SoftBank’s Marcelo Claure is coming to Disrupt next week

SoftBank has been on a tear in Latin America. The Japanese investment conglomerate just announced it has launched its second Latin America-focused fund with a $3 billion capital commitment from the company that may grow as the fund explores “options to raise additional capital,” according to SoftBank. The vehicle follows hot on the heels of SoftBank’s debut Latin America-focused fund, announced in March 2019 with an initial $2 billion in committed capital.

It’s easy to see what all the fuss is about. Led by Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank Group International and COO of SoftBank Group Corp., the outfit’s roughly four dozen employees — who operate out of Miami, São Paulo and Mexico City — have helped SoftBank identify and fund 48 startups into which it has plugged $3.5 billion and, according to the firm, which feature a combined (on paper, notably) net IRR of 85%.

Among the so-called unicorns that SoftBank has backed — and, in some cases, helped drive into unicorn territory — are QuintoAndarRappiMercado BitcoinGympass and MadeiraMadeira. Recently, it also co-led a $350 million Series D round in Argentine personal finance management app Ualá.

It’s so busy that it just brought aboard two new managing partners at the end of last week to help out with all that investing.

Amazingly, overseeing investments in Latin America is just one of the many roles that Claure, a native of Bolivia, plays for SoftBank. (He also oversees a vast portfolio of SoftBank’s operating companies, including Arm, Brightstar, Fortress, SB Energy and Boston Dynamics; he oversees SoftBank’s ownership in T-Mobile US; and he serves as executive chairman of WeWork, which he ran as interim CEO after founder Adam Neumann was forced to resign.) Still, one senses that it may be his greatest passion right now, and we’re thrilled to say that he’ll be joining us at Disrupt on the morning of Thursday, September 23rd, to talk all about it.

If you care about where SoftBank is shopping in Latin America right now — or generally want to understand better what sparked the torrid pace of investing there that the industry has seen over the last 18 months — this is a conversation you won’t want to miss.

Even better, Claure joins a whole host of amazing speakers at Disrupt, including Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, actor-entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong.

The show is coming up fast. Get your ticket now for less than $100 before the price goes up in a few short days; we’ll see you there.

#events, #marcelo-claure, #softbank, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021, #venture-capital

Sendoso nabs $100M as its corporate gifting platform passes 20,000 customers

Corporate gift services have come into their own during the Covid-19 pandemic by standing in as a proxy for other kinds of relationship building activities — office meetings, lunches, and hosting at events — that have traditionally been part and parcel of how people do business, but were no longer feasible during lockdowns, social distancing and offices closing their doors.

Now, Sendoso — a popular “end-to-end” gifting platform offering access to 30,000 products including corporate swag, regular physical gifts, gift cards and more; and then providing services like logistics, packing and sending to get those gifts to the recipients — is announcing $100 million of funding to capitalize on this shift, led by a big new investor.

New backer SoftBank, via its Vision Fund 2, is leading this latest Series C round of funding. Oak HC/FT, Struck Capital, Stage 2 Capital, Craft Ventures, Signia Venture Partners and Felicis Ventures — all previous investors — are also participating.

The company has been on a strong growth trajectory for years now, but it specifically saw a surge of activity as the pandemic kicked off. It now has more than 20,000 businesses signed up and using its services, particularly for sales and marketing outreach, but also to help shore up morale among employees.

“Everyone was stuck at home by themselves, saturated with emails,” said Kris Rudeegraap, the CEO of Sendoso, in an interview. “Having a personal connection to sales prospects, employees and others just meant more.” It has now racked up some 3 million gifts sent since launching in 2016.

Sendoso is not disclosing its valuation, but Rudeegraap hinted that it was four times higher than the startup’s Series B valuation from 2020. PitchBook estimates that to be $160 million, which would make the current valuation $640 million. The company has now raised over $150 million.

Rudeegraap said Sendoso will be using the funds in part to invest in a couple of areas. First, to hire more talent: it has 500 employees now and plans to grow that by 30% by the end of this year. And second, international expansion: it is setting up a European HQ in Dublin, Ireland to complement its main office in San Francisco.

Comcast, Kimpton Hotels, Thomson Reuters, Nasdaq and eBay are among its current customers — so this is in part to serve those customers’ global user bases, as well as to sign up new gifters. He estimated that the bigger market for corporate gifting is about $100 billion annually, so there is a lot to play for here.

The company was co-founded by Rudeegraap and Braydan Young (who is its chief alliances officer) on the back of a specific need Rudeegraap identified while working as a sales executive. Gifting is a very standard practice in the world of sales and marketing, but he was finding a lot of traction with potential and current customers by taking a personalized approach to this act.

“I was manually packing boxes, grabbing swag, coming up with handwritten notes,” he recalled. “It was inefficient, but it worked so well. So I dreamed up an idea: why not be able to click a button in Salesforce to do this automatically? Sometimes the best company is one that solves a pain point of your own.”

And this is essentially what Sendoso does. The startup’s platform integrates with a company’s existing marketing, sales and management software — Salesforce, HubSpot, SalesLoft among them — and then lets users use this to organize and order gifts through these channels, for example as part of larger sales, marketing or HR strategies. The gifts are wide-ranging, covering corporate swag, other physical presents, gift cards and more, and there are also integrations you can include to share gifting across teams of salespeople, to analyze the campaigns and more.

The Sendoso platform itself, meanwhile, positions itself as having the “marketplace selection and logistics precision of Amazon.com.” But Sendoso also believes it’s better than someone simply using Amazon.com itself since it ultimately takes a more personalized approach in how it presents the gift.

“There are a lot of things we do uniquely in terms of what we have built throughout our software, gifting options and logistics centre. We really personalize our gifts at scale with handwritten notes, special boxing, and more,” something that Amazon cannot do, he added. “We have built a lot of unique technology and logistics software that would make it hard for Amazon to compete.” He said that one of Sendoso’s integrations is actually with Amazon, so Sendoso users can order through there, but then the gift is first routed to Sendoso to be repackaged in a nicer way before being sent out.

At its heart, the startup has built a way of knitting together disparate work practices — some codified in software, and some based on human interactions and significantly more infused with randomness, emotion and ad hoc approaches — and built it all into a technology platform. The ability to scale what feels like an otherwise bespoke level of service is what has helped Sendoso gain traction not just with users, but investors, too:

“We believe Sendoso offers the most comprehensive end-to-end gifting platform in the market,” said Priya Saiprasad, a partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “Their platform includes a global marketplace of curated vendors, seamless integration with existing tools, global logistics, and deep analytics. As a result, Sendoso serves as the backbone to enterprises’ engagement programs with prospective customers, existing customers, employees and other key stakeholders. We’re excited to lead this Series C round to help Sendoso accelerate its vision.”

#amazon, #amazon-com, #business, #ceo, #comcast, #companies, #craft-ventures, #dublin, #ebay, #economy, #enterprise, #felicis-ventures, #funding, #gift, #gift-card, #giving, #hubspot, #ireland, #marketing, #partner, #salesforce, #salesloft, #san-francisco, #sendoso, #signia-venture-partners, #softbank, #softbank-group, #stage-2-capital, #struck-capital, #vision-fund

SoftBank commits $3B more to investing in Latin American tech companies

SoftBank Group Corp. is doubling down on its commitment to Latin America.

Today, the Japanese investment conglomerate is announcing the launch of the SoftBank Latin America Fund II, its second dedicated private investment fund focused on tech companies located in LatAm. SoftBank is launching the new fund with an initial $3 billion commitment.

“Fund II will explore options to raise additional capital,” SoftBank said in a statement.

The new fund builds upon SoftBank’s $5 billion Latin America Fund, which was first announced in March 2019 and was formerly called the Innovation Fund with an initial $2 billion in committed capital.

According to the firm, that fund has generated a net IRR of 85% — with SoftBank having invested $3.5 billion in 48 companies with a fair value of $6.9 billion as of June 30. SoftBank has invested in 15 unicorns out of that fund, including proptech startup QuintoAndar, Rappi, Mercado Bitcoin, Gympass and MadeiraMadeira. Recently, it co-led a $350 million Series D round in Argentine personal finance management app Ualá.

The firm also claims to have “created significant value uplift” for portfolio companies, including 4.4x each for Kavak and VTEX; 2.6x for QuintoAndar and 3.5x for Banco Inter (as of June 30).

It has backed companies across the region including in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Argentina and Ecuador.

Marcelo Claure, Executive VP and COO of SoftBank Group, leads the SoftBank Latin America Funds. Managing Partners Shu Nyatta and Paulo Passoni run the region’s investment team. Operating Partner Alex Szapiro, also head of Brazil for SoftBank, leads the fund’s operations team.

Combined, the investment and operations teams total over 60 people who operate out of Miami, São Paulo and Mexico City.

Fund II intends to back technology-enabled companies across countries and industries at every stage of their development, from seed to public, throughout Latin America, with a focus on e-commerce, digital financial services, healthcare, education, blockchain and enterprise software, among others. 

In a statement, SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son described Latin America as “one of the most important economic regions in the world.”

“SoftBank will continue to drive technology adoption that will benefit hundreds of millions of people in this part of the world,” he said. “There is so much innovation and disruption taking place in Latin America, and I believe the business opportunities there have never been stronger. Latin America is a critical part of our strategy – this is why we are expanding our presence and doubling down on our commitment with Marcelo at the helm.”

Claure said the success and returns from the SoftBank Latin America Fund “far exceeded” the firm’s expectations. Looking ahead, he expects that 2022 will be the “biggest IPO year” in the region’s history.

Earlier this year, TechCrunch looked at why global investors were flocking to Latin America. At that time, Nyatta told me that technology in LatAm is often more about inclusion rather than disruption.

“The vast majority of the population is underserved in almost every category of consumption. Similarly, most businesses are underserved by modern software solutions,” Nyatta explained. “There’s so much to build for so many people and businesses. In San Francisco, the venture ecosystem makes life a little better for individuals and businesses who are already living in the future. In LatAm, tech entrepreneurs are building the future for everyone else.”

