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Australian fitness giant’s late $2B sprint into Wall Street

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Australian founded F45 Training will have their hearts racing after a huge listing on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday (US time)

US actor Mark Wahlberg who will reduce a 38.3 per cent stake to 28.6 per cent through his private investment vehicle MWIG

The group rose as much as 11 per cent and then lost most of those gains in its trading debut after a $US325 million ($438 million) initial public offering.

The company is now valued at $US1.46 billion (AUD$2 billion)

Mark Whalberg with F45 CEO & founder Adam Gilchrist at the NYSE. AP

F45 and an investor that includes Mark Wahlberg sold more than 20 million shares for $US16 each Wednesday after marketing them for $US15 to $US17.

The company had an uneven debut, opening at $US17 before falling below $US16. However, in a late sprint, it closed the day at $US16.20, a gain of 1.3 per cent on the offer price.

The listing was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and then sidetracked by a blank-check merger deal that fell apart.

Adam Gilchrist, F45’s chief executive officer, said in a joint statement at the time that the “prolonged uncertainty around the pandemic” kept the combination from being completed.

Wahlberg invested in F45 through a private investment vehicle called MWIG LLC, which sold almost 1.6 million shares in the IPO.

 Wahlberg owns about 26% of the membership interest in MWIG, according to F45’s filings.

The fitness chain also lists Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, Jr, David Beckham, Greg Norman and Cindy Crawford as backers.

What is F45?

F45 Training has jumped six spots to #13 on Entrepreneur’s list of Fastest Growing Franchises for 2020. 

F45 started from one gym in Australia in 2013 and its franchises offer 45-minute functional high-intensity interval and circuit training classes based on a motto of “no mirrors, no microphones, no egos”.

 In the past several years, F45 has opened studios in over 48 countries, spreading its wings into untapped markets throughout the world. The fitness chain now has 1555 outlets around the world.

Franchisees are given a turnkey model, as well as support from F45 Training Headquarters in Los Angeles, CA.

Australian low-cost online brokerage firm Stake has seen a surge of interest from local investors wanting to buy shares in F45 upon its listing. “[F45] started around the corner from our offices in Paddington, it’s a great Australian story,” Stake co-founder Matt Leibowitz told The Age.

“A lot of people go to F45 and have probably used it. It is one of the more popular listings and it is one that people understand as they have touched and felt it.”

F45’s revenue fell by 11 per cent in 2020 to $82.3 million, but the fitness chain did not take as big a hit from the pandemic as expected.

Business

Snapchat is growing faster than it has in years

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Snapchat announces new climate plan

Snapchat’s parent company has continued to see record growth – and profit – of the platform

Just a couple of years ago, there were concerns that Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, wouldn’t survive as a standalone company, but the social media platform is growing faster than it has since 2017.

The camera-based messaging app stated it added 13 million daily users during the second quarter of this year – a 23 percent increase from the same time a year ago.

That means 293 million people use Snapchat every day around the world, up from 173 million this time four years ago.

Snapchat’s revenue has also soared 116 percent to $982 million – making it a faster growing business than Twitter or Facebook

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel has said he expects the app’s user base to actually grow faster as pandemic lockdowns end, since Snapchat is designed to be used out and about with friends.

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Battle of the Crown: Star Entertainment ditches bid

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Australia’s Star Entertainment Group has ditched a bid to merge with Crown Resorts

In the latest showdown in the battle for the Aussie Casinos – Star proposed a merger bid back in May worth $12 billion.

Star Entertainment operates casinos in Sydney, Gold Coast, and Brisbane while Crown operates venues in Melbourne and Perth, while a built casino in Sydney hasn’t been granted permission to open.

The Star merger with Crown would have created an Australian gaming and hospitality giant with a total market value of $12 billion AUD.

Crown shares dive following Star’s announcement

Shares fell as much as 4.2% in early trading today, cleaving its market value to $6.7 billion.

Star, which is best known for its casino in Sydney, said it “remains open to exploring potential value-enhancing opportunities with Crown,” though engagement with Crown on the merger plan had been “limited.” It said it will closely monitor the outcome of the Melbourne investigation, as well as a concurrent probe into Crown’s Perth casino.

In a separate statement, Crown said it remains “willing to engage” with Star in relation to a potential merger. “The board is committed to maximizing value for all Crown shareholders and will carefully consider any proposal that is consistent with this objective,” it said.

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Why businesses should be tapping into the world of eSports

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Gaming has run a parallel race with tech businesses for years now with many industries embracing the competitive advantages.

CARLOS ALIMURUNG EXPLAINS THE PERKS OF MOBILE GAMING

It’s no secret that eSports is an area that many gamers imagined thriving since the early days of couch multiplayer – Businesses are now witnessing the momentum first-hand with companies such as ONE eSports acting as a vanguard to this new era.

CEO of ONE eSports, Carlos Alimurung was able to shine some light on the industry looking to explain the benefits for players, sponsors, and streamers.

Mobile gaming, whilst often considered “beneath” many traditional gamers have seen exponential growth with the power of smartphones and mobile devices increasing significantly, and eSports teams have noticed the potential of the games on offer and the convenience with which the platforms contain.

Celebrating the narrative of content creators and players within the industry is another area boasted by ONE eSports as they encourage and promote the players, seeing them as no different to athletes seen on a field, court, or even the Olympics. Though as Carlos explains “eSports doesn’t need the Olympics” – A wonderful expression of confidence for a passionate group of gamers desiring to be taken seriously.

Balancing a traditionally male-dominated industry can be a challenging task for a lot of big businesses which look to make a difference.

Articles outlining the struggles of female employees within game development are rife and deeply troubling, with major developers coming under fire for their response to the traumatic experiences inflicted upon women in the gaming industry.

INCLUSION IS PART OF THEIR INDUSTRY MISSION

They seek to enable and uplift players, streamers, and content creators of all genders to succeed – a breath of fresh air in an otherwise tainted space.

The numbers of female players look to increase with nearly 47% of gamers already being female there is plenty of room to see growth within eSports. (It doesn’t matter what gender you are when you’re on the business end of a no-scope trick shot in the arena!)

carlos alimurung gives insight into the business branding within esports

With brands like Netflix looking to get involved in the gaming industry, it is no longer a question of how but when other major companies will look to plug in and play.

Brands will also need to get smart about how their marketing will be presented to a younger more active audience (without hitting players over the head with it) Games like the basketball simulator: NBA 2K21 integrated unskippible advertising during loading screens which saw fans upset with being force-fed content onto their screens.

And whilst some could argue this made the game more authentic as advertising of course coats the sporting space, there are definitely more clever ways to do this… the spectacle of an esports arena for instance and the opportunities available have untapped potential, again the key is to be clever with the integration of marketing to Gen Z.

EXPANDING REACH

eSport will continue to expand its traditional reach from North America and Southeast Asia through onto Australian shores the question again, is not how but when this will occur as many Aussie gamers go without representation and limited faculty on home soil.

With the pandemic and vaccine rollout yet to play out in full there is a great opportunity to expand the digital market and competitive gaming space worldwide.

For the full chat with Carlos and more gaming goodness check out the rest of Ticker Gaming

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