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(English) Two acquisitions this week: Mail.ru Group gets “high spirits” in gaming and niche leader in adtech

23 июля 2019

(English) This week Mail.ru Group, the LSE-listed Russian Internet giant, announced almost simultaneously two acquisitions: that of acquired Belarusian game studio Swag Masha through its gaming branch My.Games and that of Russian content & ad recommendation service Relap.io.
Acquiring “an idea and high spirits”

Founded in May 2018 and based in Minsk, Swag Masha is a small game studio with only 30 staff members. It is known for its Love Sick: Interactive Stories game designed for Android and iOS devices, which was released earlier this year. In the first six months upon its release, the game’s audience exceeded 3 million registers users, according to My.Games.

In its press release, My.Games said the deal – a full acquisition – will allow Swag Masha to get access to the My.Games ecosystem and receive marketing and operational benefits. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

“Swag Masha a great example of investing in a studio at the [very early] stage, when the team has nothing but an idea and [high spirits]. Only one year passed between the first steps in cooperation and full consolidation. Yet we’ve managed to establish a [cooperation] format [in which] the team constantly develops its project, while we [bring] expertise and resources when needed,” said Ilya Karpinsky, Director of My.Games Investment Division.

The acquisition follows a seed investment from My.Games in July 2018, just two months after launch.

The My.Games brands was launched by Mail.ru Group in May. In June, the group invested in Helsinki-based game developer Panzerdog.

From content discovery to native advertising

In a communication with Russian tech daily VC.ru, Sergey Shalayev, founder and CEO of Relap.io, and Mail.ru Group announced the acquisition without disclosing the financial details of the deal.

Shalayev said since its launch in 2014, Relap.io has managed to become the largest native advertising network on the Russian Internet scene, leaving its competitors far behind. “We were looking for a strategic investor who would help us make the next step to become even better and larger. Having held talks with Mail.ru Group, we realized it was the best choice for us,” he added.

Relap.io offers its users to embed its code on their websites to show their readers relevant content and native ads based on Relap.io’s proprietary algorithms.

Initially, Relap.io was developed as a tool for the Surfingbird web content discovery service. With time, it grew up into a stand-alone project. According to Shalayev, Surfingbird will most likely be shut down and its users will be offered to migrate to Pulse, a Mail.ru Group recommendation service which, from now on, will be headed by Shalayev himself.

Together, Surfingbird and Relap.io attracted more than $5 million to date from Klever Internet Investment and private investors. This deal is an exit for these investors.

Relap.io claims its services are used by more than 3,000 websites, including some leading Russian online media.

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