Gaming focus switch for FastForward

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FastForward Innovations, the Aim-listed investment vehicle run by former Fun Technologies founder Lorne Abony, has announced it will be wholly focused on online gambling following its debut investment in the sector earlier this year.

Back in April the company announced it had bought a 41% stake in virtual sports provider Leap Gaming for $3.5m and added former BwinParty chief executive Norbert Teufelberger as a special adviser.

In an announcement last week, the company said that it believed there were “exceptional” opportunities available to the company in the sector which represented “significant growth opportunities”.

It said that its current portfolio of investments is likely to provide significant returns in the near-term and that exit opportunities were being sought. Its education technology portfolio companies will likely be spun off into a new investment vehicle.

The company is also invested in two blockchain companies, SatoshiPay, which works in the micro-payments are, and Factom, which has produced a distributed ledger-based data storage system.

As of March this year the company had net assets of £10.2m which has been raised through a series of share placings over the previous 12 months. Before the Leap investment, £4.2m of the £10.2m was invested seven in investee companies and £6m remained as cash on the balance sheet.

Talking about the Leap Gaming investment to GamCrowd, Abony said that virtual sports provided a “massive opportunity”. “It’s really a fantastic market and we think there are so many opportunities there,” he added.

Leap Gaming was formed five years ago but only now has a product with which to go to market. It said the investment from FastForward would be used to double its R&D headcount as well as adding sales and marketing capabilities.

Leap new virtual sports product suite includes a live in-play tennis offering featuring full three-set tennis matches which it says is the first on the market. The company also has plan to launch a 3D casino in the near future.

Abony from FastForward said that the company was investing in the management as much as the technology. “On the management side, Yariv and the team there are outstanding entrepreneurs who have a big vision and the right experience to execute, and most importantly the drive to succeed.”

On the opportunities within the wider online gaming sector, Abony said it was an under-explored area as far as most private equity and venture capital was concerned. “It has largely been neglected,” he said. “We see a really great opportunity to bring capital, expertise, and our network to gaming businesses at the seed/early-stage,” he said. “It’s a space we are very familiar with being entrepreneurs in gaming ourselves.”

The company didn’t divulge any specific further investments but Abony suggested that the expertise he and his team brought to the company would mean that they would stand a good chance of identifying likely entrepreneurs.

“We’re really well suited to source and execute outstanding investment opportunities in the best entrepreneurs,” he said. “I think what really sets us apart from traditional investors, venture capitalists, private-equity types. We’re looking for a combination of a great idea, a huge market opportunity and a very talented team. Some ideas don’t always pan out perfectly but with the right team in place they always find a way to deliver something special.”