Tiger Global backs Indian crypto startup Coinswitch Kuber at over $500M valuation

Coinswitch Kuber, a startup that allows young users in India to invest in cryptocurrencies, said on Thursday it has raised $25 million in a new financing round as it looks to expand its reach in India, the world’s second largest internet market and also the place where the future of private cryptocurrencies remains uncertain for now.

Tiger Global financed the entire Series B funding round of Coinswitch Kuber and valued the three-year-old Indian startup at over $500 million. The announcement of Series B comes just three months after Coinswitch closed its $15 million Series A round from Ribbit Capital, Sequoia Capital India, and Kunal Shah. The Bangalore-based startup has raised $41.5 million to date.

TechCrunch reported earlier this month that the New York-headquartered technology hedge fund had led or was in advanced stages of talks to lead investments in many Indian startups including Coinswitch.

Coinswitch Kuber is one of the handful of startups operating in the cryptocurrency space today. The startup allows users to buy slivers of several popular cryptocurrencies. A user on Coinswitch, for instance, can buy as small as 100 Indian rupees ($1.3)-worth of Bitcoin.

The startup said it has amassed over 4.5 million users, more than half of whom are aged 25 or younger. In less than a year, Coinswitch Kuber processed transactions over $5 billion.

But how the startup performs in the future is not entire in its hand.

While trading of private cryptocurrency such as bitcoin is currently legal in India, New Delhi is widely expected to introduce a law that bans all private cryptocurrency.

Ashish Singhal, co-founder and chief executive of Coinswitch Kuber, said he is optimistic that India will not ban private cryptocurrencies, and said the startup closed the financing round with Tiger Global before New Delhi’s indication to formulate a law.

“This investment round brings us at par with some of the most sought after cryptocurrency companies in the world and sets us up for the long run,” said Singhal.

In recent months, some startups in India have started to explore a contingency plan in case India does end up banning cryptocurrency trading in the country. Many startups are today building in India, but focusing on serving customers overseas.

“As they build India’s leading cryptocurrency platform, CoinSwitch is well positioned to capture the tremendous growing interest in crypto among retail investors. We are excited to partner with CoinSwitch as they innovate in this emerging asset class,” said Scott Shleifer, Partner at Tiger Global, in a statement.

Gogoro partners with India’s Hero MotoCorp, one of the world’s largest two-wheel vehicle makers

Electric scooters powered by Gogoro’s swappable, rechargeable batteries now account for nearly a quarter of monthly sales in Taiwan, its home market. But one of the most frequent questions co-founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke gets asked is when will Gogoro launch its scooters in other countries.

“I always said, ‘we’re getting ready, we’re getting ready, we’re getting ready,” he told TechCrunch. Gogoro answered that question today by announcing a strategic partnership with Hero MotoCorp, one of the world’s largest two-wheeled vehicle maker and the market leader in India, where it is headquartered.

Gogoro and Hero MotoCorp’s agreement includes a joint venture to build a battery swapping network in India. Hero MotoCorp will also launch electric two-wheelers based on Gogoro technology under its own brand. This will mark the first time the company has launched electric vehicles. (The partnership is not to be confused with Hero Electric, which is run by relatives of Hero MotoCorp’s founders, but is a separate company).

The deal will focus on India before expanding into Hero MotoCorp’s other markets (it serves a total of 40 countries). Details, like the first vehicle, launch cities and pricing, will be announced later, but Luke said Gogoro and Hero MotoCorp “are deploying very rapidly.”

Luke described the strategic partnership as a validation of Gogoro’s goal to become a battery swapping and smart mobility platform, packaging its technology as a turnkey solution for companies that want to produce energy-efficient vehicles.

“We designed our technology, capabilities and business model in the hope that one day we can solicit a giant like Hero,” said Luke.

The first Gogoro Smartscooter was launched in 2015. Since then, it has struck partnerships with manufacturers like Yamaha, PGO and A-Motor to build electric scooters with its technology under their own brands, but Gogoro’s international rollout has been very gradual: for example, a delivery fleet in South Korea and a partnership with the now-defunct scooter-sharing service Coup in Europe. Its first product launch in the United States was for Eeyo, its electric bike brand, instead of scooters.

Gogoro and Hero MotoCorp have been talking for more than a year and Luke described the the strategic partnership as one of the most important deals the company has made so far.

“In order to make a massive change, we need really massive adoption, and Taiwan has served really well as a pilot market for us to develop technology, refine it and show the world that it is possible, through this swap-and-go technology rather than tethered plug-and-charge scenario, for lightweight personal mobility to take off,” said Luke.

But India is obviously a much larger market, in terms of geography and population, than Taiwan. The Indian government wants to put more electric vehicles on the road with subsidy programs, and the high cost of fuel in the country is another incentive for people to make the switch from gas to electric. One major barrier for many consumers, however, is “range anxiety,” or concerns about how long their electric vehicle can run on a charge.

This is why Gogoro and Hero MotoCorp’s swapping station joint venture is important. In Taiwan, Gogoro now has more than 375,000 riders and 2,000 battery swapping/charging stations, which handle 265,000 swaps a day. That density is a key selling point because riders can find a nearby swapping station quickly through Gogoro’s smartphone app.

