D2C specs purveyor Warby Parker files to go public

Did you miss IPOs? I sure did. They could be coming back after a summer lull.

Warby Parker, a D2C glasses company backed by over a half-billion dollars of private capital, filed to go public yesterday. For investors like General Catalyst, Tiger Global and Durable Capital Partners, it’s an important debut. Having taken on equity capital since at least 2011, investors have been waiting a long time for Warby to float.


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And there’s quite a lot to like about the company, the first parse of its IPO filing reveals. There are some less attractive elements to its business worth discussing, and we need to examine how COVID-19 impacted the company’s 2020 performance.

Warby last raised known private capital in August 2020, a $120 million Series G that valued the company at just over $3 billion on a post-money basis. D1 Capital Partners led that transaction, which included both Durable Capital and Baillie Gifford.

For D2C startups, the Warby IPO is something of a do-over. The Casper IPO from early 2020 is now a cautionary tale for companies employing the business model; the company reduced its IPO range, priced at $12 per share and today trades for just over $5.

But there’s more to Warby Parker’s IPO than just the D2C category. It’s a public benefit corporation, which it says in its filing means that it is “focused on positively impacting all stakeholders” as opposed to merely shareholders. And the company has a charitable bent to its efforts through a foundation and donation model of giving away eyewear when customers purchase their own set. Warby also has a hybrid sales model, leaning on both IRL and digital retail channels. There’s lots to dig into.

So let’s parse Warby’s growth history, its profitability progress over time and how the company is blending IRL shopping with digital channels. We’ll close by examining just how the company was priced last year, taking a guess at what it might be worth in today’s public markets.

Inside Warby Parker’s historical growth

Looking at Warby’s full-year results for 2020 is not inspiring. The company grew well from 2018 to 2019, expanding from $272.9 million in revenue to $370.5 million in revenue, or around 36%. That’s not an astounding pace of growth, but it’s more than respectable for a company of Warby’s age and size.

Then in 2020 the company only managed to eke out 6% growth to $393.7 million in top line. What happened to slow the company’s growth rate from Just Fine to Not Fine At All? COVID, it appears.

#baillie-gifford, #d1-capital-partners, #durable-capital-partners, #eyewear, #fundings-exits, #general-catalyst, #ipo, #luxottica, #retail, #startups, #tc, #the-exchange, #tiger-global, #warby-parker

Anduril raises $450M as the defense tech company’s valuation soars to $4.6B

The AI-powered defense company founded by tech iconoclast Palmer Luckey has landed a $450 million round of investment that values the startup at $4.6 billion just four years in.

In April, reports suggested that the company was on the hunt for fresh investment and headed for a valuation between four and five billion, up from $1.9 billion in July 2020.

The new Series D round was led by angel investor and serial entrepreneur Elad Gil, a former Twitter VP and Googler with a track record of investments in companies with exponential growth. Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, 8VC, General Catalyst, Lux Capital, Valor Equity Partners and D1 Capital Partners also participated in the round.

“Just as old incumbent institutions with little to no organizational renewal impacted our ability to respond to COVID, the defense industry has undergone significant consolidation over the last 30 years,” Gil wrote in a blog post on the investment. “There has not been a new defense technology company of any scale to directly challenge these incumbents in many decades…”

Anduril launched quietly in 2017 but grew quickly, picking up contracts with Customs and Border Protection and the Marine Corps during the Trump administration. Luckey, the young high-flying founder who sold Oculus to Facebook before being booted from the company, emerged as one of President Trump’s most prominent boosters in the generally Trump-averse tech industry.

The company makes defense hardware, including long-flying drones and surveillance towers that connect to a shared software platform it calls Lattice. The technology can be used to secure military bases, monitor borders and even knock enemy drones out of the sky, in the case of Anduril’s counter-UAS tech known as “Anvil.”

Anduril co-founder and CEO Brian Schimpf describes the company’s mission as one of “transformation,” pairing relatively affordable hardware with sensor fusion and machine learning technologies through a contract partner more nimble than established giants in the defense sector.

“This new round of funding reflects our confidence that the Department of Defense sees the same problems we do, and is serious about deploying emerging technologies at scale across land, sea, air, and space domains,” Schimpf said.

The company set its sights on work with the Department of Defense from its earliest days and last year was one of 50 vendors tapped by the DoD to test tech for the Air Force’s own piece of the Joint All-Domain Command & Control (JADC2) project, which seeks to build a smart warfare platform to connect all service members, devices and vehicles that power the U.S. military.

The company’s work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection also matured from a pilot into a program of record last year. Anduril supplies the agency with connected surveillance towers capable of autonomously monitoring stretches of the U.S. border.

In April, Anduril acquired Area-I, a company known for small drones that can be launched from a larger aircraft. Area-I counted the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and NASA among its customers, relationships that likely sweetened the deal.

#air-force, #andreessen-horowitz, #anduril, #artificial-intelligence, #brian-schimpf, #d1-capital-partners, #department-of-defense, #elad-gil, #founders-fund, #general-catalyst, #government, #lattice, #lux-capital, #palmer-luckey, #science-and-technology, #tc, #technology, #trump-administration, #valor-equity-partners, #vp

Brazil’s Loft adds $100M to its accounts, $700M to its valuation in a single month

Nearly exactly one month ago, digital real estate platform Loft announced it had closed on $425 million in Series D funding led by New York-based D1 Capital Partners. The round included participation from a mix of new and existing investors such as DST, Tiger Global, Andreessen Horowitz, Fifth Wall and QED, among many others.

