Saturday, 20 October, 2018

SoftBank eyes Indian foodtech sector, in talks to invest in Zomato

Japan's Softbank can't seem to get enough of Indian startups in talks to invest in Zomato Japan's Softbank can't seem to get enough of Indian startups; in talks to invest in Zomato
Jean Garcia | 17 May, 2018, 16:48

Over two months after a unit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd invested $150 million in Zomato, valuing the Indian food search and delivery service at more than $1 billion, the Chinese conglomerate is now planning to invest another $200 million in the Gurugram-based company, according to this report in The Economic Times.

SoftBank's move, which comes after its talks with Bengaluru-based Swiggy to explore possibilities of funding to the tune of Dollars 200-250 million in the company, is an indication of its target to play the role of kingmaker in the food delivery market.

The Masayoshi Son-led investment firm, which has backed Flipkart and also Paytm, wants to finalise a deal either in Swiggy or Zomato to place its bet in the food delivery market.

"The investment firm has also held multiple conversations with Swiggy for a possible investment, two people directly familiar with the conversation told ET adding that "(Swiggy) is of the view that it is still little early to raise a large cheque from the Japanese firm". The meeting explored Zomato's various business metrics as well as its plans for worldwide expansion in the next few years. "One of the points of conversations revolved around Zomato's global expansion over next few years", said the person pointing out that "there is no guarantee the conversations will materialise into an investment".

Uber, on other hand, is expected to invest $200 million into its food delivery business, UberEats, in India.

Swiggy's Investment Round Swiggy and SoftBank did not reply to emailed queries on the development.

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Industry experts claimed that Zomato and Swiggy are desperate for more funds partly because Ola and Uber's entry is likely to soon skyrocket the competition in the market. Coatue Management declined to comment.

Importantly, the company has been achieving the growth on the back of an increased number of deliveries and subscription services including Zomato Gold and Treats.

Japan's SoftBank Group and China's Alibaba are mulling investments in restaurant search and food delivery firm Zomato, a media report said. It is now said to be mulling a $3 billion investment in Paytm Mall, the e-commerce arm of Paytm, in which it already owns a 21% stake, pending a possible exit from Flipkart.

Zomato, which has been aggressively growing its food delivery arm to take on Swiggy also raised funds in February when Alibaba's Ant Financial pumped in $200 million, giving Zomato a unicorn status.

The Deepinder Goyal-led company has hit $100 million in annual revenue run rate in March this year. Going forward, it would be interesting to observe - whether SoftBank will choose Swiggy or Zomato. Given the size of the pie, competition was sure to heat up - and it has, to the point that it's nearly a throwback to the red-hot days of 2014-15, when food tech startups were proliferating and raking in moolah. In April, RedSeer also pegged the size of the market at $740m.

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