South Africa’s Mobile Games Publisher Carry1st Raises $27M to Develop, License & Publish New Games

Carry1st co-founders (from left to right): Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu, Lucy Hoffman, Cordel Robbin-Coker

Cape Town-based mobile games publisher Carry1st has raised $27 million in a new financing round, a year after it announced a $20 million raise for expansion.

The funding was led by venture capital firm Bitkraft Ventures with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, TTV Capital, Alumni Ventures, Lateral Capital, Kepple Ventures and Konvoy and will be used “to develop, license and publish new games and expand Pay1st, its payments arm.

Late last year, the firm announced a partnership with Call of Duty: Mobile in South Africa and signed a partnership with Riot Games to launch its Pay1st platform for local payments for the company’s games in Africa. Carry1st whose games include SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off from studio Tilting Point, Mine RescueMatch League and Football Clash has raised the $20 million from VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from the likes of Nas, Google, League of Legends developer Riot Games, developer Sky Mavis and play-to-earn gaming guild Yield Guild Games, Konvoy Ventures, Raine Ventures and TTV Capital.

Founded by CEO Cordel Robbin-Coker, COO Lucy Hoffman and chief technology officer Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu, the South African firm has signed a number of partnerships since its last raise and hopes this new fundraising will be essential in its growth and expansion.

“We’re delighted to partner with Bitkraft, one of the world’s top gaming venture capital firms, alongside Andreessen Horowitz and other existing investors as we continue on our mission to scale awesome content in Africa,” said Robbin-Coker. “2022 was a year of significant growth, but together with our partners we look forward to making 2023 even better.”

Two years ago Carry1st raised $6 million led by Konvoy Ventures with participation from Riot Games, Raine Ventures, Tokyo-based AET Fund/Akatsuki, and fintech specialist TTV Capital. Konvoy Ventures managing partner Jackson Vaughan is joining the company’s board.

To date the company has raised $56.5 million to secure partnerships with global gaming studios, launch and scale its existing portfolio of games and expand its product, engineering and growth team. The South African company publishes mobile app games targeted at the untapped potential of the African gaming market. The startup focuses on delivering interactive apps for millions of people across the continent. The startup’s team includes veterans hailing from Carlyle, King, Jumia, Rovio, Socialpoint, Ubisodt and Wargaming.

“Africa is home to the largest population of young people in the world, and this upcoming generation will grow up digitally native with videogames as their primary entertainment preference,” said Jens Hilgers, founding general partner at Bitkraft. “We have full conviction in Carry1st’s impressive founding team and their vision of building out foundational infrastructure and localized content, ensuring that gaming and interactive entertainment in Africa will thrive!”

Added Jon Lai, games general partner at Andreessen Horowitz: “We’ve been really impressed by Carry1st’s ability to deliver on our shared vision of building the leading next generation publisher for Africa.”