The US corporate and investment bank’s incursions into France’s hyper growth business segment are rare. But in Voodoo, the mobile game publisher founded by Alexandre Yazdi and Laurent Ritter, they see potential.
Between the international successes of Ubisoft and Gameloft, France has no shortage of industrial champions in the video game world. In the future, it will also include Voodoo, the company founded by Alexandre Yazdi and Laurent Ritter in 2013, which is attacking the smartphone game market. It is an already well-established business: the studio has more than 150 million active players per month. And that fact did not escape the notice of Goldman Sachs, which has invested 200 million dollars into Voodoo in exchange for a minority stake in its capital.
The world in its sights
Just like in its games, Voodoo aims to use the points it has already earned to grow and meet increasingly difficult challenges. The global mobile gaming market is exploding. According to the specialist Newzoo, industry revenue will be around 70 billion dollars in 2018 (25.5% growth in one year). The French startup has never been in as good an investment position as it is now and we can’t help thinking that it will do more than merely open offices across the globe - Voodoo has just opened one in Berlin and plans to hire a few dozen developers there for its future games. Pursuing rapid growth also means buying up other companies. And the arrival of Goldman Sachs comes at a good time since The Firm is an international heavyweight in terms of M&A consultancy. What’s more, the market is still very fragmented with lots of independent studios and is far from having fulfilled its potential. Voodoo, therefore, has positioned itself well to consolide. Only King Digital, the creator of Candy Crush (purchased by Activision Blizzard for $5.9 billion), Zynga (Farmville) and Supercell (the Finnish company behind Clash Royale) are further up the high-score table at the moment. Before it can catch these giants, Voodoo is gambling on one of its competitive advantages - diversification.
Not just gaming
Voodoo publishes affordable every day mobile games, and will continue to do so. "Paper.io" and "Snake vs. Block" are still major successes with thirty and twenty million downloads respectively. The company continues to recruit game designers and various other specialists from the video game world - and it has just released "Paper.io 2". Despite appearances, these globally recognized licenses are not the primary source of income for the startup which has offices in Paris, Strasbourg and Montpellier. No, Voodoo prefers to advise other studios on their strategies for retaining players and monetizing audiences. And this business represents 75% of its turnover. The model has allowed it to not only build a community of industry experts but also protect itself against the possibility of a game that fails. If all goes well, Voodoo will exceed the critical billion download threshold by the end of the year. In addition, some of the funds brought by Goldman Sachs will be used to recruit server and network architecture professionals. Yet more diversification!