HK’s travel & leisure booking service Klook nets $200m in Series E round

Klook's co-founders (from left to right): Eric Gnock Fah, COO & co-founder; Ethan Lin, CEO & co-founder; Bernie Xiong, CTO & co-founder. Source: Klook

Hong Kong-based travel and leisure booking platform Klook has secured $200 million in a Series E round of financing, as the firm targets to speed up the development of solutions to help merchants digitise their businesses in response to the pandemic hit.

The Series E round was led by pan-Asia investment management firm Aspex Management, in addition to other new investors. Klook’s existing investors Sequoia Capital China, SoftBank’s Vision Fund 1, Matrix Partners China, and China-focused investment firm Boyu Capital re-upped in the new round, Klook announced in a statement on Tuesday.

The new financing will fund Klook’s efforts in developing and rolling out Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions to help merchants build, manage, and scale businesses, after the firm quickly re-prioritised its core strategic strengths in 2020 to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It focused on two main areas – digitising the experiences booking sector and launching new offerings like staycations and car rental.

Its merchant SaaS solutions, which help create an online storefront for merchants, is supported by a backend engine that manages ticketing, distribution, inventory, management, marketing, and more. Such solutions power millions of bookings for over 2,500 merchants worldwide.

“We’ve observed over the past year that consumers have a pent-up desire to explore and enjoy themselves, despite international travel being paused. Instead, they are turning inwards – exploring new and unique experiences right in their backyard,” said Ethan Lin, CEO and co-founder at Klook, in the statement.

“This new capital further strengthens our leading position to take us from defence to offense, as domestic tourism becomes ubiquitous and international travel gradually returns,” said Lin.

Founded in 2014, Klook operates as a travel and leisure booking platform for users to discover and book tourist attractions, tours, local transportation, food & beverage, and other experiences around the world. With services available in 14 languages and supporting 41 currencies, Klook currently lists over 100,000 offerings across more than 400 destinations.

As Hong Kong’s third after GOGOVAN and Lalamove, Klook was said to have achieved a unicorn valuation of at least $1 billion in August 2018 after the completion of its Series D round at $200 million from investors including Sequoia Capital China, Matrix Partners, Goldman Sachs, and Boyu Capital, among others. It later raised $225 million in an extended Series D round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund in April 2019.

“The travel industry has undoubtedly been hit hard by the pandemic, but Klook has shown resilience and adaptability despite the market headwinds. We believe the transition toward digital bookings will only accelerate post COVID-19, and that Klook’s ability to reinvent itself as a one-stop-shop for experiences and services across the region puts it in prime position to capitalize on this trend,” said Hermes Li, CIO and founder of Aspex Management.

Klook already saw bookings in some of its key markets, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan reach near pre-COVID levels as social restrictions show signs of easing and more locals explore experiences domestically.

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.