Insight into Whaleapp gamedev company: $80M in profit, layoffs, and the war’s impact

After selling Plarium for $500 million to the Australian company Aristocrat, Ilya Turpiashvili founded the gaming company Whaleapp in 2018, raising approximately $50 million. The company is now one of the ten largest gamedev companies in Ukraine.

CTech has written a general overview of Whaleapp’s business, which in just five years of its existence has already managed to earn about $80 million from the sale of mobile games. AIN.Capital editorial team has selected the highlights.

About the creation of the company after the sale of Plarium

The sale of Plarium to the Australian company Aristocrat for approximately $500 million in 2017 is one of the most prominent success stories in the Israeli gaming industry. The deal price was surprising to many people. However, today, Plarium is generating annual sales of about $1 billion and is recognized as one of the flagships in the gaming industry.

Plarium was founded by two sets of brothers: Avi and Gabi Shalel, as well as Haim and Ilya Turpiashvili. After the sale, the founders went their separate ways, with only Haim remaining in Plarium until recently. About a year after the sale, Ilya Turpiashvili founded a new company, Whaleapp, headquartered in Herzliya, Israel.

Whaleapp currently employs over 200 people, most of whom are based in Ukraine. Whaleapp’s CEO is Lev Metchnik, who co-founded the company with Turpiashvili. And Ilya is the main shareholder and the driving force behind the company’s products.

About attracting users and investors

The gaming market in which Whaleapp operates is different from the original focus of Plarium. Turpiashvili explained that the cost of user acquisition has increased significantly, while marketing quality has decreased due to Apple’s privacy restrictions. The games themselves also need to be more sophisticated, more engaging, and optimized for mobile platforms.

To date, Whaleapp has raised approximately $50 million, with investors including the Israeli gaming fund vgames and investment company Griffin Gaming Partners, which previously invested in the Israeli company Overwolf. Whaleapp’s revenues amounted to about $80 million, and its leading games are Blitz: Rise of Heroes, Hidden Hotel: Miami Mystery, and Family Zoo, a game developed by Whaleapp and sold to Plarium.

About the impact of the war, layoffs, and the use of AI

Whaleapp faced a difficult period when the war broke out in Ukraine, where most of the company’s employees were based.

“The company employs 200 people, with the headquarters and a few development staff in our home country. Most of our employees used to be in Ukraine, and now they are spread worldwide. When the war erupted, it was a distressing time. We were deeply concerned about the well-being of our employees in Kyiv and surrounding cities. Fortunately, everyone was safe. Our priority was ensuring their welfare. Initially, it was difficult as our dedicated employees worked even amid missile attacks,” Turpiashvili said.

Like many tech and gaming companies, Whaleapp has embraced the AI revolution and started using it to improve efficiency.

“In 2021, despite the economic challenges, we managed to retain our workforce due to easy access to funding. However, in 2023, we faced increased costs and difficulties in raising funds. As a result, we have reduced expenses for long-term investments, downsizing the workforce and focusing primarily on our core projects. Additionally, the efficiency of our systems has been enhanced through the use of AI,” the founder added.