This article is written by Aman Gupta pursuing Diploma in M&A, Institutional Finance and Investment Laws (PE and VC transactions) from LawSikho.
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Indian startups hastened pace ever since 2014 and now it is becoming the world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystem. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade under the aegis of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry brought the initiative of #startupindia, which led to India being ranked as the third-largest ecosystem in the world in 2018. The widely acknowledged Hurun Research Institute published its Hurun India Unicorn Index 2020 where India was ranked at the fourth position following the United States of America (USA), China, and the United Kingdom (UK). The year 2020 and 2021 has witnessed a slew of investments into India and despite the surge of COVID-19, India has produced a total of 12 unicorns in 2020 and 11 till April 2021. It is totally surprising to see that half a dozen unicorns were born between April 5 and April 9 this year. As quoted by Warren Buffett, “I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful” and Jeff Bezos, “Given a 10% chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time” totally substantiates the reward via risk factor in the world of investments. A plethora of Venture Capital (VC) investors have invested in the Indian startups with a big appetite, some of them being SoftBank, Sequoia Capital, Prosus Ventures, Ribbit Capital, etc. However, the most talismanic among them has been Tiger Global.
What is Tiger Global
Tiger Global Management, LLC, is an investment firm, based in New York, focusing on public and private companies in the global Internet, software, consumer, and financial technology industries. It has investments in over 30 countries and aims at investments ranging from Series A to pre-IPO. Tiger Global has led numerous Indian startups into the unicorn club. A privately-held start-up company is generally namesaked as a “unicorn” when it is valued at over $1 billion. Recently, in the years 2020 and 2021, there were 23 startups that entered into the Unicorn Club amongst which around 50% of them were funded by Tiger Global during this period. The aggressive approach by this investment firm has been lauded in the market and it has brought a revolution in the corporate landscape of the country thereby inspiring innumerable startups into being. This article, thus, focuses on the top Indian investments made by Tiger Global during the period of 2020 and 2021 thereby most of them leading to a unicorn spree in the country.
Unicorn Spree led by Tiger Global
To put into irony, Tiger roared and put Indian startups on the global radar. The Indian market owing to its magnanimous population and emerging workforce has become a bull’s eye for investments. Some of the giant investments by Tiger Global in India are as follows:
ShareChat valued at $2.1 billion
ShareChat is an app-based social networking service based in Bangalore. It is a service involved in social media, image sharing, video sharing, instant messaging, and chat rooms. ShareChat has a holding company i.e. Mohalla Tech Pvt. Ltd. founded in 2015 by Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Pratap Singh, and Farid Ahsan.
A hefty investment of $502 million was introduced at a valuation of $2.1 billion post-money, which was led by none other than Tiger Global in its Series E round of funding as of April 8, 2021. Through this investment, ShareChat became the 9th unicorn in 2021. This round was participated by other new and existing investors like Snap as well as Twitter and Lightspeed Venture Partners. This round of funding proved to be a massive success in comparison to its pre-Series E round of funds during September 2020 where the company was valued at $630 million. The company jumped a 3X into valuation in just a period of 7 months. At least one-third of the Series E round is funded by Tiger Global to continue its investing hunt.
Groww valued at $1 billion
Groww is an investment platform founded in 2016 to help users with investments and personal finance and is based in Bangalore. It facilitates customers in opening electronic accounts on their platform to deal in mutual funds and stocks online. Groww became the second fintech company in 2021 to get the unicorn status after CRED and the second wealth management unicorn only eight months after bootstrapped Zerodha valued itself above $1 billion.
An investment of $83 million was raised by Groww at a valuation of over $1 billion in its Series D funding round, which was also led by Tiger Global. This round was participated by existing investors such as Sequoia India, Ribbit Capital, YC Continuity, and Propel Venture Partners. The company recorded a 4.7X earning in FY 2020 however its operating expenses also shot 20.3X in FY 2020. Still, the company managed to perform well and attract foreign investment, especially from Tiger Global. Groww, however, attracted 3X investments in a time span of six months in comparison to its Series C round of funding that raised $30 million. Groww focused on its tech infrastructure and hiring of talented professionals to increase its value after Series C funding, which led to another successful round of funding to lead Groww into the unicorn club. Investment into Groww by Tiger Global could be considered as a strategy of this investment giant since Tiger Global already hold substantial investments into Groww’s rival i.e. Upstox and INDmoney.
