PhonePe seeks $1 bn from Tencent, Tiger Global; Lenskart may enter unicorn club: Reports

PhonePe seeks $1 bn from Tencent, Tiger Global; Lenskart may enter unicorn club: Reports
27 May, 2019

PhonePe, the digital payments arm of Walmart-owned e-commerce giant Flipkart, is in discussions with leading global investors Tencent and Tiger Global for a potential $1 billion fundraising, a media report said.

The deal will go through only if the investors are willing to meet PhonePe’s asking valuation of about $7-8 billion, The Times of India reported. A potential transaction, which would mark the highest round for PhonePe, will take two-three months to complete.

PhonePe competes with the likes of Paytm and Amazon Pay, both of which are vying to capture a sizeable portion of the consumer wallet market in India. The entry of global players such as Google and Xiaomi has further heated things up in the segment.

The company had received the first capital infusion of 2019 from its parent in March amid growing competition in the segment. Singapore-based group entity PhonePe Pvt. Ltd (formerly Flipkart Payments Pvt. Ltd) pumped $107.7 million into the Indian unit.

As a standalone entity, the latest infusion valued PhonePe at $1.07 billion.

This was the second time that the parent had provided capital to PhonePe since US retail behemoth Walmart announced its acquisition of Flipkart in May last year.

Flipkart had invested $66 million (Rs 451 crore then) in PhonePe last August, $47.4 million (Rs 324.90 crore then) in April and $75.6 million (Rs 518.22 crore then) in March.

The latest investment is likely to be part of the $500-million commitment to PhonePe that Flipkart had announced late last year.

As part of its efforts to strengthen its offline network as well as to simplify merchants’ billing, payments and inventory management systems, PhonePe had acquired Tiger Global-backed point-of-sale platform Zopper for an undisclosed sum last July.

Last December, TechCircle reported that PhonePe had launched a wealth management unit to offer personal finance and services including investment planning, real estate planning, tax planning and portfolio management.

Lenskart may get SoftBank backing

Eyewear retailer Lenskart Solutions Pvt. Ltd is likely to raise $350 million in a fresh round of funding from SoftBank Vision Fund, The Economic Times reported. The new round, if materialises, will value the company at $1.3 billion, helping it enter the coveted unicorn club, an industry term referring to startups valued at more than $1 billion.

The report said that a proposed investment deal with Carlyle Group fell through because of disagreements on valuation.

In August this year, a media report stated that Hong Kong-based hedge fund Steadview Capital, tech investment firm Epiq Capital and HK-based speciality secondary investments fund TR Capital had bought shares worth $70-75 million in the eyewear company. The deal valued the firm at Rs 3,400 crore ($495 million).

In May last year, Lenskart had invested $500,000 (Rs 3.35 crore then) in California, US-based reading glasses manufacturer ThinOptics Inc.

In September 2017, it had invested $1 million in US-based Ditto, which develops 3D face models for Lenskart’s virtual trial service.

The company run its operations online and offline. Its wholesale division assembles, distributes and supplies eyewear products. The company retails its products in over 400 stores.

In January 2017, media entrepreneur-turned-investor Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer Ventures had invested $3.5 million in Lenskart through a secondary transaction. In September 2016, it had raised a follow-on round from PremjiInvest, the private investment arm of Wipro chairman Azim Premji, while in May 2016, it had raised $60 million in a Series D round led by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and TPG Growth. Adveq Management, IDG Ventures, Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan had also put in money.

Lenskart grew its revenue 84% to Rs 292.3 crore for the financial year ended 31 March 2018, the highest rate at which it has grown in the last five years.  

The Delhi-based company also cut its consolidated net losses by more than half to Rs 118.1 crore during the year compared to Rs 263.9 crore in the previous financial year, its filings with the Registrar of Companies showed.

Paytm may lead $15-mn investment in food-tech startup HungerBox
Digital payments giant Paytm may foray into the food-technology segment by leading a $15 million funding round in Bengaluru-headquartered HungerBox, an online platform that connects caterers and corporates.

HungerBox’s existing investors will also participate in the round, The Economic Times reported

The startup was founded in 2016 by Sandipan Mitra and Uttam Kumar, veterans of the food-tech space who have previously worked with Just Eat India. HungerBox is promoted by GrowthStory, the venture-builder platform set up by serial entrepreneur K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh.

Operated by Eat Good Technologies Pvt. Ltd, the B2B-focused online platform offers corporates a digital platform to order food. Based on the reimbursement benefits offered by their company, employees can access and avail services offered by the platform through a mobile phone. They can then access an F&B menu provided by all enlisted food vendors at their workplace café’s, place orders and get food delivered.

The company had raised $4.5 million in a Series A investment round in July last year, led by South Korea-based investment firm Neoplux and India-centric mid-market private equity firm Sabre Partners. Its existing investors, Singapore-based Lionrock Capital and Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, also participated in this round.
Video creation platform Rocketium raises fresh capital
Video creation platform Rocketium.com Technologies Pvt. Ltd has raised Rs 7 crore ($1 million) from crowdfunding platform 1Crowd and early-stage investor Blume Ventures, a media report said.

Rocketium will use the fresh funds for its sales and marketing efforts besides spending on its technology infrastructure to boost its mobile and automation systems, The Economic Times stated.

The company was founded by former TaxiForSure employees Satej Sirur and Anurag Dwivedi.

Rocketium’s web-based software lets anyone create professional-looking videos. The company’s software is used by media, commerce and nonprofit organisations.

The company had earlier raised Rs 2 crore in its seed round from Blume Ventures and a clutch of angel investors including Raghunandan G, co-founder and former CEO of Ola-acquired cab aggregator TaxiForSure; Hari TN, human resources head at online grocery store BigBasket; and senior executives from Apple, Freshworks, Microsoft and SpaceX.