Carry1st funding round brings a16z investment to Africa

Africa’s leading mobile games publisher Carry1st announced a $20 million Series A extension that drew participation from Andreesen Horowitz (a16z), Avenir and Google.

Grammy winning rapper Nas was among the angel investors along with extra support from League of Legends publisher and esports tournament megabrand Riot Games, Konvoy Ventures and Raine Ventures – the latter all participating in the May 2021 Series A round.

Carry1st will expand its content portfolio and co-development partnerships

Carry1st will use the additional capital to expand its content portfolio; grow its product, engineering, and growth teams, with a goal of acquiring tens of millions of new users. The company is also 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.

“In 2021 we launched multiple games and digital commerce solutions achieving really robust growth. Together we can accelerate this growth and achieve our goal of becoming the leading consumer internet company in the region.”

This marks a historic direct investment in an African headquartered company for a16z. VentureBurn previously reported on the VC’s investment into a DeFi platform that does business in Africa, but this first shows the confidence backers have in the Carry1st model.

“We are delighted to be making our first investment in an Africa-headquartered company in Carry1st, a next-generation mobile game and fintech platform,” comments Andreessen Horowitz General Partner David Haber

“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.”

Africa is the next major growth market, driven by rapidly increasing technology adoption among the continent’s 1.1 billion millennials and GenZs.

A 2021 industry report showed that the number of gamers in Sub-Saharan Africa is set to increase by 275 percent over 10 years, leading to a 728 percent increase in revenue. Carry1st has positioned itself to be the conduit for international and local mobile game companies to profitably serve these consumers.

Carry1st has signed publishing deals for seven games from several leading studios including Tilting Point, publisher of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off, which Carry1st recently launched in Africa. Other gaming partners include CrazyLabs, a world-leading casual and hyper-casual mobile games developer and publisher and Sweden’s Raketspel, a studio which has over 120 million downloads across its portfolio.

“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,” says Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google in Africa.

Recent Carry1st news of a partnership with online payments pioneers PayPal and Chipper Cash, to enable people across Africa to purchase virtual goods easily and securely on the Carry1st Shop demonstrates the company’s commitment to its users.

Read more: Carry1st partners with PayPal and Chipper Cash to bring payments to Africa, DeFi platform Goldfinch raises $25m to continue emerging market lending

Featured image supplied by Carry1st

Lindsey Schutters


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