MPL Success Story - How is it Dominating the E-Sports Space in India?

MPL Success Story - How is it Dominating the E-Sports Space in India?

Company Profile is an initiative by StartupTalky to publish verified information on different startups and organizations. The content in this post has been approved by Mobile Premier League.

As per a KPMG report published in 2019, over 300 million people in India play online games. Though online real-money gaming entered India just a decade ago, it has become quite popular among the Indians the primary reason being that the players can earn money and rewards while playing games. There are over 100 companies operating in the real-money gaming sector in India, and one of the most popular platforms for real-money gaming is MPL (Mobile Premier League). Founded in 2018, MPL is India's largest mobile e-sports platform. Sai Srinivas Kiran G and Shubham Malhotra founded MPL.

MPL is currently valued at $2.45 billion and is hailed as the 26th unicorn startup of 2021, and the second Indian unicorn online gaming startup to cross the 1 billion dollar mark, as of October 2021.

This post takes a deep dive into MPL's success story, revenue, funding, founders, competitors, growth, logo, and much more.

MPL Company Highlights

Startup Name Mobile Premier League (MPL)
Headquarters Bengaluru
Founders Sai Srinivas Kiran G and Shubham Malhotra
Sector E-Sports and Gaming
Founded 2018
Parent Organization Galactus Funware Technology Private Limited
Valuation $2.45 bn (October 2021)
Revenue $64.36 mn (INR 499.5 cr in FY21)
Funding $425.5 million (December 2021)
Website www.mpl.live

MPL - About
MPL - Industry
MPL - Founders/Owners and Team
MPL - Name, Tagline, and Logo
MPL - Funding and Investors
MPL - Investments
MPL - ESOPs
MPL - Business and Revenue Model
MPL - Competitors
MPL - Awards and Recognitions
MPL - Partnerships
MPL - Growth and Revenue
MPL - Acquisitions
MPL - Challenges
MPL - Future Plans

MPL - About

Mobile Premier League, or MPL, is an online gaming platform based out of Bengaluru, India. Sai Srinivas Kiran G and Shubham Malhotra are the founders of the company. MPL provides an abundant pool of games such as chess, quiz, fantasy sports, free fire, rummy, 8 ball 3D pool, carrom, ludo, and more. The Mobile Premier League games are distributed into categories like fantasy sports, card games, puzzle games, arcade games, action games and more

The company renders real cash rewards to those who win in these online games. With various offers that float on the platform and 24/7 support from the MPL team, mobile game lovers are inclined towards MPL. Mobile Premier League also provides the option of connecting with friends and offers bonus for referring others to play on MPL. The Indian e-gaming platform has more than 60 online games, which can be accessed via its mobile application that is compatible with both Android and iOS phones.

Founded in September 2018, MPL has seen a rapid growth and is currently serving over 90 mn users in India.

Virat Kohli-MPL
Virat Kohli-MPL

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MPL - Industry

The market of online fantasy games in India is expanding tremendously – over 100 million users in India joined numerous fantasy gaming platforms in 2020 alone. These online fantasy gaming platforms like MPL have been currently engaging 14% of all smartphone users in the country. The revenues from online gaming in India jumped 3X in a year and were last recorded at $340.5 million in 2020. Needless to say, MPL also has a huge opportunity in this market in the upcoming years in India.

Galactus Funware Technology Private Limited is the parent company of MPL. Galactus Funware Technology Private Limited is a private company incorporated on May, 22 2018. It is classified as a 'subsidiary of foreign company' and is registered at the Registrar of Companies, Bangalore. Galactus Funware Technology offers a wide range of game applications, tournaments, cash rewards, and other related services.

Galactus Funware Technology Private Limited is currently focusing on Mobile Premier League, which is currently operating as a digital gaming platform.

MPL - Founders/Owners and Team

MPL was founded by Sai Srinivas Kiran G and Shubham Malhotra in September 2018.

Shubham Malhotra and Sai Srinivas Kiran (Founders of MPL)

Prior to MPL, Sai and Shubham co-founded CREO (a technology company) in 2014. CREO was acquired by Hike Messenger in 2017.

Sai Srinivas Kiran G

MPL CEO Sai Srinivas did his B.Tech from IIT Kanpur in Aeronautical Engineering. Soon after completing his graduation, he started working at a gaming firm, Zynga, where he was an Associate Product Manager. He then joined BSB - Bharti Softbank as the Director of Product, leaving which, he co-founded CREO Tech, where he was also appointed as the CEO. However, CREO was soon acquired by Hike Messenger, where he later served as the Head of Total. Srinivas then decided to venture into the mobile e-sports sector, when he co-founded MPL. Sai also co-founded Base9, a company that organized and promoted live events across India in 2009.