Gupshup valued at $1.4 billion
Gupshup is a conversational messaging service company headquartered in California with primary operations in India, the USA, and the UK. It is involved in providing varied services such as SMS, email, Voice, USSD, and IP messaging, and chatbot development services to leading BFSI, Retail, e-commerce companies since Gupshup carries an enterprise base rather than a customer base. The company was founded by Beerud Sheth in 2004.
A massive investment of $100 million was infused into Gupshup led alone by Tiger Global at a valuation of $1.4 billion, in its Series F round of funding as announced on April 8, 2021, via a press release. The company had this funding round mostly after 9 years since its last fundraising round i.e. Series E in 2011 for $10 million led by Tenaya Capital. John Curtius, Partner at Tiger Global Management commented that they were attracted to the unique positioning of Gupshup with a differentiated product in the market along with an experienced team with a proven track record, which resulted in successful Series F investment. Gupshup thus became the tenth unicorn of 2021 by the grace of Tiger Global.
Infra.Market valued at $1 billion
Infra.Market is a tech company that aims to manage the way in which construction ecosystems and real estate projects procure their raw materials. It is an India based company, headquartered in Mumbai, founded by Souvik Sengupta and Aaditya Sharda in 2016.
A milestone investment of $100 million was ushered upon Infra.Market at a valuation of $1 billion in its Series C round of funding led by Tiger Global during February 2021 and other existing investors such as Accel Partners, Nexus Venture Partners, Evolvence India Fund, Sistema Asia Fund, and Fundamental. Tiger Global is an existing investor of Infra.Market since Series A round of funding and the subsequent funding was evident ever since Scott Shleifer, Partner at Tiger Global Management commented that they were attracted by the pioneering technology innovation, private label brands, and their market position for strong growth, healthy economics, and profitability. Within a time span of 2 months, the company has raised $100 million since the Series B round raised $20 million during December 2020. The company witnessed a 5X rise in investment, one of the major factors being its revenue run rate that stood at $400 million for FY 2020 and aims for $1 billion till the end of 2021. It can be deduced that Tiger Global aims its long term involvement with the company, which might extend till pre-IPO.
Innovaccer valued at $1.3 billion
Innovaccer is a healthcare data activation platform company that delivers healthcare through pioneering analytics and transparent data. It is Software as a Service (SaaS) company headquartered in California with primary operations in the USA and India. It was founded in 2014 by Abhinav Shashank, Kanav Hasija, and Sandeep Gupta.
An investment of $105 million was infused into Innovaccer in the Series D round of funding led by investing mammoth Tiger Global as of February 2021. The round was participated by other existing investors such as Steadview Capital, Dragoneer, B Capital Group, Mubadala Capital, M12 (Microsoft’s Venture Fund), and new investor OMERS Growth Equity. With this investment, Innovaccer entered into the unicorn club at a valuation of $1.3 billion. The company tripled its investment in the span of one year after its Series C round of funding worth $70 million, which took place in February 2020 with a valuation of $350 million. John Curtis, Partner at Tiger Global, lauded the company’s efforts of unlocking the value of investments in the healthcare system via IT and focusing on orchestrating improved clinical and business processes.
Chargebee valued at $1.4 billion
Chargebee is a SaaS product company that aims to build subscription and billing software. It in turn helps other SaaS companies in their recurring billing, renewals, collections, and reconciliation, providing a single reliable source of truth for their entire customer’s subscription. Chargebee was founded in 2011 by Krish Subramanian and his three friends and the company is incorporated in the USA while major operations are executed in India. Chargebee became the 11th company in 2021 to enter into the elite unicorn club.
An investment of $125 million was infused into the Company at a valuation of $1.4 billion in the Series G round of funding led by Tiger Global and Insight Partners along with new backer Sapphire Ventures and participated by Steadview Capital as of April 20, 2021. Tiger Global has been an existing investor of Chargebee where it participated in the Series E round of funding for $55 million at a valuation of $500 million during October 2020. The company has tripled its valuation in such a short span of time and records a 150% net revenue retention rate and 2X growth in total payment volume, which seems sufficient to retain an investment giant like Tiger Global till the company’s IPO.
