With today's announcement that Skillz has earned the No. 1 spot on the Inc. 5000 list, the company becomes the first gaming entity ever to top the chart. The top positioning further validates not only Skillz, but the esports industry as a whole, which is projected to be a $5 billion global business by 2020.
I spoke with Skillz founder and CEO Andrew Paradise to get a better feel for how he was able to command a company to the height of the Inc. 5000 list in an esports market that is largely still emerging and not quite as established as the industry within which many other Inc. 5000 companies exist.
Paradise explains that his company's rapid growth is largely due to the infrastructure that promotes developers to market the platform to others.
"Each developer that is successful with us will market the games that are favorable. So they're growing the user base of customers," says Paradise.
That causes roughly 50 new video game developers to sign up for the Skillz platform per week. Those developers market to more consumers based on the games they create and also market to other developers due to their own accomplishments. Additionally, if satisfied with the platform, they build more games to work with Skillz.
"Each consumer marketed to becomes a Skillz player just like an XBox Live user," explains Paradise. "There are 12 million consumers now who they can take advantage of [on Skillz]. At its peak, XBox Live was 40 million subscribers."
Paradise believes that he can have a relatively small mobile gaming network and still be huge as compared to console or computer platforms. He boasts of over 2 billion mobile gamers around the globe to hammer home his point.
But Skillz isn't only a mobile gaming network that takes a fee for providing a platform that enables developers to distribute their content. It also seeks to use all the data it gathers about players' behavior to stop cheating and fraud, and to improve player matching.
"It's a lot like PayPal, where we are the payment processor for all companies that work with us," says Paradise. "We are kind of the first game company agnostic anti-cheat system."
Skillz is also involved in recording and broadcasting all of the games being played on the network, and built out a portal called Skillz Arena, which is a product for streamers to run their own sophisticated esports tournament streams. Paradise says approximately 12 new streamers are engaging with spectators per week and that the streams cause more people to want to play games as well.
Overall, Skillz has innovated and continues to innovate the video gaming landscape, offering new opportunities to developers and players on their mobile devices. Paradise says Skillz is the first mobile esports company. With a top ranking on Inc. 5000's list, it is also definitely the most successful in its category.