Singapore’s Carousell raises $35m Series B in round led by Rakuten

Visual of Carousell website. February 2016.

Singapore-based e-commerce startup Carousell, incepted in 2012, has closed a $35 million Series B investment led byJapanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Ventures Rakuten Ventures, with participation from Sequoia India, Golden Gate Ventures, and 500 Startups.

This takes the total funding the company has raised till date to about US$41.8 million. Carousel had earlier raised around $6 million in a Series A round in 2014, and prior to that, it had bagged S$800,000 in seed funding. This also marks one of the largest reported Series B amounts that has ben raised by a startup in the city-state, and the e-commerce firm said it will use the funding to hire more engineers, enhance operations in existing markets and expand to new geographies beyond South-east Asia.

The Carousell app blends new and used items into a form of streamlined classified listings optimised for display on a mobile app, functioning as a peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace where individuals can list and trade their items.

Carousell has not disclosed active user numbers, with the company sharing that its current focus is on growing a user base and is currently pre-profit. As of Q2 2016, it claims to maintain over 35 million listings globally, with more than 70 listings made per minute and an average user engagement estimated at 17 minutes per day.

“The additional capital will accelerate Carousell’s growth into new markets around the world and bolster its product and engineering teams, strengthening its position as one of the largest and fastest growing mobile classifieds marketplaces,” the company said in a statement. 

Commenting on the investment, Carousell’s co-founder and CEO Quek Siu Rui said: “We most recently launched in Hong Kong in June 2016. As of now, we are in 13 major cities (Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Penang, Taipei, Tainan, Taoyuan, Taichung, Kaohsiung, New Taipei, Jakarta, Bandung, Hong Kong). We are finalising the selection of our next markets and will keep everyone posted.”

The firm is planning to pursue international expansion and expand beyond Southeast Asia, having recruited JJ Chai, formerly the director of Airbnb Southeast Asia, to lead its international team.

According to the company, they were targeting destinations which are see significant mobile penetration and a mobile-first approach, given the need for robust telecoms infrastructure (e.g. mobile web speeds) to provide an optimal user experience.

What is intriguing about this round is that Rakuten – which has participated in Carousell’ seed and Series A rounds – has its on P2P marketplace for trading new and used items in the form of Rakuma, which is already operating in Taiwan and Japan. This puts these portfolio firms in direct competition, as Rakuma reportedly might expand to Southeast Asia.

Given this overlap, market watchers share the view that the future could see a merger or acquisition between the two entities as they scale, given the overlap in their target markets.

Also Read: 

Infibeam co-founder Sachin Dalal joins Rakuten India; Cipla appoints global CFO

Singapore: Carousell poaches Airbnb Asia head Chai Jia Jih as VP to lead global growth

Singapore marketplace app Carousell launches web platform to further its reach