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The prolific Tiger Global is leading the extension, which also includes “significant participation” from Iconiq Capital, SendBird’s initial Series B lead. This means that SendBird’s Series B now amounts to $102 million. That’s a pretty big jump from a $16 million Series A in 2017.
SendBird, which first started in 2013 as a B2C application company, evolved into a messaging platform after building one for its own needs. After applying to Y Combinator, the startup launched its first messaging product in January 2016. Since then it has “more than” tripled its ARR every year, according to founder and CEO John Kim, who declined to reveal just what that ARR is.
Other growth metrics it did provide: in 2018, the company tripled the number of messages sent through its platform, surpassing 1 billion messages per month. It also grew to more than 50 million monthly active users and 16 million daily active users. Headcount grew by 180 percent last year and has increased from 70 to 98 since January, according to the company. Customers include the NBA, Yahoo! Sports, and Indonesia’s GOJEK, among others.
On its growth metrics alone, SendBird certainly fits the profile of the kind of high-growth private company we like to cover. Plus, the SaaS space is just hot, as our EIC Alex wrote in February. At that time, he noted that SendBird’s Series B part 1 came at a time when public companies operating in similar spaces were posting sharp gains. Twilio, in particular, had been on a tear in the public markets in recent quarters.
The addition of Tiger Global as an investor happened quickly, and perhaps a little unexpectedly, according to Kim.
“After announcing our Series B, a lot of hedge funds and investment firms reached out,” he told Crunchbase News. “We’d heard great things about Tiger Global and liked that they had invested in a lot of successful companies in the consumer space. We also thought they had a good overlap in their portfolio of our ideal customers in terms of target market…We had a term sheet one day after our meeting with them. It was an incredibly fast process.”
That prompted existing investor Iconiq to contribute to the second part of the Series B. (Kim said for legal reasons, the startup had to extend that round, rather than create a Series C, because the raises happened so close together) SendBird has recently opened offices in Singapore, London and Bengaluru and generally plans to focus on its go-to-market strategy with its new capital, according to Kim. The company currently operates in 150 countries and also aims to continue expanding globally, with an emphasis on hiring in the United States and Korea, he said.
Matthew Jacobson, general partner at ICONIQ Capital, said his firm invested in both tranches of the Series B round because of its belief that “SendBird has emerged as the category leader, recognizing the immense demand from businesses for a chat and messaging solution and meeting these needs with a customer-focused product and API.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias