Singapore’s Ninja Van raises $279m after pandemic drives e-commerce surge

Photo: Ninja Van

Singapore’s Ninja Van has raised $279 million from investors including France’s GeoPost SA and ride-hailing giant Grab, one of the few startups to score new funding since Covid-19 chilled deal activity.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group and Monk’s Hill Ventures joined Grab Holdings Inc. in the parcel delivery firm’s Series D round, completed after the pandemic drove a surge in online shopping among people sheltering in place. It brings Ninja Van’s total capital raised to roughly $400 million.

Ninja Van, which helps e-commerce clients deliver more than a million packages daily across six Southeast Asian countries, is benefiting from a spike in orders even while coping with the economic fallout of coronavirus lockdowns. Dozens of regional startups have shed jobs, while others like Oyo and Grab are furloughing workers or asking them to take unpaid leave. Ninja Van’s fundraising surpassed a $200 million target set about a year ago, according to Chief Executive Officer Lai Chang Wen.

The investor interest “shows that logistics is something which is around to stay,” Lai said in an interview. “Social distancing will have a profound effect. It may be an inflection point Southeast Asia needs for e-commerce.”

Lai, a 32-year-old former derivatives trader at Barclays Plc, founded Ninja Van in 2014 with two friends, aiming to use technology to make the logistics market more efficient. They picked the name Ninja Van to reflect the idea of working quietly to get things done. It now helps consumer brands from L’Oreal to Wing Tai Holdings Ltd.’s G2000 label digitize their businesses and sell to consumers, diversifying its clients beyond e-commerce platforms. The Singapore startup also aims to handle deliveries of merchandise for smaller merchants such as social media influencers.

Other backers in its latest round included Carmenta, Golden Gate Ventures Growth Fund and Intouch Holdings. Ninja Van operates in countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and employs more than 30,000 people, including some 20,000 full-time drivers. It’s profitable in half of those markets but needs time for the whole business to become “solidly profitable,” Lai said. Ninja Van may do another round of funding before a sale or IPO, he added.

“It certainly isn’t the sexiest of companies but logistics has become a hot space since we invested five years ago,” said Lim Kuo-Yi, a managing partner of Monk’s Hill Ventures, the company’s first institutional investor. “Very few companies at this scale have shown the ability to cover the region comprehensively and is able to demonstrate a credible path to profitability.”

Bloomberg

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.