India’s CarDekho drives into unicorn club after $250m Series E led by LeapFrog

CarDekho founders Amit Jain (left) and Anurag Jain. Photo: Mint

Girnar Software Pvt. Ltd, which runs CarDekho, an online portal for new and used cars, has raised $250 million as a part of its latest Series E fundraising at a valuation of about $1.2 billion, making it the newest entrant to India’s growing list of unicorns, two people aware of the matter said on Tuesday.

The funding round was led by private investment firm LeapFrog Investments, with participation from South Korea’s Mirae Asset Group and existing investors, the people said, requesting anonymity.

They did not disclose the existing investors who took part in the round.

CarDekho’s existing investors include Sequoia Capital India, Hillhouse Capital and CapitalG, the investment arm of Google parent Alphabet.

CarDekho did not respond to queries until press time.

The fundraising has made CarDekho the 33rd Indian startup to become a unicorn and the second online car-retailing platform to achieve a $1 billion valuation this year. A unicorn is a privately held startup with a valuation of at least $1 billion.

The current round has lifted CarDekho’s valuation by 70% from nearly $700 million it was valued at in its previous funding round.

CarDekho had raised $70 million as a part of its Series D round in December 2019, led by Chinese investor Ping An Global Voyager Fund.

CarDekho’s fundraising comes at a time when investor interest in online car buying websites has surged. Last month, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and DST Global led a funding round worth $450 million in CarDekho’s rival and used car platform, Cars24.

The investment nearly doubled Cars24’s valuation from $1 billion last November to almost $1.84 billion.

In July, Droom Technology said it had raised $200 million in a pre-IPO funding round at a valuation of $1.2 billion, catapulting the online automobile marketplace into unicorn status.

Droom plans to make a public listing next year, Mint reported earlier.

This year, Spinny, a six-year-old used car retailing platform, raised $108 million in a Series D round led by New York-based Tiger Global Management. The round valued Spinny at about $800 million.

With the current fundraising, CarDekho is looking to expand overseas to Southeast Asia even as it looks to open larger format stores to grow its presence in metro and non-metro cities across India, one of the two people cited above said.

In February, Mint reported that CarDekho postponed plans to open 250 stores and is instead planning to start large format showrooms operated by the company.

“Bigger stores will give us economies of scale and more leverage on manpower efficiency. We will go with the top three-four cities and try different formats,” Amit Jain, co-founder and chief executive of CarDekho, said at the time.

Competition in the online car-retailing space has heated up over the past months. Cab aggregator and electric vehicle manufacturer Ola also entered the used car online retailing space with the Ola Cars platform announced earlier this month.

The article was first published on livemint.com.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.