The online gaming startup WinZO announced its third round of employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) liquidation, providing an opportunity for eligible team members to partially liquidate their vested ESOPs. The startup executed its first and second ESOP liquidation programs for its current and former teams in 2021, amidst the tumultuous times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through this recent ESOP liquidation exercise, the company aims to recognise and reward the efforts of its team members. The liquidation exercise is available for everyone who has served a minimum of two years with the company, encompassing approximately 25 per cent of its current workforce, including all the early team members.
The announcement of ESOP liquidation comes amid tough market conditions and funding winters. WinZO has successfully carried out this ESOP liquidation exercise using the company’s existing cash reserves, without relying on any new external funding sources. In 2021, the company provided Hike, one of its early investors, with a complete exit, resulting in a four-fold return on their investment within two years. The company attributes this to its commitment to build a sustainable business model with positive unit economics as its guiding principle.
WinZO has accomplished three rounds of ESOP liquidation in less than five years since its establishment. Founded in 2018, the company has been experiencing exponential growth. With one of the leanest teams in the country, it has created a product with a user base of over 130 million registered users and facilitates more than four billion monthly micro transactions.
WinZO co-founders Paavan Nanda and Saumya Singh Rathore in a joint statement said, “Over the last 12 months, our business has grown at a velocity that has helped us cross an inflexion point to build a truly remarkable enterprise in the field of gaming and entertainment. As any pure technology company should be, we consider our team and our people the biggest asset of WinZO. In light of the past and what the future holds, we have conducted our third ESOP liquidation event as an expression to share the value that the team has built so far and buckle up to go for much bigger goals. Achieving this feat, especially, in such a macroeconomic environment where the startup ecosystem is experiencing a “funding winter” with lofty valuations being reset, is a testimony of our strong business fundamentals and disciplined approach towards venture building. It’s also reflective of the massive potential we are going to unlock over coming years to emerge as one of the most remarkable consumer tech companies in the world.”
The company encompasses recognition, education, career opportunities, mental health support and more. The company has been recognised with a Great Place to Work certification in 2022. Alongside competitive compensation packages on a global scale, it offers a lucrative Scholarship Policy that empowers its team to pursue fully funded higher education at prestigious universities worldwide. It has proactively reached out to companies that were facing economic constraints and considering downsizing their teams. The company has established an internal task force dedicated to connecting with the human resources teams of affected companies and facilitating placements within WinZO. WinZO’s focus on the mental well-being of its team members is also evident through its partnership with Amaha, a renowned mental health consultation platform.
WinZO has secured a cumulative funding of US $100 million through multiple funding rounds, with investments from various notable entities including Griffin Gaming Partners based in California, gaming funds like Maker’s Fund and Courtside Ventures, and India-based VC Kalaari Capital. The Indian gaming industry presents a significant opportunity, estimated at $10 billion, over the next five years.