The Economic Times: March, 2014
New Delhi: Online and mobile classifieds venture Quikr has raised $90 million ( Rs 550 crore) from a group of investors led by Swedish investment firm Investment Kinnevik in a deal that marks the largest round of funding for an internet services company in India.
The investment was spread across two rounds, with existing investor Warburg Pincus providing the initial investment in September last year, according to a person with direct knowledge of the transaction. The latest deal, signed last week, values Quikr at over $250 million (Rs 1,530 crore). The company's other investors, including eBay, Omidyar Network, venture capital firms Matrix Partners India, Nokia Growth Partners and Norwest Venture Partners, also participated in the funding, said the person.
The investors did not reply to emails seeking their comment. Pranay Chulet, the cofounder and chief executive officer of Quikr, declined to comment. Bankers said that institutional investors own majority of Quikr although they did not provide details. Global investment bank and asset manager Investec and mid-market-focussed Avendus Capital acted as the financial advisors for the transaction.
This is first direct investment in the country by Kinnevik, a family-run listed investment company with a market value of $10.6 billion. The consumer-focussed strategic investor has also backed Berlin's ecommerce incubator Rocket Internet, which runs two digital commerce ventures in India - fashion retailer Jabong and online food ordering platform FoodPanda.
It has also invested in Avito, the largest online classified platform in Russia.
Quikr, which is India's largest online classifieds website, has raised nearly $150 million ( 900 crore) in seven rounds, making it one of the best-funded consumer internet companies in the country. Proceeds from the latest round are expected to fund its expansion.
Chulet, an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Calcutta, co-founded the company with Jiby Thomas, who left in 2012 to start a digital marketing venture Webbutterjam. Formerly a subsidiary of eBay, Quikr, which was earlier named Kijiji India, was spun off into a separate entity in 2008 by Chulet and Thomas who quit eBay to set up on their own. Soon after, they raised funding from Matrix Partners India, whose managing director Avnish Bajaj had cofounded Baazee.com, which was acquired by eBay in 2004.eBay continues to be a stakeholder in Quikr.
In a recent conversation with ET, Chulet, 40, said the five-year-old company sees 32 million unique visitors every month. The website has a presence in almost 1,000 cities across the country, with listings spread across close to 50 sub-sectors, such as real estate, cars, jobs, household goods and services and education. The company has three revenue streams - premium listings, leads generation and advertising that contribute to an estimated revenue run-rate of $50 million. Chulet declined to disclose details. "Our focus was on growth and user base, but over the last two years, monetisation has become increasingly important for us," he said.
Quikr's main competitor is OLX, backed by South Africa's Naspers. "The classifieds market in India is growing exponentially. In fact, just in February we crossed more than one billion page views per month," said Amarjit Batra, CEO of OLX India.
The investment by Kinnevik is the latest transaction in the country's booming consumer internet space as investors - strategic and private equity - back Indian ecommerce ventures that are combining strong top line growth with profitability and exit strategies.
"Capital isn't going anywhere. Rather it has decided to back the top five or six players, and make them bigger and stronger," said Raja Lahiri of Grant Thornton.