Shubham Malhotra

MPL co-founder Shubham Malhotra did his BE in Electronics and Instrumentation from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science(BITS), Pilani. He initially worked as the Co-founder and CTO of Capillary Technologies, a technology service provider, before moving on to co-found CREO, where he again served as the Co-founder and CTO. He continued to stay with Hike Messenger as the Head of Engineering at Total by Hike even after it acquired CREO. Shubham then decided to found MPL with his CREO co-founder, Sai Srinivas.

The strength of MPL employees stood at around 1000, which was reduced by 10% with the May 2022 layoffs.

MPL amended its reward policy for employees and made it a reward for teams. This all-new reward system for teams, which it has introduced, will reward teams for their performance and targets achieved instead of rewarding employees, as per June 20, 2022. In terms of its employee salaries, MPL has merged the fixed and the variable components of their salaries.

The name ‘Mobile Premier League’ depicts the finest collection of games that can be accessed through mobile phones. The tagline of MPL was initially ‘Play.Compete.Win’. MPL now uses 'Game Khelo Hero Bano' as its tagline.

MPL Logo
MPL Logo

MPL - Funding and Investors

MPL's total funding stands at $425.5 million. The last round that the company raised was the Series E funding round worth $150 mn, dated September 15, 2021, and was led by Legatum.

In the Series D round held in February 2021, MPL raised a funding of $95 million. The round was led by Composite Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures and funding participation was also seen from Base Partners, RTP Global, SIG, Go-Ventures, Telstra Ventures, Founders circle and Play Ventures. The round before that was the Series C round held on September 21, 2020, where MPL raised $90 million from SIG, RTP Global, MDI Ventures, and Pegasus Tech Ventures. MPL's existing investors, Sequoia Capital India, Go-Ventures, and Base Partners also participated in the round.

The company’s valuation now stands at $2.45 billion, as of October 2021.

Date Stage Amount Lead Investors
September 15, 2021 Series E $150 million Legatum
February 4, 2021 Series D $95 million Composite Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures, RTP Global, SIG, Go-Ventures, Telstra Ventures, Founders circle and Play Ventures
September 21, 2020 Series C $90 million SIG, RTP Global, MDI Ventures, Pegasus Tech Ventures
September 7, 2020 Series B $50 million SIG
April 24, 2019 Series A $35.5 million Sequoia Capital India, BEENEXT, RTP Global, Venture Highway, Times Internet
November 8, 2018 Seed Round $5 million Sequoia Capital

MPL - Investments

MPL has invested in 1 company to date, which goes by the name IndiGG.

Date Company Funding Round Deal Value Lead Investor
January 19, 2022 IndiGG Seed Round $6 mn -

MPL - ESOPs

MPL announced an ESOPs buyback plan in September 2020, which was worth $3.2 mn for its employees, during the Series C round of funding. The company raised $500,000 from its existing employees in January 2021 under its Employee Investment Plan, where 10% of the MPL employees reportedly participated.

MPL made a few changes to its ESOP as well as its employee pay structure, as reported on June 20, 2022. In its ESOP part, MPL has reduced its ESOP vesting period, from a few years to some months. The company further mentioned that previously its employees were granted ESOPs at the end of a cliff period, which was after the completion of a year. On conclusion of this cliff period, the employees of MPL got the first batch of ESOPs, and it was only in the next year that the company granted them the next batch of ESOPs. This policy was amended and made to one such structure where the employees can vest ESOPs immediately. Also, the updated ESOP policy of MPL has widened the period of availing ESOPs for the employees who are exiting the company. While the previous policy allowed the parting employees to avail of their ESOPs for 30 days, now MPL will allow them an allowance of 10 years time from the vesting date.  


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MPL - Business and Revenue Model

MPL's business model revolves around the app that it offers its users. There are several ways in which MPL makes money. It collects an entry fee from the players whenever they want to participate in any game. When the company holds tournaments, it receives 20% of the total money raised from the participating players as a hosting fee. MPL's gaming apps also make money through advertisements and in-app purchases. MPL's business model has aided in its success.

“We already have multiple different forms of monetization that we are looking at, and are working for us. However, we are looking at one of these becoming a long-term source of monetization, while keeping the high level of engagement,” says Sai Srinivas Kiran, Co-founder of MPL,  commenting on the monetization plans of the company.