#funding, #fundings-exits, #latin-america, #marcelo-claure, #shu-nyatta, #softbank, #softbank-latin-america-fund, #softbank-latin-america-fund-ii, #startups, #venture-capital

SoftBank deepens commitment to LatAm with two new partners focused on early-stage investing

In March 2019, SoftBank Group International made headlines when it announced the SoftBank Innovation Fund, which started out with a $2 billion commitment to invest in tech startups in Latin America.

A lot has changed since then. SoftBank changed the name of the fund to the SoftBank Latin America Fund, or LatAm Fund for short. The Japanese investment conglomerate has dramatically ramped up its investing in the region, and so have a number of other global investors. In fact, venture capitalists poured an estimated $6.2 billion into Latin American startups in the first half of 2021.

As evidence of its continued commitment to the region, SoftBank Group announced today that it has added two new managing partners to its LatAm Fund team: Rodrigo Baer and Marco Camhaji. The two will focus on “identifying and supporting” early-stage companies across the Latin American region, SoftBank told TechCrunch exclusively.

Baer and Camhaji will report to SoftBank Executive President & COO Marcelo Claure, who points out that the firm’s LatAm fund has invested in more than two-thirds of the nearly two dozen unicorns currently operating in the region. He said that SoftBank is today “one of the largest and most active” technology investors in the region.

 

The move is significant in that the hires represent an expansion of SoftBank LatAm Fund’s mandate and means that the firm is now backing companies at all stages in the region.

By bringing Baer and Camhaji on board, Claure said in a statement, SoftBank will “be better able to identify high-growth companies and support them at every step of their lifecycle.”

SoftBank describes Baer as one of the pioneers of Brazil’s venture capital industry. He has invested in more than 20 companies since 2010. According to Crunchbase, he co-founded Warehouse Investimentos in 2010, where he led deal-sourcing efforts. He joined the investment team of Redpoint eVentures, a LatAm-based early-stage VC fund, in June 2014. He also was previously an engagement manager at McKinsey and worked at Aurora Funds, a healthcare-services focused fund based in the US. He is also active with Endeavor and multiple angel groups. 

Prior to joining SoftBank, Camhaji was a business development principal at Amazon, establishing strategic partnerships with fintechs in Latin America. He also served as the CEO of Adianta, a Brazilian B2B invoice financing company. Previously, Camahji was a founder and partner at Yellow Ventures, making seed investments in technology startups. He was also a partner and CFO of Redpoint eVentures.

In August, Shu Nyatta, a managing partner at SoftBank who co-leads its $5 billion Latin America Fund, pointed out a dynamic that might seem obvious but is rarely articulated: Technology in LatAm is often more about inclusion rather than disruption.

“The vast majority of the population is underserved in almost every category of consumption. Similarly, most businesses are underserved by modern software solutions,” Nyatta told TechCrunch. “There’s so much to build for so many people and businesses. In San Francisco, the venture ecosystem makes life a little better for individuals and businesses who are already living in the future. In LatAm, tech entrepreneurs are building the future for everyone else.

Some recent SoftBank investments in the region include:

  • Kavak, a used car marketplace born in Mexico but now also operating in Brazil and Argentina. “Think of Carvana, but for emerging markets.”
  • Rappi, where “DoorDash-meets-Instacart,” operating across Latin America.
  • QuintoAndar, a Brazilian real estate marketplace.
  • Creditas unlocks the equity trapped in homes and cars and other important assets for Brazilians.
  • Gympass is a marketplace for fitness and wellness, provided through the enterprise to employees.

As global investors continue to flood the region with capital, it’s clear that SoftBank is getting even more aggressive about backing startups in Latin America.

#early-stage, #funding, #latin-america, #marcelo-claure, #softbank, #startups, #venture-capital

#DealMonitor – CoachHub bekommt 80 Millionen – Oviva sammelt 80 Millionen ein – Frank Thelen startet 10XDNA


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 1. September werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

CoachHub
+++ Die Altinvestoren Draper Esprit, RTP Global, HV Capital, Signals Venture Capital, Partech und Speedinvest investieren weitere 80 Millionen US-Dollar in die Berliner Coaching-Plattform CoachHub. Das Startup wurde 2018 von den Seriengründern Yannis und Matti Niebelschütz (MyParfüm) ins Leben gerufen. Führungskräfte und Mitarbeiter von Unternehmen können über die Coachhub-App mit Coaches sprechen, der Algorithmus schlägt jeweils passende vor. Insgesamt flossen nun schon 130 Millionen in die Jungfirma. “The money will continue to fund CoachHub’s meteoric expansion which started just three years ago. In just the first half of 2021, CoachHub has exceeded 2020’s new business generation, tripled its number of employees, and added some of the biggest, foremost global brands to its stable of clients including Fujitsu, Electrolux, Babbel, ViacomCBS and KPMG”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. 300 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für CoachHub. Mehr über CoachHub

Oviva 
+++ Sofina, Temasek und die Altinvestoren AlbionVC, Earlybird, Eight Roads Ventures, F-Prime Capital, MTIP und mehrere Angel-Investoren investieren 80 Millionen US-Dollar in Oviva. Das Potsdamer Unternehmen, 2014 von Kai Eberhardt, Manuel Baumann und Mark Jenkins gegründet, positioniert sich als Anbieter von digitalen Typ-2-Diabetes-Therapien. “Die Runde folgt auf ein Jahr, in dem Oviva sowohl die Zahl der behandelten Patienten als auch den Umsatz mehr als verdoppelt hat”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. MTIP, Earlybird, AlbionVC, F-Prime Capital, Eight Roads Ventures und Partech investierten Anfang 2020 rund 21 Millionen US-Dollar in E-Health-Startup. Insgesamt flossen bereits 115 Millionen in die Jungfirma. Mehr zu Oviva

Merantix
+++ Der bekannte Technologieinvestor Softbank investiert eine ungenannte Summe in das Berliner Unternehmen Merantix – siehe Gründerszene. Der junge Company Buider, der 2016 von Rasmus Rothe und Adrian Locher gegründet wurde, kümmert sich konkret um den Transfer von KI-Forschung in die Wirtschaft. “Die Partnerschaft umfasst die Zusammenarbeit in den Bereichen KI-Forschung, Talent- und Ökosystem-Entwicklung”, heißt es im Artikel. Merantix baute bereits Unternehmen wie SiaSearch, Kausa und Vara auf.

Planetics
+++ Bernd Geilen (früher ING Bank), Andrea Lederer (Ex-Amazon, DOUGLAS), Arno Gerken (McKinsey) sowie zwei weitere nicht genannte Kapitalgeber investieren eine sechsstellige Summe in Planetics. Beim Startup aus München, das 2020 von Fabian Hörst, Raphael Breitner und Alexandros Taflanidis gegründet wurde, dreht sich alles um “nachhaltige und faire Sportartikel”. Gemeint sind damit Bekleidung, Equipment und Nutrition. Planetics war bereits im Januar dieses Jahres in unserem Pitch-Podcast zu Gast.

Tradelite
+++ Seriengründer und Investor Heiko Hubertz (Bigpoint, Whow Games) investiert in Tradelite. Das Münchner Startup, das 2020 von Tracy Chang, Matthias Kröner und Uwe Franke gegründet wurde, möchte “komplexes Finanzwissen für Milliarden von Menschen leicht zugänglich machen”. Gelingen soll dies, “indem reale Finanzdaten und Interaktionen in Videospiele integriert werden. Das Schlagwort für dieses Konzept lautet Financial Entertainment.

Immomio
+++ W&W brandpool, der Digitalableger der W&W-Gruppe, investiert in Immomio. W&W brandpool übernimmt dabei auch Anteile vom Mainzer Immobiliensoftwareanbieter Aareon und hält nun 16 % an Immomio. Das Hamburger Startup veröffentlicht die Anzeigen seiner Kunden auf Immobilienportalen. Anschließend bewertet das Team um Nicolas Jacobi die Bewerber und sorgt für eine Auswahl. Aus diesen sucht der Vermieter seine Favoriten und lädt sie mithilfe der Terminplanung zu einem Besichtigungstermin ein.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Usercentrics / Cookiebot
+++ Das Münchner Startup Usercentrics fusioniert mit seinem Wettbewerber Cookiebot (gehört zu Cybot). Usercentrics, das andere Unternehmen dabei unterstützt, ihre Webseiten DSGVO-konform zu machen, wurde 2017 von Mischa Rürup, Vinzent Ellissen und Lisa Gradow gegründet. “Das 2012 gegründete Unternehmen Cybot betreibt mit der Cookiebot Consent-Management-Plattform ein Selfservice-Angebot, das es Websites ermöglicht, transparent über die Cookie-Nutzung auf der jeweiligen Domain zu informieren und entsprechende Einwilligungen einzuholen”, teilen die Unternehmen mit. Der amerikanische Geldgeber Full In Partners sowie die Altinvestoren Alstin Capital, Reimann Investors und Cavalry Ventures investierten zuletzt 17 Millionen Euro in Usercentrics. Mehr über Usercentrics

Playbrush
+++ Die Sunstar Group, die im Segment Mundgesundheit unetrwegs ist, übernimmt die Mehrheit an Playbrush. Das Wiener Startup, das 2015 von Matthäus Ittner, Tolulope Ogunsina und Paul Varga gegründet wurde, setzt im Zahnpflegesegment auf Künstliche Intelligenz, Connectivity und Gamification. “Gemeinsam mit Playbrush plant Sunstar umfangreiche smarte Innovationen, welche die Gesundheit im Sinne ihrer Mouth-and-Body-Strategy ergänzen und auch weiterhin neue Standards für die Zukunft der Mundpflege setzen”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Speedinvest, Uniqa Ventures, SevenVentures, der bekannte Business Angel Hansi Hansmann und der ehemalige Rennfahrer Harold Primat investierten in den vergangenen Jahren mehrere Millionen in das Unternehmen. “Die Altgesellschafter verlassen das Unternehmen”, teilt der neue Mehrheitsgesellschafter mit. Mehr über Playbrush

