Team New Zealand has a new financial backer on board.
American technology billionaire Gabe Newell has thrown his support behind the team instead of his homeland's American syndicate.
In a sit down interview with 1 NEWS, Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton described Newell as “not really a sponsor” but “a teammate”.
Dalton said he approached Newell knowing “exactly who he was,” adding that “anybody that’s ever played esport or run any simulator in cars or anything, runs his platform in the background, which is Steam”.
“I mean, it’s the biggest platform that runs on PCs in the world, you know who Gabe is and so to have him close by, to have him interested in what we do and the opportunities in the long-term, he could create on his entrepreneurship, it could be intense for this place.”
Newell, the co-founder and president of videogame developer and distribution company Valve, said it’s “fun to hang out with those guys,” adding that the Team New Zealand offices “look like a videogame production house”.
He also highlighted the team’s “manufacturing pipeline” for the boat, which he called “not that different” from the manufacturing pipeline for an Index headset.
Newell said he had been approached by the American team but “they took too long to reach out so we had to tell them, ‘no, no, no – I’m a New Zealand resident now. You guys are challengers.’”
“Come talk to us after you win the Prada Cup.”
Dalton said it’s “way, way, way, way, way too early” to expect more innovations at Team New Zealand’s next campaign, however, adding that they “have to get through this one first”.
“I see real opportunities to work with a guy that, in the short amount of time I’ve known him, is just a really decent bloke,” he said.