Category: Startup

Softbank Warns Of Longer Startup Winter Due To Unicorn Founders Unwilling To Cut Valuations

Softbank Group has recently reported a quarterly loss of more than $23 billion. The company said this net loss in the June quarter “was recorded mainly due to the monetization of investments in public portfolio companies.” As a result, this may cause a longer funding winter for startups. 

Masayoshi Son, the founder and chief executive of SoftBank Group, is due to the unicorn founder’s unwillingness to accept lower valuation in fresh funding deliberation. This assertion has led the 64-year-old executive, whose Vision Funds have backed over 470 startups globally in the past six years, to believe that the “funding winter” may last longer for unlisted companies. 

Masayoshi said unicorn leaders “still believe in their valuations, and they wouldn’t accept that they may have to see their valuations go lower than they think.” The 64-year-old executive also stated that the winter for publicly-listed companies is continuing, but a similar downturn for startups may last longer.” 

Startups worldwide are facing a sharp crunch in funding as investors grow cautious about the market conditions – despite increasing, startups are raising record amounts of funds in recent months. Klarna, a SoftBank-backed firm, raised $800 million in new financing round that valued the firm at $6.7 billion, down from $45.6 billion a year ago. In another case, Stripe, one of the world’s most valuable startups, cut its valuation by 28% in an internal assessment. 

The founder of SoftBank Group, about the market conditions, said that “Now seems like the perfect time to invest when the stock market is down so much, and I have the urge to do so, but if I act on it, we could suffer a blow that would be irreversible, and that is unacceptable.”

Comparing the company’s last year’s investment profile to the current year, SoftBank invested $600 million in the quarter that ended in June, down from $20.6 billion during the same period a year ago. The company has also reduced the size of its check, taking only 5% to 10% ownership in firms it backs. 

Other high-profile investors, including, Sequoia, Lightspeed, and Y Combinator, have advised their portfolio founders to “plan for the worst” and accelerate any fundraising deliberation if the runway isn’t long enough. 

The quarterly loss is the company’s biggest. Masayoshi Son expressed his remorse, stating, “When we were turning out big profits, I became somewhat delirious, and looking back at myself now. I am quite embarrassed and remorseful.”

Xpressbees raise $24.6-million from Avendus’ Future Leaders Fund II

India-based Logistics unicorn Xpressbees has secured $24.6-million as a secondary investment from Avendus’ fund, Avendus Future Leaders Fund II. 

Before this latest development, Xpressbees’ parent company Busybees Logistics Solutions, reported a 33% growth in its operating revenue and narrowed the company’s losses by 36% in the financial year 2020-2021. 

Amitava Saha, the founder of Xpressbee stated that, “We are excited to partner with Avendus at this stage as we continue our journey to become a leading end-to-end logistics player. We have built a valuable brand and believe this announcement is a great testament to the opportunity that exists in the logistics space.”

The company was founded by Amitava Saha and Supam Maheshwari in 2015; Xpressbees is a spin-off of a children-focused e-commerce marketplace FirstCry. 

The company claims to be managing 100hubs across the country, having more than 10 Lakh square feet warehouse capacity. 

Xpressbees currently operates in 3000 Indian cities, the logistics start-up delivers more than 1.5-million packages per day. 

In February this year, Xpressbees joined attained its unicorn status after raising $300-million in its Series F funding round at a post-money valuation of $1.2-billion. 

Regarding the funds raised, Ritesh Chandra, the managing partner at Aventus Future Leaders Fund, said that “ Xpressbees, with its asset-light franchise model coupled with cutting-edge technology deployment across all its functions, is all set to occupy a leading position in the logistics landscape in India. Avendus is truly excited to partner with them in this journey of value creation.” 

Avendus Future Leaders Fund II was founded in 2021 to manage an asset under management (AUM) of nearly INR 1500 Cr (approximately $190-million). Its portfolio companies include Lenskart, SBI General Insurance, Licious, Juspay, Zeta, etc. 

Xpressbees competes with the likes of a listed logistic startups such as Delhivery and IPO-bound startup Ecom Express. 

 

Malaysia-based TNG Digital Raises $168.3-Million From The Latest Equity Funding Round

Touch ‘n Go Group announced today that TNG Digital Sdn Bhd that the latest equity funding round has resulted in a fresh injection of  RM750-million ($168.3-million) into TNG Digital. 

In a statement on Monday, TNG said the funding round was led by new investment in TNG Digital, the Lazada group, and a follow-on investment by TNG Digital’s current shareholder and parent company, Touch ‘n Go Sdn Bhd. 

According to the company, the latest investment solidifies the collaboration between key segment leaders in e-commerce and digital financial services and payments. Additionally, Touch ‘n Go group CEO Effendy Shahul Hamid said this collaboration would bring next-level value propositions to users and merchant bases across the Lazada and Touch ‘n Go ecosystem. 

A statement by Effendy today said, “The funding round also sets us up nicely for our next phase of growth. We will continue to expand in all areas of digital financial services and ensure that our user base is served in an innovative and inclusive manner.” 

