MWC

Investment Round: Cabify, Snow, Taptica and Stagedoor

Tim Maytom

Investment Round is our weekly update on which firms have secured new funding, which areas are seeing the most financing, and who is putting up the cash that enables these companies to keep pushing the capabilities of mobile marketing further.

Cabify raises $160m for ride hailing in Latin America as it restructures
Maxi Mobility, the parent company of Uber-rival Cabify, has raised $160m (£114m) at a valuation of $1.4bn despite an ongoing restructure that will reportedly see 10 per cent of staff potentially affected and a new CEO taking the reins at Cabify as Ricardo Weder, who has only held the role for six months, steps aside.

The Madrid-based start-up operates a ride hailing service in Spain, Portugal and a number of Latin American nations. It has remained competitive with Uber and other rivals in its region, including Brazil-based 99, which was recently acquired by Didi. The Series E funding round was powered by a mix of new and existing investors, including Rakuten Capital, GAT Investments, TheVentureCity, Liil Ventures and Endeavor Catalyst.

“We are thrilled to welcome this new group of investors, and to continue to strengthen our relationship with Rakuten Capital,” said Juan de Antonio, CEO of Maxi Mobility. “We have a shared vision of transforming mobility in the cities and improving the quality of life for their citizens.”

However, it’s not all smooth sailing for the firm, which is currently seeking to restructure and centralise elements of its operations. Around 120 to 150 staff could reportedly face job losses or changes due to the restructure, representing just under 10 per cent of the company’s total workforce. The changes go all the way to the top, with Ricardo Weder leaving the role of CEO of Cabify to become president, and co-founder and former chief operating officer Vicente Pascual becoming CEO.

Korean selfie app Snow brings in $50m from SoftBank and Sequoia China
The company behind Snow, a popular Korean app that began life as a Snapchat clone and was once a rumoured to be an acquisition target for Facebook, has raised $50m in new funding. The investment comes from big name tech investors SoftBank and Sequoia China, providing the company with a significant vote of confidence from some well-established firms.

Snow was created by Naver, the Korean firm behind messaging app Line, and spun off into an independent venture with a number of smaller related apps. The company initially took advantage of Snapchat’s absence in the Asian market to build a substantial audience in Korea, Japan, China and other nearby markets, but has since evolved from a Snapchat-clone into a dedicated selfie app, recently dropping user-to-user communication entirely.

The app now focuses on features like filters, stickers, augmented reality elements and other ways of altering photos and video, which can then be exported to other social networks or messaging apps. In addition to GIF makers and Boomerang-style looping videos, users can even record videos set to music from popular artists who have partnered with the firm. The app now boasts over 200m downloads across iOS and Android, with China as its largest market. The new investment will be put towards new product development, building partnerships and localising the app to reach even more users in China.

With mergers and acquisitions in mind, Taptica raises £40m
End-to-end mobile ad platform Taptica is preparing for an ambitious year of M&A activity by raising almost £40m through a variety of means. Approximately £21.8m was raised through an oversubscribed conditional placing at a price of £4.50 per share, with the proceeds used to reduce the debt level under the company’s existing debt facility.

Berenberg and FinnCap acted as joint bookrunners on the placing, with the remaining money raised through sales by two shareholders, including CEO Hagai Tal, satisfying a near-term capital gains tax liability that had previously been announced by the firm.

“With a broader footprint across the globe and consumer mobile usage and adoption rising, we anticipate our strategy of on-boarding local advertisers onto global platforms to result in continued growth,” said Tal. “The funds raised will reduce the level of debt under the company’s existing debt facility, which we believe will better position the company to capitalise on near-term M&A opportunities.”

Stagedoor raises £350,000 in crowdfunding to build “IMDB for theatre”
London-based startup Stagedoor has announced that it has raised £350,000 in a Seedrs crowdfunding campaign for its comprehensive guide to theatre in the capital, greatly surpassing its original goal of £200,000. The apps community of 20,000 users contributed to the success of the campaign, raising £140,000 in amounts as small as £10 each, while conventional investors from across the theatre and tech industries also provided funding.

The money raised will be used to help the Stagedoor app reach 100,000 users in London, and expand to also cover New York’s theatre community. The app helps users discover and book shows in London, providing personalised recommendations that take into account the preferences of users and their friends. It also enables users to follow genres, venues and artists, to ensure they never miss a seat.

“This is a very exciting time for our company and I would like to thank all our investors for sharing our vision,” said Michael Hadjijoseph, co-founder and CEO of Stagedoor. “Together, we will continue to make theatre more accessible and help introduce new audiences to our fantastic industry.”