STOCK MARKET

10XDNA
+++ Startup-Investor und Ex-Vox-Löwe Frank Thelen legt mit 10XDNA seinen Aktienfonds auf, mit dem er in börsennotierte Firmen investieren möchte – siehe FinanceFWD. “Der 10xDNA-Fonds soll vor allem auf Zukunftsthemen wie Blockchain oder Künstliche Intelligenz setzen”, heißt es im Artikel. Hinter dem Aktienfonds steckt 10xDNA Capital Partners, das von Jens Giersberg, zuletzt Partner bei McKinsey, geführt wird. “Durch unseren VC-Background heben wir uns von anderen Aktienfonds ab und genau das ist die Idee. Die meisten Fonds treffen Investmententscheidungen entlang fest definierter Value-Investing-Kriterien wie Umsatzprognosen und Bilanzen”, sagt Thelen im Interview mit CAPinside zum neuen Aktienfonds.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#10xdna, #10xdna-capital-partners, #aareon, #aktuell, #berlin, #coachhub, #cookiebot, #draper-esprit, #e-health, #fintech, #frank-thelen, #hv-capital, #immomio, #merantix, #munchen, #oviva, #partech, #planetics, #playbrush, #rtp-global, #signals-venture-capital, #sofina, #softbank, #speedinvest, #temasek, #tradelite, #usercentrics, #venture-capital, #ww-brandpool, #wien, #zurich

Whoop raises another $200M for its athlete-focused fitness wearable

Founded in 2012, Whoop is far from a household name in the world of fitness trackers. But over the years, the company has attracted its share of converts. It hasn’t had any issue attracting venture capital over the years, either. Last time we checked in on the Boston-based company was in late-2019, when it raised $55 million. Now it’s back with a massive $200 million raise.

The Series F round brings Whoop’s total funding to nearly $405 million — a pretty massive investment for a company of its size. The round, led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, puts the valuation at a jaw-dropping $3.6 billion valuation.

Additional investors include IVP, Cavu Venture Partners, Thursday Ventures, GP Bullhound, Accomplice, NextView Ventures and Animal Capital. They join a long list of former backers, including the National Football League Players Association, Jack Dorsey and a number of professional athletes.

The company’s targeting of athletes marks a strong contrast with leading consumer wearables like the Apple Watch and Fitbit. In fact, the company has a specific offering for sports teams, as well as solutions for businesses, healthcare and government/defense.

Whoop’s name made the rounds recently when Fitbit announced a “Daily Readiness Score” for the Charge 5, which many likened to the company’s more advanced analytics.

The company cites “rapid growth” in its membership offering over the past year as a motivation behind seeking additional funding. That was likely driven, in part, by the decision in 2019 to make the $500 wearable free, while focusing on a subscription service that starts at $18 a month for an 18-month membership (the shorter the membership, the more the monthly fee).

Whoop is eying international expansion beyond the U.S. and using the massive influx of cash on R&D for its hardware, software and analytics solutions. Money will also go toward expanding headcount, which is currently in excess of 500 (with nearly half of those employees having joined in the past year).

“We are thrilled to deepen our partnership with SoftBank as we grow internationally,” founder and CEO Will Ahmed said in a release. “While we have experienced amazing growth in the past year, the potential of our technology and the vast market for health monitoring remains largely untapped.”

#fitness, #fitness-trackers, #funding, #hardware, #health, #recent-funding, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund-2, #startups, #wearables, #whoop

Foreign investors have a bigger role to play in growing Latin America’s startup ecosystem

There has been significant hype around Latin America’s startup success. For good reason, too: Startups have raised $9.3 billion in just the first half of 2021, almost double the amount in all of 2020, and mega-rounds are a growing trend.

But while the industry hails the rise of the region’s ecosystem and its growing fleet of unicorns, Latin America’s startup story has a far longer past. And it’s one we should keep in mind as entrepreneurs and investors around the world forge the region’s future.

People often ask me: How are consumers different in Brazil? How does the Peruvian market behave compared to the United States? These questions don’t really see each country for its inherent value, but instead gear people up to expect the unexpected from a historically economically disadvantaged region.

In fact, the evolution of business shares far more similarities across countries than we might expect. Latin America’s market has evolved over a very long time — as long as Silicon Valley and any other hub. This region has a global outlook, spectacular universities, a diverse population and an army of entrepreneurs.

It’s important for investors outside of Latin America to get involved in fundraising at earlier stages, when founders need extra support from everyone around.

That’s why the unicorns and megadeals should come as no surprise: They’re the natural evolution of the ecosystem, of more capital generating more success after years of hard work.

As Latin America has grown, competition has grown even more intense in the United States. VCs have more money than ever, and it’s getting increasingly expensive to invest in North America. So they’re looking to diversify their investments with high-potential opportunities abroad. Big funds are now dedicating resources to exclusively targeting Latin America, from SoftBank creating a region-specific fund, to Sequoia saying it will pay more attention to the region.

These incoming investors must bring more than money to ensure that entrepreneurship continues to grow in a healthy manner, rather than set it off balance. Investors should bring a local strategy that makes them an asset to Latin America’s startup ecosystem.

Investors should look for younger markets

Most Latin American companies reaching unicorn status and going public now were started around 2012. This is not very different from the timeline of businesses in other markets such as the United States. For instance, e-commerce giant MercadoLibre launched in Argentina around the time eBay was emerging.

What this tells us is that foreign investors would do well to keep a sharp eye on emerging opportunities beyond heavily covered markets like Brazil and Mexico. There is a huge opportunity to do what local investors did in Brazil and Mexico years ago, and play a significant role in the next chapter of countries with blossoming markets like Colombia, Peru or Uruguay.

U.S. investors remain shy

The amount of VC capital being funneled into Latin American startups has surged since 2017, with angel investment close behind. However, much of this investment comes from local and regional investors. Every top university in Brazil has a pool of angels. Investors in the Andean region cover Peru, Chile and Colombia. If today’s ecosystem is flourishing, it’s largely because native investors are lighting the spark.

Meanwhile, U.S. investor presence at the early stages is still low and risk averse. It’s much harder for a pre-seed or seed startup to get foreign investor interest than when they’ve already reached Series A or B. Investors also tend to come in on an ad hoc basis or as outliers brought about by a mutual contact. Foreign investors are the exception, not the rule.

It’s important for investors outside of Latin America to get involved in fundraising at earlier stages, when founders need extra support from everyone around. Investors should be pursuing a long-term strategy that will bring more consistency to the local ecosystem as a whole.

Money is not enough, investors should bring dedicated resources

Your contribution as an investor is largely about the resources you can offer. That’s especially challenging for a foreigner who has less of an understanding of the local industry and lacks a network and people on the ground.

While investors may say their your regular value offering is enough — network and U.S. customers — in truth, this won’t necessarily be of much use. Your hiring network might not be ideal for a Latin American company, and your thorough understanding of the U.S. market might not reflect developments in Latin America.

Remember that the region has a plethora of VC organizations who have worked with local startups over the course of a decade. Latin America is a very welcoming and open market, and local investors and accelerators will happily work with foreign investors, including in deal-sharing opportunities.

It’s crucial to create incentives within the ecosystem, which — like in the United States — largely means matching founders with unique opportunities. In North America, this often happens organically, because people are on the ground and actively engaged with what’s happening in the region, from networking events, to awards, and grants and partnership opportunities.

To create this in Latin America, foreign investors need to dedicate a team and money to their regional commitments. They will have to understand the local industry and be available to mentor founders with diverse perspectives.

In my experience helping EA, Pinterest and Facebook land in Latin America, we always had someone on the ground or working remotely but fully dedicated to the region. We had people focused on localizing the product, and we had research teams studying similarities and differences in user behavior. That’s how corporations land their products; it’s how VCs should land their money.

Only disrupt when it adds value

The idea is for foreign investors to strike a balance locally while creating disruptions when it helps startups look outward rather than attempting to overhaul steady, positive internal growth. That can mean encouraging companies to incorporate in the United States to make it easier for investors from anywhere to invest or preparing the company to go global. Local investors can help investors new to the region understand the balance of things that should or shouldn’t be disrupted.

Don’t be surprised when Latin America’s apparent “boom” starts happening in other emerging markets like Africa and Asia. This isn’t about a secret hack coming in from the outside. It’s just about creating the right environment for local talent to flourish and ensuring it maintains healthy growth.

#argentina, #brazil, #chile, #colombia, #column, #entrepreneurship, #latin-america, #mexico, #peru, #private-equity, #softbank, #startups, #uruguay, #venture-capital

Brazil’s Petlove raises $150M from Riverwood, SoftBank to sell pet products and services online

Petlove&Co, a São Paulo-based digital platform for products and services for the pet market, announced today that it has raised about $150 million (R$750 million) today in a funding round led by Riverwood Capital.

The round is nearly double that of what Petlove has raised in its history. The company started its life as PetSuperMarket when it was founded in 1999 in the early days of the internet. Today, the company continues to operate an online store offering a wide range of pet products and services.

Tarpon, SoftBank, L Catterton, Porto Seguro and Monashees also participated in the funding round, which brings the company’s total raised to a known $225.8 million over its lifetime, according to Crunchbase. Since January 2020 alone, Petlove has raised over $192 million. The company has declined to reveal at what valuation this last round was raised.

Petlove CEO Talita Lacerda said the company will use the new capital in part to further expand its logistics network with the goal of accelerating its delivery capabilities. In particular, it plans to expand its express delivery service, Petlove Já, which allows products to be delivered within 4 hours of placing their order, to other geographies. Currently it is only available in a few cities in Brazil, such as São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. 

The funding will also go toward growing Petlove’s subscription program, which Lacerda said is the first of its kind in the country, and one of the company’s flagship services.

“The Brazilian pet market is one of the largest in the world and Brazilian consumers are increasingly demanding digitally native products and services with a high level of customer-centricity,” said Francisco Alvarez-Demalde, co-founding partner and managing partner at Riverwood Capital, in a written statement.

