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Wargraphs, a one-person gaming startup with no funding, sells for $54M

While the U.K. and U.S. try to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision over concerns it will kill competition in games distribution, modding and analytics appear to be thriving.

Wargraphs, a one-man startup that makes Porofessor, a League of Legends companion app that helps players track and improve their stats, is being acquired for up to €50 million ($54 million), half upfront and half based on earnings and growth targets.

Sweden-based MOBA Networks, which buys, grows, and runs online gaming communities (MOBA stands for “multiplayer online battle arena”), is buying the startup and its products. They will expand to more markets, especially Asia, and build analytics for more titles.

“Startup” may be the loosest definition. The mild-mannered Jean-Nicholas is the only employee and bootstrapped the business. He’s persevered.

Wargraphs builds analytics for Legends of Runeterra and Teamfight Tactics, but League of Legends is its biggest business. Porofessor has had 10 million app downloads on Overwolf, where it was built, and over 1.25 million daily active users if you combine traffic from that platform and its own website.

For ten years, the company has been profitable, earning €12.3 million in its last fiscal year.

The acquisition highlights a startup trend. We’re coming out of a particularly bullish decade, when startups raised huge amounts of funding at vertiginous valuations, often without revenues, business models, or even products.

Valuations are lower and funding is harder to get, especially for consumer products. However, Wargraphs and Jean-Nicholas demonstrate how a different approach can be as profitable, if not more, in the consumer segment.

The deal shows an intriguing consumer technology evolution.

Gaming is big business. Microsoft’s contested Activision acquisition would be the largest technology deal ever at $68.7 billion.

MOBA, Overwolf, and Wargraphs are examples of how that’s changing: games are at the center of larger ecosystems of products and services that can become valuable even if they’re not the blockbusters at the center of those ecosystems.

(For example, the transaction closed a month ago, but Overwolf is touting it now to highlight its platform as a fertile ground for gaming innovation.)

I expect new gaming chapters, thanks to interactive headsets like the Vision Pro and advances in generative AI, to allow even more ecosystem development.

Jean-Nicholas said he wants to build a game next. A card game to compete with Activision Blizzard’s Hearthstone. He may hire someone, but he won’t raise funds.

 

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