It is my great pleasure to share that Transcend portfolio company Gardens has raised a $31.3M Series A, co-led by Lightspeed and Krafton with support from the founders of Blizzard, Oculus, and ArenaNet alongside C-level executives from Microsoft, Sony, Tencent, Bandai Namco, Atlantic Records, and TikTok. In the current funding climate, it is hard to overstate the significance of this achievement and the vote of confidence it represents.
About a year and a half ago, I announced the news of our oversubscribed lead investment in Gardens and joined the company’s board. The founders’ goals were and remain remarkably ambitious yet rooted in an authentic, wholesome orientation toward putting their considerable gifts to work in service of building living playspaces capable of fostering long lasting opportunities for community and friendship. Make no mistake - this is hard. Crafting gameplay that is beloved for years yet approachable, deep, and meaningful is extraordinarily difficult. However, with top gaming franchises clocking annual sales measured in the billions, the outcome is potentially colossal.
Getting to high conviction on this type of investment at the Seed stage is correspondingly challenging. In our case, the methodology behind it is rooted in the unique DNA of our team. Transcend is known as an audience-first fund. The audience is the one true compass in all of entertainment. As former operators with billions in revenue experience, our approach is rooted in decades of direct experience in the games industry reading that compass and building for those audiences. That track record across defining franchises and entertainment companies informs our first principles approach to early stage investing in such a massive yet bespoke category as gaming.
Gardens is a powerful example of that methodology in practice. The depth of insight and design artistry necessary to craft gameplay that grows shared experiences which engender friendships that build memories is rare. Our early interactions with the Gardens founders not only convinced us that they had a profound understanding of this hard-won social design toolkit, but also that it was paired with a formidable product vision and the execution ability to deliver on it. The path from that moment to this was not a straight line and we built a few memories of our own along the way pathing through early company building, product and market questions, the implosion of Silicon Valley Bank, and an electrifying GDC 2023.
Today, the Transcend team and I are very proud to join the Gardens founders in celebrating their blockbuster Series A raise and welcoming a phenomenal array of new world-class investment partners to this exciting undertaking. The story of how they were able to emerge from relative stealth to put together such a vibrant round in the face of a multitude of headwinds is an inspiring one indeed. Please ask them about it when you go for an interview. They are hiring!
About Transcend Fund
Transcend is a top performing early stage venture capital firm that partners with the boldest founders in the industry to collaboratively build the future of interactive entertainment.
Founded in San Francisco by gaming veterans, the Transcend portfolio features a preeminent group of high growth digital entertainment companies around the world.
About Shanti Bergel
Shanti is the founding partner of Transcend and a 30 year game industry veteran.
His global operating experience spans every major platform and business model transition of the last several decades and is animated by a career-long fascination with how changes in technology and distribution affect products, services, and communities.
Shanti is a recognized member of the Techcrunch List, speaks fluent Japanese, and is a frequent speaker on early stage investment, M&A, and strategic partnerships in digital entertainment.