At the time, Loft was valued at $2.2 billion, a huge jump from its being just near unicorn territory in January 2020. The round marked one of the largest ever for a Brazilian startup.

Now, today, São Paulo-based Loft has announced an extension to that round with the closing of $100 million in additional funding that values the company at $2.9 billion. This means that the 3-year-old startup has increased its valuation by $700 million in a matter of weeks.

Baillie Gifford led the Series D-2 round, which also included participation from Tarsadia, Flight Deck, Caffeinated and others. Individuals also put money in the extension, including the founders of Better (Zach Frenkel), GoPuff, Instacart, Kavak and Sweetgreen.

Loft has seen great success in its efforts to serve as a “one-stop shop” for Brazilians to help them manage the home buying and selling process. 

Image courtesy of Loft

In 2020, Loft saw the number of listings on its site increase “10 to 15 times,” according to co-founder and co-CEO Mate Pencz. Today, the company actively maintains more than 13,000 property listings in approximately 130 regions across São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, partnering with more than 30,000 brokers. Not only are more people open to transacting digitally, more people are looking to buy versus rent in the country.

“We did more than 6x YoY growth with many thousands of transactions over the course of 2020,” Pencz told TechCrunch at the time of the company’s last raise. “We’re now growing into the many tens of thousands, and soon hundreds of thousands, of active listings.”

The decision to raise more capital so soon was due to a variety of factors. For one, Loft has received “overwhelming investor interest” even after “a very, very oversubscribed main round,” Pencz said.

“We have seen a continued acceleration in our market share growth, especially in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the two markets we currently operate in,” he added. “We saw an opportunity to grow even faster with additional capital.”

Pencz also pointed out that Baillie Gifford has relatively large minimum check size requirements, which led to the extension being conducted at a higher price and increased the total round size “by quite a bit to be able to accommodate them.”

While the company was less forthcoming about its financials as of late, it told me last year that it had notched “over $150 million in annualized revenues in its first full year of operation” via more than 1,000 transactions.

The company’s revenues and GMV (gross merchandise value) “increased significantly” in 2020, according to Pencz, who declined to provide more specifics. He did say those figures are “multiples higher from where they were,” and that Loft has “a very clear horizon to profitability.”

Pencz and Florian Hagenbuch founded Loft in early 2018 and today serve as its co-CEOs. The aim of the platform, in the company’s words, is “bringing Latin American real estate into the e-commerce age by developing online alternatives to analogue legacy processes and leveraging data to create transparency in highly opaque markets.” The U.S. real estate tech company with the closest model to Loft’s is probably Zillow, according to Pencz.

In the United States, prospective buyers and sellers have the benefit of MLSs, which in the words of the National Association of Realtors, are private databases that are created, maintained and paid for by real estate professionals to help their clients buy and sell property. Loft itself spent years and many dollars in creating its own such databases for the Brazilian market. Besides helping people buy and sell homes, it offers services around insurance, renovations and rentals.

In 2020, Loft also entered the mortgage business by acquiring one of the largest mortgage brokerage businesses in Brazil. The startup now ranks among the top-three mortgage originators in the country, according to Pencz. When it comes to helping people apply for mortgages, he likened Loft to U.S.-based Better.com.

This latest financing brings Loft’s total funding raised to an impressive $800 million. Other backers include Brazil’s Canary and a group of high-profile angel investors such as Max Levchin of Affirm and PayPal, Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger and David Vélez, CEO and founder of Brazilian fintech Nubank. In addition, Loft has also raised more than $100 million in debt financing through a series of publicly listed real estate funds.

Loft plans to use its new capital in part to expand across Brazil and eventually in Latin America and beyond. The company is also planning to explore more M&A opportunities.

This article was updated post-publication to reflect accurate investor information

#andreessen-horowitz, #baillie-gifford, #better-mortgage, #better-com, #brazil, #co-founder, #d1-capital-partners, #david-velez, #dst, #finance, #financial-services, #funding, #fundings-exits, #instacart, #instagram, #joe-lonsdale, #latin-america, #loft, #max-levchin, #mike-krieger, #money, #new-york, #nubank, #palantir, #paypal, #proptech, #real-estate, #real-estate-tech, #recent-funding, #sao-paulo, #startup, #startups, #tc, #tiger-global, #united-states, #venture-capital, #zillow

Alphabet’s CapitalG leads $40 million round in fintech Mantl

Community banks and credit unions aim to be the heart of the, well, communities, they serve. But without the big budgets of larger institutions, keeping up technology-wise can be a challenge. And not only are they competing with legacy players, there is also a slew of digital banks that have emerged in recent years, as well.

Enter Mantl, a startup that has developed technology to make it easier for people to open accounts digitally at community banks and credit unions so that those institutions can increase deposits and ultimately, profits. Founded in 2016, New York-based Mantl has been described by some as “the Shopify of account opening.” 

