Online marketplace Carousell is Singapore’s newest unicorn

Carousell co-founders (from left) Quek Siu Rui, Marcus Tan and Lucas Ngoo. (PHOTO: Carousell)
Carousell co-founders (from left) Quek Siu Rui, Marcus Tan and Lucas Ngoo. (PHOTO: Carousell)

By Yoolim Lee

(Bloomberg) — Online classifieds marketplace Carousell became Singapore’s latest tech unicorn, raising funds at a US$1.1 billion valuation as Southeast Asia’s e-commerce startups benefit from the pandemic and related lockdowns.

The company got US$100 million in a round led by South Korean private equity firm STIC Investments, according to a statement on Wednesday.

Carousell is joining Singapore’s growing list of unicorns, or private companies valued at more than US$1 billion, as the island nation of 5.7 million people positions itself as a vibrant regional hub for technology startups. Newly minted unicorns this year include fintech platform Nium, used-car marketplace Carro and software company PatSnap.

There has been a flurry of fundraising and startup deals in Southeast Asia, where the tech industry is having a boom year. The coronavirus and government-imposed movement restrictions have boosted demand for online transactions in one of the world’s fastest-growing digital markets. The region added 70 million new online shoppers since the start of the pandemic, according to an annual report by Facebook Inc. and Bain & Co.

“The accelerated adoption of digital experiences is an opportunity for us to double down on our recommerce efforts with a focus on convenience and trust,” Carousell Chief Executive Officer Quek Siu Rui said in the statement.

Carousell was founded in 2012 and now counts Telenor ASA, Rakuten Ventures, Naver, and Sequoia Capital India among its backers. The marketplace has since expanded to eight markets across Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong, allowing users to buy and sell a diverse range of products including cars, lifestyle, gadgets and fashion accessories. The company is considering to add authentication technologies for higher-value products, such as luxury goods and vehicles, among other programs.

As part of its expansion efforts, Carousell has weighed a U.S. listing via a merger with a blank-cheque company, people with knowledge of the matter said in June.

Read more: Singapore’s Carousell Is Said to Explore U.S. Listing Via SPAC

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