Contxto – Are you listening? Hear that? It’s the clattering of hooves as the next Latin American unicorn hits the scene. This time it’s Brazilian mobile gaming developer Wildlife Studios, following a US$60 million Series A investment round led by Benchmark. With these pretty pennies, it’s estimated this startup from São Paulo is worth US$1.3 billion.
So what’s next for Wildlife Studios, who had quietly been amassing this valuation?
Staff is expected to increase from 500 to over 800 employees by the end of 2020 thanks to these funds. Likewise, the startup will improve the quality of its 60+ portfolio of games and support new developers to bring ones to market. It also anticipates two billion downloads by the end of this year.
Wildlife Studios stealthily gaining speed
Founded in 2011 by brothers Victor and Arthur Lazarte, Wildlife Studios has some pretty popular games. Some examples include Tennis Clash, Zooba and Castle Crush. The mobile gaming startup reports it has over one billion users in 115 countries, which helps to explain its growing staff in places like Buenos Aires, Dublin, and San Francisco.
It’s also interesting to note the increasing number of big names linked to this startup. For example, it recently hired the studio art director of Riot Games (the same company that created League of Legends), as well as the Vice President (VP) of Game Development from Sony Interactive Entertainment, and the VP of Engineering from Mercado Libre.
Among its other investors in this recent round are notable participants such as Facebook’s Hugo Barra and Javier Olivan, Micky Malka from Ribbit Capital, Ric Elias Founder of Red Ventures and Divesh Makan from ICONIQ.
Prior to its Series A round, Wildlife Studios had already received an investment from Bessemer Venture Partners in 2012.
One might say this startup kept a low profile as it had “focused on growing, not appearing,” according to Arthur Lazarte.
However, now with its unicorn-status, all eyes are on Wildlife Studios.
With Duolingo also joining the herd of unicorns this week, Latin America continues its startup momentum.
Mobile gaming industry
Gaming via smartphones and tablets has shaken the world of videogames.
With 45 percent of the market, mobile gaming was the largest segment in the industry in 2019 according to Newzoo. And it’s expected to continue growing at a healthy rate to reach global revenue of around US$79.7 billion by 2022.
Wildlife Studios may have had an advantage in this market due to its conception when mobile gaming was beginning to catch on. Consequently, it didn’t struggle to adjust. A difficulty faced by console heavyweights like Nintendo and Sony.