Investment Round: Go-Jek, Grammarly, Tubi TV and Yieldify

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 firms to pushing the capabilities of mobile marketing further.

Uber’s Indonesian Rival Go-Jek Raises $1.2bn

Tencent, the Chinese internet giant, is wading into the ride-hailing battle currently being waged in Indonesia between Uber, Grab and local startup Go-Jek. The firm has reportedly led investing in a new $1.2bn (£928m) funding round for Go-Jek, bringing the company’s value to approximately $3bn post-investment.

The funding round comes relatively shortly after Go-Jek’s last series of investment back in August 2016, when it raised $550m on a valuation of $1.3bn. This new deal pushes the company’s value up substantially over a short period of time, with other backers believed to include existing investors in the startup.

Go-Jek began life as a bike-only taxi service, but has since expanded to cars through a partnership with taxi firm Blue Bird and its own GoCar private service. With bikes one of the more efficient ways to navigate congestion in crowded cities like Jakarta, both Uber and Grab have introduced motorbike taxi services since entering the market.

Go-Jek boasts over 200,000 drivers across 25 cities in Indonesia. Despite rumours last year of an international expansion, the service has so far remained in its home market, but according to TechCrunch, it has considered partnerships with other on-demand motorcycle taxi firms in Sri Lanka and India. Whether this new cash injection will see those deals materialise, or simple allow the firm to focus on securing its home market, remains to be seen.

Investors Bet on a Better Spell Check with Grammarly
With more people than ever spending their time typing, it’s no surprise that a next-generation spelling and grammar checker would perform well. Grammarly has been around for eight years, but has just undertaken its first funding round, having built a profitable business with a freemium model that focuses on students, social media managers and other professional writers.

The funding round has raised $110m for the firm, with investment coming from General Catalyst, IVP and Spark Capital among others. The money will be used to hire more staff and improve the algorithms that drive the company’s software.

Grammarly has 6.9m daily active users, most of whom use the service for free. Those who do pay are charged $11.99 a month for advanced help with sentence structure and vocabulary, genre-specific writing style checks and a plagiarism detector that checks over 8bn web pages for duplicate phrasing.

Tubi TV Raises $20m for Ad-supported Streaming
Four venture capital firms, led by Jump Capital, have helped Tubi TV more than double its total funding with a fresh round of investment in the ad-supported streaming platform. The $20m brought in by the four firms brings total financing to date to $34m since the company launched in 2014.

Tubi TV offers users access to over 50,000 television and movie titles in return for registering and watching four to five minutes of commercials for every 30 minutes of content. According to founder and CEO Farhad Massoudi, the company’s content catalogue is second only to Netflix, and the number of users is now in the “many millions”.

The new round of funding will be used to expand the company’s marketing efforts, which so far have been minimal, as well as strengthening its in-house TV analytics platform that helps marketers target audiences with precision.

With content partners including Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Starz and MGM, and a focus on delivering streaming across all major devices from games consoles to mobile, the company is hoping to take advantage of the cord-cutting trend to capture consumers who are abandoning costly cable packages.

Yieldify Gains New Chairman Alongside $6m in Funding
Marketing experience company Yieldify has announced the completion of its second funding round, led by Binomial Ventures and with participation by John Guiliani, CEO of Conversant, who will be joining the company’s board as chairman.

The $6m round will aim to capitalise on the recent launch of the firm’s Yieldify Conversion Platform, and allow the company to continue to significantly scale in the expanding eCommerce market, where it serves brands including Marks and Spencer, Omni Hotels, Anthropologie and Domino’s Pizza.

“Today’s investment is a fantastic endorsement of our vision from some of the most respected voices in the industry,” said Jay Radio, CEO and co-founder of Yieldify. “Yieldify is on a mission to define the future of marketing and this funding will secure our ability to execute on that at speed and at scale.”