Community banks and credit unions make up a big percentage of all banking institutions, which means Mantl’s market opportunity is pretty darn large. The fintech’s revenue increased by 213% in 2020 as financial institutions clamored to meet increased demand for digital offerings from consumers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

And today, the company is announcing it has raised $40 million in a Series B round of funding led by Alphabet’s independent growth fund, CapitalG, to help it grow even more. The financing brings Mantl’s total funding raised since inception to $60.7 million and included participation from D1 Capital Partners, BoxGroup and existing backers Point72 Ventures, Clocktower Technology Ventures and OldSlip Group. The company raised $19 million last July after growing deposit volume by 705% in April of that year.

The startup declined to reveal hard revenue figures.

Mantl originally set out to build its own challenger bank, but in doing so realized there are 10,000 banks and credit unions in the U.S., and that 96% of them outsourced their technology to third-party legacy vendors such as Fiserv and Jack Henry, many of which have technology that is in some cases “decades old,” according to Nathaniel Harley, co-founder and CEO at Mantl.

Such outdated technology has kept many financial institutions such as community banks and credit unions from competing online, and also limits the digital banking options available to consumers, the company said.

So the company pivoted, based on the premise that most community banks and credit unions are critical to maintaining competition and equity in the United States’ financial system. 

“At a high level, Mantl is an enterprise software company that is really focused on helping traditional financial institutions modernize and grow,” Harley told TechCrunch. “Our mission at the end of the day is to really expand the access to financial services by taking on the legacy infrastructure, which has really hindered access to digital banking.”

The company claims that its white-labeled account opening software allows banks and customers “to open an account from anywhere at any time, on any device in less than three minutes.” 

Through its flagship account opening software, Mantl claims to have helped community institutions — many of which are competing online for the first time — establish efficient and profitable digital operations. Among the community banks it works with are Cross River Bank, Quontic and Midwest BankCentre

“Banks are naturally very risk averse, and we need to build in order to fully take on that full infrastructure that they’re working in,” Harley said. “Account opening is low risk, but it’s also extremely high value considering that less than 50% of banks actually have online account opening today.”

Mantl integrates directly into the legacy infrastructure, also known as a core banking system, in order to enhance that system and help institutions launch digital products quickly. 

The company says its software also automates application decisioning for over 90% of cases while also reducing fraud by more than 60%. This results in deposit growth that’s “typically 4x faster than other solutions on the market and up to 10x more cost-effective than building a new branch,” the company said. 

Combined, the institutions it works with have onboarded hundreds of thousands of new customers and raised billions of dollars in core deposits, the company claims. 

“We’re challenging the legacy infrastructure that is holding community institutions back,” Harley said,” and we see account opening as just the beginning.”

The startup plans to use its new capital to do some hiring and expand its product offerings, including software that it says would be able to improve and digitize the onboarding experience for not just financial institutions but businesses of all sizes, from sole proprietors to complex commercial enterprises.

CapitalG partner Jesse Wedler shares Mantl’s belief that banks form the backbone of this nation’s economy, both on a local and national level. 

While digitization has long been a priority for banks, it has become an urgent imperative as branches close and digital disruptors grow,” he said.

As CapitalG reviewed the landscape of companies helping banks with digital transformation, Mantl stood out, Wedler said, due to its “user experience, resulting deposit growth and time-to-value for banks of all sizes.”

But what has his firm most excited, he added, is the team’s vision for “transforming adjacent core banking applications.”

Since its founding in 2013, CapitalG has invested in a number of fintechs, including MX, Stripe, Robinhood, Credit Karma, Albert, Aye Finance and LendingClub. 

#alphabet, #aye-finance, #bank, #banking, #capitalg, #cross-river-bank, #d1-capital-partners, #digital-banking, #enterprise-software, #finance, #financial-services, #fintech, #mantl, #new-york, #point72-ventures, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc

Mexican unicorn Kavak raises a $485M Series D at a $4B valuation.

Kavak, the Mexican startup that’s disrupted the used car market in Mexico and Argentina, today announced its Series D of $485 million, which now values the company at $4 billion. This round more than triples their previous valuation of $1.15 billion, which established them as a unicorn just a couple of months ago in October of 2020. Kavak is now one of the top five highest-valued startups in Latin America.

The round was led by D1 Capital Partners, Founders Fund, Ribbit, and BOND, and brings Kavak’s total capital raised to date to more than $900 million. Kavak recently soft-launched in Brazil, and this new round of funding will be used to build out the Brazilian market and beyond, said Carlos García Ottati, Kavak’s CEO and Co-Founder. The company plans to do a full launch in Brazil in the next 60 days, García said, and we can expect to see Kavak in markets outside Latin America in the next 24 months, he added.

“We were built to solve emerging market problems,” García said.

Kavak, which was founded in 2016, is an online marketplace that aims to bring transparency, security, and access to financing to the used car market. The company also offers its own financing through its fintech arm, Kavak Capital, and counts more than 2,500 employees and 20 logistics and reconditioning hubs in Mexico and Argentina.

“In Latin America, 90% of the [used car] transactions are informal, which leads to a 40% fraud rate,” said García, who experienced these challenges first-hand when he moved to Mexico from Colombia a couple of years ago and bought a used car. 

“My budget allowed me to buy a used car, but there was no infrastructure around it. It took me 6 months to buy the car, and then the car had legal and mechanical issues and I lost most of my money,” he said. Kavak buys cars from individuals, refurbishes them, and offers warranties to buyers.

