India is one step away from getting its second unicorn in the gaming space.
Online gaming platform MPL has doubled its valuation to $945 million after its latest funding round, leaving it a stone’s throw from the coveted unicorn club. The $95 million round was led by Composite Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures, with participation from Base Partners, RTP Global, SIG, Go-Ventures, Telstra Ventures, Founders Circle and Play Ventures. MPL claims to have over 60 million users in India.
MPL plans to use the funds raised to expand its e-sports portfolio and strengthen its efforts to organise more eSports tournaments at both national and international levels at scale. The proceeds raised will also be used to accelerate MPL’s overseas expansion this year — MPL already has 3.5 million users in Indonesia, and offices in Jakarta and Singapore. “This fresh round of funds will help us focus on our core value propositions – a robust platform with the best features for gamers and onboarding the best eSports titles. The esports community in India is thriving, and we believe this is the perfect time to take Indian-made games to the world as well as help Indian gamers get recognised for their talent,” said Sai Srinivas, cofounder and CEO, MPL.
The online gaming space has grown tremendously in recent years thanks to the increased internet penetration, and MPL, which stands for Mobile Premier League, has been quick to take advantage. Founded in September 2018, the company has already raised $225 million in funds, and counts Times Internet and Sequoia Capital as early investors. It has also been aggressively marketing its services — MPL has become the official kit sponsor of the Indian cricket team till 2023, which has given the startup plenty of mainstream visibility. MPL has also roped in Virat Kohli as a brand ambassador. Cricket is a natural fit for MPL — it runs a fantasy cricket tournaments, apart from games like pool, chess and quizzes.
Competition in the online gaming space, though, is fierce. Fantasy games company Dream11 sponsored the IPL last year, and became the first company in the online gaming space to become a unicorn in April 2019. Jio too is looking to enter the space, and has begun conducting esports tournaments. And with MPL now valued at $945 million, India appears set to have its second unicorn in the space in the coming months.