India’s Mobile Premier League, or MPL, is in talks to raise capital from a number of investors including the crypto exchange FTX as the mobile gaming startup prepares to make a web3 push, three sources familiar with the matter told me.
An investment will mark a significant shift in the Bengaluru-headquartered startup’s future outlook as it gears up to expand its offerings in a new, buzzy category.
MPL operates more than 60 mobile games, including some that are sports-based, card-based and fantasy. In recent weeks, it has informed some existing and new potential investors that it plans to launch play-to-earn and NFT-based games later this year, the sources said, requesting anonymity, as the deliberations are ongoing and they are not authorized to speak to the press.
MPL, which counts Sequoia Capital India and RTP Global among its existing backers, has been looking to raise the new investment as an extension to its Series E round at a $2.5 billion valuation, one of the sources said.
The terms of the investment could change, the sources cautioned. FTX did not respond to a request for comment by press time. In a statement, an MPL spokesperson said: “as a company policy, we do not comment on speculations.”
MPL has amassed over 5 million monthly active “cash playing” users, it disclosed in a December investor presentation, reviewed by me. Its monthly average revenue per user stood at about $5, the presentation said.
In the presentation, MPL said it was building “the game distribution platform of tomorrow,” where over 500 million tournaments are already being played each month.
A handful of established startups in India are beginning to explore opportunities in the web3 space. Dream11, MPL’s chief rival in India, is looking to lead a $100 million investment in NFT startup Rario, TechCrunch reported earlier. Cricket NFT startup FanCraze, which was recently valued at $500 million in a round led by Insight Partners, plans to expand into gaming, it has said.
Glance, an InMobi Group subsidiary that is backed by Google and Jio Platforms, acquired gaming platform Gambit last month to introduce live game shows and NFT-based incentivization to its users.
The forthcoming investment in MPL would officially mark the arrival of FTX, valued at $32 billion, into the Indian startup ecosystem, where it has so far largely been involved via the means of partnerships and sponsorships.
Coinbase, FTX’s rival, in contrast has invested about $150 million in Indian companies so far, including the top two local crypto exchanges, CoinSwitch Kuber and CoinDCX. The two Indian crypto exchanges compete with WazirX, which is owned by Binance.
The publicly listed firm Coinbase said on Monday that it plans to expand its local team in India to 1,000 people (from 300 currently). “We are excited to tap into the dynamic Indian software talent to build out our products and will continue to invest heavily in our India hub,” wrote Coinbase co-founder and chief executive Brian Armstrong in a blog post.
The story was updated to add more context about Coinbase’s presence in India.