CarDekho drives into unicorn club after $250 mn fundraise

BENGALURU: Girnar Software Pvt. Ltd, which runs CarDekho, an online portal for new and used cars, has raised $ 250 million as part of the latest $ 1.2 billion Series E fundraising campaign, making it the newest entrant to India’s growing list of unicorns, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The funding round was led by private equity firm LeapFrog Investments, with participation from South Korea's Mirae Asset Group and existing investors, said the people, who requested anonymity.

They did not disclose the existing investors who participated in the round.

Existing investors in CarDekho include Sequoia Capital India, Hillhouse Capital, and CapitalG, the investment arm of Google's parent company Alphabet.

The fundraising made CarDekho the 33rd Indian startup to become a unicorn
and the second online car retail platform to achieve a $1 billion valuation this year. Unicorn
The corporation is a privately owned startup valued at least $1 billion.

The current round raised CarDekho's valuation by 70% from approximately $700 million it was valued at in its previous funding round.

CarDekho raised $70 million as part of its Series D round in December 2019, led by Chinese investor Ping An Global Voyager Fund.

CarDekho's fundraiser comes at a time when investor interest in online car buying websites has surged.  Last month, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and DST Global led a $ 450 million funding round on CarDekho's used vehicle and competitor platform Cars24.

The investment nearly doubled Cars24's valuation from $1 billion last November to nearly $1.84 billion.

In July, Droom Technology said it had raised $ 200 million in a $1.2 billion pre-IPO financing round, bringing the online car market to unicorn status.

This year, Spinny, the six-year-old used car platform, raised $ 108 million in a Series D round led by New York-based Tiger Global Management. Spinny's tour was valued at approximately $ 800 million.

With its current fundraising, CarDekho is looking to expand to Southeast Asia, even as it seeks to open larger format stores to expand its presence in metropolitan and non-metropolitan cities throughout India, one of the two above said.

In February, Autonexa reported that CarDekho postponed its plans to open 250 stores and instead plans to start large-scale showrooms operated by the company.

"Large stores will give us economies of scale and more influence on workforce efficiency. We will go with the three largest cities to four cities and try different formats," said Amit Jain, Co-founder, and CEO of CarDekho, at the time.

Competition in the online retail car space has intensified in recent months. Cab aggregator and electric car maker Ola also entered the used car sales space online with its Ola Cars platform announced earlier this month.

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