The company has evolved and grown after a recent integration with DogHero, the acquisitions of Vetus and VetSmart and the launch of Porto.Pet.

“We have built an increasingly comprehensive and inclusive platform to meet the needs of all stakeholders in this rapidly expanding market,” Lacerda said.

Brazil is the 4th largest pet market in total spend, the company says. According to the Instituto Pet Brasil, total sales of the Brazilian pet market surpassed US$7 billion (R$40 billion) in 2020, growing 13.5% compared to the previous year, while Petlove grew 65%. Overall, pet ownership in the country is high, with 60% of Brazilians owning pets compared to 50% in the US. 

Petlove has over 400 employees, according to Pitchbook.

Alex Szapiro, head of Brazil and operating partner of SoftBank Latin America Fund described the work that Petlove has done to help “form the largest ecosystem in Latin America” as  “one of the most extraordinary in the segment and in the entire retail sector.”

#brazil, #ecommerce, #funding, #fundings-exits, #latin-america, #recent-funding, #riverwood-capital, #softbank, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

Picsart raises $130M from SoftBank, becomes unicorn on the back of its visual creator tools

Picsart announced this morning that it has raised a $130 million round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. The new capital infusion pushes the company’s valuation north of the $1 billion mark, though it declined to get more specific.

Per PitchBook data, the company’s preceding round of capital, in 2019, valued the company at around $600 million. We can infer from the two figures that Picsart’s valuation went up materially in its latest round.

It’s not incredibly hard to figure out why. TechCrunch chatted with the company earlier this year, noting that it was over the $50 million ARR mark, and that the company expected to crest the $100 million ARR threshold this year. The company said today it has surpassed that goal. Precisely how far? The company would not disclose.

Picsart COO Tammy Nam told TechCrunch in an interview this week that her company was now past a $100 million run rate, and that it was worth more than a flat $1.0 billion after the SoftBank round. That was the extent of our ability to mine her for details.

What we can say, then, is that the company is doing nine figures of revenue that start with one, and that it is worth ten figures that also start with a one. That gives Picsart a maximum revenue multiple of just under 20x, though we expect the correct figure is in the low tens.

What makes the Picsart news fun, apart from its constituent large numbers, is that its product is quite cool. That’s something that we can’t say about most unicorns that we write about here at TechCrunch. The company builds mobile and desktop image and video editing tools for consumers and professionals alike, which means that you have likely seen work created by its tools in the wild. And frankly, because they are something that anyone can use — unlike, say, HR-focused APIs or what have you — it’s a startup that feels more tangible than most.

Picsart provides both free and paid services. Its paid products include more images for users to work with — watermark removal and the like. The company also offers a teams-focused plan with multi-seat purchase options, though Nam said that because her team had not yet publicized the option to their user base, it’s too early to tell how the product is faring. It’s effectively in beta, she explained.

More broadly, the company’s monetization efforts are succeeding. We can tell that from Picsart’s revenue growth. Happily, Nam provided a bit more context, saying that the company had millions of subscribers today. She sees more room for growing, explaining that if her company tripled its gross subscriber number, the resulting cohort would still be a “drop in the bucket” when compared to its active user tally. There again, Picscart was somewhat coy with the data. It previously said that it had reached 100 million monthly actives in October of 2017, 130 million in 2019 and around 150 million earlier this year. Picsart would only say that it has more than 150 million today.

Turning to the company’s revenue mix between consumers and business users, Nam stressed that the dividing line between the two is especially blurry among Generation Z, which by our understanding is a key Picsart user demographic. That makes it difficult to parse the precise revenue mix at the company today. However, Nam told TechCrunch that its business revenue represented around 30% of total revenue in an interview earlier this year, which provides directional guidance for us today.

She also noted in our recent chat that business usage of Picsart was rising, as SMBs became increasingly digital in the COVID-19 era. How that shift in market demand will impact Picsart’s revenue mix over time should prove interesting.

So, what about an IPO? Sadly, that was likely just delayed. It’s great news for Picasart that it raised so much new capital, but for those of us hungry to get more S-1s, and more quickly, such large capital events can delay liquidity as the company in question wants to put the new funds to work.

Still, provided an even medium growth rate, we’d hazard that Picsart won’t struggle to match its final private valuation when it does file. We just want that to happen quickly.

#fundings-exits, #picsart, #softbank, #startups, #tammy-nam

Why global investors are flocking to back Latin American startups

The Latin America startup ecosystem is having a great year, with mega-rounds being announced at breakneck speed and new unicorns minted almost monthly. This is mostly due to the clearly maturing startup scene in the region, with proven successes such as Nubank, Cornershop, Gympass and Loggi helping to bolster LatAm’s credibility.

Interestingly, many of the region’s rounds are led by or saw participation from investors based elsewhere. Firms such as SoftBank, Tiger Global Management, Tencent, Accel, Ribbit Capital and QED Investors are pouring money into LatAm. Some are even seeing more opportunity than in the U.S. — Latin America, they believe, has historically been ripe for disruption, especially in the fintech and proptech sectors, due to the significant underbanked and unbanked population in the region and the relatively unstructured real estate industry.

Last month, my colleagues Anna Heim and Alex Wilhelm found that structural factors such as strong digital penetration and quick e-commerce growth are among the key reasons Latin America is breaking venture capital records this year. One Mexico-based VC even declared that the story was about “talent, not capital.”

Local VCs are raving about the human capital in the region, but for some global investors, the appeal of Latin America extends beyond the talent to the general populace. Shu Nyatta, a managing partner at SoftBank who co-leads its $5 billion Latin America Fund, pointed out a dynamic that might seem obvious but is rarely articulated: Technology in LatAm is often more about inclusion rather than disruption.

“The vast majority of the population is underserved in almost every category of consumption. Similarly, most businesses are underserved by modern software solutions,” Nyatta explained. “There’s so much to build for so many people and businesses. In San Francisco, the venture ecosystem makes life a little better for individuals and businesses who are already living in the future. In LatAm, tech entrepreneurs are building the future for everyone else.”

Accel Partner Ethan Choi says the region’s consumer markets are growing rapidly thanks to a fast-growing middle class and “technology permeating through every aspect of consumers’ lives.” This has spurred demand for digital offerings, which has led to more startups, and consequently, investor interest.

Brazil and Mexico riding the gravy train

One look at the dollars pouring into LatAm this year is enough to convince anyone of the skyrocketing interest.

Latin America saw a total of $6.2 billion in incoming venture capital in the first half of 2021, more than double the $2.6 billion in the same period last year, and even beating the $4.1 billion invested across all of 2020, according to preliminary data from LAVCA (the Association for Private Capital Investment in Latin America — LAVCA used a different methodology than CB Insights, in case you’re wondering).

#accel, #brazil, #funding, #fundings-exits, #latin-america, #mexico, #owl-ventures, #qed-investors, #quintoandar, #ribbit-capital, #softbank, #softbank-group, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

#DealMonitor – Bitpanda bekommt 263 Millionen – Adverity sammelt 120 Millionen in – Tiger Global investiert 75 Millionen in xentral


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 17. August werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Bitpanda
+++ Valar Ventures (Peter Thiel), LeadBlock Partners, Jump Capital, Alan Howard und Redo Ventures investieren 263 Millionen US-Dollar in Bitpanda. Die Bewertung steigt auf 4,1 Milliarden Dollar. Im März dieses Jahres wurde Bitpanda noch mit 1,2 Milliarden bewertet. Über die Plattform des Wiener Startups können Nutzer insbesondere Bitcoins und Gold handeln. Das FinTech wurde 2014 von Eric Demuth, Paul Klanschek und Christian Trummer gegründet und zählt nach eigenen Angaben mehr als 3 Millionen Nutzer. Rund 500 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für das FinTech. Zuletzt investierten Valar Ventures, DST Global und Co. 170 Millionen US-Dollar in Bitpanda. Davor pumpten Valar Ventures, Speedinvest und Hedosophia 52 Millionen Dollar in das junge Unternehmen. “The company will use the proceeds to strengthen its team and design the organisation for scale, while doubling down on state-of-the-art technology, international expansion and growth”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung. Mehr über Bitpanda

Adverity 
+++ SoftBank und der Altinvestor Sapphire Ventures investieren 120 Millionen US-Dollar in Adverity. Der amerikanische Geldgeber Sapphire Venturess, aws Gründerfonds, Felix Capital, Mangrove Capital Partners und SAP.iO investierten zuletzt 30 Millionen US-Dollar in die Jungfirma. Insgesamt flossen nun schon 165 Millionen US-Dollar in Adverity. Das Wiener Startup, das 2015 von Alexander Igelsböck, Martin Brunthaler und Andreas Glänzer gegründet wurde positioniert sich als Marketing-Analyseplattform. “Adverity erzielte zuletzt das beste Quartal seiner Unternehmensgeschichte und in den letzten vier Jahren eine durchschnittliche jährliche Wachstumsrate von 105 %. Das weltweit wachsende Team wurde seit 2019 um 300 % vergrößert”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Das frische Kapital soll insbesondere in die “Weiterentwicklung der Plattform, vor allem in den Ausbau und die Erweiterung der verfügbaren Konnektoren sowie in die künstliche Intelligenz, die proaktiv Antworten und Insights rund um Trends, Budgetverteilung und Marketingeffizienz” fließen. Mehr über Adverity

xentral
+++ Tiger Global und Meritech sowie die Altinvestoren Sequoia Capital, Visionaries Club und Freigeist (Frank Thelen) investieren – wie bereits im Insider-Podcast angedeutet – 75 Millionen US- Dollar in xentral. Der amerikanische Geldgeber Sequoia Capital und Visionaries Club investierten erst Anfang dieses Jahres 20 Millionen US-Dollar in das Unternehmen. Das von Benedikt und Claudia Sauter in Augsburg gegründete Unternehmen ist ein flexibles ERP-/CRM-System mit eigenem App-Store und bietet Schnittstellen zu allen gängigen Online-Shop-Systemen, Marktplätzen und Zahlungsanbietern. “Mit der Investition wird xentral seine Produktentwicklung vorantreiben und das Team erweitern”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung. 120 Mitarbeiter:innen wirken derzeit für xentral. Im Januar waren es gerade einmal 65. Mehr über xentral

