PlayVS Founder, Delane Parnell Steps Down as Company CEO, Cementing His Legacy in High School Esports and Charting a Course for Black Tech Founders in Gaming

Joe Gibson leading the office of the CEO as Parnell remains an active board director and advisor to current and incoming executive leadership

LOS ANGELES--()--PlayVS, the leading amateur esports platform in North America, today announces that its founder, Delane Parnell, will step down as Chief Executive Officer after six trailblazing years. Joe Gibson, who was personally recruited by Parnell nearly four years ago, will be running the Office of the CEO during the search for a permanent successor. Parnell will remain on the board of directors and continue to be involved in the company as a senior advisor during the interim period and after a new CEO is appointed.

Parnell, who conceptualized PlayVS and led the company to become a market leader in amateur esports, initiated internal conversations with the board in the Fall of 2022 about his desire to take a step back and focus on a new project. After coming to an agreement with Parnell in January, PlayVS’ Board began its search for a new CEO. Parnell has been actively involved in the interview process and will continue to do so as a board director.

Under Parnell's leadership, PlayVS revolutionized high school esports, making it a staple in scholastic athletics departments, much like basketball and football, around the country. The company received endorsements from the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) Network, Special Olympics North America, and 36 state athletic and regional educational associations, along with securing official licensing deals with major game developers. Parnell’s vision led to nearly a quarter of US high schools joining PlayVS and incorporating esports into their after school activities – many of who have gone on to win sanctioned state championships and earned collegiate esports scholarships. The inspiring journey of these students was chronicled in the documentary "Ahead of the Game," which has captivated and motivated countless individuals to pursue their passions in esports and the technology that powers the industry.

“I'm extremely proud of what we've achieved at PlayVS in only a few years,” shared Delane Parnell. “Leading such a talented team has been an honor, and developing an innovative product that has created so many opportunities for an underserved audience has been a dream come true. It has been humbling to serve as a role model for Black tech founders in gaming, and I hope that my example inspires others to break down barriers in the industry. I'm excited to see PlayVS continue to grow and make a positive impact on the world of gaming and education.”

While we are sad to see Delane step down, we’re proud of the cultural impact he’s made in the lives of millions of high school students’ lives and we’re confident that he’s paved the way for PlayVS’ continual growth,” added Michael Jones, Board Member, PlayVS and Partner, Science Ventures. “Delane’s hard work and commitment have been integral to the company’s achievements thus far, and we appreciate his support through this transition ensuring PlayVS’ continued success.”

Leading the Office of the CEO, Joe Gibson has extensive experience managing various units of the business, including internal operations, finance and staff. He will work closely with Parnell during the interim period to ensure a smooth transition.

PlayVS was founded in 2018 with the mission of bringing amateur esports programs to kids across the country, opening up collegiate and career opportunities in addition to advancing students’ personal and academic development. The company remains unwavering in its commitment to advancing its mission and continuing the legacy that Parnell brought to the industry.

To learn more about PlayVS, visit


PlayVS (pronounced Play Versus) is North America's leading high school esports platform. We are a single community where players come together to compete, fans gather to spectate, and coaches manage their programs. The company is the official high school esports partner to the NFHS Network, the Special Olympics, and 36 state and regional organizations in the U.S. and Canada to offer officially sanctioned high school esports leagues.