Toronto-based entertainment company Spin Master is launching a new entity that will invest in tech companies and startups in order to accelerate growth in its own toy, entertainment and digital games businesses.
Spin Master Ventures (SMV) has an initial budget of US$100-million, which it will use to acquire strategic minority stakes in early-stage companies with new teams and ideas, and emerging businesses that already have a proven product or market fit. SMV will eventually invest in companies all around the world, but it’s starting with North American and European businesses first.
The goal is to be on top of new trends and tech so that Spin Master can improve its own products, according to a release.
SMV has already made minority investments in two companies. The first is Nørdlight, an indie mobile game developer based in Stockholm that’s working on an inaugural release called Jotunheim. This investment will support Spin Master’s efforts to monetize its digital gaming IPs, according to a release.
The company has had success investing in video games in the past. It acquired Swedish app-maker Toca Boca and its subsidiary Sago Mini in 2016. And digital games have been a boon to its bottom line during the pandemic—revenue for the segment grew by 193.1% to US$76.8 million in fiscal 2020, largely driven by Toca Life World and the Sago Mini portfolio.
SMV has also invested in Canadian edtech platform Hoot Reading (pictured), an online tutoring service that connects kids with teachers in live video lessons to help them learn literacy skills. According to a release from Hoot Reading, it secured around US$2.4 million (CAD$3 million) in a seed funding round led by Spin Master Ventures. The platform has delivered more than 100,000 lessons since launching in 2018, and it’s on track to continue growing. According to Hoot Reading, citing data from Grand View Research, the global online tutoring market is estimated to grow in value by 15.6% by 2028.