Digital gaming startup MPL raises Series A round from Sequoia, Go-Jek and others

Digital gaming startup MPL raises Series A round from Sequoia, Go-Jek and others
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Pixabay
24 Apr, 2019

Digital gaming startup Mobile Premier League (MPL) has raised $35.5 million (approximately Rs 250 crore at current exchange rates) in its Series A funding round led by Sequoia India, Times Internet, and GoVentures, the venture capital arm of Indonesian ride-hailing Go-Jek. RTP Global, BeeNext, Base Growth, and Venture Highway have also participated in this round.

The newly launched mobile gaming platform will invest the fresh capital on product and user growth in India, it said in a press statement.

Operated by Galactus Funware Technology Pvt. Ltd, MPL runs a gaming platform where users compete in live tournaments for skill-based mobile games to win money.

“Our goal is to build India's largest mobile e-sports platform which is accessible to all. MPL today provides users access to all formats and types of competitive games. Like with everything else, competitive gaming in India will be mobile first and MPL wants to be the platform of choice for the user,” said Sai Srinivas Kiran G, co-founder and chief executive of Mobile Premier League.

MPL allows users to choose a game of their choice such as Sudoku, Crosswords or Brick Breaker and then pick a tournament which suits their wallet. Each tournament runs for a certain duration and has a specific number of users who can play it.

Once the results are announced for a tournament, winners can cash out immediately with Paytm, UPI or bank transfer, according to information on the company’s website.

The gaming startup had raised $5 million from Sequoia Capital in November last year.

MPL was founded last year by Kiran and Shubham Malhotra. The duo had earlier launched Creo, the maker of HDMI media streaming device Teewe. Creo, too, had raised funding from Sequoia Capital before being acqui-hired by messaging app Hike in August last year.

“We’re thrilled with the early progress at MPL. With their industry leading growth and engagement metrics, MPL has the potential to become a major mobile internet company in India,” Shailendra Singh, managing director, Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore, said.

MPL currently has over 25 million installs, the company claims.

According to a joint report by internet search giant Google and global auditor KPMG, India’s online gaming industry is expected to reach $1 billion by 2021 from the current $360 million, at a pace of 20% per year.

Digital gaming’s popularity in India has risen thanks to the growing use of smartphones in the past ten years. In turn, games have emerged as the key driver of mobile app growth globally. In addition, tariff wars between telecom operators over the past couple of years have made data much cheaper in India.

Fantasy sport has had its brush with the law in the past. But Dream11 and others in the segment received a shot in the arm in 2017 when the Punjab and Haryana High Court observed that fantasy games cannot be considered gambling as they require considerable skill and judgment. The move encouraged investors to bet on gaming startups.

Fantasy sports platform Dream11 became the first gaming unicorn in India earlier this month when Hong Kong-based hedge fund Steadview Capital made an investment in company through a secondary share purchase. TechCircle first reported the development.

Bengaluru-based nCore Games raised an undisclosed amount from Vishal Gondal, founder of wearable devices startup GOQii as well as Indiagames in March.

In the same month, e-sports startup GamingMonk Entertainment Pvt. Ltd raised $100,000 from Japanese firm GameWith, Inc., which owns and operates a game information website. Last year in October, it had raised Rs 4 crore in a fresh round of funding from Japanese seed investment firm Incubate Fund and outgoing Google India managing director Rajan Anandan.

In December last year, TechCircle reported that Mumbai-based fantasy sports startup Halaplay Technologies Pvt Ltd was in line to secure $5 million in a Series A funding round led by existing investors Kae Capital and Nazara Technologies.

LeagueSX Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, which operates an eponymous fantasy football site, raised an undisclosed amount from investors including LimeRoad co-founder Prashant Malik and Kraftly business chief Akshay Gulati last September.

Last year, Mumbai-based Nazara Technologies Ltd acquired a 55% stake in Gurugram-based e-sports platform Nodwin Gaming.