CRED valued at $2.2 billion
CRED is a members-only credit card bill payment platform that rewards its members for clearing their credit card bills on time. It is an app-based system that fosters additional services such as premium offers from different brands by the usage of credit rewards earned by the customers on timely payment of their bills. Kunal Shah is the founder and CEO of this fintech company. As per Tech Crunch, it has become the youngest startup to be valued at $2 billion.
An investment of $215 million was introduced at a valuation of $2.2 billion post-money as of April 6, 2021, in its Series D round of funding led by Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue Management. This is the only investment of 2021 in which Tiger Global is not the lead investor but a participatory investor with an investment of $20 million to claim a 5.13% stake. CRED passed a special resolution for the allotment of 300,000 Series D preference shares. The infusion of funds in Series D led the company to enter into the unicorn club. As per the regulatory filings and unaudited financial statements, CRED projected 208X growth of its company for the Financial Year (FY) 2021. With a time span of two years, CRED has completed up to a Series D round of investment with immense success and growth. The company was seed-funded by angel investors at a valuation of $30 million followed by Series A funding of $120 million in August 2019 and the Series C round, three months ago, that valued the company at $800 million. It can be deduced that Tiger Global could back the funding rounds till pre-IPO to get an ultimate beneficial exit from the company.
DealShare valued at $400 million
DealShare is a Jaipur-based social commerce startup founded in 2018 by Sankar Bora, Sourjyendu Medda, and Vineet Rao. It is a platform that caters to middle and lower-income class people by offering hundreds of products to customers on Whatsapp and has now shifted to an app based system with the main focus on locally produced products rather than national brands. The company is yet to attain unicorn status.
An investment of $100 million was infused in the company at a valuation of $400 million in its Series D round of funding led by Tiger Global as of April 13, 2021. The company has attained this valuation in a short span of time since its last funding, which was Series C to raise $21 million during December 2020. The company has not attained a unicorn status but has been invested substantially by Tiger Global and going by the belief that social commerce is the new hotspot as it is going to be the new aspect that will be focused on in the coming 10 years, the company could soon enter the elite club with the backing of Tiger Global and likewise investors.
Razorpay valued at $1 billion
Razorpay is a Bengaluru-based fintech startup that focuses on payment gateway service that empowers innumerable small and large businesses to secure digital payments. It was founded by Shashank Kumar and Harshil Mathur in 2014. Razorpay has been the fifth fintech company to get unicorn status.
An investment of $100 million has been infused in the company at a valuation of little more than $1 billion in its Series D round of funding led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and Sequoia India as of October 12, 2020. Tiger Global was an existing participant in the Series D round along with other existing investors including Ribbit Capital, Y Combinator, and Matrix Partners. The company has raised the substantial value of its firm since the last fundraising event i.e. Series C round of funding where $75 million was raised at a valuation of $450 million. The fintech industry is projected to grow Rs. 6,207 billion by 2025 and Razorpay eyes ten-fold increase in its customer base i.e. 50 million by 2025. Such projection would surely attract future investments by Tiger Global and other ventures.
Zenoti valued at $1 billion
Zenoti is a Bellevue and Hyderabad-based SaaS company that helps around 1000 spa and salon brands in numerous countries in their appointments and point of sale operation through digital platforms. Zenoti facilitates these brands with their payment systems and inventory management through its cloud-based software suite. Zenoti was founded by Sudheer Koneru in 2010 and in a span of 10 years it has entered the unicorn club.
An investment of a whopping $160 million has been raised in the Series D round of funding by the company at a valuation of little more than $1 billion led by Advent International and affiliate Sunley House Capital. Tiger Global was an existing participant investor along with Steadview Partners. Zenoti has raised 3X investment in comparison to its last round i.e. Series B where $50 million was infused into the company, which was led by none other than Tiger Global. Series D investment would help Zenoti to expand more of its business in Europe and South America. The founder has projected that they would grow 100% year on year and is eyeing an IPO within a few years. This projection could be trusted upon and the firm could lead to higher tables with the backing of Tiger Global and others likewise.
