Esports organization ReKTGlobal has signed Benjamin "DrLupo" Lupo to a multiyear deal that will have the top Fortnite streamer serve as the face of the company.
The 32-year-old Omaha native, who was recently named one of Time magazine's 25 most influential people on the internet, will now represent the esports media and tech conglomerate through appearances, streams and sponsorship activations. He will receive equity in the company. Lupo had previously been signed with esports team Rogue starting in 2016. ReKTGlobal bought the team, owned by electronic music star Steve Aoki, in January 2018.
The streamer is one of the world's most popular Fortnite players, with more than 5 million followers on streaming platform Twitch and YouTube combined. He created his Twitch channel in 2013 and was previously a systems engineer before making the transition to streaming full time.
Lupo told CNBC the partnership is crucial in continuing the charity streams that netted him the Time recognition. In June, he hosted a charity stream that raised $920,000 in just 4½ hours for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
According to St. Jude, that was the most any streamer had raised and led the hospital to dub him Content Creator of the Year. In December, he also raked in $600,000 in a 24-hour charity stream for the hospital.
He hopes to replicate the success with ReKTGlobal's backing. He told CNBC he will host another 24-hour livestream from Dec. 21-22 to raise money for St. Jude.
Lupo in January became the first esports athlete to be sponsored by State Farm. He said the sponsorship was an example of how a partnership with the right organization could help a streamer.
"State Farm might have not considered me if were not for ReKTGlobal and Rogue," he said. "It's about having the ability to get in contact with companies, organizations and celebrities."
ReKTGlobal was founded by CEO David Bialek and Amish Shah, founding partner at early stage venture capital firm SierraMaya360.
ReKTGlobal in January raised $10.8 million in a Series A round that included Aoki, members of award-winning band Imagine Dragons and entertainment company Live Nation. Investors include Dutch DJ and producer Nicky Romero and music executive Lex Borrero.
Shah said the partnership with Lupo folds into the organization philosophy to extend beyond esports and into the entire gaming ecosystem. The company has about 50 clients and recently acquired Greenlit Content, a New Jersey-based media company that has collaborated with Xbox, Epic Games, Activision Blizzard and other big gaming names on content and events.
"We're not just an esports company," said Shah. "We have the team but we also have the marketing and agency side of our business. Lupo's charity work and his work with Junior Rogue make him someone who extends beyond just the main esports team."
Lupo is a mentor in Team Rogue's Junior Rogue program, a semester-long accelerator project meant to help train young amateur gamers for a career in esports and beyond professional gaming. Lupo stresses his desire to educate a younger generation on the growing number of opportunities in the esports industry, which research firm Newzoo predicts will generate more than $1 billion in revenue this year.
"A lot of kids lose sight of everything and they just focus on one thing, but you want to cover all your bases and be a well-rounded person," said Lupo. "We want to give these kids a chance to grow as both players and entertainers."