Gaming is an effective unifier for millions of people around the world. It is comparable to music. The esports industry has evolved into a multi-billion dollar business. While just a subsect of the video game industry at large, esports is estimated to reach $1.1 billion in revenue by the end of 2020, up from $950.6 million in 2019. Evident in these figures, and unknown to many, the gaming industry is a lucrative business that is currently thriving, that is constantly evolving, and that is also reinventing itself as a force to be reckoned with. It is for this reason that Jimmy Baratta, through his esports consultancy firm FT Empire LLC, is also thriving. Baratta bridges the gap between esports and those who wish to learn more about it.
Gaming industry experts predict that the total esports audience will grow to over 495 million people in 2020. This represents an increase of at least 11.7% compared to the previous year. In fact, a huge spike was observed last year involving mobile esports with emerging markets that include Brazil, India, and Southeast Asia at the forefront. As the gaming industry continues to grow rapidly, FT Empire is right in the middle of it, helping investors, organizations, sponsors, strategic partners, and tech start-ups understand the nature of the business and the characteristics of the market that it captures.
At the helm of FT Empire is Jimmy Baratta, a former lawyer who left his full-time position in civil litigation to focus on his consultancy group. While Baratta was a thriving legal practitioner for over seven years, he remained a passionate gamer his whole life, growing up playing Super Mario on NES with his big brother Carlos. Baratta’s first major project after establishing FT Empire in 2017 was ICEBRKRSCLAN, or ICE. ICE is a gaming community that now has more than 2 million active subscribers, who participate and engage with ICE’s content posted across various niche pages including the infamous Fortnite, Valorant, Minecraft, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, NBA 2k, and more. The ICE community, in addition to providing an outlet for young gamers interested in mentorship and developing skills to pursue a career in gaming, also serves as a marketing vehicle for Baratta’s clients interested in reaching a Millennial and Gen Z audience.
Baratta also consults for high-profile entertainment properties represented by the law firm Granderson des Rochers, where his big sister Jamie Slade is a partner. Through FT Empire, he was able to sign platinum-selling artist Chief Keef (through his esports property Glo Navy) as well as YBN Nahmir to tournament streaming agreements. In 2018, Baratta represented Larry Jackson, Apple Music’s Head of Content, in a series of deals with FaZe Clan, as well as in negotiations for the live Fortnite concert: Astronomical, featuring Travis Scott and which exceeded 24 million participants. In 2019, Baratta collaborated with Dave Chen, the seed investor for FaZe Clan, to develop the North American Collegiate League (NACL). NACL is a nonprofit that provides over $25,000 per month in scholarship funding to student gamers. NACL boasts a star-studded board including Jeremy Roenick of the NHL, Anthony Alfredo of NASCAR, Brian Urlacher, Aaron Jones, Alvin Jones, and Dante Pettis of the NFL, Vinny Del Negro, Fat Lever and Rex Pflueger of the NHL, Flex Lewis, Kai Green, and more. NACL’s partnership with Asian streaming giant Huomao yields over 1.5M viewers per tournament. It has become the perfect avenue for sponsors and advertisers to showcase their products worldwide.
Aside from single-handedly growing the FT Empire, Baratta also recently accepted an invitation to teach esports at the University of California Irvine. His consultancy firm also continues to do business with Baratta’s friend and mentor Clinton Sparks, a Grammy-nominated musician and co-owner of XSET, the newest and baddest organization to penetrate the esports market just a few short months ago, making waves across headlines including the NY Times and Forbes. FT Empire also works closely with XR Sports, where Kedreon Cole and Hector Rodriguez have developed a tournament solutions platform that also provides services to the U.S. Air Force, Dallas Mavericks, and Team Envy. In addition to these pursuits, Barrata also sits on the board of advisors for the Esportz Network, where he has been featured in two podcasts by hit sensation and esports personality Mitch Reames.
In the coming years, Jimmy Baratta is intent on continuing his mission to mentor the underrepresented youth while providing relevant and state-of-the-art resources to the rising new generation of gamers. By collaborating with the efforts of the NACL, his mentorship group ICE Clan, his professorship at the University of California Irvine, and a hint at his future team-up with TGR Foundation, a Tiger Woods Charity, Baratta is confident that he will be able to successfully work with more young people in the future.
As he continues helping people understand esports, the gaming industry in general, and how they can impact the lives of millions of passionate gamers all over the world, Baratta hopes that hearing his story would help the next generation have a better grasp of the potential of the gaming industry.