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Carry1st has raised $20 million in funding from marquee investors for its mobile game publishing platform targeted at unlocking demand in the African market.

Andreessen Horowitz, founded by web pioneers Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, with participation from Avenir and Google. The round represents Andreessen Horowitz’s first investment in an Africa-headquartered company, 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.

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.”

Carry1st’s strategy

Above: Sponge Bob: Krusty Cook-Off is a hit for Carry1st in Africa.

Carry1st provides a full stack publishing solution, handling user acquisition, live operations, community management, and monetization for its partners. The company enhances monetization in the region through its embedded payments solution and online marketplace for virtual goods, which allows underbanked customers to pay for content in their preferred way.

Since its last funding round, Carry1st has launched its online marketplace for virtual goods.
It launched its Sponge Bob: Krusty Cook-off title with Tilting Point.

The biggest markets for the games now are Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt.

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.

We’re looking to be really aggressive about sourcing additional globally successful titles on the free-to-play side.”

Starting out

Above: Carry1st’s Cordell Robbin-Coker (left), Lucy Hoffman, and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu started the company in 2018.

Lucy Hoffman, chief operating officer, started the company with cofounders Robbin-Coker and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu, its chief technology officer.

Since 2018, the company has raised $29.5 million so far.

Carry1st launched a game, Carry1st Trivia, in 2019, and it became the No. 1 title on Android in Kenya and Nigeria. But the team found its expertise was more in marketing games by finding alternative ways for people to discover them.

They studied how influencer marketing worked and learned how critical it was to have local payments solutions.

Over time, it switched to a hybrid model, adopting a publishing role and handling distribution, marketing and operations.

Carry1st co-founder and chief executive Robbin-Coker told TechCrunch that Carry1st hasmainlyfocused on its publishing arm since it went hybrid.

The three-year-old company has signed publishing deals for seven games from six studios globally, includingTilting Point, publisher of Nickelodeon’sSpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off, which Carry1st recently launched in Africa.Others includeCrazyLabsand Sweden’sRaketspel, a studio with over 120 million downloads across its portfolio.

Carry1st said it provides a full-stack publishing solution, handling user acquisition, live operations, community management and monetization for its partners.

“We have a full-suite service that starts with distribution and partnerships.

It also targets to multiply its user base with the help of enhanced products using the funds. As per the company’s statement, it will obtain new users through collaborations with other studios and plans to enter the Web3 ecosystem by developing play-to-earn gaming for the African market.

It wants to bring together gaming, Web3 and the booming crypto market to bear the maximum fruits at their intersection.

Its strategic partners in this journey support each capability that Carry1st plans to perfect. With a16z, it will utilize the firm’s gaming and Web3 expertise.

Google will ensure Carry1st is able to deepen its engagement and operations in the African gaming market thus capitalizing on the country’s growing tech adoption.

Carry1st, a mobile game publishing platform aimed at unlocking demand in the African market, has acquired $20 million in investment from notable investors including Andreessen Horowitz, established by web pioneers Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, with participation from Avenir and Google.

Around 1.1 billion people in Africa belong to the Millennial and Generation Z generations, which are early adopters of new technologies. According to mobile research firm App Annie, it is the fastest-growing market for mobile game downloads.

As a result, it’s past time for Africa to benefit from the gaming venture capital boom.

According to a survey published by Newzoo and Carry1st in 2021, the number of gamers in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow by 275 percent over the next ten years, resulting in a 728 percent rise in income.

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.

Ventures, Raine Ventures, and TTV Capital.

Africa’s fast growth

Above: Four of the top six fastest-growing mobile game markets are in Africa.

Africa has around 1.1 billion members of the Millennial and Generation Z groups, who are big technology adopters. It’s the fastest-growing region for mobile game downloads, according to mobile insights firm App Annie. And so it’s about time the game venture capital boom came to Africa.


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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.

We help them create bespoke marketing materials from short-form advertising videos to statics, and we customize their content toresonate with individuals in different countries,” said Robbin-Coker.

“And then we operate the game and we also monetize.So we’ve built out our monetization enginetoallow users to be able to pay for content that they want moreeasilyacross Africa.”

It also enhances monetization in the region through its embedded payments solutions, where customers can pay via a range of local payment options, including bank transfers, crypto and mobile money.

L-R: Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu, Lucy Hoffman and Cordel Robbin-Coker

Shortly after closing its Series A round, Carry1st launched its online marketplace for virtual goods.

But other tasks include expanding distribution and local partnerships across other countries. The company is working on incorporating cryptocurrencies into its market.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” Robbin-Coker said.

Taking popular titles and making them successful in Africa is a big part of the company’s strategy, Robbin-Coker said.

“I don’t think all top games would do well in the region.

But there’s a large subset of them that we believe can do well in a region with the right sort of culturally relevant marketing and distribution,” he said. “As well as the the monetization engine that allows willing payers to actually be able to buy in game assets.

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