South African-based mobile games publisher Carry1st bags $20 million or R307 million to scale interactive content across Africa.
The Series A extension is led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Avenir and Google. The round represents Andreessen Horowitz’s first investment in a company headquartered in Africa, and Partners David Haber (fintech) and Jonathan Lai (gaming) will be joining Carry1st’s board as observers.
A number of prominent angel investors participated in the round, including Grammy winner and renowned crypto investor Nas, and founders of Chipper Cash, Sky Mavis, and Yield Guild Games. In addition, investors from Carry1st’s May 2021 Series A are backing the company again, namely Riot Games, Konvoy Ventures, Raine Ventures, and TTV Capital.
Carry1st will use the additional capital to expand its content portfolio; grow its product, engineering, and growth teams; and acquire tens of millions of new users. Notably, Carry1st is expanding into game co-development, working with leading game studios on original concepts, and developing the infrastructure to support play-to-earn gaming.
“We’re excited to partner with this world-class group of investors who, in addition to capital, bring expertise across gaming, fintech, and web3,” said Cordel Robbin-Coker, co-founder and CEO of Carry1st.
“Together we can accelerate this growth and achieve our goal of becoming the leading consumer internet company in the region.”
Africa is the next major growth market, driven by rapidly increasing technology adoption among the continent’s 1.1 billion millennials and Gen-Zers. A report released in 2021 from Newzoo and Carry1st, showed that the number of gamers in Sub-Saharan Africa is set to increase by 275% over 10 years, leading to a 728% increase in revenue.
Andreessen Horowitz General Partner David Haber adds: “We are delighted to be making our first investment in an Africa-headquartered company in Carry1st, a next-generation 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.”
The company recently partnered with online payments pioneers PayPal and Chipper Cash, to enable people across Africa to easily and securely purchase virtual goods – such as Tinder subscriptions, mobile data, and gaming currency – on the Carry1st Shop.
Consumers can pay via a range of local payment options including crypto, mobile money, and bank transfers.
The company, founded by Cordel Robbin-Coker (CEO), Lucy Hoffman (COO), and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu (CTO), employs a team of 37 people across 18 countries, including mobile gaming veterans hailing from Rovio, Socialpoint, Ubisoft, and Wargaming.
The cofounders are based in South Africa, with the rest of the team located in New York, South Africa, Kenya, Germany, Egypt, Canada, Switzerland, France, Morocco, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Turkey and Vietnam.
Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google in Africa, adds: “We’re thrilled to partner with Carry1st to unlock the mobile gaming industry in Africa and support the team as they scale solutions to the hundreds of millions of new consumers coming online for the first time.”