“Instead of buying a new car, they can buy a better car that still has all the warranties. It’s a really aspirational process,” said García. The company, which really amounts to four companies in one given its areas of focus, was built to be comprehensive by design in order to meet the various gaps in the market, García said.

“When you’re building a business here [Latin America], you need to build several businesses because so many things are broken,” he said. That’s why the financing option, for example, has been a key to their success, according to García.

Financing has traditionally been hard to come by in Brazil, and as García said, the used car market lacks infrastructure there, too. That being said, Brazil is Latin America’s fintech hub, and the space has been made leaps and bounds over the last 7-10 years with companies such as Nubank, PagSeguro, Creditas, PicPay, and others leading the way. As a result, credit cards and loans are more widely available today in the region, offering competition for Kavak Capital. While Kavak has localized some of its product for the Brazilian market — namely building out a Portuguese language version of the app and website — García said the markets are very similar.

“In Brazil, you still have the same problems that you have in Mexico, but Brazil is a little more developed, especially in fintech, which is light years ahead of Mexico,” he said.

With the Brazilian product heading to the races, García said they already have plans for other regions, though he declined to name them.

“80% of people in emerging markets don’t have access to a car,” García said of the global market size. “We want to go into big markets where customers are facing similar problems and where Kavak can really change their lives,” he added.

#apps, #argentina, #articles, #automotive, #brazil, #colombia, #creditas, #d1-capital-partners, #ecommerce, #finance, #financial-technology, #financing, #founders-fund, #funding, #latin-america, #logistics, #mexico, #nubank, #online-lending, #online-marketplace, #pagseguro, #recent-funding, #series-d, #startups, #transportation, #unicorn, #used-cars

Uruguayan payments startup dLocal quadruples valuation to $5B with $150M raise

Cross-border payments startup dLocal has raised $150 million at a $5 billion valuation, less than seven months after securing $200 million at a $1.2 billion valuation.

This means that the five-year-old Uruguayan company has effectively quadrupled its valuation in a matter of months.

Alkeon Capital led the latest round, which also included participation from BOND, D1 Capital Partners, and Tiger Global. General Atlantic led its previous round, which closed last September and made dLocal Uruguay’s first unicorn and one of Latin American’s highest-valued startups.

DLocal connects global enterprise merchants with “billions” of emerging market consumers in 29 countries across Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. More than 325 global merchants, including e-commerce retailers, SaaS companies, online travel providers and marketplaces use dLocal to accept over 600 local payment methods. They also use its platform to issue payments to their contractors, agents, and sellers. Some of dLocal’s customers include Amazon, Booking.com, Dropbox, GoDaddy, MailChimp, Microsoft, Spotify, TripAdvisor, Uber and Zara. 

In conjunction with this latest round, dLocal has named Sumita Pandit to the role of COO. Pandit is former global head of fintech and managing director for JP Morgan, who also had experience at Goldman Sachs.

“Sumita is a highly respected and accomplished fintech investment banker, and she’s played a pivotal role advising some of the world’s most successful fintech companies as they’ve scaled to become global leaders,”  said dLocal CEO Sebastián Kanovich in a written statement.

Meanwhile, former COO Jacobo Singer has been promoted to president of dLocal.

The company plans to use its new capital to enhance its technology and continue to expand geographically.

Alkeon General Partner Deepak Ravichandran believes that emerging markets represent some of the fastest growth opportunities in digital payments.

“However, as global merchants look to access these markets, they are often faced with a complex web of local payment methods, cross-border regulations, and other operational roadblocks,” he said in a written statement. “dLocal’s unique platform empowers merchants with a single integrated payment solution, to reach billions of customers, accept payments, send payouts, and settle funds globally.”

#alkeon-capital, #bond, #cross-border-payments, #d1-capital-partners, #dlocal, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #latin-america, #payments, #recent-funding, #startups, #tiger-global, #uruguay, #venture-capital

Indian fantasy sports app Dream11’s parent firm raises $400 million

Dream Sports, the parent firm of fantasy sports app Dream11, has secured $400 million in a new financing round as the Mumbai-headquartered firm builds what it calls an “end-to-end sports tech company” in the cricket-loving nation, which is also the world’s second largest internet market.

The secondary fundraise was led by TCV, D1 Capital Partners and Falcon Edge. The new round valued the startup at nearly $5 billion, up from about $2.5 billion in a mix of primary and secondary September round last year.

Existing investors including Tiger Global, ChrysCapital, TPG Growth, Steadview Capital and Footpath Ventures also participated in the round, which brings Dream Sports’ total to-date raise to over $720 million. Avendus Capital was the financial advisor to Dream Sports on the transaction.

Dream11 has cashed in on the popularity of cricket — a game that has attracted serious attention from several major firms, including Disney and Facebook. Dream11 explores the fantasy part of it, allowing gamers to create virtual teams comprising real-life players and lets them organize matches based on statistical performances of those players in real games. The platform offers fantasy cricket, football, kabaddi and basketball. Users win cash prizes depending on how their selected team performs.

“This is a huge vote of confidence to the Indian startup ecosystem. We have created the Fantasy Sports category in India to drive digital engagement to real-life sporting events and bring fans closer to the sport they love. We are proud to continually contribute to the overall expansion of the Indian sports ecosystem. Our growth trajectory is also a testimony to the honourable Prime Minister’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat and Digital India,” said Harsh Jain, co-founder and chief executive of Dream Sports, in a statement.

