Casual mobile games have reached a fever pitch with consumers, as well as investors, rushing to support the biggest and most promising startups that are building these quick engagement and diversion hits. In the latest development, a London startup called Triplepoint – the company behind a popular Solitaire app, another game called Woodoku (“wooden blocks meets sudoku”), and more – announces today that it has raised $116 million . The funding puts the London-based startup’s valuation at $1.4 billion.
The round is led by 20VC, the company founded by Harry Stebbings, which entered the investment world initially via his popular 20-minute VC podcast, first teaming up to start VC Stride and eventually creating a fund named based on his show (and raise some money to make it work). Other participants in the round include Access Industries, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Eldridge, and the round follows a $78 million Series A in April 2021.
As with this Series A, this is a substantial increase for a Series B round, and Lior Shiff – the CEO who co-founded the company with Akin Babayigit (COO) and Eyal Chameides (CPO) – noted that this is not to lead the Enterprise core. Tripledot has been profitable since the end of its first year of operation (it was founded in 2017), now has nearly 30 million monthly active users on its titles and last year tripled its income (without disclosing the figure real).
“ThisFundraising is for mergers and acquisitions,” he told TechCrunch in an interview. Specifically, the plan is to acquire interesting startups working on creative ideas, to complement what Babayigit describes as a particularly strong skill set that Tripledot has acquired in developing engaging monetization mechanics and game-leveling. ‘ladder.
“We’ve gotten to the point of having a lot of technology and expertise that we can now leverage, so we want to buy studios and use our platform to take these great games to reach a much wider audience,” added Shiff. “We are very good operators. That’s not to say Tripledot doesn’t have its own in-house game makers, he added, “but a lot of our peers are great at making great games, but not at how to reach a wide audience. public or turn them into sustainable businesses. Now that capital gives us firepower.
Dream Games, a big name in casual game startups right now (and in this case one of Babayigit’s angel investments) likes to say its ambition is to become the next Pixar. “Well, we would love to be the next Activision Blizzard,” Shiff said.
Casual games and their rise as a popular medium (and their success as startups) aren’t new news: Peak Games was sold to Zynga for $1.8 billion in 2020, which could be the one of the milestones to seize the business opportunity, and specific technical execution needed, for casual games on the card. Following this, Turkey’s Dream Games (founded by Peak alumni) has grown rapidly and earlier this year raised $255 million to continue its run. Homa Games – which creates a platform for third parties to develop published casual games (so a bit of a competitor to Tripledot) – raised $50 million last October. And Spyke, another from the Turkey Peak stable, raised a lot of money in January based on the pedigree and background of their founders, before even launching a single title.
All the same, the subject of how popular a casual game is, how it can fit in with an audience you don’t traditionally think of as a gaming demographic, and how sometimes create something that’s the exact opposite of a calculated business decision and finding massive success from it all became very sharp and thought-provoking pause, earlier this year with the emergence of Wordle, a very simple word puzzle that went stratospheric viral in January.
Started as a jigsaw puzzle written for his partner by developer Josh Wardle, Wordle only ever existed on Wardle’s website (no app), and never paid or made any marketing effort, and yet in its simplicity, rarity (only one puzzle every 24 hours), and just the right amount of challenge/reward mechanics, it took off and found fans among grandmas, school kids, and everyone in between. (My friend’s elderly mother plays it on a computer and only shares her results through very blurry photos she takes from her monitor since she doesn’t use a smartphone.)
As Wardle told us in an interview in January, he received incoming calls from investors, but was really more surprised than prepared to think about what to do next (except to make sure the game could handle the sudden onslaught of traffic he was sending to servers) since he didn’t want to make a “business” out of it.
In the end, he sold Wordle to The New York Times, who are now hosting it and will incorporate it into their own word-puzzle-based casual game empire (which is fitting, since it served as the inspiration for building Wordle in the first place).
Shiff said Tripledot isn’t considering buying Wordle, but its founders respect what it highlights about the use cases and possibilities of casual games.
“It’s my mother, my aunt, who plays them,” he said. “They would never say they’re gamers, but will spend an hour on it. Maybe for a mental break, or while waiting for the dentist, historically they may have used puzzle books, but now they’re playing on their phone.”
Babayigit noted that Tripledot does not intend to develop web-only games, or release titles simply to build an audience without a specific business goal – all of the potential “lessons” that could be learned from Wordle : which at the end of the day was perhaps partly attractive for being some kind of unicorn – not the kind of billion dollar startup, but the kind that exists in a bubble free from the trappings of reality where games must earn money to continue to be viable. One lesson he learned is that there seems to be a lot more room for longer term development and variation.
“I think casual games are still underserved,” Babayigit said. “Recent launches from Dream, Wordle and others have unleashed 2 billion gamers worldwide, and we think people are now looking for other types of experiences and games. Wordle is actually proving that. So many other games can be built for those audiences, it’s still pretty crazy.
And that’s also what investors see.
“TriplepointThe growth rate and efficiency of creating successful, high-loyalty games is unmatched,” Stebbings said. “The leadership of Triplepoint is singular; they have built an operation that has grown rapidly while maintaining its commitment to quality and a great company culture that attracts and retains the best talent in the game. We look forward to being a part of Triplepoint journey.”