Singapore startup Trax said to be in early discussions for US listing

Trax co-founders Joel Bar-El, CEO (left), and Dror Feldheim, Chief Commercial Officer.

Singapore-headquartered retail technology and computer vision firm Trax is in early discussions to conduct an initial public offering (IPO) in the US, according to two sources aware of the development.

One of the executives told DealStreetAsia that Trax is looking to double its valuation from its last fundraise – a $100 million Series D round led by Asian alternative asset manager HOPU Investments in July 2019 – when it goes for a listing. That round had pegged Trax’s valuation at around $1.2-1.3 billion.

A series of acquisitions over the last year and its business witnessing a “significant uptake during the pandemic” were responsible for the valuation jump, said the second executive.

“They’ve proved to be a Corona-resistant business and markets have rewarded such companies,” the executive added.

The Singapore-based startup has acquired a total of five companies since June 2019, namely China’s Lenztech, France’s Planorama and Qopius, and ShopKick and Survey.com in the US.

The IPO discussions are understood to be preliminary and may not result in a listing in the near future.

When contacted, Trax declined to comment on its listing plans.

Trax has previously revealed its plans to list in the US. Its CEO and co-founder Joel Bar-El said last year that the company had plans to list on either the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange and was even exploring a dual-listing at the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

Trax will have another advantage when it goes for a listing as its sponsors include Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and global private equity majors Warburg Pincus and BlackRock.

Its IPO preparations come at a time when the US public markets are proving to be exceptionally bullish, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis. Technology companies have seen a surge in interest as retail investors flock to sectors such as software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud, data, e-commerce, online media and gaming.

The Nasdaq is already up over 18 per cent year-to-date, far outperforming other American indices like the Dow (-8.6 per cent) and S&P 500 (-1.42 per cent), mostly due to its heavy exposure to big tech. Stocks of Apple, Netflix, Microsoft and Amazon have all witnessed robust rallies in 2020 so far.

According to an index of publicly-listed SaaS and cloud stocks by Bessemer Venture Partners, valuations have doubled in the post-March stock market boom, with several SaaS firms trading at an all-time high in recent weeks.

The outperformance of SaaS stocks has been attributed to their subscription-based recurring revenue, and COVID leading to an expansion of the total addressable market (TAM) for these companies, as the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across industries. The valuations would also imply that markets are factoring in larger TAM, translating into higher sales for SaaS companies in the future.

Founded in 2010 by Joel Bar-El and Dror Feldheim, Trax provides computer vision solutions for a host of retailers and brands through computer imaging technology and machine learning. It operates in over 50 countries globally, counting brands like Coca-Cola, Heineken, Nestle and Henkel among its clients.

Trax’s largest shareholder is US private equity giant Warburg Pincus, which owns a 20 per cent stake in the company. Its other investors include Boyu Capital, Investec and GIC.

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.