Indian payments firm MobiKwik turns unicorn as staffers exercise ESOPs ahead of IPO

visual from the company website

MobiKwik, which earlier this week received the market regulator’s approval to float a 1,900 crore ($251 million) initial public offering (IPO), became the 32nd Indian unicorn this year after concluding a secondary transaction that valued the digital payments firm at $1 billion, a person familiar with the development said.

The transaction was led by former Blackstone India head Mathew Cyriac, who doubled down on his MobiKwik bet, buying shares at almost twice the price he had invested in the startup earlier this year, the person said, requesting anonymity.

The transaction followed MobiKwik’s staff deciding to exercise their employee stock ownership plan (Esop) through the secondary sale, the person said without disclosing details.

In September, MobiKwik said it had reserved 4.5 million equity shares for creating a pool of Esops. The shares, when fully diluted, add up to 7% shareholding in the firm, it said. The firm also said its IPO would create seven “crorepati” employees with a net worth of at least 10 crore ($1.3 million) each.

A MobiKwik spokesperson declined to comment, while Cyriac did not respond to a call.

Just weeks before MobiKwik filed draft papers for an IPO, the company raised 149 crore ($20.4 million) in its Series G round from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) at a post-money valuation of about $734 million ( 5,360 crore).

In July, Mobikwik, backed by Sequoia Capital and Bajaj Finance, filed for an initial share sale of up to 1,900 crore with regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).

The IPO includes a portion of fresh issuance of shares worth 1,500 crore and a secondary sale of shares worth 400 crore from existing investors. Sequoia India, the second-largest shareholder, will get close to 95 crore from the sale of shares.

Notably, MobiKwik’s IPO filing had come days ahead of its larger rival Paytm, whose IPO size stands at 16,600 crore.

MobiKwik, which was founded in 2009, describes itself as a fintech providing payment solutions through mobile wallets and buy now, pay later (BNPL) channel.

In an interview with VCCircle in August, MobiKwik co-founder Upasana Taku said the company does not intend to become a super app like Paytm. Rather, the company is following a focused execution strategy where it will focus on payments and its digital credit business, according to its draft IPO documents.

MobiKwik is the latest startup to become a unicorn this year, taking the total unicorn tally to 32 compared to just 11 in the whole of last year. Just last week, India saw three startups turn unicorns—cloud kitchen startup Rebel Foods, online fish and meat store Licious and crypto exchange CoinSwitch Kuber—as they raised fresh funding at a valuation of over $1 billion.

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.