Warburg Pincus adds digital telco Circles.Life to its SEA portfolio

Rameez Ansar, Co-founder & Director, Circles.Life

Singapore-headquartered digital telco Circles.Life said it has recently raised a ‘substantial investment’ from global PE major Warburg Pincus, and added that its latest round of funding, coupled with the capital it had raised earlier would help accelerate its growth and expansion into new markets.

The Singapore-headquartered mobile operator, which launched its services in 2016, said it had over 5% market share in the city-state and was witnessing ‘strong momentum here’. It has also expanded operations to Taiwan and Australia, and the company claims to be the only digital telco in Asia Pacific with significant operations in multiple markets.

Warburg’s other investments in the TMT space in Southeast Asia include Indonesian super-app Gojek, retail-focused computer vision and analytics firm Trax (Singapore), Vietnamese e-wallet MoMo (and Converge ICT in the Philippines, among others.

Last year, Circles.Life had raised two rounds of funding.

In June 2019, the digital mobile operator had raised an undisclosed amount in a funding round led by Singapore government-linked investor EDBI and Silicon Valley-based Founders Fund. At that time, the company had said it would use the capital to build a new tech hub in Singapore, drive innovation in personalised digital services, and finance its global expansion plans.

Prior to that, in January 2019, the firm had raised an undisclosed Series C round from Sequoia India.

According to Rameez Ansar, Co-Founder of Circles.Life, the investment from Warburg Pincus was a ‘solid endorsement of the company’s mission and achievement’, while also indicating a belief in its future growth potential.

Saurabh Agarwal, Managing Director at Warburg Pincus said: “We see a tremendous growth opportunity for Circles.Life, particularly within the rapidly digitizing mobile market in Asia Pacific. The industry has not adapted quickly enough to provide a seamless experience to its customers in this new age, creating a large white space for technology-enabled challengers. We are excited about our partnership with Circles and expect the company to capture a significant share of the highly valuable digital-savvy customers across multiple markets.”

In Singapore, Circles.Life has expanded beyond telco, creating a bouquet of digital lifestyle products, insurance products and more coming up in the pipeline.

Going forward, the startup plans to expand its operations to five additional markets over the next 2 years with an investment of over $36.8 million (S$50 million) per launch.

Abhishek Gupta, Co-Founder of Circles.Life said that with Warburg’s backing, the digital telco is well-positioned to further accelerate its growth and also provide personalized lifestyle experiences to better cater to its customers.

Jeffrey Perlman, Managing Director and Head of Southeast Asia at Warburg Pincus said the PE was impressed by the strong management team at Circles.Life and the company’s ability to innovate, gain market share and achieve best-in-class customer satisfaction in a short period of time.

“We look forward to partnering closely with the founders and senior management to grow the Company into a champion in the digital telco industry,” he added.

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.