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Nazara Technologies Raises INR 100Cr Funding Through Hornbill Capital Nazara will invest the proceeds in forging alliances and acquisitions to further bolster its position in the gaming ecosystem as well as strengthening its gamified learning offerings

By Prabhjeet Bhatla

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Diversified gaming and sports media platform Nazara on Tuesday announced that it has raised an amount of INR 100 crore from Instant Growth Limited (IGL) which is advised by Hornbill Capital Advisers LLP. IGL is an investment vehicle of North America-based limited partners (LPs) of Hornbill Orchid India Fund.

The company's mobile game offerings have gained significant traction owing to key drivers such as access to and ownership of premium localized IP and content, constant enhancement of in-app purchases and features for better monetization opportunities, and leverage of existing distribution and advertisement networks. The acquisition of Next Wave saw WCC become the largest mobile-based cricket simulation game, with a daily active engagement of 51 minutes by over 15 million MAUs, the company said.

The platform's freemium offerings for mobile games also include immensely popular games from relatable brands such as Shikari Shambhu, Suppandi, and Mighty Raju. Nazara entered the gamified early learning segment in 2019, with their flagship gamified early learning app, Kiddopia, catering to providing children with gamified education.

"We welcome Hornbill Capital's entry into the Indian gaming ecosystem with their investment in Nazara. We are glad that they share our conviction and excitement on the future of the gaming sector in India and the value creation potential which gaming offers to investors. The leadership team of Hornbill Capital has been part of the growth story of many consumer internet companies and we at Nazara look forward to leveraging their experience of working with some of the smartest tech entrepreneurs across the globe and having an inside view of blitz scaling of their portfolio companies in the last decade," said Manish Agarwal, chief executive officer, Nazara.

The e-sports content business for the company grew by 60 per cent in FY 2020 from FY 2019 and has grown ninefold in the last three financial years. In the e-sports segment, the company has successfully monetized competitive gaming in India through exclusive license partnerships with global brands and publishers, including with Electronics Sports League (ESL) and Esports World Convention, and management of IP-based gaming events such as ESL India Premiership, KO Fight Nights, Electronics Sports World Cup India Qualifiers, Mountain Dew Arena and the CII India Gaming Show, the report further said.

In 2019, the platform acquired Absolute Sports Private Limited which operates sport and e-sports news destination website Sportskeeda and as of September 30, 2020, the company had over 20 million MAUs.

"We have been closely following Nazara's journey over several years, as it evolved into a platform for gaming and gamified early learning. The leadership team of Nitish and Manish has built Nazara into an attractive ecosystem for some of the most promising entrepreneurial talents in the Indian gaming and early learning space. Through prudent capital allocation, we believe that the team at Nazara has demonstrated their ability to build a formidable presence in e-sports, gamified early learning, and mobile gaming – some of the most exciting spaces in India over the next decade," added Manoj Thakur, founder and managing partner, Hornbill Capital Advisers LLP.

Nazara has also entered into skill-based gaming in India and has strategically created a presence in the real money gaming segment. With the acquisition of Halaplay and investments in Bakbuck (Khichadi Technologies Private Limited) and Crimzoncode Technologies Private Limited, the company has also become a key player in sports fantasy gaming and trivia games. Through IP-led cricket games such as WCC1, WCC2, Beach Cricket, and Bat Attack Cricket, Nazara commands the greatest mindshare in the mobile cricket segment.

Earlier this year, Plutus Wealth Management and its associates acquired shares worth over INR 500 crore in Nazara from WestBridge Ventures II Investment Holdings, marking a complete exit for WestBridge Ventures II Investment Holdings.

Nazara has invested over INR 300 crore in the last five years in the Indian gaming ecosystem. It has acquired a majority stake in Nodwin Gaming Pvt. Ltd by 57.05 per cent; Next Wave Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. by 52.38 per cent, which operates World Cricket Championship (WCC), the mobile-based cricket simulation game, in addition to investment in Absolute Sports Private Limited, which operates Sportskeeda by 63.90 per cent and Paper Boat Apps Private Limited by 50.91 per cent - gamified early learning subscription app.

Prabhjeet Bhatla

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