Why an esports company just bought one of TikTok’s most influential talent firms

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TalentX Entertainment has a new owner.

Esports company ReKTGlobal is acquiring the TikTok-focused talent management firm, including its flagship brand Sway LA, in an undisclosed equity deal. As part of the purchase, ReKT is creating a new influencer marketing and talent division called “ReKTX” that will work with creators in all content categories — not just gaming and esports. 

“We view ourselves as a Gen-Z media and marketing company at this point,” ReKT’s CEO Dave Bialek told Insider. “That is where the relationship with TalentX has really blossomed.”

TalentX was started in December 2019 by two YouTubers, a 17-year-old TikToker, a talent agent, and a former Fullscreen exec. It gained traction in the influencer world after six of its creators moved into a company-run mansion dubbed the “Sway House.” The house’s members became some of TikTok’s top stars and gained millions of followers on social media while also courting controversy by hosting parties during the pandemic. The success of the collective led TalentX to focus its energies on a small group of creators rather than expanding out its roster. The company said it currently has around 35 creators under its management — roughly the same number of talent it told Insider it had back in early 2020. 

The Sway brand has since evolved to focus less on day-to-day life in an LA mansion. The group no longer lives in a single house, and some members have left the group entirely. Current Sway talent Josh Richards, Griffin Johnson, Noah Beck, Bryce Hall, and Blake Gray have used their social-media fame to launch a variety of business ventures, including podcasting, angel investing, and direct-to-consumer products. Bialek said it was these efforts, and not the Sway House itself, that drew interest from ReKTGlobal’s team. 

“To me, whether they are living in houses together or whether they are just sort of a cohesive collective doesn’t really matter,” Bialek said. “It’s really about evangelizing the brand and helping other brands to marry themselves to Sway and some of these other intellectual property concepts.”

While ReKT’s leadership is looking to branch outside of gaming, its position in the creator industry is still largely built around esports. The company manages two esports franchises, the London Royal Ravens and Rogue, which have won over a dozen world titles to date. Outside of its gaming and influencer-marketing businesses, ReKT also operates a fan-membership platform, working with a variety of non-esports brands including the home improvement show “This Old House” and NASCAR. The company said it has over 150 employees. TalentX has around 15 staff. 

ReKT’s acquisition of TalentX is the culmination of a year-long courtship between the two companies, who first met in February. In May, TalentX and ReKT launched a joint venture called TalentX Gaming. The goal of TXG was to build out a roster of gamer and esports influencers while also encouraging some of TalentX’s existing stars to film video game content. ReKT also made an investment in TalentX around that time. 

ReKT’s leadership grew close with some of TalentX’s creators over the course of the year, Bialek said. Sway House members Richards and Johnson personally invested in the company in December. 

“The more and more we got to know them, the more we wanted to be in business with them,” Bialek said. 

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