SoftBank leads funding of over RM834m in start-up

BANGALORE • Masayoshi Son isn’t losing his appetite for backing money-losing start-ups.

Son’s SoftBank Vision Fund is leading an investment round of more than US$200 million (RM834 million) in Grofers, the Indian online grocery start-up said in a statement.

Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital and new investor KTB joined SoftBank in the deal, which pushes the company’s valuation to almost US$1 billion — even as it competes against powerful rivals such as Walmart Inc-controlled Flipkart, Inc and BigBasket, backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

The investment comes just after SoftBank-backed Uber Technologies Inc flopped in its initial public offering, a sign that some investors are souring on tech start-ups with big dreams and bigger losses.

Uber had a US$3 billion operating loss last year on revenue of US$11.3 billion.

While Grofers operates in a US$600 billion market with many competitors, the company said it’s prioritising profit, given the sliver of market share served by online merchants.

Walmart and Amazon have been investing heavily in India because they see the country as the last unclaimed major market in the world.

“Grofers had a top line of US$400 million and grew eight times in the last two years,” said its co-founder and CEO Albinder Dhindsa.

Grofers will become India’s largest online grocer this quarter, he said. — Bloomberg