SoftBank may be looking to raise another Vision Fund in the near future, but there’s still plenty of cash on-hand for it to make big bets now. Its latest deal? A $200 million Series F into India-based Grofers. The startup has raised a total of $441.8 million, according to Crunchbase.
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If you haven’t heard of Grofers before, no worries, it’s new to us too. It describes itself as an online grocer; however, it also sells household, baby care, and pet care products. It then delivers those products to residents of Mumbai, Pune, Kanpur, and Delhli, among many others.
It’s a curious bet for SoftBank to make. As we reported last week, BigBasket, another Indian delivery startup, just raised $150 million, bringing its total funds raised to $989.5 million. FlipKart, which WalMart acquired for $16 billion nearly a year ago, is also a large player in the e-commerce market in India.
In other words, there’s stiff competition for delivering goods to Indian households, and Grofers appears to be a small player in the market in terms of capital infusion, even with SoftBank money.
But there is precedence for SoftBank funding a startup under similar circumstances. Wag, a dog walking startup, raised $300 million from SoftBank. At the time, the deal was seen as an attempt by SoftBank to own a growing market with a deluge of capital. However, if that was SoftBank’s strategy, it hasn’t panned out so well for Wag or SoftBank.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Rover, a Wag competitor with $310 million in funding, is growing faster than Wag. And even before Wag’s massive capital confusion, Rover had more market share. That lead, according to the Wall Street Journal, has only grown. Rover now commands “79.7% versus 20.3% for Wag.”
So funding an underdog with massive sums of money is not a guaranteed way to own a market for investors, at least in the dog walking space. Whether that plays out the same for Grofers is unknown. It’s also possible that the Indian grocery and delivery market is capable of sustaining a number of large players given the sheer market size, and SoftBank believes there are plenty of returns to be had in owning a slice of the pie.
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