The Brazilian startup ecosystem has a new unicorn: yesterday, Vtex, which makes solutions for the e-commerce sector, announced that it raised a round of contributions of R$ 1.25 billion, led by the Funds Tiger Global and Lone Pine Capital. With the investment, the company was valued at US$ 1.7 billion, receiving the nickname given to companies with market value of at least US$ 1 billion. In all, Brazil has 12 companies in this ‘club’ – the last to enter it was the real estate startup Loft in January.
It was the second contribution the company received in less than a year – in November 2019, the company had already collected a $140 million check from Japanese group SoftBank. According to Rafael Forte, president of Vtex Brazil, the appetite of investors is due to the intense digitization of the economy caused by the pandemic and the growth of e-commerce during the period of social isolation.
“Despite the fatality we are experiencing, we can’t ignore that pandemic has accelerated digitization. The interest of investors, which was already great due to what the company had been delivering, increased”, says the executive, in an interview with Estadão / Broadcast. “Under normal conditions, maybe the round would not come until 2021 or 2022,” he said.
Owner of a platform that allows major brands to create their own online stores, Vtex invoices with the commission of sales made by its more than 3,000 customers in 48 different countries. Forte estimates that the company will end 2020 with a 114% increase in year-on-year growth and a record $8 billion in gross merchandise volume. “We have been growing steadily, about 44% a year in recent years. Now, with the customer movement rising about 90%, we will have this (growth in) revenue.”
For Forte, forced digitization brought two-pronged challenges for Vtex: absorbing new customers who wanted to start digital operations, as well as meeting new demands from existing customers – including names such as Whirlpool, Coca-Cola, Sony and Nestlé.
With the resources raised in the round announced today, Vtex intends to strengthen its position within Brazil, with the opening of new vacancies, research and development of solutions in artificial intelligence, in addition to initiating an expansion in the U.S. and Europe. “We were born in Brazil, consolidated the market here, and had been groping these markets for some time,” forte says.
“The Brazilian market is naturally hostile and has a greater complexity than the rest of the world. Our solution was born and developed with this bias. Outside, customers are quite surprised by the flexibility and creativity of our services”, comments the executive. According to him, Vtex still sees a lot of market to be exploited abroad and hopes to use these resources to increase the scale and create successful cases.
Opening of capital
With the new round, Vtex is now beginning to think about a possible ipo. Market sources say an offer could take place on the Nasdaq in New York in 2021. “We have been preparing the company for the IPO for some years,” says the president of Vtex Brazil.
“You can’t set a date, but we understand that the market is in favorable condition. In March, we didn’t realize that now in September we would be holding a new round, so you can’t talk about how it’s going to be next year,” he says. “It is our wish, but it is not an obligation, and the important thing is that we are prepared to make the offer.”