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Narayana Murthy invests in gaming startup Loco

According to Loco, the funds will be used to accelerate streaming technologies, content creation, as well as the development of the gamer and creator ecosystems.

Loco, an Indian gaming startup, has secured $42 million in funding backed by Hashed, a South Korean early-stage venture fund, as a gaming fever sweeps the country of roughly 1.4 billion people.

Makers Fund, outsourcing billionaire Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures, and Korea Investment Partners joined current investors Krafton Inc., Lumikai Ltd., and Hiro Capital in the Series A round, the live-streamed gaming startup said on Thursday.

According to two sources familiar with the deal who did not want to be identified, the financial infusion will raise the two-year-old startup’s valuation to around $200 million. A spokesperson for the company’s official name, Loco Interactive Pte, declined to comment on the valuation.

“India has 400 million gamers currently,” said Anirudh Pandita, co-founder of Loco, in a Zoom interview.  “Younger Indians are spending a significant amount of time in the virtual world, and gaming is breaking urban and rural boundaries.” Loco’s daily user numbers have grown over 15 times since January of last year and “live watch hours,” the amount of time users spend on live-streamed games, has grown nearly 80 times, Pandita said.

According to Loco’s press statement, the cash will be used to accelerate streaming technology, content production, and the development of the gamer and creative ecosystem.

Live-streamed games are still relatively new in India, in contrast to nations such as the United States, South Korea, and Japan, where they are a popular source of entertainment. Indian players mostly utilise mobile devices to play and watch live broadcasts, whereas console and PC gaming are popular in mature gaming markets.

Pandita and Ashwin Suresh, Loco’s other co-founder, met as engineering undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and went on to work on Wall Street before co-founding Pocket Aces Pvt., a digital studio that creates streaming content as an alternative to traditional television entertainment, with a third founder, Aditi Shrivastava. 

“India is one of the most interesting gaming markets” and 40% of its gaming population belong to the 10-30 year age group that forms the bedrock of gaming and e -sports communities worldwide, said Ethan Kim, co-founder and Partner at Hashed.  

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