The startup, whose Android app is not on the Play Store, said it has over 100 million users. Dream11 was the title sponsor for last year’s cricket tournament IPL after bidding $30 million for the spot.

“India is home to the world’s largest and most energetic sports fan base with a dynamic mix that is unique to the subcontinent. Dream Sports is serving this community with a highly innovative product offering,” said Gopi Vaddi, General Partner at TCV, in a statement. TCV has also backed Netflix, Airbnb, Sportradar and Peloton.

Dream11 isn’t the only firm building a niche in the fantasy sports space in India. Sequoia Capital India and Times Internet-backed Mobile Premier League is also a major player, which has expanded to traditional mobile games in recent months. Twitter-backed ShareChat also quietly began experimenting with fantasy sports last year.

But fantasy sports is still facing some regulatory hurdles in parts of India. Several Indian states, including Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Telangana, have banned fantasy sports betting.

“It doesn’t help matters either that the fantasy sports business’ attempts at legitimacy involve trying to be seen as video games — a cursory glance at a speakers’ panel for any Indian video game developer event is evidence of this — rather than riding on its own merits,” said Rishi Alwani, a long-time analyst of Indian gaming market and editor of IGN India, in an earlier interview with TechCrunch.

#asia, #d1-capital-partners, #dream-sports, #dream11, #falcon-edge, #funding, #tcv

‘Instant needs’ delivery startup goPuff raises $1.15B at an $8.9B valuation

Last fall, delivery startup goPuff made a big splash by raising $380 million in funding and acquiring West Coast beverage retailer BevMo shortly afterwards. Just a few months later, the Philadelphia-based company is announcing that it has raised another $1.15 billion in funding at an $8.9 billion valuation (compared to $3.9 billion in October).

Available in more than 650 U.S. cities, goPuff delivers a wide variety of products in under 30 minutes while charging a flat $1.95 delivery fee. Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola, who serve as co-CEOs, founded the company in 2013 while they were students at Drexel University. When I first spoke to Gola last fall, he told me that the pair thought, “There has to be a better way to get convenience products delivered.”

The company now says its vertically integrated approach is a key advantage. GoPuff buys products directly from manufacturers, then distributes those products through its 250-plus “micro-fulfillment centers” and a network of independent drivers. Ilishayev said this results in rapid deliveries, strong unit economics, and a model that passes delivery fees directly to drivers.

“It’s important that we’re making our margin on product, not people,” he said.

The company continues to expand its product lineup new Better For You (healthy snacks), Beauty and Baby categories, as well as Curated Mystery Boxes. When I asked how new products fit into the larger goPuff brand and strategy, Ilishayev replied, “People, throughout our whole existence, have tried to put us into an industry: ‘Are you convenience? Are you pharmacy?’ The reality is that we’re neither. We’re in this category of instant needs, and our production innovation solely stems from consumer demand … There’s no category we offer on goPuff that consumers weren’t crying out for.”

GoPuff says that the new funding will allow it to continue expanding throughout the United States, as well as internationally, and to introduce new products. The round comes from D1 Capital Partners, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Baillie Gifford, Eldridge, Reinvent Capital, Luxor Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund 1.

In a statement, D1 founder and Chief Investment Officer Daniel Sundheim said:

goPuff is truly in a league of its own. We believe that the company’s vision and differentiated model drive industry-leading economics and sustainable growth. Since we initially invested in goPuff last fall, we have been consistently impressed by the team’s ability to successfully execute against its growth plans. The company’s potential is tremendous, and we look forward to the unique opportunities that lie ahead.

#d1-capital-partners, #ecommerce, #funding, #fundings-exits, #gopuff, #startups

Real estate platform Loft raises $425M at a $2.2B valuation in one of Brazil’s largest venture rounds

Buying and selling residential real estate is a complex business, no matter where you live. A slew of startups in the United States are focused on streamlining that process for people. But in Brazil, where no MLS exists, the challenge of digitizing real estate is even greater.

One startup that has set out to serve as a “one-stop shop” for Brazilians to help them manage the home buying and selling process has managed to attract one of the largest — if not the largest — funding rounds ever raised by a Brazilian startup.

This morning, digital real estate platform Loft announced it has closed on $425 million in Series D funding led by New York-based D1 Capital Partners. A mix of new and existing investors also participated in the round, including Advent, Altimeter, DST, Silver Lake, Soros, Tarsadia, Tiger Global, Andreessen Horowitz, Caffeinated, Fifth Wall, Monashees, QED and Vulcan, among others.

The round values Loft at $2.2 billion, a huge jump from its being just near unicorn territory in January 2020, when it raised a $175 million Series C.

A round of this size is impressive for any startup, but especially for one that was founded just over three years ago in Latin America. The region has seen explosive growth as of late, with a maturing startup scene in Brazil in particular. São Paulo-based Loft too has seen major growth. While the company was less forthcoming about its financials as of late, it told me last year that it had notched “over $150 million in annualized revenues in its first full year of operation” via more than 1,000 transactions.

