Home / Business / Naspers is in talks to invest in Southeast Asia’s Carousell

Naspers is in talks to invest in Southeast Asia’s Carousell

Naspers, the South Africa-based firm that famously backed Chinese giant Tencent in its infancy, is in talks to invest in Singapore-based startup Carousell, according to two sources with knowledge of discussions.

Carousell offers a mobile app that combines listings with peer-to-peer selling across Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. That makes it well-aligned with Naspers’ portfolio, which features some of the world’s largest classifieds services including OLX, which covers 45 countries, Letgo in the U.S. and Avito in Russia.

TechCrunch understands that Naspers is pursuing a deal with Carousell with a view to making it the firm’s key play in Southeast Asia and other parts of the APAC region.

Discussions are at a relatively early stage so it isn’t clear what percentage of the company that Naspers is seeking to acquire, although it would be a minority investment that values the Carousell business at over $500 million. The deal could be a first step towards Naspers acquiring a controlling interest in the business further down the line, one source said.

Carousell declined to respond when asked for comment.

“It is our company’s policy to neither acknowledge nor deny our involvement in any merger, acquisition or divestiture activity, nor to comment on market rumors,” Naspers told TechCrunch in a statement.

Timing of the discussions is notable since Carousell announced a $85 million investment round in May. (TechCrunch broke news of the round the previous October.) That deal — the startup’s Series C — took it to $126 million from investors to date and added big names to the Carousell cap table. EDBI, the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board, and Singapore’s DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest bank, took part in the Series C, which also included existing backers Rakuten Ventures, the VC linked to Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, Golden Gate Ventures, Sequoia India and 500 Startups.

Earlier this month, Carousell CEO and co-founder Siu Rui Quek told Bloomberg that the company had turned down acquisition offers in the past.

Carousell is highly-regarded in Singapore for being one of the first home-grown startups to show promise — its three founding members each graduated the National University of Singapore, NUS.

Aside from raising significant investor capital, it has scaled regionally it is battle against larger and better-funded e-commerce rivals Alibaba -owned Lazada and Shopee, a business from NYSE-listed Sea. In May, Quek told TechCrunch that Carousell has helped sell over 50 million items between users and it currently has over 144 million listings.

Naspers, meanwhile, has upped its focus on Southeast Asia in recent times, although its sole deal is a $5 million investment in crypto startup Coins.ph.

The firm remains best known for its Tencent deal, which is legendary in investment circles. Back in 2001, it bought 46.5 percent of Tencent for $32 million. Over time that was diluted to 33 percent, but it grew significantly in size as Tencent’s business took off, going on to become Asia’s first $500 billion company last November. Naspers resisted the urge to sell until March 2018 when it parted with two percent of the firm in exchange for around $9.8 billion.

Another of Nasper’s big wins this year was Flipkart’s sale to Walmart which earned it $2.2 billion in returns.

Check Also

Cheq raises $5M for a proactive, AI-driven approach to safe ad placement

While brand safety and fraud prevention have been big topics in the online ad industry over the past couple years, Cheq CEO Guy Tytunovich argued that “first generation solutions for ad verification” aren’t good enough. The problem, Tytunovich said, is that existing products use sampling to alert advertisers to issues “after the fact.” Compare this to credit card fraud — if the credit card company only alerted you long after the fraud had occurred, “You’re not going to be happy with that kind of answer.” At Cheq, Tytunovich and his team have developed an approach that he calls “autonomous brand safety” — the idea is that when an ad is being served, Cheq can detect whether it might be a fraudulent impression that will only be seen by bots, or if it might show up next to content that a brand doesn’t want to be associated with. If there’s an issue, Tytunovich said, “We block [the ad] from being served in real time.” Beforehand, advertisers set up their own ad placement guidelines, and afterwards, they can see the reason why individual ads didn’t get served. Cheq is announcing that it has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Battery Ventures . Tytunovich said that 80 percent of the Cheq team consists of developers, and that most of the funding will go towards further product development. If the Cheq approach really is so much better, why aren’t bigger, better-funded companies doing the same thing? Tytunovich pointed to his experience, and his team’s experience, in the Israel Defense Forces, where he said “they teach you to compensate for a lack of scale, of manpower, by focusing on automation and speed.” Similarly, Tytunovich said that at Cheq, “the name of the game is speed.” “A lot about our underlying technology lies around the speed of the data crunching,” he added. “We look at around 700 data parameters per impression … We need to be able to take all that data, analyze it and do it in real time.” Cheq has offices in Tokyo, New York and Tel Aviv. Tytunovich said it’s currently focused on the American and Japanese markets — customers listed on the Cheq website include Coca Cola, Turner and Mercedes-Benz.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer: Trading in bitcoins or other digital currencies carries a high level of risk and can result in the total loss of the invested capital. theonlinetech.org does not provide investment advice, but only reflects its own opinion. Please ensure that if you trade or invest in bitcoins or other digital currencies (for example, investing in cloud mining services) you fully understand the risks involved! Please also note that some external links are affiliate links.