South African Mobile Games Publisher Carry1st Raises $20 Million In A Series A Extension Round Led By Andreessen Horowitz

In a Series A extension round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), South African publisher of social games and interactive content Carry1st has raised $20 million. Avenir and Google through its Africa Investment Fund, invested in the extension round. Nas, the founders of Chipper Cash, Yield Guild Games and Sky Mavis all participated in the round.

In May 2021, the game publisher had its Series A funding round and received investments from Riot Games, Konvoy Ventures, Raine Ventures and TTV Capital.

Andreessen Horowitz’s investment in Carry1st is its first investment in a company that has its headquarters in Africa. It has previously invested in other African companies but they didn’t have their headquarters in Africa. The investment will see Andreessen Horowitz’s general partners David Haber and Jonathan Lai join Carry1st’s board as observers.

Carry1st was founded in 2018 by trio Cordel Robbin-Coker, Lucy Hofman and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu. The company began as a game studio where it ruminated, developed and launched mobile games. Eventually, it adopted a hybrid model which enabled it to publish, distribute, market, manage operations and business, and fully optimize its operations. Currently, it has a team of 37 people across 18 countries. The publisher plans to use the $20 million raised in the Series A extension round to scale its interactive content across Africa. But the company has placed a major focus on its publishing arm since it went hybrid, co-founder and CEO Cordel Robbin-Coker said.

Since its inception, the company has signed publishing deals for seven games from six studios across the world. These studios include Tilting Point – publisher of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off, CrazyLabs, Raketspel, etc.

The company is quite boastful of its full-suite services. Carry1st’s CEO said “We have a full-suite service that starts with distribution, partnerships. We help them create bespoke marketing materials from short-form advertising videos to statics, and we customize their content to really resonate with individuals in different countries. And then we operate the game and we also monetize. So we’ve built out our own monetization engine in order to allow users to be able to pay for content that they want more easily across Africa”. The company makes monetization possible through its payment solutions that cover bank transfers, mobile money and cryptocurrencies.

The company says that its games revenue has soared 90 percent month-on-month since the second half of last year. Its marketplace called Carry1st Shop which it launched shortly after its Series A round has also seen remarkable growth and is popular among users in South Africa and Nigeria.

Carry1st plans to also increase its user base and expand its product and engineering teams with the funding. The company will also be increasing focus and efforts in the African space as the opportunities that lay in the space are quite endless.

 “When we think about Carry1st, we want to be the leading consumer internet company in the region. And we think that the best kind of wedge would be able to do that is a combination of gaming and micropayments and online commerce. These industries are being pretty significantly disrupted, or augmented with web3 and crypto. And as more gaming content starts to integrate with NFTs and cryptocurrencies, we think there’s a really big opportunity to partner with those studios the same way we partner with free-to-play studios”, Carry1st’s CEO said.

Speaking on the investment, David Haber, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz said “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 the 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”.

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