SA Gaming Startup Carry1st Secures $27 Million Series B to Drive Mobile Gaming in Africa

SA Gaming Startup CarryIst Secures $27 Million to Drive Mobile Gaming in Africa

South Africa’s Carry1st secures a $27 million pre-Series B to drive mobile gaming adoption on a continent that grew its mobile gamers to 186 million people from 77 million in 2015, according to a 2021 study by games analytics company Newzoo and Carry1st.

South Africa has the biggest population of mobile gamers in Africa with 40%, followed by Ghana with 27% and then Nigeria is in third with 23%. Kenya comes next with 22% and Ethiopia rounds off with 13%.

See: Kenya Fintech Kwara Just Raised $3 Million Seed Extension to digitize SACCOs

About Carry1st

Carry1st Games

Carry1st is a South African gaming platform founded by Cordel Robbin-CokerLucy Hoffman and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu in 2018.

Carry1st started as a game studio that developed and launched its own mobile games. But the company pivoted from its studio model to become a regional publisher and then open up the continent to international studios.

The African gaming startup also helps local studios that find it difficult to create games with a global appeal by pairing them with strong operators.

Carry1st mission is to be the number 1 mobile game publisher in Africa.

More on Carry1st’s $27 Million Deal

In May 2021, Carry1st raised an initial $6 million Series A round with one of the investors being Riot Games, the developer and publisher behind the most-played PC game globally, League of Legends.

Then in January 2022, Carry1st extended its Series A round by $20 million.

Meanwhile, this Carry1st’s $27 million pre-Series B round was led by Bitkraft Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Konvoy Ventures. While other VCs like TTV Capital, Alumni Ventures, Lateral Frontiers VC and Kepple Ventures, also participated in the round.

Jens Hilgers, the founding general partner at BITKRAFT Ventures, said this about the deal:

“Africa is home to the largest population of young people in the world, and this upcoming generation will grow up digitally native with videogames as their primary entertainment preference,”

While Carry1st Co-Founder and CEO, Cordel Robbin-Coker also shared his thoughts on the deal:

“We are delighted to partner with BITKRAFT, one of the world’s top gaming VC firms, alongside a16z and other existing investors as we continue on our mission to scale awesome content in Africa. 2022 was a year of significant growth but together with our partners, we look forward to making 2023 even better,”

Carry1st Outlook on the Future

Carry1st wants to use its pre-Series B funds to develop, license and publish new games, and expand Pay1st—an embedded finance platform that enables startups to make revenue from owned games and third-party games.

This deal is coming after a successful year where the first game from Carry1st CrazyHubs gaming accelerator become the Number 1 downloaded game in the U.S. for a few days last July.

CrazyHubs is the accelerator Carry1st launched in partnership with CrazyLabs, one of its six partner studios.

Carry1st also entered into a partnership with one of its investors (Riot Games) in 2021. To further deepen their partnership, using Pay1st, the duo are piloting a local payment infrastructure that will serve the American video game developer’s users in Africa.

In 2021, Carry1st CEO Robbin-Coker told TechCrunch about the startup partnership with Riotlabs:

“We learned that African users don’t need their own games; they want to play the best games in the world,” 

“The partnership [with Riot Games] is our big initiative this year because we built all this cool tech around payments and digital commerce, and we leveraged it only for our games, he added.

“But we figured that we may as well leverage the opportunity to partner with awesome big game companies that maybe aren’t yet ready to license their games to us fully but would like to make more money in the region and understand how profitable Africa can be for them.”

Then there’s also Carry1st’s successful partnership with Call of Duty: Mobile in South Africa that happened in the last quarter of 2022, where Carry1st became a local partner, advising and executing ways to achieve scale in South Africa during a three-month pilot test by the video games franchise.

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