The Brazilian technology conglomerate Movile has just raised one of the largest rounds ever recorded for a Latin American startup, pulling in an additional $400 million for its iFood subsidiary from existing investors, including Naspers and Innova Capital.
Founded roughly 20 years ago by chief executive officer Fabricio Bloisi, the company, which began as a digital content studio for mobile device, has grown into a mobile services and content empire with aspirations of reaching 1 billion people.
The company is on its way with estimated revenues more than $240 million and more than 150 million monthly active users. iFood alone recorded 10.4 million delivery orders for the month of October and the growth of the business is nothing short of explosive.
According to data from the company, iFood received 390,000 orders per day in Brazil in the last weeks of October — representing 109 percent growth, compared to 183,000 from October 2017. The company’s 10.8 million monthly orders have fed 9 million Brazilian customers, and iFood boasts a network of 50,000 restaurants and 120,000 couriers.
“Movile is very fortunate to have long-term investors who have supported us for the past decade to help achieve our goal of transforming the lives of more than one billion people and thus we are able to continually back iFood to ensure it remains the market leader,” said Fabricio Bloisi, the company’s chief executive in a statement. “Our entire ecosystem of companies is focused on allocating resources and energy towards our one billion people goal, and iFood is leading the way fueling unprecedented growth through its innovative technology platform, providing consumers, couriers and restaurants with the best experience in food ordering and delivery.”
Delivery is central to Movile’s expansion plans and it serves as a gateway to many of the company’s other business lines.
While the engine of growth in the company’s earliest days was PlayKids, its mobile content business focused on children’s entertainment, it has moved well beyond content and entertainment. Now it counts the payment business Zoop, delivery company Rappido and the ticketing business Sympla among its many and varied business units.
In an interview onstage at TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Latin America event last week, Bloisi attributed the company’s success to its aggressive mergers and acquisitions strategy across the region and an ability to rapidly spin up and shut down business units as it experimented with what could work for Latin American consumers.
The goal for Bloisi was always to create a multi-billion-dollar business that could span the globe and compete with any of the technology giants hailing from Silicon Valley or, increasingly, China.
Indeed, as Movile expands, its model is looking more and more similar to another Naspers portfolio company, the Chinese mammoth of mobile messaging and services, Tencent.
Leveraging its messaging platform, WeChat, Tencent has become a multi-billion-dollar powerhouse — and a platform for exchanging goods and services for a huge percentage of China’s mobile internet users.
Movile hopes to follow the same path, with operations in content, payments and delivery all housed under its roof. And as the connections between online and offline commerce increase, food delivery is emerging as the central hub for that plan, as our contributor, Nathan Lustig wrote for us earlier this year.
The insights and data that Movile gathered during its strategic venture capital investments in iFood were critical. During this time, Movile built the foundation for its investments that followed shortly after, and learned how to make them a success. With each new investment, Movile’s goal was simple: take a fast-moving startup and help it grow beyond what the founding team ever thought possible by infusing cash, human capital and any technical resources or expertise that the startup could possibly need.
Movile quickly solidified its M&A strategy, its processes and its position as a leader in Latin America’s mobile market. To continue financing its growth through acquisitions, Movile raised another $55 million from Innova Capital, Jorge Paulo Lemann and FINEP in its Series D round in 2014. This new round of financing led to even more acquisitions, including the acquisition of Rapiddo, ChefTime and FreshTime. It also allowed the company to make additional investments in LBS Local, the owners of Apontador, MapLink, Cinepapaya and TruckPad.
“We want our consumers to have an amazing delivery experience from the moment they order their food to the moment it arrives, and our partners – the restaurants and delivery fleet – make that happen by living our purpose of improving people’s lives using our services,” said Carlos Moyses, iFood’s chief executive in a statement. “iFood exists for our customers and with an increased investment commitment of this size, we will be able to build out our state of the art technology platform, and increase our courier and restaurant partners to even better serve our current and future customers in Latin America.”