Skip to main content

Houston Sees Growth in Esports Industry

Published Jul 08, 2021 by David Ruiz

University of St. Thomas Esports Center

Dat “Kitzuo” Nguyen gaming at UST Esports Center, photo courtesy of the University of St. Thomas

Dat "Kitzue" Nguyen, photo courtesy of University of St. Thomas

Alongside an ongoing run for green energy and the Californian exodus, the esports industry has gradually gained momentum in Houston. Just this year, the global esports market was valued at nearly $1.1 billion, up roughly 50% from 2020, according to Statista. Houston, ranked as the No. 2 fastest growing tech hub by Axios, is seeing noticeable investments dedicated to this space, including the University of St. Thomas’ esports center and Vindex’s announcement to locate their first-in-the-U.S. esports center in Houston.

While many competitive activities were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the online nature of the industry allowed consistent growth worldwide. Panelists at this year’s CES, the largest annual tech industry conference, noted the esports industry functioned with minimal interruptions and instead gained momentum during the pandemic, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported. Organizations in Houston took advantage of the all-online atmosphere and grew their esports areas. Justin Pelt, director of esports at St. Thomas, said the recent virtual technology growth sets the stage to show the world that Houston is empowering the esports scene. “The more Houston innovates and grows in the esports space and starts hosting big events, people around the world in the esports demographic will inevitably take notice and potentially create more interest in our city,” Pelt said. 

St. Thomas, which recently unveiled an on-campus esports center only months after establishing an official esports club, sees the investments as an opportunity for students and the city to gain first-hand experience in the industry. “We are looking to play a big part in the future of esports and in shaping the digital landscape here in Houston,” said Jeff Olsen, vice president of marketing and university relations for St. Thomas. “In addition to our esports team and academic offerings, we have big names from the esports and gaming world like Mainline and SixFoot production studios officing right here on our Montrose campus, as well as ongoing collaborations with the Houston Outlaws.” 

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s announcement that it will lease space in the Ion connects Houston to a tech-giant with billions invested in the gaming industry. Their latest purchase of interactive entertainment publisher ZeniMax for $7.5 billion earlier this year is an indication the tech giant expects continued growth in the gaming sector in the years ahead. While esports in Houston is still in its initial growth stages, it is clear there is a global stage set for success in one of the fastest growing tech  subsectors.

Learn more about Houston's growing digital technology sector

 

Related News

Digital Technology

Small Biz Insider: How SnapStream Became a Late Night TV Mainstay

7/21/21
If you've ever watched 'The Daily Show,' or other late night TV programs, then you've most likely seen the product of a small business born right here in Houston. SnapStream is a tech company that serves as a real-time news and media search engine. It's being used by national news, media and other organizations to quickly capture, search, create and share video clips. The small business has seen tremendous growth since it launched in 2000. In just the last four years, the SnapStream's revenue has grown about 40% every year.  On this episode of the Small Biz Insider podcast, we talk with SnapStream Founder and CEO Rakesh Agrawal about how 'The Daily Show' was an inflection point and how an internal focus on the business has driven growth and success. On 'The Daily Show' choosing SnapStream in 2010 Agrawal said the company's relationship with the late night TV program began a decade ago. 'The Daily Show' was upgrading to high definition and redoing the system they used to acquire clips. The program selected SnapStream over two other companies. Agrawal said it was a great inflection point for SnapStream. “Actually in a lot of ways, how [the Daily Show] used our product also shaped our product," said Agrawal. We built a lot of the capabilities and software for The Daily Show. They were an early customer." On SnapStream's "secret sauce" “I think the sort of ‘secret sauce’ of SnapStream is making it easy for organizations to find the key moments and then very quickly," said the SnapStream CEO. "Speed is a key element of what we deliver to our customers because in the news and media industry, you need to be able to turn things around quickly. You have to do more with less.” On what makes Houston a great place to live and build a business "There's so many things I love about Houston," said Agrawal. "I've chosen to live in Houston and be in this community. At a personal level, I love food in Houston and the restaurant scene. I'm a foodie and there's great, amazing creatives in Houston on the food scene." The SnapStream founder added Houston also has a lot of great resources for business owners. "You just have to go out and find them. You have to build the network.” Small Biz Insider is presented by:    Learn more about the Partnership’s Small Biz Matters business resource group and get information about how your organization can become a member today.  The Small Biz Insider podcast is part of our digital series highlighting entrepreneurs in the greater Houston region who are making a big impact in the small business community. Follow Small Biz Insider through these popular podcast players so you never miss a new episode:  Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Podcasts Listen on Spotify
Read More
Construction

The Apprenticeship: An Underutilized Tool for Employers in an Uncertain World

6/28/21
Following the adage ‘measure twice and cut once’ helps avoid the need to rework a project. In many cases, employers outsource their skills training to the education sector and hope for skilled talent to show up at the front door ready to work – only to find themselves needing to retrain individuals. Employers who utilize apprenticeship models, which blend education with paid work and mentorship, are building an entry-level workforce with the job-related and so-called “soft” skills they need; these employers are developing talent to their unique specifications and are seeing a return on their investment. Apprenticeships in the United States are widely associated with trade and craft occupations including carpenters, pipefitters, and industrial machinery mechanics. The work-based-learning apprenticeship model, however, is an underutilized tool in other industries and can lend itself well to a much broader scope of job roles (e.g., customer service representatives, human resource specialists, medical transcriptionist, insurance underwriters, and sales representatives), while closing skills gaps and creating economic opportunity and mobility. Research conducted by Harvard Business School’s Managing the Future of Work project and Burning Glass Technologies and presented in the paper “Room to Grow: Identifying New Frontiers for Apprenticeships” explores the scope of potential for apprenticeships in the economy, revealing great opportunities for expanding and boosting the model to new industries and occupations. Houston’s employers can derive great benefit from working together to increase the use of apprenticeships in the region and support a more resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. Through apprenticeships, employers can build the skilled workers they need while fostering a stream of talent for the future with multiple business, social, and economic benefits. “You’re cultivating human assets of the future. Treat [your apprenticeship program] like an asset, invest in it, install it, understand how to work with it. Don't treat it like an expense,” Harvard Business School professor and co-leader of the Managing the Future of Work project Joseph B. Fuller said during an UpSkill Houston initiative UpSkill Works Forum conversation with Mary Beth Gracy, office managing director of professional services company Accenture.   Building future talent through apprenticeships The general population tends to stigmatize or downplay jobs associated with apprenticeships because they do not require a bachelor’s degree; however, these jobs are critical to employers, and they pay a living wage. Employers who have specifically built apprenticeships develop a pipeline of highly skilled talent to meet business and industry needs. Dow is a major employer that cultivates talent for some of the most sought-after technical specialties in the industry through its robust U.S. apprenticeship program blending formal education and paid on-the-job training. Dow partners with local community colleges, including Brazosport College, locally, where apprentices receive classroom instruction and in-depth, hands-on training as they work toward earning an associate degree. Dow’s apprenticeships are certified with the U.S. Department of Labor, so individuals who complete programs become certified apprentices at the national level, meaning that their work and accomplishments would be recognized by employers beyond the company, Rich Wells, a vice president at Dow, explains in a program introduction. “This is not an alternative to college, but rather a pathway to a debt-free associate degree and ultimately a robust career,” Wells says. Fuller noted during the Forum that the work experience an apprentice gains can be invaluable for the apprentice but also even to an employer that did not sponsor the apprenticeship program. Employers can feel more confident in hiring a candidate who can show real job exposure over a candidate who cannot, he said. Apprenticeships give employers a greater opportunity to assess a worker’s job skills and ability to learn than does a job interview, allowing employers to “test” a potential employee before hiring them for a full-time job – generally at a lower cost than hiring first and “testing” second. What’s more, Fuller said, apprentices are productive, and employers benefit from their work. Historically, in Europe, apprentices have been safe from workforce reductions because they represent a good return on investment, he said. Employers have used apprenticeships effectively to boost diversity and expand underrepresented populations in their workforce, including women, veterans, and second chance jobseekers; one recent example is S&B Engineers and Constructors’ initiative to bring more women into skilled craft professions. “Companies with apprenticeship programs very often report higher levels of engagement by their incumbent staff because they see that investments are being made in trying to both bring in young talent, but also to lift people up, and that's motivating for anyone to see,” Fuller said.   Recognizing potential for apprenticeship programs Research conducted by Harvard and Burning Glass Technologies identified 27 jobs in the United States that are strongly influenced by apprenticeship programs, mainly in the construction and mining industries, but an additional 47 jobs – for a total of 74 – that have the potential to be effectively staffed through an apprenticeship model. These occupations require clearly defined hard, job-related skills that can be taught through specialized training and are generally jobs that are not heavily licensed – requirements for state licensure can limit a worker’s geographic mobility. The positions identified by Harvard and Burning Glass tend to have lower-than-average turnover – potentially making the return on investment through an apprenticeship more attractive to an employer – and pay a living wage of $15 per hour or more. Nearly half of these jobs require skills that can be learned without a bachelor’s degree; this set includes customer service representatives, tax preparers, and photovoltaic installers. And many of them are hard to fill, meaning employers could benefit from developing a pipeline of talent ready for hire. For the rest, a bachelor’s degree is usually requested or preferred among job candidates though the general skills utilized on the job do not differ significantly between postings that require a bachelor’s degree and those that do not. This also suggests overall that these skills could be learned through an apprenticeship approach in contrast to requiring a bachelor’s degree and the wage premium an employer may pay. This group includes insurance underwriters, database administrators, and human resource specialists. Many of the 74 jobs where apprenticeships are prevalent or that represent potential for apprenticeship expansion are among the nearly 50 “middle-skill” occupations within greater Houston’s economy with projected high-demand, high-volume need in the coming years identified in UpSkill Houston’s 2020 “Middle Skills Matter to Greater Houston” report.   New network supports Houston apprenticeship programs Organizations ready to start apprenticeship programs can find support from the Greater Houston Apprentice Network (GHAN), a coalition of Houston employers, educators and non-profits powered by Accenture and Aon. Using education and non-profit relationships and an apprenticeship playbook, this network, which includes the Greater Houston Partnership, will help organizations define visions for their programs, identify best-fit roles for apprenticeships within their organizations, and develop and execute their program models. “Apprenticeships are a tried-and-true model that is scalable for any organization,” Dawn Spreeman-Heine, a Managing Director of Corporate Risk Solutions at Aon’s Houston office, said during the Forum. “You really don't have to start from scratch.”   The GHAN will hold an official launch event and information session in August 2021 featuring employers who have launched successful apprenticeship programs, apprentices, and workforce development leaders. UpSkill Houston is the Partnership’s nationally recognized, employer-led initiative that mobilizes the collective action of employers, educators, and community-based leaders to strengthen the talent pipeline the region’s employers need to grow their businesses and to help all Houstonians develop relevant skills and connect to good careers that increase their economic opportunity and mobility. Its “My Life As…” career awareness series features stories shared by apprentices in construction and petrochemical manufacturing fields at TRIO Electric, Dow and INEOS. See them here. See all previous UpSkill Works forums here.
Read More

Related Events

Executive Partners