Investment will support the continued growth of leading games developer and publisher to build game portfolio and boost headcount 

Private equity firm LDC has completed a multi-million-pound investment in Marmalade Game Studio (Marmalade), a UK market leading games developer and publisher, to support the management team’s ambitious organic growth strategy and future game launches. The transaction marks the first successful exit for Bloc Ventures from its first portfolio company, having first invested in 2015.

Marmalade is the UK’s leading developer of mobile, console and PC board games. Its catalogue includes classics such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Game of Life, licensed by gaming giants such as Hasbro, with its most recent addition, Jumanji, inspired by the feature film. 

LDC’s investment will support the existing management team, led by joint CEOs Michael Willis and Cristina Mereuta, as they invest in the development of new games and recruiting new talent. The pair has already led the business through a period of exceptional growth over recent years, with revenues growing by over 100 per cent in the last three years.

Now, Marmalade continues to develop and publish high-quality family games across a wide range of platforms and licensors, targeting a number of new releases in 2022 and beyond, whilst continuing to invest in its growing team across its offices in London, UK and Lisbon, Portugal.

The investment in Marmalade was led by Dale Alderson, Jacob Leone and Aziz Ul-Haq at LDC in Manchester. As part of the transaction, Dale and Jacob will also join the board, alongside inbound Non-Executive Chairman Andrew Graham, formerly of games developer Mediatonic, which is known for games including Fall Guys – Ultimate Knockout and Foul Play.

Cristina Mereuta, joint CEO of Marmalade Game Studio, said: “We have seen people’s love for gaming blossom as they have fun and maintain connections with friends and family through gameplay. This has given us the opportunity to not only expand our portfolio of games, bringing some of the most well-loved titles to life in the digital world, but to continue recruiting the most exciting talent in the industry.”

Michael Willis, joint CEO of Marmalade Game Studio, added: “In LDC, we have a partner that is committed to backing our ambition and working closely with us to make our business plan a reality. It was also important to us that our backer was supportive of the strong working culture we have created, and we know from LDC’s track record they will help us to maintain the creative spirit and supportive environment that Marmalade is known for. With more game launches on the horizon and our recruitment drive ongoing, we’re excited to continue driving our expansion.”

Jacob Leone, Investment Manager at LDC in Manchester, added: “Michael and Cristina are truly inspirational leaders who have helped to transform Marmalade into the leading games business that it is today, nurturing strong relationships with its licensors to help bring classic games to life in the digital arena. The gaming industry has experienced exceptional growth in recent years, and Marmalade has seized the opportunity to provide players with the best quality games to enjoy.”

Bruce Beckloff, CEO at Bloc Ventures, commented: “Marmalade’s growth has been impressive. Since Bloc’s investment in 2015, we’ve worked with the management team to combine efforts around their strong gaming backgrounds and key industry relationships with our company building experience. We’re fortunate to have been part of the journey and are excited to see what the future holds for Marmalade with LDC.”

LDC has extensive experience working with technology firms across the UK, with particular expertise in supporting gaming businesses on their growth strategies. During a two-year partnership with indie games developer Team17 – led by CEO and Founder Debbie Bestwick – the business continued its significant success, with international sales increasing 40% and both revenues and EBITDA growing by more than 100% ahead of an IPO.

We’re delighted to announce the appointment of Andy Green CBE as Senior Independent Director and Sue Prevezer QC as Non-Executive Director as we bolster our board of directors ahead of a potential public offering in the future.

Andy Green CBE spent 22 years at BT in leadership roles including as a board member, four years as CEO of Logica (a £4bn turnover business ahead of its acquisition by CGI in 2021) and five years as a NED at Arm (working with Bloc’s CEO, Bruce Beckloff and CCO, Michael Dimelow in the process). He’s held Chairman or NED roles at multiple global technology organisations and has in-depth experience working with public companies. Andy was awarded a CBE in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list for services to the Information Technology Sector and to the British Space Industry.

Sue Prevezer QC has over 25 years of experience arguing large complex commercial cases at every level of the UK judicial system and in arbitration, and has sat as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Chancery Division of the High Court. Until recently, Sue spent 12 years as the Co-Managing Partner of London office of Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, where her clients included major corporates, funds, investors, trustees, office holders and high net worth individuals, for whom she managed complex, high value, domestic and international litigation. She is also a Non-Executive Director at S4 Capital and Trustee of the Hampstead Theatre and Chair of the Trustees of the Freud Museum. Sue now practices at Brick Court Chambers as a mediator and arbitrator.

Andy and Sue join a board of directors that includes Paul Roy (with over 40 years’ experience in asset management and banking), Stephen Catlin (with over 40 years’ experience in insurance) and Sam Wren (CEO of IPGL and former COO of NEX Group).

Bloc has recently been profiled by research organisation Edison Group as an ‘Expert-led play on early-stage deep tech’, shining a light on the company’s portfolio, investment strategy and key strengths. The Edison report commented on the strength of the management team and their operational experience. Adding Andy and Sue to the board further strengthens Bloc’s leadership team with industry experience. You can read the full report here.

To date, Bloc has raised £28m in balance sheet capital which has been invested into 11 companies across cloud, connectivity, data science and security companies throughout Europe. Each of these companies is fundamentally innovating in their underlying technology to create globally scalable products and solutions Bloc’s intention is to raise new capital in the next 12-18 months ahead of a potential public offering in 2023.

Bruce  Beckloff,  Co-Founder and CEO of Bloc said: “We are delighted to have Andy and Sue join the Bloc team. Their technology, legal and public company experience further strengthens the board as we work towards a public offering. We place great value in Bloc’s board of directors to not only bring tremendous experience and strategic direction but also their ability to connect our portfolio companies to their valuable network of global businesses”

Andy Green CBE, Senior Independent Director of Bloc, added: “Bloc represents a best-in-class early-stage investor in deep technology across communications and computing. Given my experience with both BT and Arm, this role represents an opportunity for me to add value to the company itself but also the portfolio companies it has invested in. I am very excited to be part of Bloc and am looking forward to the journey we’re about to go on.”

Sue Prevezer QC, Non-Executive Director of Bloc, added: “Building a publicly traded investment company is a challenging journey and takes a significant legal effort to execute correctly. In addition, working with early-stage technology companies adds an exciting dimension to the undertaking and one that I’m delighted to be involved in. Having worked closely with S4 Capital in recent years, I’ve witnessed first-hand the incredible speed that companies and technology can grow across global markets.

Investment research firm, Edison Group, has written an in-depth report on Bloc Ventures and conducted a video interview with our CEO, Bruce Beckloff. Read the report here and watch the interview here.

Marmalade’s latest launch is featured in NME as the much anticipated ‘Jumanji: The Curse Returns’ is announced with a trailer video at Gamescom.

Pharrowtech featured in Computer Weekly as it launches 60GHZ high speed wireless evaluation board as the first viable fibre alternative.

YellowDog has been working with OMass Therapeutics to accelerate the drug discovery process from over a year to a matter of hours.

Read about the project here.

Bloc’s CTO and co-founder, David Leftley, comments in Tech Monitor.

It’s vital for deep tech companies to find the right investors at the early stage. Bloc is one of a number of specialist deep tech investors active in the UK. This post sheds some light on some of the potential partners for startups to get in touch with.

https://www.techspark.co/blog/2021/04/16/deep-tech-investors-uk/

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