Startups

Why SoftBank Putting $240M Into Brandless Isn’t Surprising

Morning Report: Brandless’s epic new round doesn’t feel surprising. That’s 2018 for you.

The tech press is alive today with coverage of Brandless’s enormous $240 million round powered by SoftBank’s ever-present Vision Fund. The scale of capital and the relative youth of the company receiving the check have raised eyebrows.

As we’ve reported here at Crunchbase News ad nauseam, mega-rounds are absorbing a growing share of the larger venture market. They are becoming incredibly common.

So it is too surprising to see Brandless secure a $240 million check in this environment? I suppose not. In the current context of capital-as-moat, the Vision Fund can seem like a kingmaker. Who would turn it down?

But its knighthoods come at a cost. Per Bloomberg, the new round “values Brandless at a little over $500 million.” So it’s a huge check at a large cost in equity terms. (Prior to the SoftBank infusion, Brandless raised a total of $49 million over three rounds.)

But if you are betting on owning a huge chunk of the future, as SoftBank is trying to, you’d probably want to own a chunk of that market too?

The lesson from all of this is that capital, today at least, isn’t only chasing high-margin companies. Even though Brandless’s vision of $3 home goods faces steep competition from rival store brands like Amazon, lower-margin startups apparently fit into SoftBank’s purview. That leads us to presume that growth is all that matters to some of largest and most active investors in the market.

Either way, Brandless now has a war chest that should see it through any market downturn—if it doesn’t waste it.

From The Crunchbase Daily:

Brandless raises $240M for $3 groceries

Brandless, an online retailer of foods, beauty supplies and household goods that cost $3 each, has just just raised $240 million in a fresh funding round led by SoftBank and joined by existing investors. The jumbo round comes just a year after the San Francisco-based company launched its initial product lineup.

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Tech IPOs are having a strong year after a multi-year period of slack volume. Data indicates that may be due largely to markets attaching higher value to annual recurring revenue.

Top Image Credit: Li-Anne Dias

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