The Greenwich native has “found a social escape” in gambling. Today she is CEO in the esports industry.

GREENWICH – When Nicole LaPointe Jameson was growing up in Greenwich, a neighbor with all the latest gadgets would sometimes give her his latest technology.

Her first gift to LaPointe Jameson was a Pokémon game on Gameboy Color, and she immediately fell in love.

“I could socialize, bring group entertainment, or meet other people while playing games,” said LaPointe Jameson, who had a leg deformity as a child and often missed recess and outdoor activities with his kids. peers.

Now 27, LaPointe Jameson is the CEO of Evil Geniuses, a leading esports organization, where she breaks stereotypes and creates an inclusive environment. She also stabilized a company that she said was once worth “zero” dollars, but is now valued at $ 255 million.

“She’s focused on learning all she can about a subject,” Jessica Hammond, culture manager at Evil Geniuses, said of LaPointe Jameson.

LaPointe Jameson’s success should be an inspiration to the youth of Greenwich today, said his mother, Lise Jameson, executive director of At Home In Greenwich, a non-profit social service organization.

“To see (see) your child in a global space, running a multi-million dollar business, is amazing,” her mother said. “She deserves everything she has because she worked so hard to put it together.”

Break down barriers

Although LaPointe Jameson has enjoyed computer-related activities since she was a child, she said she never planned to work in the esports industry. She said she stumbled upon this opportunity through her work in the financial services and investment industry.

In May 2019, she was offered the opportunity to become CEO of Evil Geniuses. LaPointe Jameson became what she called “a triple first:” one of the youngest, one of the first women, and one of the few people of color to run an esports business.

Part of the challenge for her? The male-dominated esports industry has a reputation for toxic, harassing and intimidating behavior towards female players.

“One of the best things about how the game works is this: we’re digital, we’re behind the internet, we’ve got some anonymity, and we’re relatively global,” said LaPointe Jameson, who now lives in Seattle.

But “it’s not always sure; it’s not always tolerant – of me or any other minority – however you slice the cake, ”she said. “But it also fuels our focus and at EG (Evil Geniuses). I am truly proud that we are known to be one of the most diverse, inclusive and equitable organizations. Because we have sculpted our system, infrastructure and networks and who we partner with very carefully, to make sure that we can bring in the best of the best, no matter where they come from or what they look like.

Evil Geniuses, a company of more than 20 years, has helped shape the esports industry, she said. But he lacked direction and struggled financially when she took office two years ago, LaPointe Jameson said.

She said she had started breaking down the barriers to success, and since taking leadership Evil Geniuses has grown from 20 employees to over 100, including data scientists, engineers, data scientists, engineers and staff. human resources and organizational development professionals.

LaPointe Jameson said it has acquired offices globally, while building international training centers and forging partnerships and contracts for the company. Evil Geniuses has a stronger presence in digital and social media, reaching around 70 million people each month, she said. It also has a team of professional esports players who are some of the best in the world, she said.

“These are, in terms of world rankings, the 30 best players in the world,” said LaPointe Jameson.

Seattle-based Evil Geniuses operates as a college athletics department. For example, at the University of Connecticut, athletes compete in basketball, hockey, and baseball, among other traditional sports. At Evil Geniuses, professional esports gamers compete in video games, such as League of Legends, Dota, and Counter Strike, LaPointe Jameson said.

The average esports athlete at Evil Geniuses earns around $ 70,000 per year. Part of the income comes from participating in competitions or winning part of the prize pool during tournaments.

In a few weeks, Evil Geniuses teams will travel to a tournament in Romania with a $ 45 million prize pool, LaPointe Jameson said.

Turning Evil Geniuses into a multi-million dollar company has been a challenge, and the job isn’t easy for LaPointe Jameson or his team of pro gamers, who tend to have shorter careers, she said. .

Health issues, such as carpal tunnel, back pain and eye pain, can all lead to a shorter career path, with most professional players retiring before they reach a decade of work, LaPointe Jameson said. .

New kind of sport

LaPointe Jameson praised what she called a stellar education system in her hometown, where she attended Hamilton Avenue Elementary School, Western Middle School and Greenwich High School. She said she also appreciated the city’s proximity to New York City as a child.

But like the esports industry, she said Greenwich needed more diversity of thought and support.

Growing up, LaPointe Jameson said she didn’t know many children of color with a similar interest in gambling until she attended Columbia University.

“While there are definitely downsides in terms of exposure, I hope Greenwich improves and supports different paths, and more international exposure,” she said.

“But I can’t complain,” she added. “Because gambling is where I found a social escape, it’s what got me to where I am today.”

[email protected] @TATIANADFLOWERS

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