As a former general manager of Microsoft Ventures, Rahul Sood met a lot of angel investors and venture capitalists.
So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the entrepreneur’s new Seattle gaming startup — Unikrn — has already successfully raised $2.5 million in initial funding. After all, Sood — who prior to joining Microsoft founded gaming company Voodoo PC — is deeply connected in Seattle, Silicon Valley and beyond.
Some of those connections certainly came into play after Sood announced his departure from Microsoft earlier this month. The entrepreneur tells GeekWire that his new venture raised cash in an oversubscribed round, and that the initial $2.5 million was committed in the first week.
“I think there’s some new interest in the gaming space at the moment,” said Sood.
But there’s also interest in Sood, who rallied angel investors from Silicon Valley, Seattle, L.A., Moscow, New York, Canada and Australia in the seed round. He declined to name investors, simply saying that some “prominent” individuals are joining the round.
A series A is already in the works, and Sood says he’ll continue to grow the new team in Seattle.
“We’re thankful for the support so far, and what’s great is our investors are very supportive of us building in Seattle,” said Sood, adding that the city is the perfect place to build Unikrn given the tech and gaming talent available in the region. While Sood isn’t saying much about his investors or what he’s building, some interesting clues are emerging.
Sood says he hopes to have more of the team in place by early next year, but one puzzle piece is already coming together. According to the SEC filing where we discovered the funding round, Sood is joined on the executive team by Karl Flores, the CEO and co-founder of Australian in-game video ad startup Pinion. In fact, Pinion introduced what it dubbed Pinion Tournament System earlier this year, an eSports competition in which prizes were awarded for game play around Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2.
“The focus of the tournament system is to create a platform that is accessible, fun, and rewarding for ALL gamers regardless of their experience,” Flores said in a press release at the time. “With our partners at Beyond Gaming we’ll be the first to bring the tournament experience to community servers – so you’ll be collecting points to win great prizes just by playing within your local community.”
Pinion was backed by Microsoft’s Bing Fund, the unit in which Sood previously worked. According to Flores’ profile on LinkedIn, Pinion was sold recently, but I could not find a record to whom.
Sood actually wrote about Pinion’s technology in a blog post two years ago, saying he was “blown away” by the founders’ “passion and persistence.”
“Three times they have almost gone broke, and three times they have come back. Now their business is starting to take off,” said Sood in 2012 after making the investment on behalf of the Bing Fund.
Sood did not respond directly to questions about the involvement of Flores in Unikrn, but it certainly seems like the two have something interesting cooking.
This one should be fun to watch!