Penta 
+++ Die Altinvestoren investieren weiter 15 Millionen Euro in Penta – siehe Finanz-Szene.de. “Der Unternehmenswert liege jetzt bei weit über 100 Millionen Euro, sagt ein Kenner der Vorgänge. Ein Sprecher bestätigte auf Anfrage die Höhe des Fundings”, heißt es im Artikel. ABN AMRO Ventures, finleap, HV Capital, RTP Global, Presight Capital, S7V und VR Ventures investierten zuletzt 7,5 Millionen in das Berliner FinTech. Über das Startup, das 2014 von Luka Ivicevic und Lav Odorovic gegründet wurde, können  Unternehmen über Penta ein Geschäftskonto beantragen. Insgesamt flossen nun schon rund 60 Millionen Euro in Penta. Mehr über Penta

FarmInsect
+++ Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) und Bayern Kapital, 5x Ventures, Genea Invest, die Initiative für Industrial Innovators und einige Business Angels investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in FarmInsect. Das junge AgriTech-Startup aus Bergkirchen, das 2020 von Thomas Kuehn, Wolfgang Westermeier und Andre Klöckner gegründet wurde, bietet eine Lösung für Landwirte an, um Insektenlarven aus Ernteresten herzustellen – samt lückenloser Rückverfolgung der Erntereste über eine IT-Plattform. Mehrere Business Angels investierten zuvor bereits eine sechsstellige Summe in FarmInsect. Mehr über FarmInsect

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#5x-ventures, #adverity, #agritech, #aktuell, #augsburg, #bayern-kapital, #bergkirchen, #berlin, #bitpanda, #farminsect, #fintech, #frank-thelen, #freigeist, #genea-inves, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #initiative-for-industrial-innovators, #jump-capital, #leadblock-partners, #martech, #meritech, #penta, #redo-ventures, #sapphire-ventures, #sequoia-capital, #softbank, #tiger-global, #valar-ventures, #venture-capital, #visionaries-club, #wien, #xentral

How Google’s self-driving car project accidentally spawned its robotic delivery rival

Nuro doesn’t have a typical Silicon Valley origin story. It didn’t emerge after a long, slow slog from a suburban garage or through a flash of insight in a university laboratory. Nor was it founded at the behest of an eccentric billionaire with money to burn.

Nuro was born — and ramped up quickly — thanks to a cash windfall from what is now one of its biggest rivals.

Nuro was born — and ramped up quickly — thanks to a cash windfall from what is now one of its biggest rivals.

In the spring of 2016, Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu were teammates on Google’s self-driving car effort. Ferguson was directing the project’s computer vision, machine learning and behavior prediction teams, while Zhu (widely JZ) was in charge of the car’s perception technologies and cutting-edge simulators.

“We both were leading pretty large teams and were responsible for a pretty large portion of the Google car’s software system,” Zhu recalls.

As Google prepared to spin out its autonomous car tech into the company that would become Waymo, it first needed to settle a bonus program devised in the earliest days of its so-called Chauffeur project. Under the scheme, early team members could choose staggered payouts over a period of eight years — or leave Google and get a lump sum all at once.

Ferguson and Zhu would not confirm the amount they received, but court filings released as part of Waymo’s trade secrets case against Uber suggest they each received payouts in the neighborhood of $40 million by choosing to leave.

“What we were fortunate enough to receive as part of the self-driving car project enabled us to take riskier opportunities, to go and try to build something that had a significant chance of not working out at all,” Ferguson says.

Within weeks of their departure, the two had incorporated Nuro Inc, a company with the non-ironic mission to “better everyday life through robotics.” Its first product aimed to take a unique approach to self-driving cars: Road vehicles with all of the technical sophistication and software smarts of Google’s robotaxis, but none of the passengers.

In the five years since, Nuro’s home delivery robots have proven themselves smart, safe and nimble, outpacing Google’s vehicles to secure the first commercial deployment permit for autonomous vehicles in California, as well as groundbreaking concessions from the U.S. government.

While robotaxi companies struggle with technical hitches and regulatory red tape, Nuro has already made thousands of robotic pizza and grocery deliveries across the U.S., and Ferguson (as president) and Zhu (as CEO) are now heading a company that as of its last funding round in November 2020 valued it at $5 billion with more than 1,000 employees.

But how did they get there so fast, and where are they headed next?

Turning money into robots

“Neither JZ nor I think of ourselves as classic entrepreneurs or that starting a company is something we had to do in our lives,” Ferguson says. “It was much more the result of soul searching and trying to figure out what is the biggest possible impact that we could have.”

#artificial-intelligence, #automation, #autonomous-vehicles, #dave-ferguson, #dominos-pizza, #ec-1, #electric-vehicles, #extra-crunch-ec-1, #fidelity-management-research-company, #google, #greylock-capital, #machine-learning, #nuro, #nuro-ec-1, #robotics, #self-driving-cars, #series-a, #softbank, #startups, #transportation, #waymo, #woven-planet

India’s Eruditus valued at $3.2 billion in $650 million fundraise

Mumbai-based Eruditus, which works with top universities globally to offer more than 100 executive-level courses to students in over 80 nations, said on Thursday it has raised $650 million in a new financing round led by Accel and SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

The new financing round — which includes both primary and secondary transactions — values the Indian startup at $3.2 billion, up from about $700 million a year ago. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board also participated in the new round.

Eruditus, which counts Chan Zuckerberg Initiative among its backers, maintains a tie-up with over 30 top-tier universities, including MIT, Harvard, Columbia, Cambridge, INSEAD, Wharton, UC Berkeley, IIT, IIM and NUS. The universities and Eruditus work to develop courses that are aimed at offering higher education to students. These courses cost anything between $5,000 to $40,000.

The new fundraise comes at a time when Indian startups are raising record capital from high-profile investors. India, which is the world’s second largest internet market, has produced over 23 unicorns this year (Eruditus is the 23rd), up from 11 last year and 6 in 2019. Some investors have also doubled down on the South Asian market after China, one of the other rare big growth markets, enforced a series of regulatory changes that has wiped hundreds of billions of dollars in recent weeks.

Eruditus is SoftBank’s second major bet on India’s edtech market. The Japanese investment firm has also backed Unacademy.

UpGrad, a Bangalore-based startup that specializes in higher education and upskilling courses, joined the unicorn club earlier this week. VerSe Innovation, which operates news aggregator service Dailyhunt and short video apps Josh, said early Thursday that it has raised over $450 million in a new financing round.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

#asia, #education, #eruditus, #funding, #india, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund-2

Turkey’s first decacorn: Trendyol raises $1.5B at a $16.5B valuation

Trendyol, an e-commerce platform based in Turkey, has raised $1.5 billion in a massive funding round that values the company at $16.5 billion. General Atlantic, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Princeville Capital and sovereign wealth funds, ADQ (UAE) and Qatar Investment Authority co-led the round. 

The deal marks SoftBank’s first in the country.

The new financing also makes Trendyol Turkey’s first decacorn, and among the highest-valued private tech companies in Europe. It comes just months after strategic — and majority — backer Alibaba invested $350 million in the company at a $9.4 billion valuation.

Founded in 2010, Trendyol ranks as Turkey’s largest e-commerce company, serving more than 30 million shoppers and delivering more than 1 million packages per day. It claims to have evolved from marketplace to “superapp” by combining its marketplace platform (which is powered by Trendyol Express, its own last-mile delivery solution) with instant grocery and food delivery through its own courier network (Trendyol Go), its digital wallet (Trendyol Pay), consumer-to-consumer channel (Dolap) and other services.

Trendyol founder Demet Suzan Mutlu said the new capital will go toward expansion within Turkey and globally. Specifically, the company plans to continue investing in nationwide infrastructure, technology and logistics and toward accelerating digitalization of Turkish SMEs. She said the company was founded to create positive impact and that it intends to continue on that mission.

Evren Ucok, Trendyol’s chairman,  added that part of the company’s goal is to create new export channels for Turkish merchants and manufacturers.

Melis Kahya Akar, managing director and head of consumer for EMEA at General Atlantic, said that Trendyol’s marketplace model — ranging from grocery delivery to mobile wallets — “brings convenience and ease to consumers” in Turkey and internationally.

“Turkey is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and benefits from attractive demographics, with a young population that is very active online,” wrote General Atlantic’s Kahya Akar via e-mail. “We expect its already sizable e-commerce market –$17 billion in 2020 – to continue to grow meaningfully on the back of growing online penetration. We think Trendyol is ideally positioned to meet the needs of consumers in Turkey and around the world as the company expands.”

A 2020 report by JPMorgan found that e-commerce represented only 5.3% of the overall Turkish retail market at the time but that Turkish e-commerce had notched impressive leaps in revenues in recent years: 2018 alone saw the market jump by 42%, followed by 31% in 2019. As of 2020, 67% of the Turkish population were making purchases online.

#alibaba, #apps, #demet-suzan-mutlu, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #europe, #food-delivery, #funding, #fundings-exits, #general-atlantic, #qatar-investment-authority, #recent-funding, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund, #startups, #trendyol, #turkey, #venture-capital

Human Interest raises $200M at a $1B valuation, plans for an IPO

Less than six months after raising $55 million in a Series C round of funding, SMB 401(k) provider Human Interest today announced it has raised $200 million in a round that propels it to unicorn status.

The Rise Fund, TPG’s global impact investing platform, led the round and was joined by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The financing included participation from new investor Crosslink Capital and existing backers NewView Capital, Glynn Capital, U.S. Venture Partners, Wing Venture Capital, Uncork Capital, Slow Capital, Susa Ventures and others. 

Over the past year, the San Francisco-based company has raised $305 million. With the latest financing, it has now raised a total of $336.7 million since its 2015 inception.

The company admittedly has an IPO in its sights, as evidenced by the appointment of former Yodlee CFO Mike Armsby to the role of CFO at Human Interest.