A photograph of a woman standing next to a scooter in front of a Gogoro battery swapping station

One of Gogoro’s battery swapping stations

Gogoro’s batteries and charging stations are connected to its Gogoro Network cloud service, which monitors the condition of battery and manages how quickly they are charged. This allows the batteries to last longer–Luke said that the company has not retired any of its Smart Batteries in six years. Data from the Gogoro Network also shows the company where it needs to place more stations. In India, Gogoro and Hero MotoCorp will start with densely-populated areas, before adding stations based on demand, similar to Gogoro’s approach to its network in Taiwan.

After India, Gogoro and Hero MotoCorp plan to enter other markets, furthering Gogoro’s international expansion.

“What is really important about this partnership is their influence on the two-wheel market, and the importance of the two-wheel market in emerging markets,” said Luke.

In a press statement, Hero MotoCorp chairman and CEO Dr. Pawan Munjal said the strategic partnership is an extension of the research and development has already put into creating an electric vehicle portfolio.

“Today marks another major milestone in our journey, as we bring Hero’s leadership in two-wheelers, our global scale and innovation powerhouse, with the leadership of Gogoro in the swapping business model, as they have demonstrated over the years in Taiwan and the rest of the world,” Munjal added.


Chargebee valued at $1.4 billion in new $125 million fundraise

A startup that enables businesses to set up and manage their billing, subscription, revenue operations and compliance has become the newest firm to earn the much coveted unicorn status.

Chennai and San Francisco-headquartered Chargebee said on Tuesday it has raised $125 million in its Series G financing round led by Sapphire Ventures and existing investors Tiger Global and Insight Venture Partners.

The new financing round valued the 10-year-old startup at $1.4 billion, a 3x increase since the Series F round six months ago. Some other existing investors also participated in the new round, said Chargebee, which has raised $230 million to date.

If you’re a business, setting up and managing a subscription service — to ensure recurring revenue — could prove to be a complex process. You may want to offer a free 30-day trial to new potential customers. What if some customers want to move to a different pricing tier? These are some of the problems Chargebee is equipped to handle.

Chargebee helps individuals, small and medium-sized businesses and enterprises set up, manage, and automate subscriptions, billing, invoicing, and payments.

One of the key strengths of Chargebee is that it can help even large enterprises move to a subscription model within 10 days.

The industry is going through a “significant change” with businesses digitally transforming themselves and moving to the SaaS model, Krish Subramanian, co-founder and chief executive of Chargebee, told TechCrunch in an interview. And it’s this change that has made Chargebee so vital to thousands of companies today.

Chargebee was founded in an apartment in Chennai, a city on India’s southeastern coast. Subramanian has credited reading blog posts by Joel Spolsky, founder of Trello, as an early inspiration to start his own venture.

“He was solving a very boring problem but in very interesting ways, and he used to share the story of how he is building a company,” he said in an earlier interview. “That was my inspiration that I should start my company like that. So while working at other companies we saved enough and acquired skills to start this.”

The startup’s offerings today are not limited to just billing. It also helps businesses plug revenue leakage, increase customer loyalty, expand into new categories with the backend ready, and experiment with pricing plans — introducing and removing them within 30 minutes.

It supports over 100 currencies, and dozens of popular payment gateways, including Stripe, Braintree, WorldPay and PayPal, and its global tax management coverage also helps businesses to expand to new markets. MakeSpace, an on-demand storage company, used Chargebee’s services to scale from four markets to 31 in one year, for instance.

The startup has amassed over 2,500 customers, most of whom are based in the U.S. and Europe. Some of these customers include brands such as cloud software Okta, business software firm Freshworks, calendar invites manager Calendly, training platform Linux Academy, and Japanese tech giant Fujitsu.

Subramanian said Chargebee’s revenue has doubled in the past 12 months and customer’s revenue has grown by 125%, though he didn’t disclose figures.

He said that like other businesses, Chargebee has been cautiously navigating the global pandemic. The fundraise six months ago ensured that the startup had enough capital in the bank to operate comfortably, he said.

But the recent growth Chargebee has seen prompted the startup to grow more aggressive. “There’s a window of opportunity for the next five years for us to build out this category beautifully and serve a lot of customers,” he said. “And that’s what led the startup to explore the new financing round, he said, adding that the fact that the cost of capital is lower currently in the market also played a role.

“As the global shift to subscription-first models continue to grow in popularity, Chargebee has an incredibly bold vision for new products for multiple market segments,” said Rajeev Dham, Partner at Sapphire Ventures, in a statement. “After years of knowing them, I’ve been most impressed by their thoughtfulness and execution in building Chargebee as the emerging category leader that is reinventing the broader space.”

Chargebee will deploy the fresh capital to expand its suite of products and work on new capabilities to help enterprises in even more ways.

Tuesday’s announcement comes at a time when a slice of Indian startups are raising large amounts of capital at a much more frequent pace and at increased valuations as investors double down on promising bets in the world’s second-largest internet market. Chargebee is the seventh Indian startup to turn a unicorn this month, and 11th this year.

Indian startups social commerce Meesho, fintech firm CRED, e-pharmacy firm PharmEasy, millennials-focused Groww, business messaging platform Gupshup and social network ShareChat attained the unicorn status earlier this month. TechCrunch reported last week that SoftBank is in talks to invest in Zeta and Swiggy. Razorpay on Monday announced new fundraise that valued it at $3 billion.