Sony's $10M African fund makes debut bet on a gaming startup

South African game publisher, Carry1st is Sony's first African investment via its $10 million Sony Innovation Fund for Africa.

Sony's $10M African fund makes debut bet on a gaming startup

Three months after its launch, Sony Innovation Fund: Africa, a $10 million fund has made its inaugural investment in Carry1st, a leading African game publisher.

"We are excited to welcome Carry1st as our first investment in Africa," said Antonio Avitabile, managing director for EMEA at Sony Ventures Corporation. "We believe there is tremendous untapped potential for the gaming market in Africa, which we hope to experience and contribute to through our investment in Carry1st. We look forward to working closely with Carry1st's world-class management team to support the company's growth and explore potential business opportunities with Sony Group companies."

Carry1st started in 2018 as a game studio creating mobile games like Carry1st Trivia. Later, they also began licensing and publishing games from other developers. The Cape Town-based startup developed Pay1st, a platform for monetising their games and those of other publishers.

Since its launch, Carry1st has raised over $57 million from at least five deals, including a $27 million pre-Series B round last year. The startup has also executed partnerships with Call of Duty® and Riot Games.

With the undisclosed investment from Sony, Cordel Robbin-Coker, co-founder and CEO of Carry1st said it will "bring the best games in the world to players across Africa." According to data from Newzoo and Carry1st, Africa's gaming industry has over 200 million unique players and is set to reach a market size of over $1 billion this year.

"The African games market is a story of potential. For the last three years, growth in the market has outpaced the global average, and it is set to keep doing so for the coming years. Saying that it’s also a challenging region to find success in. Sub-Saharan Africa houses 7% of the global player audience, but its players spend less than half a per cent of global gaming revenues," Tom Wijman, lead games analyst at Newzoo, said.

Robbin-Coker believes that "The relationship [with Sony] will help Carry1st to drive the future of gaming in Africa. At Carry1st, we believe that the African console market is a massively underestimated opportunity. Our distinct regional capabilities, paired with Sony's expertise in gaming and entertainment, create a powerful combination."

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