In July, South Korea’s Krafton announced its third and largest investment in an Indian startup. The gaming giant, best known for its wildly popular title PUBG, had already led funding rounds worth a combined $31 million for two of India’s more prominent gaming startups—Loco and NODWIN Gaming—earlier this year. This third bet, however, came out of left field; Krafton led a $48 million fundraise for digital storytelling platform Pratilipi.
Krafton’s Indian investments are a reiteration of the strategic importance the company places on the Indian market. This display is particularly important in light of the events of September 2020, when PUBG was banned in the country amidst rising tensions between India and China. The fact that the game was published by China’s Tencent didn’t help matters. Krafton subsequently ended ended Techcrunch PUBG cuts publishing ties with Tencent Games in India a week after ban Read more its tie-up with Tencent in India—though the latter remains an investor—and re-launched the game under a new title, Battlegrounds Mobile India, last month.
The investments in NODWIN and Loco are clearly synergistic, indicating Krafton’s ambitions in India’s gaming market. The synergies with Pratilipi, though, are not as clear. What is a gaming company doing with a storytelling platform? The answer comes from its fellow Korean corporation, Naver.
Put simply, Naver is South Korea’s answer to Google. The country’s leading search engine, it has built a multi-billion dollar empire on top of this by adding services such as email, blogging, and a user-generated content (UGC) platform for comics, WEBTOON. Most recently, it acquired acquired Wattpad Naver Completes Wattpad Acquisition Read more UGC storytelling platform Wattpad for $600 million. Between WEBTOON and Wattpad, it now has a strong foothold in the burgeoning UGC space, which provides it with an endless supply of content that can be converted into multiple storytelling formats.
Pratilipi is doing something similar. The six-year-old company, which built its platform on the back of UGC literature in regional languages, has expanded its storytelling base by leveraging audio, video, and comics.
Today, each of these new products is growing rapidly. Pratilipi’s podcast platform, Pratilipi FM, boasts 330,000 monthly active users (MAUs), while Pratilipi comics has 900,000 MAUs. In November 2020, it acquired IVM podcasts, a premium podcast collection that had about 1.5 million monthly episode downloads at the time of the acquisition acquisition Buzz in Content Pratilipi acquires IVM Podcasts Read more .