Meanwhile, Alan Chan – CEO of Lazada Malaysia, stated that he sees digital payment services as a critical bolt-on to bring the best customer experience to its online shopping platform. 

He went on to state that “Lazada is fully committed to providing seamless customer journey, as well as being a catalyst to stimulate capacity building among our sellers, primarily local SME and MSME. Our long-standing partnership with Touch ‘n Go eWallet has served our customers well, allowing buyers to check out easily and quickly. Today’s announcement fortifies that partnership, and we are excited by the prospects it presents for both our companies.” 

The latest funding round brought the total amount raised by TNG Digital in the last 18 months to over RM1-billion. Most notably, in August 2021, TNG Digital received around RM312-million of investment from AIA Malaysia and a US-based private equity firm BowWave Capital. According to a report by The Edge in April, the investment resulted in a 3.76% and 7.52% stake in TNG Digital for both companies, respectively.

TNG eWallet has been accepted as one of the payment methods in Lazada since 2019, showing the long-standing relationship between the company and the e-commerce platform. 

Besides being an eWallet, TNG Digital is currently the primary payment channel for RFID payments for toll and petrol purchases. Recently, they have also introduced a new TNG Card with NFC, which allows seamless top-ups directly from the eWallet using an NFC-enabled smartphone. 

The company is also looking to expand into the fintech game by introducing Go+ and GoInvest investment products and GoPinjam personal loans. 

Indian Fintech Startup OneCard raises $100-million in funding, attaining unicorn status

Indian fintech company OneCard has attained unicorn status after its latest funding round, which valued the company at a whopping $1.4-billion. This valuation makes the company India’s 104th member of the country’s club of unicorns. 

Singapore state investor Temasek led the fundraising with participation from investors such as Sequoia Capital India, Ocean View Investment, QED Holdings, Matrix Partners, and Hummingbird. 

The Series D funding round saw the company raise over $100-million, valued at over $1.4-billion, up from the company’s Series C valuation of about $750-million in January this year, which was participated by QED Investors, Sequoia, Matrix Partners, and Hummingbird Ventures. 

The Series D fundraise comes days after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cracked down on non-banking-led credit lines via prepaid payment instruments (PPIs). However, OneCard claimed that the crackdown did not impact the company. Temasek India’s managing director, Mohit Bhandari, stated that “OneCard is not impacted by the PPI guidelines because it was not a PPI issuer and like some of the other companies, which now have to rebuild their business model.”

OneCard is owned by FPL Technologies, founded in 2019 by Rupesh Kumar, Anurag Sinha, and Vibhav Hathi. It also operates an app called OneScore, which helps users understand and learn their credit scores. 

OneCard operates a mobile-first credit card which the startup partners with banks. The credit card also comes without joining or an annual fee, giving customers more control and flexibility over how and where they transact. Additionally, it offers a range of personalized rewards and loans to customers. 

The company claimed earlier this year that it had amassed over 250,000 customers. These customers were spending about $60-million with its cards each month. It currently offers services in 12 cities across India, including Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and NCR. 

 

Blockchain Unicorn Animoca Brands raises US$75-million at a $5.5-billion valuation

Hong Kong-based blockchain gaming firm Animoca Brands announced today that it had raised $75-million at a $5.5-billion valuation even as the markets suffer from the collapse in cryptocurrency prices. 

The latest funding round is Animoca’s fifth since the beginning of last year. The latest raise is supported by investors like Liberty City Ventures, Kingsway Capital, Alpha Waves Ventures, 10T, SG Spring Limited Partnership Fund, Generation Highway Ltd, and Cosmic Summit Investments Limited. 

Animoca’s co-founder Yat Siu said in a statement that the funding round was delayed because some investors were worried about the collapse of TerraUSD and its impact on the cryptocurrency markets. 

The company has invested in more than 340 companies to build its vision of a “metaverse” based on blockchain technology. Using cryptocurrencies, virtual assets can be bought and sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). 

The company has invested in numerous leading Web3 companies, including Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shots, OpenSea, and Axie Infinity. The firm also has a majority stake in the metaverse game The Sandbox. 

Animoca Brands uses technologies including blockchain and NFTs to deliver true digital ownership of users’ virtual assets and data. This enables various Defi and GameFi opportunities (including play-and-earn), asset interoperability, and an open framework. These opportunities can lead to greater equitability for all participants in the open metaverse. 

The firm said it would use the capital to fund acquisitions, investments, and product development, secure licenses for popular intellectual properties, and advance the open metaverse. 

In a statement by the firm’s executive chairman and co-founder, Yat Siu, “ Digital property rights represent a society-defining generational shift that impacts everyone online and will set the stage for the emergence of the open metaverse.” He said, “We are deeply honored to continue to enjoy strong support from investors as we work to solidify the leadership position of Anomica Brands in the Web3 industry and the field of true digital ownership.” 

The latest funding rounds are a testament that capital is still finding its way to well-established firms in the industry, despite the bearishness of the digital asset market. 

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