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🧟 Voodoo 👹 + ⚠️ BeReal ⚠️ : The Black Valuation Magic 🪄 Behind Their €500M Deal 💸

While BeReal's fall from grace is now complete, the deal represents another milestone in the turnaround of Voodoo. The gaming company defied predictions of its demise and is now rumored to be on a path to an IPO. Resurrecting BeReal might be its biggest challenge yet.

At this point in BeReal's meteoric rise and fall, every possible pun and play on its name has been beaten to death by headline writers around the planet. So, rather than reach for one more ill-advised turn of phrase, let us say it plainly:

RIP BeReal: Born January 29, 2020 – Acquired June 11, 2024.

The announcement that hypercasual gaming startup Voodoo had acquired BeReal in a €500 million deal came as a double surprise. That's because hearing the names of both companies provoked the same reaction that everyone has when they see Snake Plissken in Escape To New York:

As it turns out, that is only half right. While BeReal has conducted a masterclass in how to bungle every aspect of scaling, Voodoo has emerged as a case study in how to defy major market shifts and confound predictions of its demise by reinventing and restructuring its business (though not without some bumps along the way).

The deal seemed surprising to those who still see Voodoo as the unicorn that rode success in hypercasual gaming to raise $516.9 million (equity and debt) over six rounds from marquee investors such as Tikehau Capital, Goldman Sach, and Tencent. But when hypercasual gaming started to tank a few years ago thanks to the semi-benevolent dictatorship of Apple, one of the ways Voodoo responded (more on this below) was by diversifying into a broader range of apps.

That includes its social networking app Wizz, which was created in 2019 under the leadership of Aymeric Roffé. Wizz experienced rapid growth starting in late 2022 and through much of 2023 before starting a steady slide that continued through this year. That was not helped by the app being removed temporarily from the Apple and Google app stores on the heels of accusations that Wizz had become a playground for sex scams targeting its teenage user base. (The app was later returned to both stores).

As part of the BeReal acquisition, Roffé will become CEO of the app while BeReal Founder and CEO Alexis Barreyat is being quietly shown the door. Voodoo Co-Founder and CEO Alexandre Yazdi said his company can drive product development and monetization in a way that BeReal leadership was never able to do. It's a low bar to clear, but still a daunting challenge.

Voodoo Co-Founder and CEO Alexandre Yazdi (left) and new BeReal CEO Aymeric Roffé.

“BeReal achieved incredible user loyalty and growth, showing there is a universal need to share real, unfiltered experiences with close friends,” Yazdi said in a statement. “We are very excited to bring our teams together and leverage Voodoo’s know-how and differentiated technologies to scale BeReal into the iconic social network for authenticity.”

Voodoo Economics

Upon closer inspection, the BeReal deal is a relatively low-stakes bet for Voodoo. While the €500 million figure made global headlines, Sifted's Daphné Leprince-Ringuet reported that €166 million of that was cash up front, and the rest in earn-out bonuses.

Basically, €500 million is a PR number.

BeReal has never formally disclosed all of its fundraising, but the company did confirm that it raised a $30 million Series A round in 2022 from "top international VCs." (Andreessen Horowitz, Accel, and New Wave). BeReal then reportedly raised a $60 million Series B at a $600 million valuation led by DST, for a $90 million raised (€83.8 million).

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