Dream 11 valued at $2.5 billion
Dream 11 is an Indian gaming company that provides its customer with a fantasy sports platform to play various games such as football, cricket, kabaddi, etc. The company was founded in 2008 by Bhavit Sheth and Harsh Jain and is headquartered in Mumbai. It is also the first Indian gaming company to enter into the unicorn club in April 2019.
A massive investment of $225 million was raised by the company via primary capital infusion and secondary transactions at a valuation of $2.5 billion led by Tiger Global and other investors such as TTAD, ChrysCapital, and Footpath Ventures as of September 2020. The company has been valued double after its last round of funding in April 2019 when it achieved the unicorn status after funding of $60 million at a valuation of $1.1 billion led by Steadview Capital. Ernst & Young (EY) projects the gaming revenues to touch Rs. 18,700 crore by the end of 2022, which is enough to keep investors like Tiger Global intact till the company’s IPO.
Byju’s valued at $10.8 billion
Byju’s is an India-based multinational education-technology (ed-tech) company that focuses on distance education through online mediums. It runs on a freemium model that provides free access to contents for 15 days after registration. Byju’s has become the world’s most valuable ed-tech under the leadership of Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath who founded the company in 2011. Byju’s entered the unicorn club in the year 2018.
Another massive investment of $500 million led by Silver Lake at a valuation of $10.8 billion in its Series F round of investment was concluded in November 2020. Tiger Global was a participant and is an existing investor at Byju’s. In 2020, Byju’s raised $1 billion in which Tiger Global alone holds a total investment of $200 million. Byju has acquired other valuable companies such as Aakash Educational Services Ltd., WhiteHat Jr., and Scholar during the period of 2020 and 2021 that attracted the existing and new investors to continue the investment spree in this ed-tech giant to gain the utmost benefit at the time of IPO.
Zomato raised a slew of investments
Zomato is an India-based restaurant aggregator and food delivery company that was founded in 2008 by Deepinder Goyal. It is an app-based system that displays menus, information, user reviews regarding restaurants and provides the platform to order online food in select cities. The company attained its unicorn tag way back in 2015-2016.
A slew of investments was infused into Zomato in 2020 and 2021 by top investors around the world including Tiger Global, which has already made a substantial investment in the company. An investment of $160 million was infused at a valuation of $3.3 billion in its Series J round of funding led by Tiger Global and Temasek Holdings subsidiary MacRitchie Investments as of September 2020. Tiger Global invested $102.5 million and received an allotment of 25,313 Class J Preference shares at an issue price of Rs 3,09,235 per share to raise the amount thereby claiming a 3.01% stake in the company. In February 2021, the company raised another round of funding worth $250 million at a valuation of $5.4 billion, which was again led by Tiger Global and four other investors via primary transactions. The company is bound for IPO in June 2021 and the investors including Tiger Global are looking for a big exit from the company.
The deal table for India in the years 2020 and 2021 has remained phenomenal and is likely to rise. India has attracted a number of investors around the world and this time Tiger Global has stood up as one of the most aggressive investors around the corner. The above mentioned deals are the top investments of Tiger Global during this timeframe. There are some other investments of Tiger Global where it has not invested in a lion’s share but has contributed to uplift the value of the company. Some of such companies were Vedantu with an investment of only $8 million by Tiger Global, Urban Company (entered into unicorn club in April 2021 with a $2 billion valuation) with an investment of only $14.74 million, etc.
Tiger Global, as a Venture Capital Investor, is a strategic investor that differentiates it from its competitor in the market. The market was surprised with the Series of colossal investment by Tiger Global but there was no looming surprise amongst the likewise investors because Tiger Global’s investment approach, as quoted by an anonymous VC, is to put bets on a number of promising companies at a go and subsequently withdraw from the market. The investment giant then analyses its bets for a period of two-three years and accordingly takes the decision of either exit or further investment.
The same outlook was adopted in 2015 when investment upon 18 companies was ushered by this VC. The same investment thesis was adopted with Flipkart in 2011 and now Flipkart is a market giant. It is true that India has made 100 unicorns and could witness 100 more by 2025 as per Credit Suisse’s recent report. It is boastful to see that Tiger Global has focused on technology-driven startups and has also penetrated into niche sectors such as cryptocurrency, which is inspiring for upcoming startups. India has embarked on a new journey of startups and unicorns with such promising investors.
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