PLAYING FOR KEEPS
When the platform launched in April 2013, Skillz struggled to get just 10 games from developers. Now it has more
than 1,000 games and in excess of 9 million active players ( 49 percent are women) who can compete for cash in
regions that allow it. That represents about 80 percent of
the world, according to Skillz, including 38 U.S. states.
Last year a gamer won more than $100,000 playing
“Strike! Real Money Bowling”—which placed his income
above the fifth-highest-paid bowler in the Professional
Bowlers Association. The developer company behind that
game is U.K.-based Touch Mechanics. Co-founder Carl
Crossley says Skillz contacted him after seeing Touch
Mechanics’ bowling game in Apple’s App Store. “It took
us a week to create the new game with Skillz embedded.
Probably the most lucrative week we have ever spent,” he
says. “Whenever we start creating a new game, we discuss
whether we can integrate Skillz into it.”
In July 2015, Skillz added live streaming. It allows tour-
nament organizers to broadcast mobile games with the
streaming service of their choice—including Twitch, the
popular game-streaming site Amazon purchased in 2014
for $970 million. The rollout was supported by $15 million
in series B funding, completed in September 2015. Led
by Wildcat Capital Management, it included investments
from The Kraft Group, which owns the New England Pa-
triots, and Marc Lasry, a Milwaukee Bucks co-owner.
Skillz also included the ability to record and replay
games. “When you enter a tournament and someone gets
twice your score, you will probably want to see how they
did that,” says Miriam Aguirre, Skillz’ director of engineering. The company will broadcast 40 million minutes
of competitive mobile gaming this year, up from 8. 5 million minutes in 2015. Some of the live-streamed tournaments have had more than 400,000 views.