Gaming start-up Mobile Premier League raises $90 mn, valuation triples

With approximately 300 million gamers, India sits among the top five gaming markets globally
Mobile Premier League (MPL), an e-sports and mobile gaming platform, has raised $90 million in Series C funding, led by SIG and early-stage tech investor RTP Global, along with MDI Ventures and Pegasus Tech Ventures. Existing investors Sequoia India, Go-Ventures, and Base Partners also participated in this round. The funding has almost tripled the valuation of the Bengaluru-based firm to around $450 million, according to sources. Its earlier valuation was about $120-150 million. The new investment brings MPL’s total funding to $130.5 million after previously raising $40.5 million.

“This deal and the valuation was done in February 2020. However, due to Covid-19 pandemic and IPL (Indian Premier League) getting postponed, the fundraising got completed now,” said an industry source.

MPL has been in advanced discussions with investors to raise capital from as early as January this year before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Between March and now, MPL said it has grown over 4x and is currently the largest gaming platform in the country, having onboarded marquee titles such as the World Cricket Championship. The firm would use the capital to further accelerate MPL’s dominant position in the gaming market, expand its product offering, and grow its team. The funding will also be used towards product development, with a focus on social functions such as live streaming, and audio and video content features. With this, MPL intends to capitalise on the rapidly growing online gaming trend and become the world’s largest gaming, e-sports, and content platform.

“In a short time, MPL has taken the gaming market by storm, with our various offerings and partnerships, which have helped us stand out in the industry,” said Sai Srinivas, co-founder and CEO at MPL. “This latest round of funding will enable us to entertain and connect an even larger audience across India and beyond.”

MPL has grown through its strategic partnerships, offerings, and an increasing user base numbering well over 6 crore users. The platform has recorded over 2 billion cash transactions on the app to date.

"We invested in MPL at an early stage because we saw the team had the ability to become the dominant platform in the region's online gaming space," said Galina Chifina, managing partner at RTP Global.  “Even in an environment as challenging as the current one, we are impressed with the success and accessibility of the platform concept - giving users a unique variety of experiences and social interaction.” 

Virat Kohli

RTP Global, the Russian venture capital firm which was founded by  Leonid Boguslavsky, has invested in over 90 companies worldwide. Five early-stage investments became multi-billion public companies: Yandex, Epam, Delivery Hero, RingCentral, and Datadog.

Since its founding in September 2018, MPL has added over 70 games on its platform, working with over 28 game developers and studios. MPL’s platform model, where game developers can publish their games with ease, opens up a new revenue stream where developers can monetise their game from day 1. 

Users at MPL can play a variety of games and can also create, share and monetise their own content, and connect with friends via live streaming functions. Over the past four months, the number of games played on MPL’s most popular titles has increased by more than 700 per cent. 

In less than two years, MPL has signed Indian Cricket Captain Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador and sponsored two top Indian Premier League (IPL) teams - Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore. It also bagged the presenting sponsorship of reality TV show Bigg Boss, anchored by Bollywood superstar Salman Khan.

“The only thing more exciting than watching MPL grow at such a fast pace over the past year is to imagine what they will accomplish with the new capital infusion,” said Eduardo Latache, partner, Base Partners. 

With approximately 300 million gamers, India sits among the top five gaming markets globally. Further, there has already been a boost in online gaming in recent months, as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on society.  With social distancing measures in place, telecommuting becoming the new norm, and physical sporting events remaining limited, e-sports and mobile gaming has received a boost.

“We believe that mobile games have contributed to the major growth of this industry (gaming), especially in Asia,” said Winston Adi, head of investments, MDI Ventures. “We are excited to provide continuous support with our partners as they (MPL) strengthen their position both in their home market and in our home market, Indonesia.”

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