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Incubator Move to OC to Boost Startup Aid Network

Cie Digital Labs’ recent move from Long Beach to Irvine could boost OC’s developing ecosystem of incubators, a mix of real-estate-driven plays, public and private partnerships, and co-working spaces.

The company, established in Cerritos in 1998, has notched one big exit and spun out another company that’s attracted venture capital funding. It plans to launch two to four startups annually from its new digs at Newport Gateway in Irvine (see page 4).

The company’s Cie Games, which developed top racing franchise “Racing Rivals” on iOS and Android, was sold last year for $100 million in cash and stock to San Francisco-based Glu Mobile Inc. “Racing Rivals,” along with “Car Town,” has drawn more than 100 million downloads.

Nativo, which it launched about three years ago, has raised $32 million from VCs. More than 500 online publishers use the El Segundo company’s native advertising offering, which essentially is editorial content sponsored by a brand.

The Nativo concept stemmed from work handled by Cie Digital’s consultancy, software and website development arm.

“We use that world to understand what the marketplace needs,” said Chairman Anderee Berengian. “That became the inspiration for us to spin out new ideas.”

Cie Digital is on a hiring push and employs about 45, not including the spinouts.

Bet on eSports

ESports, a spreading phenomenon with major tech companies helping fuel its rise, also has another catalyst: gambling (see related story, page 16).

An estimated 5.6 million people actively place wagers on competitive video gaming via fantasy eSports outlets, sportsbooks, and informal in-game contests, according to a new research report by Anaheim Hills-based Eilers Research LLC called “eSports Betting: It’s Real, and Bigger Than You Think.”

“Notably, these user bases have been acquired in short periods of time (fantasy eSports didn’t exist prior to January 2015, and online sportsbooks have only recently started to embrace eSports) and with relatively modest funding ($27 million in 2015),” the study says.

The market researcher estimates that by 2020, about 19.4 million bettors will put $23.5 billion on the line on eSports, with the potential to attract as many as 32.5 million bettors, and wagers nearing $43 billion.

“We are excited by the inherent potential of eSports as a betting product. Imagine, for a moment, what the modern online sportsbook industry would look like if every molecule on the football field was fodder for wagering,” the study said.

However, corruption and gambling regulations could have major implications for the market’s potential, the study warns, as high-profile match-fixing allegations have already crept onto the scene.

Boeing Lands Defense Job

The Huntington Beach operation of Chicago-based defense and aerospace giant Boeing Co. will handle some work related to a recent $9.8 million missile defense contract from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Boeing’s Huntsville, Ala., operation is taking the lead to develop a system that can destroy several objects within a threat zone, taking into account advanced sensors, diversion and altitude controls, and communication systems utilized by enemy forces.

The work is scheduled for completion in May 2016.

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