African mobile game publisher, Carry1st, has raised $27 million in a funding round led by BITKRAFT Ventures and featuring participation from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), TTV Capital, Alumni Ventures, Lateral Capital, Kepple Ventures, and Konvoy. This funding comes on the heels of a successful partnership with Call of Duty: Mobile in South Africa in Q4 2022 and a new partnership with Riot Games set to launch in 2023.
Carry1st is a full-stack publishing solution that handles user acquisition, live operations, community management, and monetization for its content. The company aims to enhance monetization in the region through Pay1st, its embedded payments solution and online marketplace for virtual goods, which allows customers across Africa to pay for content in their preferred way.
In 2022, Carry1st partnered with Riot Games to pilot local payments for the company’s games in Africa. Riot Games is the developer and publisher behind League of Legends, the most-played PC game in the world, as well as other titles like VALORANT, Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra, and League of Legends: Wild Rift. The company is an early investor in Carry1st and has continued to support the business.
The funding comes off a successful year for Carry1st, which saw the first game from its CrazyHubs gaming accelerator become the #1 downloaded game in the US; grew its revenue significantly over the last twelve months; and signed a range of partnerships that will fuel the company’s growth in 2023 and beyond. Carry1st will use the financing to develop, license, and publish new games as well as further expand Pay1st, the company’s monetization-as-a-service solution.
Cordel Robbin-Coker, Carry1st Co-Founder and CEO, said, “We’re 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.”
Jens Hilgers, Founding General Partner at BITKRAFT Ventures, added, “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. We have full conviction in Carry1st’s impressive founding team and their vision of building out foundational infrastructure and localized content, ensuring that gaming and interactive entertainment in Africa will thrive!”
With Africa being the next major growth market for mobile games, driven by rapidly increasing technology adoption among the continent’s 1.1 billion millennials and Gen-Zers, Carry1st has positioned itself to be the conduit for international and local mobile game companies to profitably serve these consumers. A report released in 2021 from Newzoo and Carry1st, showed the games industry in Sub-Saharan Africa is on track to increase by 728% in 10 years. With this new funding, Carry1st is well-positioned to capitalize on this growth and bring more awesome content to Africa.