Next Games was first listed on the Finnish stock market in 2017 by none other than Jari Ovaskainen – the man named Business Angel of Europe in 2014.
Ovaskainen had his first unicorn in 1999 with the founding of Iobox, a Finnish internet portal that was sold the following year to Terra Mobile (Telefonica) for €230 million in cash, representing the largest Finnish VC exit in history at the time.
But Ovaskainen’s fame reached planetary level a decade later, when he seeded Supercell, a gaming company that built blockbusters of the calibre of Clash of Clans, Boom Beach and Hay Day. Supercell went through several M&A transactions, the last occurring in 2016 when the company was acquired by Tencent at the stellar valuation of $10.3 billion.
In 2014 Ovaskainen invested in Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA), a nuclear-medicine spinoff from CERN, Geneva, that develops a breakthrough radio-therapy treatment for gastro-entero pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours. Advanced Accelerator Applications traded at the Nasdaq stock exchange with the ticker AAAP. In October 2017 Novartis announced its intention to acquire AAA for $3.9 billion in cash.
The Next Games IPO
In 2017, after selling the gaming company Boomlagoon, Ovaskainen had his latest spectacular listing with the highly successful IPO of Next Games on Nasdaq First North Helsinki.
Next Games trades with the ticker NXTGMS and develops global scale video games following an innovative licensing model. As of 2020 Ovaskainen is still Next Games’ largest shareholder with 26% of the shares.
Next Games CEO Teemu Huuhtanen said of last year:
“In the fall of 2019, 2015 of our existing shareholders participated in our successful rights offering and we raised €8 million towards the company’s future investments. I am very pleased about the commitment of our current shareholders to developing the company and the full subscription undertakings from Jari Ovaskainen and AMC Networks. I would like to thank our new and existing shareholders for their confidence in the future of the company.”
At the end of 2019, Business Finland awarded a grant of €2 million to Next Games for a project to develop its machine learning and AI capabilities. The project directly contributes to the company’s strategic priority of improving efficiency with the help of AI, among other things.
The company continued to develop both of its published The Walking Dead titles, Our World and No Man’s Land. It said it would continue to optimize investments and resources to match the returns from these games. The combined number of daily active users for both games decreased 23.5% from 2018, whereas the average revenue per daily active user grew by 24%.
Blade Runner and Stranger Things
Additionally, during 2019 the business further developed Blade Runner Nexus, a game based on the Blade Runner movie franchise. In the summer of 2019, it announced its collaboration with Netflix to develop a mobile game based on the hit series Stranger Things.
According to its plans, Next Games estimates the launch of the game to take place in 2020. It has continued to put effort into building a renewed product portfolio, and has succeeded in kickstarting new game projects thanks to the new product development process.
The stock unfortunately does not report quarterly, but something is up Ovaskainen has been buying the stock since April 17th, not much, but enough and the stock is up +51.69% YTD. The all time high of Next Games stock was €15 in 2017. In the last 52 weeks Next Game stock has been trading between 0.55 – 1.79. The stock is a real microcap today with market cap valuation of 30 million euro.
I started buying this stock when Ovaskainen began getting in on 17/18 April. Next Games is a rare breed listed company “pure play” on mobile gaming – usually these companies are bought out of private investors’ hands. It might happen again since the valuation is low and Ovaskainen has the money to take it private again, but the stock might surprise us all and really start to deliver in these times when mobile gaming is huge business, and the company has a deal with Netflix’s Stranger Things.