COVID-19 has led to growth opportunities for some like Netflix, which is now bigger than Exxon Mobil, IBM, Costco. Investors have turned cautious as the COVID-19 outbreak hits demand. Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group is among the returning investors to this round of funding.
Ninja Van Series D secured
USD$279 million was raised for Singapore’s Ninja Van Series D 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.
The Singapore-based company has raised a total US$400 million since it was launched in 2014, with operations in the city, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group and Monk’s Hill Ventures joined Grab Holdings Inc. in the Ninja Van Series D round, completed after the pandemic drove a surge in online shopping among people sheltering in place.
The company did not provide a valuation.
Surge during pandemic
The most recent investment arrived in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic where more shoppers turn to online channels to make purchases, leading to increased demand for B2C deliveries. The situation provides opportunities for tech-powered delivery and logistics companies to survive and even notch a win in the crisis with their tools and know-how, to organize shipments of essential goods to communities in need.
The company works with e-commerce firms including Alibaba’s Lazada, Indonesia’s Tokopedia and Sea Ltd’s Shopee. It plans to use the funds to dig deeper into the business-to-business sector, while growing its services for small firms and direct-to-consumer brands.
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 COVID-19 lockdowns. Dozens of regional startups have shed jobs, while others like Oyo and Grab are furloughing workers or asking them to take unpaid leave. The company’s fundraising surpassed a $200 million target set about a year ago, according to Chief Executive Officer Lai Chang Wen.
CEO Lai Chang Wen
Lai Chang Wen, 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.
The investor interest “shows that logistics is something which is around to stay,” Lai Chang Wen said in an interview. “Social distancing will have a profound effect. It may be an inflection point Southeast Asia needs for e-commerce.”
Ninja Van Series D investors
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 Chang Wen said. The company may do another round of funding before a sale or IPO after Ninja Van Series D, 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.”
Said Mr Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder and managing partner of B Capital Group: “Over the years, Ninja Van has demonstrated an excellent grasp on running and growing a strong, thriving business and delivered tremendous value to their partners.” Mr Eduardo Saverin is also one of the co-founders of Facebook.
The new capital injection during Ninja Van Series D will help the company focus on offering delivery solutions for sellers and their customers across South-east Asia, said the startup’s chief executive Lai Chang Wen.
Ninja Van will continue to execute its vision to create an ecosystem providing value-added services to small and medium-sized enterprises and direct-to-consumer brands in the region.