In 2020, Loft saw the number of listings on its site increase “10 to 15 times,” according to co-founder and co-CEO Mate Pencz. Today, the company actively maintains more than 13,000 property listings in approximately 130 regions across São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, partnering with more than 30,000 brokers. Not only are more people open to transacting digitally, more people are looking to buy versus rent in the country.

“We did more than 6x YoY growth with many thousands of transactions over the course of 2020,” Pencz told TechCrunch. “We’re now growing into the many tens of thousands, and soon hundreds of thousands, of active listings.”

The company’s revenues and GMV (gross merchandise value) also “increased significantly” in 2020, according to Pencz, who declined to provide more specifics. He did say those figures are “multiples higher from where they were,” and that Loft has “a very clear horizon to profitability.”

“Loft has adapted really fast to the new reality we’re living in, with COVID having only propelled or accelerated our growth,” Pencz said.

Pencz and Florian Hagenbuch founded Loft in early 2018 and today serve as its co-CEOs. The aim of the platform, in the company’s words, is “bringing Latin American real estate into the e-commerce age by developing online alternatives to analogue legacy processes and leveraging data to create transparency in highly opaque markets.” The U.S. real estate tech company with the closest model to Loft’s is probably Zillow, according to Pencz.

In the United States, prospective buyers and sellers have the benefit of MLSs, which in the words of the National Association of Realtors, are private databases that are created, maintained and paid for by real estate professionals to help their clients buy and sell property. Loft itself spent years and many dollars in creating its own such databases for the Brazilian market. Besides helping people buy and sell homes, it offers services around insurance, renovations and rentals.

In 2020, Loft also entered the mortgage business by acquiring one of the largest mortgage brokerage businesses in Brazil. The startup now ranks among the top-three mortgage originators in the country, according to Pencz. When it comes to helping people apply for mortgages, he likened Loft to U.S.-based Better.com.

The startup has also grown its number of employees in the past year, growing from 450 last January to 700 today. In particular, it’s significantly beefed up its tech team, according to Pencz.

Image courtesy of Loft

Notably, at the time of its series C, the investment marked the first and only investment in Latin America for Vulcan Capital (the investment arm of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen) and the first and only Brazilian investment for Andreessen Horowitz.

This latest financing brings Loft’s total funding raised to an impressive $700 million. Other backers include Brazil’s Canary and a group of high-profile angel investors such as Max Levchin of Affirm and PayPal, Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger and David Vélez, CEO and founder of Brazilian fintech Nubank. In addition, Loft has also raised more than $100 million in debt financing through a series of publicly listed real estate funds.

Loft plans to use its new capital in part to expand across Brazil and eventually in Latin America and beyond. The company is also planning to explore more M&A opportunities.

“We’re now going into this year extremely well-capitalized and I think that in addition to doubling down on the core business, there might be strategic acquisitions also on the horizon,” Pencz told TechCrunch. “We also plan to make Loft as much of a regional and potentially global business, following in the footsteps of some of the other Brazilian companies who recently have been expanding globally.”

Dan Sundheim, founder of D1 Capital, said that part of his firm’s approach as investors is identifying opportunities “at the confluence of structural shifts, secular trends and world-class management teams.”

“Analyzing Loft, we were particularly impressed by the team’s focus and relentless execution, which has allowed them to build scale as well as deep data and technology moats in a short amount of time,” he said in a written statement.

#brazil, #d1-capital-partners, #funding, #fundings-exits, #loft, #real-estate, #recent-funding, #startups, #venture-capital

Instacart raises $265M at a $39B valuation

On-demand grocery delivery platform Instacart has raises a $265 million funding ground from existing investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, D1 Capital Partners and others. The new funding, which, like its past few rounds, isn’t assigned a Series alphabetical designation, pushes the company’s valuation to $39 billion – more than double its $17.7 billion valuation when it raised is last financing, a $200 million venture round in October 2020.

What’s behind the massive increase in the value investors are willing to ascribe to the business? Put simply, the pandemic. Last year, Instacart announced three separate raises, including a $225 round in June, followed by a $100 million round in July. The rapid sequence of venture capital injections were likely designed to fuel growth as demand for grocery delivery services surged while people attempted to quarantine or generally spend less time frequenting high-traffic social environments like grocery stores.

In a blog post announcing the news, Instacart doesn’t put specifics on the growth rates of usage over the course of 2020, but it does express its intent to grow headcount by 50% in 2021, and continue to scale and invest in its advertising, marketing and enterprise efforts specifically in a quote.

On the product side, Instacart broadened its offerings from groceries to also include same-day delivery of a wide range of products, including prescription medicine, electronics, home decor, sport and exercise equipment and more. It’s capitalizing on the phenomenon of increased consumer spending during the pandemic, which is a reverse from what many anticipated given the impact the ongoing crisis has had on employment.

Instacart Chief Financial Officer Nick Giovanni said in a quote that the company expects this to be “a new normal” for shopping habits, and the size and pace of the company’s recent funding, as well as its ballooning valuation, seem to suggest its investors also don’t think this is a trend that will revert post-pandemic.

#andreessen-horowitz, #chief-financial-officer, #d1-capital-partners, #electronics, #finance, #funding, #fundraising, #instacart, #investment, #money, #private-equity, #recent-funding, #sequoia-capital, #startups, #tc, #valuation, #venture-capital

Bolt raises $182M to expand its on-demand transportation network in Europe and Africa

In the midst of a major second wave of coronavirus infections across Europe, an Estonian startup that’s building an on-demand network to move food and people around in cars, on scooters and on bikes across developed and emerging markets in EMEA is announcing a major round of funding.

