Fortnite owner signs multimillion deal to buy Irish ‘kidtech’ firm

Dylan Collins’s SuperAwesome acquired by Epic, games maker best known for Fortnite

SuperAwesome founder and chief executive Dylan Collins: Photograph: ‘We’re proud and excited to be working together.’ File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

SuperAwesome founder and chief executive Dylan Collins: Photograph: ‘We’re proud and excited to be working together.’ File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

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SuperAwesome, the “kidtech” company established by Irish entrepreneur Dylan Collins, has been acquired in a multimillion dollar deal by Epic, the games maker best known for Fortnite.

No financial details of the deal have been disclosed but SuperAwesome was valued at more than $100 million after a funding round in 2018.

The company, whose backers include Microsoft, has developed a child-safe marketing platform that operates as a bridge for brands to reach those aged between six and 16. It includes several channels across physical, digital and mobile, including its “Instagram for Kids” app, PopJam. Partners include the likes of Lego, Mattel, Hasbro and Nintendo.

Overall, more than 300 brands trust SuperAwesome and in excess of 500 million children use apps, games and services that run on its platform, according to the company.

SuperAwesome has raised about $60 million to date and recorded revenues of $55 million in 2019. It had previously explored a public listing in London or New York and there were rumours that Microsoft was interested in making a bid for the company.

The deal with Epic marks another significant pay day for Mr Collins.

Prior to establishing SuperAwesome, the 37-year-old founded DemonWare, which was acquired by Activision Blizzard, the video games giant behind the Call of Duty franchise. The entrepreneur was also behind Jolt Online Gaming, which was bought by GameStop, the largest video games retailer in the world.

Bitter legal feud

Epic Games was founded in 1991 and is the developer of Fortnite, one of the world’s largest games with more than 350 million accounts and 2.5 billion friend connections. The company is also behind Unreal Engine, which powers leading games and has been adopted across industries such as film and television, architecture, automotive, manufacturing, and simulation.

“Partnering with Epic Games gives us the opportunity to deliver that promise on a scale which simply wouldn’t have been possible on our own. We’re proud and excited to be working together to make the internet safer for kids,” said Mr Collins.

Epic is engaged in a bitter legal feud with Apple which arose after it introduced its own payment mechanism to circumvent the iPhone maker’s 30 per cent fee for in-app purchases.

Apple responded by removing the game from its store. Prior to adding Epic’s own payment system, which Apple says is in breach of its rules, iPhone owners had downloaded Fortnite 133 million times and spent $1.2 billion on it.

Patrick O’Donnell, an analyst at Goodbody who focuses on the gaming sector, said the deal was a good acquisition for Epic.

“Epic has a user database of millions of registered users with Fortnite and there will be some synergies in terms of the age profiles of many of those players with what SuperAwesome is doing,” he said.

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