With a $340M Raise, Scopely Becomes One of LA's Most Valuable Startups

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

With a $340M Raise, Scopely Becomes One of LA's Most Valuable Startups

Just months after raising $200 million, Scopely is getting investors to open up their checkbook again.

The Culver City mobile game unicorn announced Wednesday it has raised $340 million in Series E funding, making it one of the most valuable tech companies in Los Angeles.

In a sign of how robust the market has been for beneficiaries of the stay-at-home economy, the new round values Scopely at $3.3 billion, which nearly doubles the company's $1.7 billion post-money valuation from March.

The company's success is welcome news to Los Angeles investors who backed Scopely in earlier, cheaper rounds. Greycroft, The Chernin Group and TenOneTen ventures were seed investors, getting in at a $40 million post valuation in 2012. Upfront Ventures, BAM Ventures and M13 got in on the 2018 Series C at a $710 post-money valuation.

Asked how the valuation skyrocketed so quickly, Scopely co-CEO Javier Ferreira said the company has done what early-stage investors love to see: ignite revenue growth.

"We have close to one hundred percent revenue growth year over year," Ferreira told dot.LA. "I think we've also shown our ability not just to buy large scale assets, but to grow those kinds of businesses post acquisition."

Revenue from the company's "Marvel Strike Force" has grown by 50% since Scopely acquired the role-playing mobile game as part of a transaction with Disney's FoxNext Games in January, according to Ferreira.

In April, Scopely acquired PierPlay, the maker of Scrabble GO, which became the biggest word game launch ever. Ferreira said more buying lies ahead.

"The space is moving so fast," Ferreira said. "It's an exciting time to be in the gaming space and we want to have the ability to make transformational moves and bring in teams and products to our ecosystem that will further drive growth."

Ferreira said the company is also developing its own games, but all those acquisitions are expensive, hence the need for the Series E, which was funded by Wellington Management, NewView Capital, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), BlackRock, D1 Ventures, TSG Consumer Partners, Battery Ventures, Eldridge and Declaration Partners.

The new valuation makes Scopely, which was founded in 2011, one of the most valuable Southern California tech startups, according to Pitchbook data. It trails only SpaceX, which was just valued at $100 billion, and Faraday Future, which was valued at $4.4 billion in 2018 but is now planning to go public through a reverse merger.

Scopely now has 950 employees spread across the globe, but Ferreira says those inside the company do not spend much time thinking about Scopely's meteoric growth.

"We've been kind-of growing so fast for so many years now that, to be honest, it doesn't feel that different from a kind of internal perspective."

As Americans continue to stay home during the pandemic, consumers spent $4.3 billion on video game hardware, content and accessories in September, a 10% increase over a year ago, according to NPD Group. Epic Games, with a $17.3 billion valuation, is still considerably larger than Scopely.


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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.