It feels like yesterday when Wildlife became one of the Five Brazilian Unicorns of 2019. At that moment, the Brazilian mobile games startup got a valuation of 1.3 billion dollars. Now, the Latin American company is once again impressing.
With the growth of the gaming industry accelerated by the new coronavirus pandemic, the company attracted new investment. Now, its value is over $ 3 billion.
The startup, founded by brothers Victor and Arthur Lazarte and Chilean Michael Mac-Vicar, was not looking for capital in 2020. However, it caught the attention of investors with the numbers reached in the pandemic.
A growing community attracted investors
Community is growing up around the games of Wildlife Studios. The Brazilian company has accumulated more than 2.6 billion downloads. However, engagement is more impressive. Its main games have seen the user base growing up. Tennis Clash, Zooba, and Sniper 3D grow between 30% and 50% in the last five months.
An attractive proposal appeared after showing that numbers. The partners only agreed to receive a new investment when the American fund Vulcan Capital showed an interest in leading the $ 120 million round. The capital firm is the investment arm of the philanthropic company created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. In addition to investing in giants like Uber and Spotify, the fund knows the games industry well. In 2018, Vulcan Capital participated in the $ 1.25 billion round of Epic Games. Have you heard about them? It’s the company behind the successful Fortnite, valued at 17.3 billion in August 2020.
The motivation of the American fund came due to the good moment that the entertainment industry is experiencing. Rafael Costa, a partner of the American fund, highlighted this point. The company’s history was another good signal. Wildlife grows 70% per year since 2014 and launches at least one successful game every 12 months.
The release of new hits led to an increase in market value. Wildlife Studios went from 1.3 billion to 3 billion in less than a year. In series A, signed in October, the company had not yet published two of its biggest hits: Zooba and Tennis Clash. According to Lucas Lima, both games allowed the 50% growth in revenue and profit in the last few months.
The history of Wildlife Studios
Wildlife was founded in 2011 by São Paulo brothers Victor and Arthur Lazarte. They were around 25 years old at the time. When they graduated from the polytechnic school of the University of São Paulo, they went to work, respectively, in an investment bank and in a consultancy. But, shortly after, they left their jobs and returned to their parents’ homes, determined to start a mobile gaming company. At the time, they didn’t even know how to program games – they learned from online videos.
In the first months, when they had doubts about programming, they consulted the Chilean friend Michael Mac-Vicar. He studied with Arthur in France. The engineer, who worked in the United States at the time, became one of the co-founders of the business. Today, he heads the Wildlife technology team, which is divided between the company’s offices in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States.
Together, they placed Wildlife – which until 2019 was called TFG, which stands for Top Free Games – among the ten largest mobile game companies in the world. The company’s latest game, Tennis Clash, was the most downloaded game in more than 100 countries in the week of its release. Some of the biggest successes in the portfolio also include Sniper 3D, from 2014 – which, until the launch of the game Fortnite, in 2017, was the most downloaded shooting game in the world.
The strategy behind the success
Over its nine years, Wildlife has become a global company that employs more than 700 people, with offices in four countries. It was the decisions made by the partners in 2011 that shaped the trajectory of the startup until today. The company had the merit of entering the early rise of smartphones and grew with the mobile gaming market. Today, games for smartphones and tablets earn nearly 77 billion dollars a year (or 48% of the games market, compared to 18% in 2012), according to the consultancy specialized in games Newzoo.
At the beginning of the mobile gaming industry, while competitors bet on charging for the game at the time of download, Wildlife decided to offer the games for free and then sell improvements and exclusive items within the application – a model known as freemium.
In addition, since its first success, Racing Penguins, the company has invested in both creation and marketing to distribute the games.
The strategy is so efficient that an old game, such as Sniper 3D, 2014, still manages to attract 30 million users per month. The title, which is the great success of the company, was the turning point of the business. “There was no more space for amateurs