RHL Ventures tops up investment in AI startup GameOn, seeks to tap external investors

Partners of RHL Ventures: (from left) Lionel Leong, Raja Hamzah Abidin, Jo Jo Kong and Rachel Lau

Malaysia-based RHL Ventures on Tuesday announced a follow-on investment in US-based tech startup GameOn, as it continues to work on tapping external investors for capital.

GameOn is a provider of an AI-based chatbot for the sports industry that connects users to relevant content and provides real-time responses to their queries.

The startup raised an undisclosed amount in its latest funding round that was co-led by SkyStar Capital, Quest Venture Partners, Asahi Media Labs, Liquid 2 Ventures, Ed Zander and Innovation Global Capital.

GameOn is currently partnering with Sky Sports for English Premier League coverage. The funds raised will be used to help GameOn expand into Asia with the launch of a similar chat-bot for the Indian Premier League targeted at the millions of cricket fans in South Asia and across the world.

“Real-time information is important to our users, many of whom already rely on the internet for live game coverage, score updates, and player information… Billions of people chat daily on the platforms we support. In 2017 the iOS and Android markets made over $60 billion in revenue, and we believe that potential for the chat-based application market is even bigger,” said GameOn founder and CEO Alex Beckman.

RHL had invested in the startup’s funding round last February.

RHL Ventures founding partner Rachel Lau said: “We are supportive of GameOn’s venture into the Asian market and its potential to connect companies to specific target audiences across multiple platforms.”

In an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA, she said the first investment round in GameOn went “very well”, where the startup has tripled in value.

“Plus the round is led by prominent investors and we want to play a role in helping them to expand into this part of the world. With GameOn, they have a global approach and they want to expand into Asia, where they are cognizant of the importance of having a good partner who understands this part of the world,” she said.

Founded in 2014, GameOn is based in Silicon Valley and it seeks to expand into e-sports, music and entertainment. It also intends to develop its own advertising engine inside the chat space, and strengthen enterprise-grade tools and connections in areas like ERP (enterprise resource planning) and cloud marketing.

RHL eyes external funding, said to be in talks with SWFs

Lau had last year told Bloomberg the firm was aiming to raise $100 million from external investors.

This portal has learnt that the investment firm is now in talks with Limited Partners (LPs), including government-backed funds to raise capital as it looks beyond its partners’ family wealth to make investments.

According to a source in the know of its plans, the firm is yet to raise any third-party capital and is still investing via family funds.

Responding to a query from this portal, Lau refused to comment on the firm’s fundraising plans.

Lau is one of the three millennial co-founders of RHL Ventures, along with Raja Hamzah Abidin, son of Malaysian politician and businessman Raja Nong Chik, and Lionel Leong, son of property tycoon Leong Hoy Kum.

Last August, bereavement services provider Nirvana Asia’s Jo Jo Kong joined the investment firm as a general partner. Jo Jo is the daughter of Nirvana Asia founder Kong Hon Kong.

Operational since February 2016, RHL Ventures has invested in eight startups so far through family funds, with two of them eyeing potential exits, said Lau. The firm positions itself as a “Series A and beyond” investor.

It is interested in sectors such as healthtech, education and artificial intelligence (AI). Portfolio companies include merchandise app Sidestep and healthcare platform HealthMetrics.

Fresh off the investment in GameOn, RHL is looking to step up its investment activities in Malaysia and the region, particularly in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

“We are looking to close one or two more deals in the region by this year,” said Lau, who is unfazed by the recent government change in Malaysia.

“The sentiment change is real where the long-term prospects for the country are also real. We (the founders) all came back after spending years abroad and with our family businesses here, we are extremely bullish on the market. We have a well-talented, skilful and young population.

“So I don’t see why we should be concerned about government change. When we go into a new market, we connect with leading family businesses in the market, because they know their markets best,” she said.

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