Team Dignitas have appointed Jonathan Kemp, a former senior executive with experience in both gaming and media integration, as their Chief Executive Officer.
Kemp has spent over 20 years working in gaming, but his past has also seen him work on the media integration side of of the 2012 London Olympics and act as a senior executive and managing director at game publisher Eidos Interactive. Now, after the purchase of Team Dignitas by the Philadelphia 76ers, his skillset has found a niche for which demand is growing rapidly.
"When I looked at my experience, and my skillset over the past 20 years so far, and then looked at the esports space as I saw it, there was this huge overlap in terms of what I thought I was able to bring to the table," he told theScore esports.
As the executive director of ISM, the exclusive interactive media licensee of the International Olympic Committee, he helped to bring in sponsors for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London that may not have normally considered the Olympic-inspired video games as an option for sponsorship.
"And as we grow esports to the degree it is growing at the moment, those same rules apply," Kemp told theScore esports. "You need the mass market knowledge and awareness, the demographic and scale that make it an awful lot easier for those non-endemic brands to be engaging with esports, and I think you'll see so much more of that moving forward."
In his new position, Kemp joins Dignitas chairman Greg Richardson, president Michael "ODEE" O'Dell and vice-president Michael Slan in steering the Sixers-owned organization through a rapidly-changing esports landscape.
Richardson said that while the esports viewer demographic remains a big opportunity, there have been few non-endemic sponsors that have truly committed to the scene in a big way.
"When you've got a quarter of a billion people who will watch a match this year, and they're going to be spending hours a day, it's an audience that really is almost impossible to reach through traditional media," Richardson said.
"I think the opportunity is big, and I'd like to think that Dignitas, with now the 76ers involved and now with someone with as much experience as Jonathan has in working with big brands, he's going to provide a safe and easy place for these big sponsors to feel like they can get after this market that's so enticing to them."
For his part, Kemp explained that his immediate priorities for Dignitas are to not only examine the organization's commercial strategy and to stay engaged with fans, but also to fully utilize the tools that the Sixers are already employing on the sports side.
"I think there's a lot of work as we move forward around leveraging what we've done with the Philadelphia 76ers, and making sure that we are working with the players ... and therefore start to implement some of the things that we've learned in addition to what Odee [has done at Dignitas] and Michael and David Slan have done at Apex," he said. "By that I mean, looking at nutritionists, sports psychology, physio, and just providing the environment whereby the players can be successful."
Richardson sees Kemp's unique background, as well as the Sixers' experience in sports and ODEE and Slan's experience in esports as a combination that is more important than simply the investment provided by Dignitas.
The money is, of course, a part of it. But he says that the future of the organization will be built by people.
"Less important than the capital involved is the people. So it's my background, Jonathan's background, matched up with what ODEE and Michael Slan know well," he said. "And that was our approach, is that it was going to take their expertise, what they're really good at, and their active involvement here alongside what we know well, to get where we want to get to."
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.