Over the last year, gaming has become bigger than ever, thanks to people having more time on their hands due to the pandemic. This shift has pushed companies and venture capitalists to change their opinion on gaming, and today, we are seeing the industry expand at an unprecedented rate. This pheonomena has become evident by the fact that e-sports and skill gaming app Mobile Premier League (MPL) has become the 26th Indian unicorn this year and the second Indian gaming unicorn after its latest Series E round.
With this round, which included participation from Legatum Capital, Accrete Capital, and Gaingels LLC, and existing investors Moore Strategic Ventures LLC and RTP Global, the valuation of MPL has reached a staggering $2.3 billion. This is a significant rise from February when it was valued at $945 million after raising $95 million in a Series D funding round.
According to MPL, the capital would be used for global expansion, making investments in its home-grown technology, and driving the continued growth in the Indian market. It also plans to add more games within the next three years and attract more viewers while lowering the cost of acquiring new gamers.
Indians love playing games – in fact, India is one of the world’s largest markets for game downloads with 840 million installs in June. The Indian market is rich with 400 million gamers and has caught the eye of major investors. According to MPL founder Sai Srinivas Kiran, gaming was the only entertainment content where language is no barrier, and gaming startups can very well transcend international boundaries.
“This investment is a recognition of the potential of the Indian gaming and esports industry and an endorsement of the capability of MPL to expand globally. MPL’s proven success in India and Indonesia encouraged us to launch in the US, one of the world’s largest gaming markets. Our US operations are off to a promising start and we’re thus fulfilling our resolve to make our platform the esports and gaming hub of the world” Kiran said.
The three-year-old MPL, founded by Kiran and Shubh Malhotra, is known to offer over 70 games across a wide variety of categories. It works with third-party developers and then publishes their games on its own platform where users can participate in skill-based games including cricket, puzzles, chess, crossword, tournaments, and others to win cash prizes.
In just three years, it has gained over 85 million users (including 10 million paid users) in India, Indonesia, and the US, and has over 800 employees across offices in Bengaluru, Pune, Jakarta, Singapore, and New York. It is backed by prominent names like Sequoia Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures.
Like most gaming companies, MPL has grown like never before during the pandemic, thanks to a surge in active players. In fact, its users and revenue has tripled during the lockdown. This expansion has enabled it to enter the US as well, where it is targeting 3,00,000 users and over $100 million in gross merchandise value by the end of the year.
MPL is the second gaming unicorn churned out by the Indian start-up ecosystem after its rival Dream11 had been valued at around $5 billion following a $400 million secondary funding round. Dream 11 is also the sponsor of the ongoing IPL, whose second half is slated to resume soon.