Mobile Premier League (MPL) has raised $95 million in a new financing round, just five months after it secured $90 million as the two-and-a-half-year-old Bangalore-based esports and gaming platform looks to grow in international markets.
The new $95 million round, a Series D, was led by Composite Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures and gave the Indian startup a post-money valuation of $945 million, it said. (MPL was valued at about $465 million in its previous financing round in September, TechCrunch had reported.) Base Partners, RTP Global, SIG, Go-Ventures, Telstra Ventures, Founders Circle and Play Ventures also participated in the round, which brings its total to-date raise to $225.5 million.
MPL, which counts Times Internet among its backers, operates a pure-play gaming platform that hosts a range of tournaments. The app, which has amassed more than 60 million users in India and 3.5 million users in Indonesia, also serves as a publishing platform for other gaming firms. MPL, which does not develop games of its own, hosts about 70 games across multiple sports on the app today.
“As we grow our presence and expand, this fresh round of funds will help us focus on our core value propositions -- a robust platform with the best features for gamers and onboarding the best eSports titles. The esports community in India is thriving, and we believe this is the perfect time to take Indian-made games to the world as well as help Indian gamers get recognized for their talent,” said Sai Srinivas, co-founder and chief executive of MPL, in a statement.
The Bangalore-based startup also offers fantasy sports, a segment that has taken off in many parts of India in recent years. Because fantasy sports is only one part of the business, the coronavirus outbreak that shut most real-world matches has not impeded the startup’s growth in recent quarters.
MPL's growth is especially impressive because its app is not available on the Play Store. Google, whose Android operating system powers 99% of all smartphones in India, does not permit fantasy sports apps on Play Store in the world's second-largest internet market.
“We’re competing with battle-hardened, decade old companies with much, much deeper pockets but it’s incredible what the young team has achieved over the past couple of years. When we were on the Play Store, a couple of years back, MPL was the fastest app to reach a 1M DAU ever in India!” tweeted Abhishek Madhavan, SVP of Marketing at MPL, last year.
“We signed Virat Kohli (pictured above), when we were a 3-month old company! When we got out of the Play Store, we were told growth will be very very hard to come by, every single marketing metric would fall.”
The startup said it will deploy the fresh capital to organize more esports tournaments in the country and accelerate its international expansion this year. The startup recently organized College Premier League, which saw participation of more than 13,000 gamers from over 100 colleges.
“We are excited to partner with the MPL team and support their continued growth. As an industry leader in the gaming market, we believe the company will continue to innovate and drive the evolution of eSports, both in India and internationally,” said Kanush Chaudhary, managing director, Composite Capital, in a statement.