Carry1st, Africa’s leading mobile games publisher, has raised $27m led by BITKRAFT Ventures with participation from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), TTV Capital, Alumni Ventures, Lateral Capital, Kepple Ventures, and Konvoy.

This capital raise comes off the back of a successful partnership with Call of Duty®: Mobile in South Africa in Q4 2022, as well as new partnerships to be launched in 2023. 

In 2022, Carry1st signed a partnership with Riot Games to pilot local payments for the company’s games in Africa. Riot Games is the developer and publisher behind League of Legends — the most-played PC game in the world — as well as other titles like VALORANT, Teamfight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra, and League of Legends: Wild Rift. The company is an early investor in Carry1st and has been a continued supporter of the business.

The financing comes off a successful year for Carry1st, which saw the first game – The President from its CrazyHubs gaming accelerator become the #1 downloaded game in the US as well as secure numerous top accolades including the top prize at Games Industry Africa Awards; grew its revenue significantly over the last twelve months; and signed a range of partnerships that will fuel the Company’s growth in 2023 and beyond. Carry1st will use the financing to develop, license, and publish new games as well as further expand Pay1st, the company’s monetization-as-a-service solution. 

Carry1st provides a full-stack publishing solution, handling user acquisition, live operations, community management, and monetization for its content. The Company enhances monetization in the region through Pay1st, its embedded payments solution and online marketplace for virtual goods, which allows customers across Africa the ability to pay for content in their preferred way.

Cordel Robbin-Coker, Carry1st Co-Founder and CEO, comments: “We’re delighted to partner with BITKRAFT, one of the world’s top gaming VC firms, alongside a16z and other existing investors as we continue on our mission to scale awesome content in Africa. 2022 was a year of significant growth but together with our partners we look forward to making 2023 even better.” 

Jens Hilgers, Founding General Partner at BITKRAFT Ventures, says: “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. 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!”

Jon Lai, a16z Games General Partner, states: “We’ve been really impressed by Carry1st’s ability to deliver on our shared vision of building the leading next generation publisher for Africa. a16z is excited to continue to invest in the Company and support the next chapter in its growth.” 

Africa is the next major growth market for mobile games, driven by rapidly increasing technology adoption among the continent’s 1.1 billion millennials and Gen-Zers. A report released in 2021 from Newzoo and Carry1st, showed the games industry in Sub-Saharan Africa is on track to increase by 728% in 10 years. Carry1st has positioned itself to be the conduit for international and local mobile game companies to profitably serve these consumers.