MPL - Competitors

  • Dream11
  • Cricnwin
  • LXG
  • NODWIN Gaming
  • FanFight

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MPL - Awards and Recognitions

Some of the major awards and recognitions received by MPL to date are:

  • MPL was recognized as the ‘Best Fantasy Sports Operator’ in the year 2019 by the India Gaming Awards.
  • The company replaced Nike to become the official kit sponsor and the merchandise partner of both the national men's and women's sides as well as the U-19 team, as announced by the BCCI (the Board of Control for Cricket in India)
  • MPL won the India CSR Leadership Award in 2021
  • Mobile Premier League is known as India's second gaming unicorn
  • With over 60 games, Mobile Premier League (MPL) is currently India's largest eSports and mobile gaming platform

MPL - Partnerships

Here goes a list of the prominent MPL partnerships:

  • MPL partnered with the hyper-casual developers and publishers, Voodoo to launch Helix Jump and Colour Road
  • The company partnered with Prime Focus Technologies for content creation
  • MPL has already partnered with BCCI as the kit sponsor and official merchandise partner
  • MPL has partnered with Esports Federation of India (ESFI) as the sponsors of the Indian team
  • MPL has collaborated with established as well as independent game developers from across India

MPL - Growth and Revenue

MPL boasts of having more than 90 million users in India alone and 60+ games. The company is a member of AIGF (All India Gaming Federation), FICCI, IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India), and TRF (The Rummy Federation).

Some other growth highlights of MPL are as follows:

Mayhem Studios

Mayhem Studios is launched by MPL in May 2022 to develop 'AAA' mobile games for domestic and global markets. ESports along with MPL launched this gaming studio, which revealed its first gaming title called "Underworld Gang Wars".

MPL Financials  

MPL posted annual revenue of Rs 22.4 crore in FY20, which was reported to be at Rs 2.87 crore in FY19. MPL's total income was recorded at Rs 499.5 crore, thereby helping the startup witness a 2130% rise from the Rs 22.4 crore of revenue that the startup registered in the previous fiscal.

Furthermore, MPL posted $1.5- $2 billion as its annual revenue run rate during FY20, which clearly indicates that the company is scaling fast.

MPL Revenue Breakdown

MPL has posted a 21X boost in its sales in FY21 when compared to the previous fiscal, which was around Rs 17.6 crore. The revenue from sales of MPL has registered at Rs 378.5 crore in FY21. The other income of MPL was Rs 4.8 crore in FY20, which jumped to become Rs 120.9 crore in FY21.

MPL Revenue Verticals FY21 FY20
Revenue from Sales INR 378.5 cr INR 17.6 cr
Other Income INR 120.9 cr INR 4.8 cr

MPL Expenses Breakdown

MPL's expenditure also increased quite in pace with its increasing revenues. The annual expenses of MPL almost doubled to be registered at Rs 628.9 cr in FY21, which was last recorded at Rs 317.4 crore in FY20, thereby showing a 98% increase. While in FY19, the startup Rs 89.46 crore in expenses.

The Other Expenses of MPL were Rs 506.7 cr in FY21, which includes rent, advertising and promotional expenses, IT expenses, and more. Promotional expenses contributed largely to this section.

MPL's employee benefits expenses were registered at Rs 117.5 crore in FY21, which was at Rs 75.8 crore in the previous fiscal.

MPL Financial Breakdown

MPL finances in FY21 unfold a brilliant improvement in its EBITDA margins, which improved from -1624% to become -105.06% during FY21. The losses of MPL also narrowed from Rs 294.9 crore to become Rs 129.4 crore in FY21.

MPL Financials FY21 FY20
Revenue INR 499.5 cr INR 22.4 cr
Expenses INR 628.9 cr INR 317.4 cr
Profit/Loss Loss of INR 129.4 cr Loss of INR 294.9 cr
EBITDA Margin -105.06% -1624%
MPL Financials FY19-FY21

MPL - Acquisitions

MPL has acquired 3 companies to date. GameDuell, the German Game Studio, was the last company acquired by MPL on February 28, 2022. This acquisition will help MPL, one of the most renowned esports and skill gaming platforms, to extend its operations across international markets. MPL is currently present in Europe, Asia, and North America. Here the partnership with GameDuell, the Berlin-based game studio that is the global pioneer in community card and board games, will help MPL get extensive experience in developing multiplayer games like action arcade, board, and puzzle games.    

Mobile Premier League previously acquired GamingMonk and Crevise Technologies.

