The owners of 4J Studios, the Dundee video game business, plan new investments



THE Scottish developers behind 4J Studios, a Dundee-based games company, are searching for new commercial property and data analytics investments.

Chris van der Kuyl and Paddy Burns have a multi-million pound investment portfolio that includes offices and scale-up businesses, with a combined net worth valued at around £ 300 million.

The two, who are lifelong friends, last June opened a new, high-end office building on the waterfront of Dundee called Water’s Edge. It was built from an old port shed which was used for the short-term storage of goods for transport.

“We created a product with Water’s Edge that is exactly what people should be looking for in a post-Covid environment,” van der Kuyl said. “It’s smaller units with shared services that lend themselves well to the flexible way people work now, with a little bit of work from home and work from an office. So we’ve fired up our engines and are looking for more opportunities in commercial real estate.”

Mr. van der Kuyl said that in areas that were once considered more peripheral because those were the places where people wanted to live and work now, the duo were searching for good opportunities.

“There are a lot of opportunities in the region,” van der Kuyl said, “so we’re talking to Dundee, Angus and Perth and Kinross about what locations they have where they see demand for the kind of product we’ve built here. If we see two or three great opportunities, we’ll be happy to do that.”

Mr. van der Kuyl and Mr. Burns are equity investors in the TV analytics company TVSquared and in the Edinburgh-based food distribution company Parsley Box. Two other companies are located in the Water’s Edge building, in addition to 4J Studios and ten other companies. These are Broker Perspectives insurance technology start-up and Puny Astronaut game maker. In July, Mr. van der Kuyl and Mr. Burns revealed they will invest in Ace Aquatec, an aquaculture technology specialist located in Dundee. Other investments include ADV Holdings, based in Edinburgh, which runs Dundee’s Foxlake Aquapark and other water-based Liverpool and Cheshire adventure sites.

“They’re here in Dundee, but they’re going into other communities and we’re going to see the positive effect of that, so we want them to succeed,”They’re here in Dundee, but they’re going to go into other communities and we’re going to see the positive impact of that, so we want them to succeed. “It’s not just about maximum return, it’s about investment that changes the place.”

With regard to possible potential investments, Mr. van der Kuyl said that negotiations with a variety of different companies are ongoing.

He said, “We’re pretty focused on high growth, data analytics and gaming,” “Investments like Parsley Box and Ace Aquatech are outside that realm. It’s just that those are both companies that are really impacted by technology over time.”

4J Studios employs around 50 people and is best known for producing Minecraft, the best-selling video game of all time, for its console versions. Mr. van der Kuyl said the gaming industry has probably undergone its best decade ever, with more people playing video games than ever before. That would be eclipsed in the next decade, he predicted.

“It’s a real bonanza time for the games industry and Scotland couldn’t be better positioned,” he said. “I can’t imagine anything other than even more investment finding its way to Scotland and even more great companies building on it.” Scotland’s history in the industry includes the 1997 launch of Grand Theft Auto, which is now developed by New York-based Rockstar Games from Edinburgh and is one of the most popular entertainment products of all time.

As a small economy, Scotland’s focus must be “invest massively in education and young talent,” van der Kuyl said. “If we focus fully on that, I think we’ll look back in 20 years and say that was the best investment we ever made.”


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