DSA Summit: PropertyGuru open to more investment, IPO up in air

Hari Krishnan, Chatri Sityodtong and Joji Thomas Philip on stage at the Asia PE-VC Summit 2017.

Hari Krishnan of the PropertyGuru Group says that the company is not looking to raise further rounds but is open to further investments and the possibility of a corporate venture fund.

Speaking at the Asia PE-VC Summit 2017, Krishnan said, “We’re not looking and we don’t need it for the operations of the business. But because we do a lot of M&A, if we see an opportunity, then we can look at a funding conversation.”

What about speculation around a possible public listing? Krishnan said: “I think an IPO is one of the options but there’s no immediate plan to head for an IPO of any kind. We’re trying to build towards profitability either this year or early next year at the latest. I think getting to that stage, then consolidating and building more profitability into the business is critical to our future. By the end of next year, we want to be in a position to discuss the options on the table. It is not a foregone conclusion that we’ll conduct an IPO.”

With regards to an exit, he explains, “All the options are on the table. You can have an IPO, a trade sale or a potential PE buyout. I think there are two things to consider: What do our investors want out of the business and what are the financial outcomes they need? What is right for the business and continuing operations of the business?”

“In some cases, they intersect and right now they do. At least for the next 12-15 months, I can see that,” he adds.

While it maintains a dominant market position in Singapore and other markets around the region, the firm is also looking to grow inorganically. Asked if a corporate venture capital unit – as the Sea Group and Razer have launched – was a possibility for PropertyGuru, Krishnan noted that that company was working on innovation within the company.

He explains: “We do a lot of stuff at the the bleeding edge that may not see the light of day anytime soon. We started dabbling with AI and augmented reality last year. We shifted to machine learning earlier this year. But some of those other things may not come in.”

“There’s always this appetite of freeing up resources to innovate in new technology. Now, should we create a corporate venture fund? That’s one way to approach it. We are thinking of how to stay innovative in this space.”

But beyond property, as the company seeks to grow further, Krishnan makes it clear that the company intends to maintain its focus on property. He says, “The core of our value proposition is large enough. I think part of what I’m trying to do with PropertyGuru is to be super-focused. There are adjacencies that help.”

“For example, does access to financing help the consumers get their home more easily? We can definitely look at that and we’ve done this in the past. We can go further down that path. We also have an attractive commercial business that we continue to expand. Going completely off into different vertical is something I haven’t discussed.”

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