Companies Acquired Date Deal Value
GameDuell February 28, 2022 -
GamingMonk April 20, 2021 -
Crevise Technologies May 8, 2019 -

MPL - Challenges

Throughout the years since its launch, MPL has undergone numerous challenges. Establishing itself in the competitive industry of online and fantasy gaming is an unbelievable feat in itself, and it challenges the company continually.  

Employee Layoffs

MPL laid off around 100 employees on May 30, 2022. This way the company parted with 10% of its workforce. The number of people impacted can also be higher, as per the reports from sources on request for anonymity. However, it is also known that the employees affected by this layoff will receive complete severance along with other benefits. Besides, the employees who held ESOPs in the company will also have an option to hold on to their ESOPs for the upcoming decade. Numerous Indian late-stage startups from various industries have already laid off their employees, like Meesho, CarDekho, Ola, Unacademy, mFine, Vedantu, etc., but the challenges that the Indian startups are facing becomes prominent when the real gaming startups like MPL also had to lay off their employees. FrontRow, on the same day, laid off 30% of its workforce.

Though many startups like the ones mentioned above have performed their own layoffs, the gaming industry surely had better money-making luck. It is important to note that two of the top ten profitable companies among the unicorn companies of India that had successfully kept their valuations intact in the past few weeks are Games 24x7 and Dream11.  

Rollbacks

Along with announcing the 10% workforce layoff, MPL has also announced the rollback of its Indonesia operations. MPL has also stated that it will be doing away with the streaming product on its MPL app.

Karnataka banned MPL and other Online Fantasy Games

Mobile Premier League, Paytm First Games, and RummyCircle-like mobile gaming platforms that deal with real money had to suspend their services in Karnataka following the enactment of the state legislation that prohibited money wagering and betting in online games on October 5, 2021.

Apps like MPL and others were previously ruled as "games of skill" by one too many courts of India. However, this law, which is declared as a part of an amendment of the Karnataka Police Act, was enacted to ban all forms of online gambling and betting platforms. The offenders of the law, as announced on Tuesday, will henceforth be subjected to a maximum imprisonment of 3 years or a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.

Soon after the law came into effect, MPL's services were suspended in Karnataka on Wednesday, where the users of MPL are now greeted with the message, “Sorry! The law in your state does not permit you to play Fantasy sports” if they open the app. Though RummyCircle and Nazara’s HalaPlay had also updated their respective messages to inform their users regarding the ban of their services in the state, Dream11 still ran smoothly on October 6th, and it is still unclear whether they too have suspended their services.

MPL - Future Plans

As for future plans, MPL is aiming to incorporate more games and increase its user base. The company also has plans to expand its business and tech-based partnerships. Furthermore, MPL is also looking to hire 1,500 more people to its organization by mid-2023, as per the reports dated November 25, 2021. The company is also looking forward to setting up a 500-seater office in Hyderabad and has already signed an MOU with the Telangana government. Along with this, MPL would also establish another global office in New York or Seattle. The founders of MPL said that they will use ample cash reserves to help their core businesses grow along with achieving EBITDA neutrality. Besides, the company will also continue to invest in high conviction bets like its US operations and its newly opened Mayhem Studios. At the same time, MPL will discontinue all of its businesses that are not working as is desired of them.

FAQs

Who is the Owner/Founder of MPL?

Galactus Funware Technology Pvt Ltd. is the parent company of MPL. MPL was co-founded by Sai Srinivas Kiran and Shubham Malhotra.

Who is the CEO of MPL?

Sai Srinivas Kiran G is the co-founder and CEO of MPL

MPL is which country's app?

Mobile Premier League (also known as MPL) is a mobile e-sports platform based in India. The unicorn startup is headquartered in Bangalore, Karnataka.

Who is MPL's Parent Company?

Galactus Funware Technology Pvt. Ltd. is a private company incorporated on 22 May 2018. It is classified as a 'subsidiary of foreign company' and is registered at the Registrar of Companies, Bangalore.

When was the Mobile Premier League founded?

The Mobile Premier League was founded in 2018.

How much money does MPL give?

For a simple game on MPL,  the average entry fee is around INR 15 and you can win around INR 200 from it. You can also earn money by referring MPL's games to your friends.

MPL app is an e-sports platform and has always been legal in India. However, according to the recent enactment of the state legislation, which banned money wagering and betting, online fantasy gaming apps like MPL, Paytm First Games, RummyCircle, and more was illegalized in the Indian state of Karnataka, as reported on October 5, 2021.

Is MPL KYC Safe?

MPL is certified by Master Card and Visa as a secure platform.

What are the Mobile Premier League games?

The Mobile Premier League games can be categorized into fantasy sports, card games, arcade games, action games and more.

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