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Lightspeed, Sequoia Surge bet on e-sports streaming platform Rheo
Rheo co-founders Saksham Keshri and Prakash Kumar

E-sports streaming and community platform Rheo has raised $2 million (approximately Rs 14.34 crore) in seed funding from a clutch of investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Sequoia Surge, the scale-up programme of venture capital and growth-equity investor Sequoia Capital, also put money in Rheo, the company said in a statement.

Others that invested in the Bengaluru-based startup include Unacademy founders Gaurav Munjal and Roman Saini, former LinkedIn India country manager Mahesh Narayanan and RedBus founder Phanindra Sama.

Cuemath chief technology officer Anushray Gupta, Zomato adviser Prashant Mallik and Byju’s chief product officer Ranjit Radhakrishnan invested, too.

Rheo, operated by FJS Tech Pvt. Ltd, was founded by Saksham Keshri and Prakash Kumar in 2018. It says it is seeking to build an ecosystem for mobile gamers where they will be able to stream games and engage with one another, while streamers will be able to monetise the content they create.

Keshri, who is also Rheo’s chief executive officer, said the company’s goal is to make online gaming as entertaining and engaging a medium as cricket and Bollywood, with monetisation layers. Kumar, the startup’s chief technology officer, added that the firm will work towards producing content in major Indian languages in coming months.

Rheo says some of the most popular titles being viewed on its platform include PUBG, Free Fire and Call of Duty. Users can earn virtual currency – Rheo Coins – through various activities and exchange it for virtual goods across multiple games. The company also hosts its own invitation-only tournaments.

It claims to have attracted over 5,000 streamers in at least five languages, with these content creators generating more than 900 hours of live content every day.

Deals in the gaming segment

There has been heavy investor and strategic movement in the gaming sector across segments, as companies seek to leverage mobile platforms with the rise in disposable income and the advertising potential of the medium.

In November last year, casual social gaming startup SuperGaming raised $1.3 million (around Rs 9.36 crore) in a seed funding round from Tokyo-based Dream Incubator and other investors.

Before that, in September, mobile games developer Nazara Technologies acquired a majority stake in Delhi-based SportsUnity Pvt. Ltd, a gaming platform that operates online multiplayer quiz service Qunami.

The same month, live events intellectual property firm Event Capital – which is part of the Laqshya Media group – acquired an 80% stake in Indian Games Expo, which holds exhibitions around the country focussed on the gaming industry.

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