Mankind is undeniably a talented species. Yet despite all our ingenuity and resourcefulness, the progress we have made thus far has been constrained in part by the limitations of the human body; the power of the brain, the ability to collaborate and our biological make-up.
Today, however, these physiological boundaries are being eliminated thanks to the rollout of artificial intelligence, ‘always on’ communications and next generation robotics. In our view these advancements, especially machine learning, will accelerate the pace of future scientific discovery, with many investors left scratching their heads in terms of where best to place their hard-earned cash amid this rapidly changing world.
This is where FastForward (FFWD) fits in - an AIM listed ‘value added’ investor in earlystage, hi-tech businesses developing ‘disruptive’ technology, such as ‘Virtual Reality’ (VR). In its purest form, VR enables people to learn from and enjoy totally new experiences in a fully immersive, yet safe environment – providing huge benefits across many walks of life, with the healthcare, defence, gaming and movie industries already taking up the baton. But this is just the start.
Soon there will be a much bigger wave of users, including the $35bn+ pa online gambling sector (source: Technavio). It’s not hard to see why. By strapping on a pair of VR goggles, players can be instantaneously transported into almost any setting imaginable – eg Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, a smoke-filled 1930’s gambling joint in Chicago, even sitting beside James Bond at a poker table in his latest film. Enter Leap Gaming, a first mover in this space, with its futuristic 3D sports and casino games.
Leap’s priorities are to continue improving its proprietary software alongside building out its client base – both areas where FFWD possesses considerable expertise. You see, over the past 9 months the latter has assembled a ‘who’s who’ of internet gambling visionaries – not least CEO Lorne Aborny (former CEO of Fun Technologies and cofounder of Cryptologic), Special Advisor Norbert Teufelberger (past CEO of Bwin.party entertainment) and major shareholder Gigi Levy-Weiss (former CEO of 888.com). By leveraging this combined knowledge and contacts, we think FFWD can add immense value to Leap, not least in relation to strategic input, geographical expansion, application architecture and customer/partner introductions.
No wonder therefore that on 10th April 2016 both parties agreed FFWD would invest $3.5m for a 41.1% stake - of which $2.5m has already been paid, with the remainder set to complete shortly. Sure, Leap is still loss making, but in light of the substantial synergies available, we believe the potential rewards far exceed the risks.