Human Interest’s digital retirement benefits platform allows users “to launch a retirement plan in minutes and put it on autopilot,” according to the company.  It also touts that it has eliminated all 401(k) transaction fees.

Demand for 401(k)s by SMBs appears to be at an all-time high, with Human Interest reporting that its sales tripled over the last year. The company has also more than doubled its headcount over the last 12 months to 350 employees.

The startup said it is seeing strong adoption in verticals that have not previously had retirement benefits, including construction, retail, manufacturing, restaurants, nonprofits, and hospitality. For example, over the past three quarters, Human Interest has seen 4.5x customer growth in the restaurant sector. Since the start of the pandemic, Human Interest has experienced 2x higher enrollment growth among hourly workers than salaried workers, and hourly worker assets have tripled.

“Promoting financial health is a core investment pillar for The Rise Fund. Human Interest delivers one of the most compelling solutions to the persistent problem that roughly half of Americans will not have enough savings when they reach retirement age,” said Maya Chorengel, co-managing partner at The Rise Fund, in a written statement. “Despite recent legislation, primarily at the state level, legacy programs have not, to date, produced the same participant outcomes as Human Interest.”

The company said it will be using its new capital to expand its network of integrations and partnerships with financial advisors, benefits brokers and payroll companies. It also expects to, naturally, do some hiring –– another 200 employees by year’s end, primarily in its product, engineering, and revenue teams.

The 401(k) for SMB space is heating up as of late. In June, competitor Guideline also raised $200 million in a round led by General Atlantic. 

#crosslink-capital, #finance, #funding, #fundings-exits, #glynn-capital, #human-interest, #recent-funding, #san-francisco, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund, #startups, #susa-ventures, #uncork-capital, #venture-capital, #wing-venture-capital

Newtopia closes first fund of $50M to invest in LatAm startups

Early-stage venture capital fund Newtopia VC launched Monday with $50 million to invest in tech startups based in Latin America.

The fund will invest between $250,000 and $1 million in startups at the seed stage to help them achieve the milestones needed on the path to raising a Series A.

Newtopia is led by five major players in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem:

  • Patricio Jutard, co-founder of MURAL;
  • Mariano Mayer, former national secretary for entrepreneurs and SMEs in Argentina and founder of Marea Venture Partners;
  • Sacha Spitz, co-founder and partner of Yavu Ventures and former director at the Universidad de San Andrés incubation program;
  • Jorge Aguado, former national science, technology and innovation secretary in Argentina;
  • Juan Pablo Lafosse, founder and former CEO of Almundo.

The group has already invested in startups in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, including Aleph (B2B SaaS for e-commerce), Apperto (social commerce), Choiz (healthtech), Exactly (DeFi), Elevva (e-commerce brands), Inipay (fintech), Leef (sustainability), Wibson (e-privacy) and Yerbo (wellness).

Mayer told TechCrunch that he sees a great moment happening in Latin America around global venture capital firms — like Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and SoftBank —making bets in the region, especially targeting later-stage investments. There are home-grown venture capital firms doing well, too, citing Kazek’s $1 billion funds.

“However, we see a gap in investments in seed and road to Series A,” he added. “We aim to help entrepreneurs in those stages. Newtopia started with conversations during the pandemic, and now we see a big momentum for transformation of traditional sectors and the talent to make businesses out of these opportunities.”

Newtopia is offering both investment and a hands-on mentorship model to guide startups through the initial stages so they can grow regionally or globally. The fund has already amassed a community of more than 70 founders to invest, advise and be venture partners to the portfolio companies.

The Newtopia 10-Week Program works with companies to find product-market fit, achieve initial goals and set a foundation for further growth. The firm opened the call for applicants and will select 10 startups to receive a spot in the program and $100,000 each.

By taking a lead in early-stage investing, it will feed the rest of the venture capital firms that are doing later-stage investing, Mayer said.

He sees investments growing in Latin America every year, estimating there was a record $4 billion spread across the region, turning some companies into unicorns, including Jutard’s Mural, which raised $50 million in July. That has more than validated that there will be more money in coming years, Mayer added.

Jutard said the fund’s founders were all investing or mentoring companies on their own, but the new funding will enable them to structure that assistance to help hundreds of startups rather than a handful.

“Early-stage companies go through an emotional rollercoaster where they feel alone, encounter times when it is hard to sell their product or recruit, so we are focused on building a community of support,” Jutard added.

#andreessen-horowitz, #argentina, #funding, #latin-america, #mariano-mayer, #newtopia-vc, #patricio-jutard, #sequoia-capital, #softbank, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

Growth is not enough

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

We were a smaller team this week, with Natasha and Alex together with Grace and Chris to sort through a week that brought together both this quarter’s earnings cycle, and the Q3 IPO rush. So, it was just a little busy!

Before we get to topics, however, a note that we are having a lot of fun recording these live on Twitter Spaces. We’ve found a hacky way to capture local audio and also share the chats live. So, hit us up on Twitter so you can hang out with us. It’s fun – and we may even bring you up on stage to play guest host.

Ok, now, to the Great List of Subjects:

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PDT, Wednesday, and Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

#alphabet, #ascap, #class, #contentful, #earnings, #electric-vehicles, #equity, #equity-podcast, #fundings-exits, #lordstown-motors, #microsoft, #oova, #peppy, #redwood-materials, #robinhood, #robinhood-ipo, #shopify, #softbank, #squire, #startups, #tesla, #tiger-global

Microsoft in talks to back India’s Oyo

Indian budget hotel chain Oyo may have lost a significant portion of its business amid the pandemic, but it is inching closer to finding a new investor: Microsoft.

Microsoft is in advanced stages of talks to invest in Oyo, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The size of the investment and the valuation are unclear. Oyo was valued at about $10 billion in 2019, though SoftBank, a major investor in Oyo, had slashed the Indian startup’s valuation to $3 billion earlier this year.

The deal may also involve Oyo shifting to use Microsoft’s cloud services, one of the people said. Both the sources requested anonymity as the matter is private.

Microsoft and Oyo founder and chief executive Ritesh Agarwal declined to comment Thursday evening.

The Indian startup, which laid off thousands of employees globally earlier this year as nations across the world enforced lockdowns, still has between $780 million to $800 million in its bank, Agarwal said at a recent virtual conference. (The startup had about $1 billion in the bank in December 2020.)

The pandemic hit the startup like a “cyclone,” he told Bloomberg TV earlier this month. “We built something for so many years and it took just 30 days for it drop by over 60%,” he said.

Earlier this month, and after Agarwal’s remarks at the aforementioned conference, Oyo said it had raised $660 million in debt. That debt was used to clear the previous debt, a third person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

If the deal materializes, it will be Microsoft’s latest investment in an Indian startup. The firm has backed a handful of startups in the past, including news aggregator and short-video platform DailyHunt.

#asia, #funding, #india, #microsoft, #oyo, #softbank

Paystand banks $50M to make B2B payments cashless and with no fees

It’s pretty easy for individuals to send money back and forth, and there are lots of cash apps from which to choose. On the commercial side, however, one business trying to send $100,000 the same way is not as easy.

Paystand wants to change that. The Scotts Valley, California-based company is using cloud technology and the Ethereum blockchain as the engine for its Paystand Bank Network that enables business-to-business payments with zero fees.

The company raised $50 million Series C funding led by NewView Capital, with participation from SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund and King River Capital. This brings the company’s total funding to $85 million, Paystand co-founder and CEO Jeremy Almond told TechCrunch.

During the 2008 economic downturn, Almond’s family lost their home. He decided to go back to graduate school and did his thesis on how commercial banking could be better and how digital transformation would be the answer. Gleaning his company vision from the enterprise side, Almond said what Venmo does for consumers, Paystand does for commercial transactions between mid-market and enterprise customers.

“Revenue is the lifeblood of a business, and money has become software, yet everything is in the cloud except for revenue,” he added.

He estimates that almost half of enterprise payments still involve a paper check, while fintech bets heavily on cards that come with 2% to 3% transaction fees, which Almond said is untenable when a business is routinely sending $100,000 invoices. Paystand is charging a flat monthly rate rather than a fee per transaction.

Paystand’s platform. Image Credits: Paystand

On the consumer side, companies like Square and Stripe were among the first wave of companies predominantly focused on accounts payable and then building business process software on top of an existing infrastructure.

Paystand’s view of the world is that the accounts receivables side is harder and why there aren’t many competitors. This is why Paystand is surfing the next wave of fintech, driven by blockchain and decentralized finance, to transform the $125 trillion B2B payment industry by offering an autonomous, cashless and feeless payment network that will be an alternative to cards, Almond said.

Customers using Paystand over a three-year period are able to yield average benefits like 50% savings on the cost of receivables and $850,000 savings on transaction fees. The company is seeing a 200% increase in monthly network payment value and customers grew two-fold in the past year.

The company said it will use the new funding to continue to grow the business by investing in open infrastructure. Specifically, Almond would like to reboot digital finance, starting with B2B payments, and reimagine the entire CFO stack.

“I’ve wanted something like this to exist for 20 years,” Almond said. “Sometimes it is the unsexy areas that can have the biggest impacts.”

As part of the investment, Jazmin Medina, principal at NewView Capital, will join Paystand’s board. She told TechCrunch that while the venture firm is a generalist, it is rooted in fintech and fintech infrastructure.

She also agrees with Almond that the B2B payments space is lagging in terms of innovation and has “strong conviction” in what Almond is doing to help mid-market companies proactively manage their cash needs.

“There is a wide blue ocean of the payment industry, and all of these companies have to be entirely digital to stay competitive,” Medina added. “There is a glaring hole if your revenue is holding you back because you are not digital. That is why the time is now.”

 

#blockchain, #enterprise, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #jazmin-medina, #jeremy-almond, #king-river-capital, #mobile-payments, #newview-capital, #payments, #paystand, #recent-funding, #saas, #softbank, #startups, #stripe, #tc, #venmo, #venture-capital

Cyber risk startup Safe Security lands $33M from UK telco BT

Safe Security, a Silicon Valley cyber risk management startup, has secured a $33 million investment from U.K. telco BT. 