Bolt, which covers 200 cities in 40 countries with its delivery and transportation services, has raised €150 million ($182 million at current rates) in an equity round that CEO and co-founder Markus Villig said in an interview will be used to double down on geographic expansion and to help it become the biggest provider of electric scooters in Europe.

Bolt currently has some 50 million customers using its services, and Villig has built the business around two main areas to differentiate it from the Ubers of the world: strong capital efficiency (or “frugality” as he describes it) and putting a heavy emphasis on services for emerging markets, alongside launches in cities like London and Paris and, soon, Berlin.

“This round was the first time we raised with most of the previous round still in the bank, despite the pressures of Covid” he said. “This shows the frugality of the company. Due to lockdowns, we were not as aggressive as we would have liked to be, so financially we are now in a very good position for 2021.”

The round is being led by D1 Capital Partners with participation also from Darsana Capital Partners. D1 has this year been a huge player in growth rounds for some of the very biggest startups: it has made investments in eyewear giant Warby Parker, gaming engine maker Unity, car sales portal Cazoo, and fintech TransferWise, collectively with valuations into the multiple billions of dollars.

On that note, Villig wouldn’t disclose what Bolt’s valuation is but said that it was closer to the multiples of 1.5x on GMV, a la the recently listed DoorDash, than it is closer to “others” in the transport space that are seeing valuations closer to 0.5x.

He also confirmed to me that Bolt is doing about €2 billion in GMV currently annually, which would give it a valuation, by his hinted calculations of €3.5 billion ($4.3 billion). No comment from Villig on my number crunching, but he also didn’t dispute it.

For some context, in May of this year Bolt was valued at $1.9 billion after raising just over $100 million. At the time, it said it had 30 million users, so it’s added 20 million in about six months.

The company’s rise has been an interesting counterpoint to the likes of Uber, which built its business with early, aggressive — and as it turned out, very costly — growth into multiple markets and product areas, a number of which it has more recently been divesting (see also here, here and here for other examples).

Founded originally as Taxify and slowly growing the business just around ride-hailing for a number of years in less-scrutinized emerging markets, the company rebranded in 2019 as it kicked its strategy into a higher gear, with launches in cities like London and a move into micromobility, primarily around electric scooters. Its current list of biggest markets reflects that mix: Villig said they were the UK, France, South Africa and Nigeria.

Not all of that has been smooth, with too-aggressive moves, such as a failed initial launch in London — scuppered when regulators quickly responded to its attempt at exploiting a loophole to get a license — quickly burning the company (and possibly teaching Villig a lesson he’s tried to remember going forward).

Even with the shift, Villig said that his aim is to keep the company operating on the same frugal ethos when it comes to considering new investments and how to grow. He noted that in this year that has seen so many job losses, in particular in businesses that have seen massive drops in uses, Bolt has not laid off anyone.

It’s interesting, indeed, to see how and which companies choose to “zig” while others “zag” at the moment. The food delivery business is a case in point. We are seeing a number of consolidations underway, with Uber acquiring Postmates, and Just Eat Takeaway (itself a big merger) acquiring Grubhub. Alongside that there have also been a number of closures of smaller players that found it too costly to try to scale.

“What most people have not realized is that the food part is what we are most optimistic about,” Villig said. “Currently we are adding restaurants by the day. There are cost synergies on a lot of fronts, including the supply side, where drivers can serve passengers and food. But also today we have had to decline some drivers for car-based services because they don’t have the right licenses, but now we can offer them to carry goods on bikes, which doesn’t require that license at all. We can offer something to drivers that we weren’t able to do. And what that means is no need to spend money on finding drivers.”

He said Bolt was “lucky” to get into food, even as late as 2019 since restaurants that were already interested were augmented by a new wave of them in the wake of the health pandemic and forced closures and reduced diners overall in venues. “They were all keen to get additional income and were eager to try out new platforms,” he said.

That willingness to find the way ahead even in what looks like a murky or hard market is what has brought investors around this time. Villig said they were already talking to a lot of them, and so it made sense to close the round to prepare for 2021.

“We are excited to partner with Bolt as they continue to build a market-leading mobility platform across Europe and Africa,” said Dan Sundheim, founder of D1 Capital, in a statement. “The team has executed incredibly well during a challenging year and continues to provide millions of users with safety, flexibility and great value. We are optimistic about the growth opportunity ahead for Bolt after the COVID-19 pandemic and look forward to supporting the team as they invest in innovation over the coming years.”

#bolt, #d1-capital-partners, #europe, #food, #funding, #on-demand, #tc, #transportation

Delivery startup goPuff raises $380M at a $3.9B valuation

GoPuff is a Philadelphia-headquartered startup that delivers products like over-the-counter medicine, baby food and alcohol (basically, the stuff you’d buy at a convenience store) in 30 minutes or less.

Yakir Gola, who serves as co-CEO with his co-founder Rafael Ilishayev, told me that their goal is to create “the go-to platform for over-the-counter medicine or household products or baby food or ice cream or even alcohol — goPuff will deliver all these products in under 30 minutes, 24/7.”

