Mail.Ru buying spree: New investments in gaming and edtech

17 October 2020

This week several new investments by Mail.ru Group, the LSE-listed Russian Internet giant, were reported.

In the field of online education:

  • Lomigor, a Cypriot subsidiary of the LSE-listed Russian Internet giant, purchased a 45% stake in Preprep.ru LLC, the startup behind exam preparation platform Tetrika. The transaction, which took place in September, was just revealed by business daily Kommersant, which cited company register information. Launched a year ago, the startup raised $600,000 from private investors in early 2020. The amount of the latest transaction with Mail.Ru was not disclosed.
  • Lomigor also purchased an additional 10% stake in Skillbox, an e-learning platform for digital and IT specialties, bringing its share to 70%. Mail.Ru made its first investments in the company last year.

Other Mail.Ru edtech portfolio companies include the GeekBrains online university, acquired in 2016; online programming school Algoritmika, of which the group bought a minority stake in 2019; and SkillFactory, a data science education startup in which Mail.Ru invested this past July.

In the field of gaming:

Mail.Ru demonstrated again its appetite for gaming companies with an investment – via its subsidiary My.Games – in Belarusian Mamboo Games. Founded last year and based in Minsk, Belarus, this hypercasual games studio is the publisher of Smoothie king:mixed drinks. In an exchange with Russian online publication Rusbase, the Mail.ru Group press service specified that the group acquired a minority stake, without providing more details.

This is the fourth investment of My.Games and its venture arm My.Games Venture Capital (MGVC) in just one month:

  • In early October MGVC acquired a majority stake in Russian game publisher Deus Craft;
  • Almost simultaneously MGVC announced it got a minority stake in Russian studio Reaction Games, with the option to buy a controlling stake;
  • In mid-September, MGVC teamed up with Finland’s Aii Corporation to invest in Hypemasters, a studio founded by a Russian team but headquartered in the USA.

Gaming accounts for nearly half of Mail.Ru’s revenue. This activity generated some $472 million last year and probably even more this year as a result of the traction of online games during the pandemic. A part of the $600 million raised this month by the group in GDRs and bonds will go to support acquisitions in this field, reported The Bell.

This online publication also heard from unnamed sources that Mail.ru Group considers introducing its gaming business on a US stock exchange. The IPO could take place in 2021, aiming to value these assets at some $2.5-3 billion. Other insiders interviewed by The Bell consider these IPO prospects to be unlikely, while Mail.Ru declined to provide any official comment.

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