Founded in 2012, Safe Security — formerly known as Lucideus — helps organizations to measure and mitigate enterprise-wide cyber risk using its security assessment framework for enterprises (SAFE) platform. The service, which is used by a number of companies including Facebook, Softbank and Xiaomi, helps businesses understand their likelihood of suffering a major cyberattack, calculates a financial cost to customers’ risks and provides actionable insight on the steps that can be taken to address them.

This funding round saw participation from Safe Security’s existing investors, including former Cisco chairman and chief executive John Chambers, and brings the total amount raised by Safe Security to $49.2 million.

BT said the investment, which is its first major third-party investment in cybersecurity since 2006, reflected its plans to grow rapidly in the sector. Philip Jansen, BT CEO said: “Cybersecurity is now at the top of the agenda for businesses and governments, who need to be able to trust that they’re protected against increasing levels of attack. 

“Already one of the world’s leading providers in a highly fragmented security market, this investment is a clear sign of BT’s ambition to grow further.”

The startup’s co-founder and chief executive Saket Modi said he was “delighted” to be working with BT.

“By aligning BT’s global reach and capabilities with SAFE’s ability to provide real-time visibility on cyber risk posture, we are going to fundamentally change how security is measured and managed across the globe,” he said.

As part of the investment, which will see Safe Security double its engineering team by the end of the year, BT will combine the SAFE platform with its managed security services, and gain exclusive rights to use and sell SAFE to businesses and public sector bodies in the UK. BT will also work collaboratively with Safe Security to develop future products, according to an announcement from the company.

Safe Security’s competitors include UpGuard, Exabeam, VisibleRisk.

#bt, #ceo, #cisco, #computer-security, #computing, #cyberattack, #cybercrime, #cyberwarfare, #exabeam, #facebook, #funding, #philip-jansen, #security, #softbank, #united-kingdom, #xiaomi

Ethos picks up $100M at a $2.7B+ valuation for a big data platform to improve life insurance accessibility

More than half of the U.S. population has stayed away from considering life insurance because they believe it’s probably too expensive, and the most common way to buy it today is in person. A startup that’s built a platform that aims to break down those conventions and democratize the process by making life insurance (and the benefits of it) more accessible is today announcing significant funding to fuel its rapidly growing business.

Ethos, which uses more than 300,000 data points online to determine a person’s eligibility for life insurance policies, which are offered as either term or whole life packages starting at $8/month, has picked up $100 million from a single investor, SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Peter Colis, Ethos’s CEO and co-founder, said that the funding brings the startup’s valuation to over $2.7 billion.

This is a quick jump for the the company: it was only two months ago that Ethos picked up a $200 million equity round at a valuation of just over $2 billion.

It’s now raised $400 million to date and has amassed a very illustrious group of backers. In addition to SoftBank they include General Catalyst, Sequoia Capital; Accel; GV; Jay-Z’s Roc Nation; Glade Brook Capital Partners; Will Smith and Robert Downey Jr.

This latest injection of funding — which will be used to hire more people and continue to expand its product set into adjacent areas of insurance life critical illness coverage — was unsolicited, Colis said, but comes on the heels of very rapid growth.

Ethos — which is sold currently only in the U.S. across 49 states — has seen both revenues and user numbers grow by over 500% compared to a year ago, and it’s on track to issue some $20 billion in life insurance coverage this year. And it is approaching $100 million in annualized growth profit. Ethos itself is not yet profitable, Colis said.

There are a couple of trends going on that speak to a wide opportunity for Ethos at the moment.

The first of these is the current market climate: globally we are still battling the Covid-19 global health pandemic, and one impact of that — in particular given how Covid-19 has not spared any age group or demographic — has been more awareness of our mortality. That inevitably leads at least some part of the population to considering something like life insurance coverage that might not have thought about it previously.

However, Colis is a little skeptical on the lasting impact of that particular trend. “We saw an initial surge of demand in the Covid period, but then it regressed back to normal,” he said in an interview. Those who were more inclined to think about life insurance around Covid-19 might have come around to considering it regardless: it was being driven, he said, by those with pre-existing health conditions going into the pandemic.

That, interestingly, brings up the second trend, which goes beyond our present circumstances and Colis believes will have the more lasting impact.

While there have been a number of startups, and even incumbent providers, looking to rethink other areas of insurance such as car, health and property coverage, life insurance has been relatively untouched, especially in some markets like the U.S. Traditionally, someone taking out life insurance goes through a long vetting process, which is not all carried out online and can involve medical examinations and more, and yes, it can be expensive: the stereotype you might best know is that only wealthier people take out life insurance policies.

Much like companies in fintech who have rethought how loan applications (and payback terms) can be rethought and evaluated afresh using big data — pulling in a new range of information to form a picture of the applicant and the likelihood of default or not — Ethos is among the companies that is applying that same concept to a different problem. The end result is a much faster turnaround for applications, a considerably cheaper and more flexible offer (term life insurance lasts for only as long as a person pays for it to), and generally a lot more accessibility for everyone potentially interested. That pool of data is growing all the time.

“Every month, we get more intelligent,” said Colis.

There is also the matter of what Ethos is actually selling. The company itself is not an insurance provider but an “insuretech” — similar to how neobanks use APIs to integrate banking services that have been built by others, which they then wrap with their own customer service, personalization and more — Ethos integrates with third-party insurance underwriters, providing customer service, more efficient onboarding (no in-person medical exams for example) and personalization (both in packages and pricing) around them. Given how staid and hard it is to get more traditional policies, it’s essentially meant completely open water for Ethos in terms of finding and securing new customers.

Ethos’s rise comes at a time when we are seeing other startups approaching and rethinking life insurance also in the U.S. and further afield. Last week, YuLife in the UK raised a big round to further build out its own take on life insurance, which is to sell policies that are linked to an individual’s own health and wellness practices — the idea being that this will make you happier and give more reason to pay for a policy that otherwise feels like some dormant investment; but also that it could help you live longer (Sproutt is another also looking at how to emphasize the “life” aspect of life insurance). Others like  DeadHappy and BIMA are, like Ethos, rethinking accessibility of life insurance for a wider set of demographics.

There are some signs that Ethos is catching on with its mission to expand that pool, not just grow business among the kind of users who might have already been considering and would have taken out life insurance policies. The startup said that more than 40% of its new policy holders in the first half of 2021 had incomes of $60,000 or less, and nearly 40% of new policy holders were under the age of 40. The professions of those customers also speak to that democratization: the top five occupations, it said were homemaker, insurance agent, business owner, teacher, and registered nurse.

That traction is likely one reason why SoftBank came knocking.

“Ethos is leveraging data and its vertically integrated tech stack to fundamentally transform life insurance in the U.S.,” said Munish Varma, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a statement. “Through a fast and user-friendly online application process, the company can accurately underwrite and insure a broad segment of customers quickly. We are excited to partner with Peter Colis and the exceptional team at Ethos.”

#enterprise, #ethos, #finance, #funding, #health, #insurance, #insuretech, #insurtech, #life-insurance, #softbank, #tc

Indian food delivery startup Swiggy raises $1.25 billion led by SoftBank and Prosus

It took SoftBank several years, but finally the Japanese investment giant is ready to bet on India’s food delivery market. Swiggy said on Tuesday it has closed a $1.25 billion financing round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Prosus Ventures.

The new financing round, a Series J, includes the $800 million investment the Bangalore-based startup had disclosed to employees earlier this year. (SoftBank alone invested $450 million in the new round.) The new round, which Swiggy says was “heavily oversubscribed,” gives the food delivery startup a post-money valuation of $5.5 billion.

TechCrunch had first reported about Swiggy’s engagement with SoftBank and the proposed valuation of $5.5 billion in mid-April. Qatar Investment Authority, Falcon Edge Capital, Amansa Capital, Goldman Sachs, Think Investments and Carmignac and existing investors Accel Partners and Wellington Management also participated in the new round.

Swiggy said the new financing round shows the turnaround it has demonstrated in the past few quarters. Like many other startups, Swiggy was severely hit with the pandemic. The startup said its recent bet to expand into grocery delivery, and pick-up and drop service has paid off.

“The participation of some of the most visionary global investors is a huge vote of confidence in Swiggy’s mission and ability to build an enduring and iconic company out of India. The scope of food delivery in India is massive and over the next few years, we will continue to invest aggressively into growing this category,” said Sriharsha Majety, chief executive of Swiggy, in a statement.

“Our biggest investments will be in our non-food businesses that have witnessed tremendous consumer love and growth in a short span, especially in the past 15 months of the pandemic. I believe the next 10-15 years offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for companies like Swiggy as the Indian middle class expands and our target segment for convenience grows to 500 million users.”

The new investment comes at a time when Indian startups are raising record capital and a handful of mature firms are beginning to explore the public markets. Zomato, Swiggy’s chief rival in India, raised $1.3 billion in its initial public offering last week and financial services startups Paytm and MobiKwik have also filed for their initial public offerings.

At stake is India’s food delivery market, which analysts at Bernstein expect to balloon to be worth $12 billion by 2022, they wrote in a report to clients earlier this year. A third player, Amazon, also entered the food delivery market in India last year, though its operations are still limited to parts of Bangalore. At a virtual conference ahead of the IPO, Zomato executives dismissed Amazon as a serious competitor for now. “There’s no major impact on market share from Amazon so far,” the company’s chief financial officer said.

For SoftBank, a regular fixture of India’s startup, this is the first time it has bet on the food delivery market. The Japanese conglomerate has backed Indian startups in multiple categories including e-commerce (Flipkart, Snapdeal, Meesho, Lenskart, Firstcry), ride-hailing (Uber and Ola), and edtech (Unacademy). SoftBank has invested in several food delivery startups globally including DoorDash and Uber Eats. Prosus Ventures, an early investor in Swiggy, has also backed several food delivery startups globally.