While the startup has kept a relatively low profile in the media, it’s already available in more than 500 U.S. cities (recent launches include Dallas, Miami, Detroit, Minneapolis and Houston). And it’s raised $1.35 billion in total funding, including a just-announced $380 million round that values the company at $3.9 billion.

The new round was led by Accel and D1 Capital Partners, with participation from Luxor Capital and Softbank Vision Fund. (Accel and Softbank were both invested previously as well.)

“Accel first invested in goPuff in 2018 because of the team’s visionary approach to on-demand delivery and its commitment to building the infrastructure needed to create its unique, vertically integrated model,” said Accel partner Ryan Sweeney in a statement. “Because of goPuff’s focused approach, they have consistently delivered some of the best unit economics we’ve seen, while growing nationwide. We’re thrilled to remain a committed partner to Yakir, Rafael and the rest of the goPuff team on their journey.

goPuff

Image Credits: goPuff

Gola said that he and Ilishayev created the company in 2013 when they were attending Drexel University together and thought, “There has to be a better way to get convenience products delivered.”

Despite the company’s impressive war chest, Gola said goPuff has had “a huge focus on fiscal responsibility” from the start. At first, the founders were the ones making the deliveries, and they funded their initial expansion with cashflow and profits.

“What was important for us from day one was to start a business that makes money, that has real margins,” he said.

To achieve that, Gola touted the startup’s “vertically integrated model,” where it buys products directly from manufacturers, then gets those products to consumers through a network of 200 “micro-fulfillment” centers (staffed with goPuff employees) and a network of independent drivers.

Besides meaning that goPuff “makes money off the products we sell” (rather than simply charging a fee on deliveries), Gola said this model allows the company to mix products from national and local brands, and it’s “constantly introducing new products and discontinuing things that don’t sell.”

As you’d expect, demand increased significantly during the pandemic, but Gola said the company also made sure to provide protective equipment to all its employees and drivers, and it created an emergency fund to provide financial assistance for any of them who got sick.

In addition to the funding, goPuff is announcing that it has hired former Lowe’s CMO Jocelyn Wong as its first chief customer officer, former Uber global head of fintech and U.S. business development Jonathan DiOrio as its first chief business officer and former TripAdvisor engineering executive Rekha Singh as vice president of engineering.

Looking ahead, as companies like Amazon and Uber are also looking to deliver more and more products in less and less time, Gola said goPuff will continue to differentiate itself in a few key ways.

“There’s nothing like goPuff, so we had to build everything from scratch,” he said. “Whether it’s our location-based inventory system or many things related to our technology, that’s all ours. And then when you talk about differentiation from the customer side, we control the inventory and can make sure that the customers get exactly what they ordered. That focus on our customer is how we’re going to win long-term, and it’s how we got to the point of where we are today.”

#accel, #d1-capital-partners, #ecommerce, #funding, #fundings-exits, #tc

Warby Parker, valued at $3 billion, raises $245 million in funding

Warby Parker, the optical ecommerce giant, has today announced the close of a $245 million funding round from D1 Capital Partners, Durable Capital Partners, T. Rowe Price, and Baillie Gifford.

A source familiar with the company’s finances confirmed to TechCrunch that this brings Warby Parker’s valuation to $3 billion.

The fresh $245 million comes as a combination of a Series F round ($125 million led by Durable Capital Partners in Q2 of this year) and a Series G round ($120 million led by D1 Capital in Q3 of this year). Neither of the two rounds was previously announced.

In the midst of COVID-19, Warby has also pivoted a few facets of its business. For one, the company’s Buy A Pair, Give A Pair program, which has focused on vision services across the globe, pivoted to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in high-risk countries. The company also used their Optical Lab in New York as a distribution center to facilitate the donation of N95 masks to healthcare workers.

The company has also launched a telehealth service for New York customers allowing them to extend an existing glasses or contacts prescription through a virtual visit with a Warby Parker OD, and expanded its Prescription Check app to new states.

Warby Parker was founded 10 years ago to sell prescription glasses online. At the time, ecommerce was still relatively nascent and the idea of direct-to-consumer glasses was novel, to say the least. By cutting out the cost of physical stores, and competing with an incumbent who had for years enjoyed the luxury of overpricing the product, Warby was able to sell prescription glasses for under $100/frame.

Of course, it wasn’t as simple as throwing up a few pictures of frames on a website and watching the orders pour in. The company developed a process where customers could order five potential frames to be delivered to their home, try them on, and send them back once they made a selection.

Since, the company has expanded into new product lines, including sunglasses and children’s frames, as well as expanding its footprint with physical stores. In fact, the company has 125 stores across the U.S. and in parts of Canada.

Warby also developed the prescription check app in 2017 to allow users to extend their prescription through a telehealth check up.

In 2019, Warby launched a virtual try-on feature that uses AR to allow customers to see their selected frames on their own face.

The D2C giant, in its ten years of existence, has balanced its technological innovation with its physical expansion, which could explain its newfound triple-unicorn status. These latest rounds bring Warby Parker’s total funding to $535.5 million.

#baillie-gifford, #d1-capital-partners, #durable-capital-partners, #ecommerce, #funding, #recent-funding, #startups, #t-rowe-price, #tc, #warby-parker