Sequoia co-leads $100m funding in Tokyo’s mobile gaming unicorn Playco

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New Tokyo-headquartered mobile gaming startup Playco has raised $100 million in its Series A round, led by Sequoia Capital and angel investor Josh Buckley, according to a company statement.

The investment has pegged the valuation of the company at $1 billion.

Interestingly, news of the investment came as part of the announcement of the company’s launch into existence on Monday.

Despite only just being formed, Playco says the investment it raised valued the company “just north of $1 billion”, and was participated by a host of investors including Sozo Ventures, Raymond Tonsing’s Caffeinated Capital, Keisuke Honda’s KSK Angel Fund, Taizo Son’s Mistletoe Singapore, Digital Garage, Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, Makers Fund, and others.

Founded by by Game Closure co-founder Michael Carter and Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron, as well as game producers Takeshi Otsuka and Teddy Cross, Playco claims to be instant play gaming company which develops games that can be played by any two or more people in the world together even if neither player has previously installed the game.

The company says its expertise comes from the merger of Carter’s technology background in building new computing platforms, and Waldron’s experience at Zynga in connecting players together in massive social gaming experiences.

The fresh capital raised from the funding go towards building partnerships with the largest social and messaging companies globally and to assemble a world-class team.

The company says it is oriented towards the mission of bringing the world closer together through play and is technology-agnostic in achieving that goal. However, Playco is starting with a huge technology advantage out of the gates.

“Our game engine allows us to partner with all platforms that enable instant play whether it’s cloud streaming, google play instant, iOS App Clips, Facebook Instant Games, Snapchat Minis, or new emerging platforms. Using this technology, our small teams can build games faster, understand our players better, and iterate more rapidly than even the biggest game companies in the world like Zynga,” said Waldron.

Playco is domiciled in Delaware and headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, but is a distributed-first company looking to hire anywhere in the world.

The founders and executives are split between Seoul, Korea, Tokyo, Japan, and San Francisco and LA in the US.

For Sequoia, Playco counts as the firm’s latest bet in Asia’s gaming industry.

Prior to this investment, Sequoia had injected $11.5 million into Bengaluru-based esports platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) while its seed fund, Surge, has also backed India’s Rheo, a game streaming platform which allows gamers to create channels to monetise their passion for playing video games.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.