shares priced at $10. Shares will trade on NASDAQ as of Thursday under the ticker symbol UTAAU and the offering is expected to be completed by Dec. 6.
UTA said the focus of the effort would be on gaming assets to leverage that strength of its in-house gaming team led by Ophir Lupu, UTA partner and head of video games. Lupu will serve as president of the SPAC and could have a larger role in the acquired companies going forward.
UTA’s partners in the SPAC, which is a separate investment entity from the talent agency, include merchant bank Connaught and members of UTA’s management team.
UTA has recruited other video gaming veterans to join the SPAC to provide a ready-made management team for its acquisition targets. Reginald Fils-Aimé, who was most recently president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America, will serve as chairman. Clinton Foy of UTA Ventures and former Google executive Jamie Sharp will serve as co-CEOs. Chris Jefferis, who joined UTA as chief accounting officer in May, will serve as chief financial officer of the SPAC.
Former Activision executive Kathy Vrabeck, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and former CBS executive Nancy Tellem are three industry notables recruited to serve on the SPAC’s board.
Launching a SPAC focused on gaming assets is a big swing by UTA to diversify well beyond traditional revenue sources for talent agencies.
“We believe that there are a wide range of opportunities in gaming and related areas of digital media, the creator economy, entertainment and technology,” UTA said in its registration statement filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month. “The strategic landscape in our areas of focus is evolving rapidly, as the traditional value chain across creators, developers, publishers, distributors and other key constituents has experienced significant disruption. We believe a number of underlying dynamics behind this disruption create a need for investment capital to fund growth and meet increased demand and that our management team is well-positioned to evaluate potential targets.”
Among Hollywood’s largest talent agencies, UTA has been most active in representing video game-related talent under Lupu’s direction over the past decade.
In making the case to investors for the SPAC, UTA noted that video gaming has seen a spike in popularity in recent years and that gaming is becoming more integral to the overall entertainment industry.
“The economic potential of the virtual metaverse is tremendous and only beginning to shape. A wide array of untapped content and intellectual property has potential to be leveraged across new and existing online communities,” UTA’s filing read. “We believe an increasing range of artists, actors, athletes and influencers from a variety of disciplines will become attracted to in-game events, esports and related opportunities.”
Moreover, UTA’s prospectus emphasizes the growing potential that creative talent have as streaming platforms and social media marketing opportunities transform the entertainment industry.
“The evolution of technology has given independent content creators a robust array of tools to build their businesses across social media and other apps including Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, as well as video and streaming platforms including YouTube, Twitch and other new and emerging platforms,” UTA’s filing stated. “Successful creators can attract millions of fans and followers around the world. Creators are able to monetize their content online via a number of avenues including advertising, subscriptions, sponsorships, live events and merchandising. We believe a growing number of opportunities are emerging in the creator economy to build and scale substantial platforms around exceptional and differentiated talent and content.”