“From its early days, I have had the privilege to watch Swiggy execute on their vision to become the leader in the convenience economy. Their focus on consumer delight, product innovation, and ecosystem support has made Swiggy a compelling digital experience in India. They have the railroads in place to empower multiple businesses to reach the new age consumer on a daily basis, and food delivery is just the beginning,” said Sumer Juneja, Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a statement.

Swiggy said it will deploy the fresh funds to accelerate its “multi-year strategy” of growing its core food delivery business and building new food and non-food adjacencies this year and beyond.

#apps, #asia, #food, #funding, #prosus-ventures, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund-2, #swiggy, #zomato

Colombian on-demand delivery startup Rappi raises ‘over’ $500M at a $5.25B valuation

Rappi, a Colombian on-demand delivery startup, has raised “over” $500 million at a $5.25 billion valuation in a Series G round led by T. Rowe Price, the company announced late Friday.

Baillie Gifford, Third Point, Octahedron, GIC SoftBank, DST Global, Y Combinator, Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital and others also participated in the round.

The new financing brings Rappi’s total raised since its 2015 inception to over $2 billion, according to Crunchbase. Today, the country has operations in 9 countries and more than 250 cities across Latin America. Its last raise was a $300 million a Series F funding round in September of 2020.

According to the Latin American Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (LAVCA), Rappi focused on delivering beverages and first, and has since expanded into meals, groceries, tech goods and medicine. The company also offers a cash withdrawal feature, allowing users to pay with credit cards and then receive cash from one of Rappi’s delivery agents. Today, the company says its app allows consumers to “order nearly any good or service.”

In addition to traditional delivery, it says “users can get products delivered in less than 10 minutes, can access financial services, as well as ‘whims,” and “favors.’ Whims allow users to order anything available in their coverage area. Favors offer an array of custom services, such as running an errand, going to the hardware store or picking out and delivering a gift. The two products allow users to connect directly with a courier. 

Simón Borrero, Sebastian Mejia, and Felipe Villamarin launched the company in 2015, graduating from Y Combinator the following year. A16z’s initial investment in July 2016 was the Silicon Valley firm’s first investment in Latin America, according to LAVCA.

#andreessen-horowitz, #apps, #baillie-gifford, #colombia, #companies, #delivery, #dst-global, #feature, #funding, #fundings-exits, #gic, #latin-america, #online-food-ordering, #rappi, #recent-funding, #reddit, #sequoia-capital, #softbank, #softbank-group, #startup, #startups, #t-rowe-price, #venture-capital, #websites, #y-combinator

India’s GlobalBees raises $150 million to build Thrasio-like house of brands

The universe of Indian firms attempting to replicate Thrasio’s success in the world’s second largest internet market just got bigger. Three-month-old GlobalBees said on Monday it has raised $150 million in a Series A financing round led by FirstCry.

Lightspeed Venture Partners also invested in the new financing round, which is $75 million in equity and $75 million in debt. Even with a $75 million equity raise, Monday’s announcement makes GlobalBees’ round the largest Series A funding in India.

Founded by Nitin Agarwal, formerly of Edelweiss Financial, and Supam Maheshwari, a founder of FirstCry, GlobalBees acquires and partners with digitally native brands across categories such as beauty, personal care, home and kitchen, food and nutrition, and sports and lifestyle with a revenue rate of $1 million to $20 million.

The startup then helps these firms scale and sell to marketplaces and through other channels in India and outside the South Asian market, Agarwal told TechCrunch in an interview. He said GlobalBees has already acquired or partnered with over a dozen brands and they are selling both in India and outside of the country.

“At FirstCry, we created a lot of brands and realized that most of these brands reach a scale after which it becomes too difficult to scale them,” he said. “Supam and I have been talking about this for several years, trying to find ways to disrupt this market. We think there’s an opportunity to create a new house of brands that is digital native.”

Agarwal said GlobalBees will attempt to build a distribution and enterprise ecosystem in the online space similar to how traditional firms have established those connections in the offline world. (Not all brands GlobalBees engages with will get acquired on day one, Agarwal said. Typically, some brands get acquired in a span of three years or so, he said.)

“The time it takes for D2C brands to go from 0 – 100Cr (about $13 million) in revenue has more than halved over the past few years,” said Harsha Kumar, Partner at Lightspeed Venture, in a statement.

“We believe that this creates a unique opportunity to create a brand house much faster as well. With their past entrepreneurial stints together and their experience in building one of the largest ecommerce platforms in India, the duo of Supam and Nitin is the perfect team to go after this idea. Lightspeed is thrilled to be part of this journey!” said Kumar, who is joining the board of GlobalBees.

Scores of startups in India today are trying to attempt to replicate what is popularly known as the Thrasio-model. Mensa Brands, a similar venture by former fashion e-commerce Myntra chief executive, recently raised $50 million in equity and debt. 10club, another similar startup, recently raised $40 million — though much of it is in debt. TechCrunch reported last month that UpScale, another prominent player in this space, is in advanced talks with Germany’s Razor Group to raise capital.

Like Thrasio, several of these firms are trying to acquire brands that sell midrange to high-end products in categories where competition is limited. In fact, some of the categories that are common among these brands are so underappreciated that even Amazon and other e-commerce firms have not explored them through their private label ecosystems.

GlobalBees’ Agarwal agreed with this assessment, though he added that not all brands are operating in niche categories.

New York-headquartered Thrasio, which has raised over $1.3 billion in equity and debt since December last year, had acquired or otherwise consolidated about 6,000 third-party sellers on Amazon as of earlier this year.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

#asia, #ecommerce, #funding, #india, #lightspeed, #softbank, #thrasio

Cybereason raises $275M at Series F, adds Steven Mnuchin to board

Cybereason, a US-Israeli late-stage cybersecurity startup that provides extended detection and response (XDR) services, has secured $275 million in Series F funding. 

The investment was led by Liberty Strategic Capital, a venture capital fund recently founded by Steven Mnuchin, who served as U.S. Treasury Secretary under the Trump administration. As part of the deal, Mnuchin will join Cybereason’s board of directors, along with Liberty advisor Gen. Joseph Dunford, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Trump until his retirement in 2019.

Lior Div, CEO and co-founder of Cybereason, tells TechCrunch that the startup’s decision to work with Liberty Strategy Capital came down to the firm’s “massive network” and the “understanding of the financial and government markets that Mnuchin and Gen. Joseph Dunford bring to our team.”

“For example, the executive order on cybersecurity put out by the Biden Administration recommends that endpoint detection and response solutions be deployed on all endpoints,” Dior added. “This accelerates the importance of solutions like ours in the public market, and Liberty Strategic Capital has the relationships to help accelerate our go-to-market strategy in the federal sector.”

This round, which will be used to fuel “hypergrowth driven by strong market demand,” follows $389 million in prior funding from SoftBank, CRV, Spark Capital, and Lockheed Martin. The company didn’t state at what valuation it raised the funds, but it is estimated to be in the region of $3 billion.

Cybereason’s recent growth, which saw it end 2020 at over $120 million in annual recurring revenue, has been largely driven by its AI-powered platform. Unlike traditional alert-centric models, Cybereason’s Defense Platform is operation-centric, which means it exposes and remediates entire malicious operations. The service details the full attack story from root cause to impacted users and devices, which the company claims significantly reduces the time taken to investigate and recover from an enterprise-wide cyber attack. 

The company, whose competitors include the likes of BlackBerry-owned Cylance and CrowdStrike, also this week expanded its channel presence with the launch of its so-called Defenders League, a global program that enables channel partners to use its technology and services to help their customers prevent and recover from cyberattacks. Cybereason claims its technology has helped protect customers from the likes of the recent SolarWinds supply-chain attack and other high-profile ransomware attacks launched by DarkSide, REvil, and Conti groups. 

Today’s $275 million funding round is likely to be Cybereason’s last before it goes public. Div previously said in August 2019 the company planned to IPO within two years, though he wouldn’t be pressed on whether the company is gearing up to go public when asked by TechCrunch. However, the company did compare its latest investment to SentinelOne‘s November 2020 Series F round, which was secured just months before it filed for a $100 million IPO.

#artificial-intelligence, #biden-administration, #companies, #computing, #crowdstrike, #crv, #cybereason, #cylance, #donald-trump, #executive, #funding, #lockheed-martin, #neuberger-berman, #president, #security, #softbank, #softbank-group, #solarwinds, #spark-capital, #steve-mnuchin, #techcrunch, #united-states

Mmhmm raises $100M, which is a fun thing to say to people who don’t follow tech

If you’re a frequent TechCrunch reader, you probably already know about mmhmm, the startup with the name you likely either love or hate. It’s Phil Libin’s second act after Evernote, and it’s a startup born of the pandemic maybe more so than any other, providing improved video chat tools including automatic background removal and advanced presentation features. The company, which is just over a year old, has now raised a total of around $140 million thanks to a fresh injection of $100 million first reported by Bloomberg on Tuesday, which is somewhat astounding if you remember using the first early beta versions like me.

Startups with silly names raising lots of money is hardly an exceptional occurrence in tech, but Libin’s startup earns extra credit for barely having a name at all (it’s really just a sound). The company was built on the idea that current video tools really fail to provide users with access to all the potential that modern technology offers, particularly when it comes to presentations. Mmhmm’s core presenter tools help your meetings look more like professional newscasts than warmed over digital versions of transparency slideshows and whiteboard scrawls, and the company has steadily been adding features and improving its performance through frequent iterations since its founding.

As it stands, mmhmm works in tandem with the existing video services that people use for virtual meetings, including Zoom. But Bloomberg says it’s going to go standalone as well, and introduce a mobile app version. That sounds like a good use of the new funds, which come from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital and more.

Even projecting forward to a post-pandemic world where virtual meetings are less important, they’re probably still a permanent part of the working world. But mmhmm’s feature set also seems to almost define the concept of ‘feature, not product’ that is presented as a cautionary tale to startups crafting wings of wax and soaring as high as they can in terms of raises and valuation.

#evernote, #mmhmm, #phil-libin, #presentation-software, #sequoia-capital, #softbank, #softbank-group, #startups, #tc, #video-conferencing, #video-services