Carousell hits unicorn status, valued at US$1.1bil with US$100mil raise from Korea’s STIC Investments

  • Up investments in recommerce across more markets, seek acquisitions
  • Looking to introduce higher-value products, including luxury goods & cars

Carousell founders Siu Rui Quek, Marcus Tan and Lucas Ngoo.

Singapore based classifieds startup, Carousell Group, which operates in nine countries across Asia and Canada announced yesterday that it has raised US$100 million (RM415 million) to accelerate growth.

There was no mention of a listing in the media release though media reports from June have linked it to a possible US listing via SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company). 

This round, led by STIC Investments, a leading South Korean private equity that invests across Asia, marks a significant milestone that will bring Carousell’s valuation to US$1.1 billion (RM4.57 billion) The investment will power the group’s ambitions to redefine commerce for secondhand goods and automobiles in an increasingly digitally savvy, affluent and sustainability-conscious region.

“The pandemic has shown us that our mission to inspire the world to start selling and buying secondhand is more relevant than ever. People are using our platforms to make more possible for each other—through shared passions, making ends meet, affording what they need, or simply because it is more sustainable. We believe that the accelerated adoption of digital experiences is an opportunity for us to double down on our recommerce efforts with a focus on convenience and trust, to unlock step-change growth in our community,” said Quek Siu Rui, cofounder and CEO of Carousell. “STIC’s investment is a validation of our mission and strategic direction. We’ll deepen our investments in recommerce across more categories and markets, and will continue to seek opportunistic acquisitions in scaling up.”

“We have been monitoring Carousell and are excited to partner with a significant stake in its growth story,” said Jason Cho, Managing Director of STIC Investments. "Carousell continues to achieve tremendous user growth as they transform the recommerce market, adding new features that are focused on creating trusted marketplaces and enhancing overall user experience. We are highly confident that Carousell will be at the center of the secondhand economy in this region at a time when an increasing number of socio-economic and environmentally conscious consumers are shifting towards a circular economy." As part of the funding round, Cho will join the Carousell Board.

Since its founding in 2012, the Group serves a community of tens of millions of users across eight markets in Southeast Asia and Taiwan under the brands Carousell, (in Malaysia), Cho Tot (Vietnam) and OneKyat (Myanmar). The latter three sites used to be owned by Norwegian telco, Telenor Group before the two parties entered into a merger in late 2019.

[Ed: Para edited for accuracy.]

Read Also: Online classifieds space in SEA sees merger between top two players, Carousell and Telenor owned 701Search

“We have grown way beyond categories like fashion, electronics and general goods,” said Quek. “As the region becomes more affluent, people want to enjoy the finer things in life. We are looking at authentication capabilities for higher-value products, including luxury goods and cars. Our goal is to make transacting in a secondhand marketplace as convenient and trusted as any e-commerce platform so that secondhand can truly be the first choice.“

This year alone, Carousell has piloted a Certified Mobiles programme in Singapore, offering a 12-month warranty for used mobile phones to offer users a like-new experience at secondhand prices, and launched integrated shipping with PosLaju (the Malaysia national postal service) to provide contactless transaction options for sellers and buyers during the Movement Control Order. Carousell Auto Group, which was formed earlier this year to leverage its regional leadership position in car classifieds, has in a short period rolled out a Certified Autos programme in Malaysia that achieved the largest inventory of certified cars in the country, with other key markets to follow.

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