Copious sums of venture capital have gone into reinventing the grocery business of late. But while much it has gone to startups promising faster delivery of basic staples, the latest giant funding recipient offers a very different proposition.
Fremont, California-based Weee, an online ethnic grocer focused on items that can be hard to find at local supermarkets, announced it secured $425 million in Series E financing led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The round brings total funding to date for the 7-year-old company to more than $800 million.
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Weee’s catalog includes Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Indian and Latin offerings. Some of the best-selling items on its website are shrimp chips, Essence of Chicken Drink, and spiced sunflower seeds.
Investors have shown a voracious appetite for the business model. Major backers include DST Global, Goodwater Capital, iFly.vc, Tiger Global, VMG and multiple others in addition to SoftBank. Its last round, a $316 million Series D, closed last March.
The company says it plans to use the fresh capital to add new ethnic offerings, expand existing ones, scale its service to more places in North America, and invest in warehouse automation.
Weee’s massive funding follows a banner year for global venture investment in the grocery space. Per Crunchbase data, investors put over $12 billion to work in seed through late-stage rounds for companies in the grocery industry in the past 12 months. Besides Weee’s financing, other huge investments over the past year went to GoPuff, a Philadelphia-based speedy grocery delivery service that raised $2.15 billion in 2021, as well as Gorillas and Flink, two Berlin-based fast-delivery providers that raised $1 billion and $750 million, respectively.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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