MPL: Mobile Premier League to lay off 100 workers, exit Indonesia

Bengaluru: Indian mobile esports and skill gaming platform Mobile League (MPL), which entered the unicorn club last September at a valuation of $2.3 billion, is laying off around 100 people and exiting the Indonesian market amid a slowdown in the Indian startup ecosystem.

“We have to achieve some outcomes like growing our core business while achieving Ebitda neutrality… and winding up businesses that are not working,” said Sai Srinivas, cofounder and chief executive officer of MPL, in an email to the company’s employees on Monday.

Founded in 2018 by Srinivas and Shubam Malhotra, MPL offers around 70 games across categories such as daily fantasy sports, quizzing, board games, esports, and casual games on its Android and iOS apps. It claims to have over 90 million users across India, Indonesia, Europe, and the United States.

Srinivas noted that the Indonesian business’ returns were several times lower than what the company is seeing in India and the nascent US business, causing it to exit the market.

“It is time to take the difficult decision and redeploy the resources in other parts of the businesses,” Srinivas added.

Along with severance, MPL will also allow impacted staff with employee stock options (Esop) to hold on to their options for the next 10 years.

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MPL has crossed an annual net revenue of $100 million and aims to hit $200-250 million in revenue by the end of FY23, the founder said in the letter.

Touching upon other key metrics, Srinivas added that the net revenue for the company in the Indian market has grown by 25% over the last three months, and it has not been spending marketing dollars on major events such as the Indian Premier League (IPL)

“Breaking our dependency on IPL and achieving massive growth without spending a penny on IPL sets us free, not to mention it now leaves us with a massive arsenal of marketing capital that we can deploy in the second half of the year to continue the growth from here,” Srinivas added.

The founder also said that MPL’s US business has turned net-revenue positive within nine months of its launch.

Interestingly, MPL in February 2022 acquired Berlin-headquartered games studio GameDuell to expand operations across European markets. The move, it said, was in line with its strategy to expand footprints across key global markets.

In September 2021, MPL raised fresh funds at a valuation of $2.3 billion, led by Dubai-based Legatum Capital. Existing investors including Sequoia, SIG, RTP Global, Go-Ventures, Moore Strategic Ventures, Play Ventures, Base Partners, Telstra Ventures, and Founders Circle Capital also participated in the round.

The startup was planning to use the funds to expand its global operations.

Startups in India are continuing to shed staff as they cut costs amid an adverse funding environment.

FrontRow also said on Monday that it has cut 145 full time and contractual jobs, which is almost 30% of its workforce.

Earlier this month, edtech unicorn Vedantu laid off 424 full-time and contractual staff to increase its runway. Two weeks before that, it had laid off 200 workers.

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