FB-backed Indian social commerce startup Meesho shuts down Indonesia ops

Meesho co-founders Sanjeev Barnwal (left) and Vidit Aatrey. Photo: Mint

Facebook-backed Indian social commerce player Meesho has exited Southeast Asia’s largest market after shutting down its Indonesia operation last month, DealStreetAsia has learnt.

The move sees the company laying off more than 100 employees just over a year after it embarked on an expansion to Indonesia, sources have said.

In what reads like a farewell message to resellers and customers, Meesho’s Instagram account said in a comment: “At this moment, we will stop receiving orders as of 19 February 2021 and we will have to part ways because Meesho has re-evaluated its presence in Indonesia…”

It added that its support team will continue to be available until March 18, 2021.

Meesho has yet to respond to DealStreetAsia’s request for comment.

Founded in 2015, Meesho works by building a network of “social sellers” to help suppliers distribute their products nationwide. It enables resellers to reach their customers via social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. In its home market India, Meesho claims over six million resellers on its platform clocking over 10-12 million orders a month, as of the end of 2020.

According to Entrackr in December 2020, Meesho has been in advanced discussions to raise up to $150 million in a fresh funding round, which is likely to be led by existing investor South Africa’s Naspers, and joined by Facebook, RPS, Elevation Capital (formerly SAIF Partners), and Venture Highway are likely to join the financing round that will value Meesho in the range of $1.3-1.5 billion.

The Bengaluru-based startup last raised $125 million in a round led by Naspers in August 2019 reportedly at a valuation of $700 million. The round saw participation from Facebook and existing investors SAIF, Sequoia, Shunwei Capital, RPS and Venture Highway.

Prior to that, in the same year, Meesho raised as much as $25 million from Facebook.

While the reason for its exit from Indonesia cannot be ascertained, industry players suggest that the company had struggled to adapt its business to the Indonesian market.

Meesho’s retreat comes at a time when the country is seeing increasing competition in the social commerce space, which is attracting significant venture capital attention.

Among the companies operating in the same space as Meesho are Jungle Ventures-backed Evermos, Vertex Ventures-backed RateS and Gobi Partners-backed Avana. Other VC-backed startups sharing similar business models include Chilibeli, KitaBeli and Super.

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

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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.