The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer

Oleg Butenko, “From Russia To Gaming”

October 2, 2020

Oleg Butenko has an incredible life journey, coming to the US as a young boy from Kazakhstan and then moving back to Russia in his twenties to build hugely successful businesses there and now back in the USA for more. He is an extraordinary Entrepreneur and sees emerging trends before others and then goes after them like there is no tomorrow.  From his huge success in building and selling tech businesses in Russia over 20 years to now building a new Gaming business in the US with a global focus.  Listen, learn and be inspired.

Key Highlights

  1. Late 80s/early 90s, at the age of 13 he moved to California from Kazakhstan
  2. Dot.com boom in late 90s, everyone building online products and he saw the need for engineer talent from Russia in the US
  3. Early 2000, went to Moscow living out of a suitcase initially which turned into a 20 year journey in Russia
  4. Digitizing content, from older Soviet movies to News shows and sold the company to a Russian Newsgroup
  5. Creating new digital services for Mobile Devices, get to the phone and you get to people’s wallets, from Mobile TV, SMS to Ringtones/Ringback tones (8 billion dollar industry, 40% in Asia), partnerships with Mobile Carriers
  6. Looking East (China) for technology, business model and equipment and West for content
  7. Low credit card penetration and mostly Pre-paid model in Russia (similar to Asia)
  8. His time building Megalabs within MegaFon (2nd largest Mobile operator in Russia), lots of learnings
  9. Launched UMA (United Media Agency) – build leading music streaming platform and sold it to Mail.ru  
  10. Mail.ru, multi billion dollar group, owns VK – Facebook of Russia, Online Games, Search, etc
  11. Local digital players beating the big US groups in their own game
  12. Anton Cherepennikov, new partner in Esports . ESForce (owned several teams, Virtus.pro, Navi, SK Gaming), Esports arena, etc  - sold business to Mail.ru as well     
  13. VY Esports – the latest tech venture, hosting virtual events, creating new type of content, entertainment focus, not professional competitions and some big investors
  14. Gaming as a whole is the key (much larger industry), Esports is a small part of it
  15. Building a Virtual Destination, create own events, showcase talent, TwitchCon with a twist in virtual space
  16. Game1 and VY Esports partnership, to create new type of Gaming content, main stream audience focus and bring big brands into the space (Russia vs USA competition as 1st project)
  17. Styngr – Music and Gaming venture, personalized Music for Gamers
  18. How to bring sponsors into Games, examples from Garena.  Games become powerful platforms for brands to reach massive audiences

About

Oleg Butenko is the CEO of VY Esports, a global esports company which is launching a tech platform to host virtual events in the esports and gaming space. A seasoned tech entrepreneur, Oleg has a successful track record of having founded six companies worth more than a billion dollars, in the global marketplace. VY Esports is backed by a notable group of organizations including:

• The Raine Group
• Elysian Park Ventures (LA Dodger’s Ownership Group)
• Warner Music Group
• Courtside Ventures

In addition to founding VY Esports, Oleg is a tech investor in seed to early stage companies offering a trifecta of strong teams, aligned with market trends and offering a unique proposition. His latest venture is Styngr, a tech platform for integrating and licensing musical content into game play for greater personalization.

A pioneer in the field of digital music and the gaming space, Oleg created one of Russia’s premier mobile music, television, and payment platforms, which was successfully acquired by Russia’s second largest telecommunications company. He then served as CEO of its product and innovation unit, leading the business from inception to a billion-dollar-per-year revenue subsidiary.

In 2014, Oleg founded United Media Agency (UMA), Russia’s leading music streaming content aggregator which represents all digital music on Mail.ru (including VK.com and Boom). He was instrumental in executing digital rights deals with leading music labels and publishing companies including:

• Universal Music
• Sony Music
• Warner Music Group

Together with the USM group, Oleg co- founded ESforce, a global esports company holding among its numerous assets ownership of three esports teams, an esports event/production company and an esports arena.

Oleg is a strong believer in giving back to his community and is a member of YPO and is the Pacific Northwest regional champion for the Sports and Entertainment Network. In addition, he supports a wide variety of charities including:

• LA County Museum of Art (Legacy Circle & Collectors Committee)
• LA Philharmonic
• LA Opera
• LA Music Center
• The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

Oleg is an avid world traveler for both work and pleasure. When he is not on an airplane, he and his family divide their time between Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe.

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