Carry1st, a South African mobile gaming publisher has announced a $20 million Series A extension round led by Silicon Valley-based VC firm, Andreessen Horowitz. This investment marks a16z’s first investment into an African-headquartered company (the firm has previously invested in Branch and Zipline, companies with some of its operations in Africa but headquartered in the U.S).
The round witnessed participation from giant firms like Avenir and Google, other prominent angel investors in this round include Nas, an American Grammy awardee rap sensation and crypto investor, founders of Chipper Cash, Sky Mavis, and Yield Guild Games.
The round which is an extension of the Series A the company raised last May from Riot Games, Konvoy Ventures, Raine Ventures, and TTV Capital also witnessed the same investors double down on their investments in the company.
Cordel Robbin-Coker, Carry1st’s CEO and co-founder in a chat with Forbes expressed delight in the partnership with its new investor. “We’re excited to partner with this world-class group of investors who, in addition to capital, bring expertise across gaming, fintech, and web3.”
“In 2021 we launched multiple games and digital commerce solutions achieving really strong growth. Together we can accelerate this growth and achieve our goal of becoming the leading consumer internet company in the region.”
Since launching its game publishing platform last May, Carry1st has grown by over 90% month-over-month, Robbin-Coker said. “Our team nearly doubled in 2021 to support and build on the growth. This funding from some of the world’s most renowned investors will allow us to take the next step forward.”
“We have an incredible market opportunity; coupled with a clear strategy and the resources to realize this potential. In short, we have a chance, which is very exciting,” he added.
Carry1st partners with mobile games studios and content owners around the world to enable them to “launch their content profitably in the region. We’ve developed a payments platform which allows users to purchase using their preferred method of payment, and a marketplace for digital products”.
Having recently partnered with online payments provider PayPal and Chipper Cash, its users can now also pay for digital services like Tinder subscriptions, mobile data, and gaming currency.
Robbin-Coker believes connecting international content owners with “a large, engaged, aspirational user base” is a way to help solve Africa’s notorious connectivity problems.
“Due to app distribution and digital payment problems in the region, it’s extremely difficult for studios to make money off their games – and for consumers to pay for the content they want,” he said.
“As a result, consumers across Africa are underserved. We work with international publishers to access the world’s fastest-growing market. Our publishing solution, which handles user acquisition, live operations, community management, and monetization for our partners, is the solution to this.”
Andreessen Horowitz’s general partner, David Haber said that the firm was delighted to make their very first investment in an Africa-headquartered company in the mobile games and fintech platform.
“We see immense opportunity for the company to mirror outstanding successes we’ve seen in markets like India, China, and Southeast Asia. We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with founders Cordel, Lucy, Tino, and the Carry1st team on their mission to build the Garena of Africa.”
Andreessen Horowitz general partners, David Haber and Jonathan Lai will join Carry1st’s board as observers.
Carry1st was founded in 2018 by Cordel Robbin-Coker, Lucy Hoffman, and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu. The South Africa-based company, which currently has a team of 37 people across 18 countries, wants to use this additional capital to scale interactive content across Africa.
The company started as a game studio where it conceptualized, developed (from system designs to artwork and engineering), and launched mobile games. Over time, it switched to a hybrid model, adopting a publishing role and handling distribution, marketing, and operations
The three-year-old company has signed publishing deals for seven games from six studios globally, including Tilting Point, publisher of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off, which Carry1st recently launched in Africa. Others include CrazyLabs and Sweden’s Raketspel, a studio with over 120 million downloads across its portfolio.