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10 notable startup acquisitions of 2016

Varsha Roysam
28th Dec 2016
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In 2016, the M&A market in India was buzzing. The result? Over 150 acquisitions and acqui-hires were announced. Even Apple got their share of the pie with their acquisition of Hyderabad-based AI and machine learning startup Tuplejump, which marked their first acquisition in India. But with competition from Google and Amazon becoming a driving force, this wasn’t Apple’s first AI tech acquisition of the year.

To get ahead in the game, active acquirers went on a roll in the M&A sector. Voonik made a total of five acquisitions, Craftsvilla and GirnarSoft made three each, and Ouikr, Housejoy, InnerChef, Freshdesk, and Portea made two acquisitions each. To give you a highlight, here is a list of the most notable of all acquisitions this year.

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Citrus Pay

Acquired by: PayU

CitrusPay was a fintech company ,whose prepaid payments systems simplified the payment experience. Founded by Jitendra Gupta and Satyen V Kothari in 2011,it had raised a total funding of around $32 million from Sequoia, Ascent Capital, and eContext. PayU, a similar payment gateway provider, acquired Citrus Pay this September for $130 million in what was the largest cash deal acquisition in the Indian fintech industry. This merger, which was PayU’s first acquisition, was also an acqui-hire, extending PayU’s reach in technological advancements of the fintech Industry. In the deal that was made, Citrus Pay MD Amrish Rau was to become CEO of PayU India and the Founder, Jitendra Gupta, was said to head the merged company’s credit business.

Jabong

Acquired by: Flipkart

The troubled Rocket Internet-incubated company, Jabong, was the online fashion and e-commerce platform founded by Praveen Sinha and Arun Chandra Mohan in 2012. The Global Fashion Group that owned Jabong had raised about $250 million in funds but despite that, the online fashion platform was crippled by a financial drain. The founders left the company in 2015.

In a surprise move, Flipkart-owned Myntra acquired Jabong for $70 million in an all-cash deal this July. With this deal, Flipkart beat the Aditya Birla Group and Snapdeal, which were also eyeing the prize.

StayGlad

Acquired by: Quikr

StayGlad was an online beauty service provider founded by Shashank Gupta, Prateek Jain, and Kavish Desai in 2015. It raised an undisclosed amount in series A funding from Bassemer Venture Partners, Anil Chopra (former CEO of Lakme Lever), seed funding from Sahil Barua (Co-founder of Delhivery and TracxnLabs) and from angel investors. A year in the running, StayGlad struggled to attract new investors and subsequently ended up with deflated funds.

Quikr, the classified advertising platform, acquired StayGlad this September for an undisclosed amount. The deal was said to be made mostly in stocks. This was an acqui-hire as one of Quikr’s fastest growing service categories was on-demand beauty services. This talent acquisition was carried out to extend and improve their services. The team and the co-founders were to join Quikr, as per the deal.

Quikr has been an active acquirer, and this deal was its third in the beauty service industry (the other two being Salosa and Zapluk), and ninth in its total number of acquisitions.

SparseLabs

Acquired by: Zomato

SparseLabs was a logistics technology startup that developed an android app to help restaurants track their delivery executives’ movements and project the same to their customers. It was founded by Pankaj Batra in 2014.

It was acquired by Zomato this September, the financial details of which have not been disclosed. As this deal marked Zomato’s tenth acquisition, Sparse Labs was renamed Zomato Trace. Zomato only recently set foot into the food delivery ecosystem and the acquisition of SparseLabs was intended to improve their new services.

Pianta

Acquired by: GO-JEK

Pianta was a Bengaluru-based home and healthcare service provider. It was founded by former Ola and Flipkart executives Swaminathan Seetharaman, Ganesh Subramanian, and Nitin Agarwal in 2015 and had raised an undisclosed seed funding from FreeCharge Founders Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon. Owned by SLX logistics, this startup helped users discover healthcare providers and book appointments for services ranging from nursing to sample collection.

GO-JEK, the Indonesian transport, logistics, and payments startup, acquired Pianta for an undisclosed amount this September. This third Indian acquisition was an acqui-hire move with an intention to strengthen their technology. The whole team was integrated with Go-JEK’s Indian arm.

Binge

Acquired by: vMobo

Binge was a Begnaluru-based fintech startup that helped its users pay restaurant bills directly through the app. It was founded by Ajay Joseph, Santosh Martin, Christopher Lopez, and Shankar Sukurutraj in 2014.

vMobo, a California-based marketing company, acquired Binge for $3.5 million this October, which marked its first acquisition. The acquisition was carried out with the sole intention of enhancing its technology with Binge’s talent team and partnerships.

Adgebra

Acquired by:Fork Media

Adgebra was Inuxu’s digital ad technology platform, launched in 2013 by Rohit Bagad. It used progressive mathematical algorithms that helped companies by generating custom and relevant ad campaigns.

In a talent acquisition, Fork Media, which is also an ad technology company, acquired Adgebra this September (marking its second acquisition), gaining a major stake in Inuxu – $3 million in a cash-and-stock deal. According to the terms, Inuxu was to remain an independent identity and develop products for Fork Media.

Dekkoh

Acquired by: Voonik

Dekkoh was a personal styling app that was founded by Varun Mathew and Aditya Chalasani in 2015. It had raised a total of $27 million in funding. The app provided customers with a community of stylists through online chats so they could choose their clothing products with greater ease.

Voonik acquired Dekkoh for an undisclosed amount this September, making this their fifth acquisition of the year. It was a beneficial acquisition for Voonik since they too reside in the personalised fashion industry, and Dekkoh’s chatbot and profiling technologies only made them better rooted in it.

HomeCues

Acquired by: Sbricks

HomeCues was a Hyderabad-based home service aggregator that allowed its users to choose from services like plumbing, carpentry, laundry, etc. It was founded in 2014.

Sbricks, also a Hyderabad-based facility management and home services startup, acquired HomeCues this August for more than $1million in an all-stock deal, as its second acquisition. HomeCues’ brand name was retained and it became a subsidiary with an aim to focus on the B2C sector while Sbricks focused on B2B.

Lookup

Acquired by: NowFloats

Lookup was a commerce platform that allowed its users to discover and contact merchants in their locality. It was founded by Deepak Ravindran in 2014. It had raised a total of $5.5 million in Series A funding and $382,000 in seed from Kris Gopalakrishnan (former Co-chairman of Infosys)but wasn’t successful in finding any interested investors this year.

NowFloats acquired Lookup this July as its first acquisition in a stock-and-cash deal. NowFloats is an online platform that helps small and medium business (SMBs) gain visibility through the websites they offer. According to the deal, core members of Lookup were offered equity at NewFloats and its Founder, Deepak Ravindran, claimed that Lookup would continue to run independently.

With each M&A, there’s a growth in market solutions as the combined companies offer better technologies and products to the consumers. The impacts of these acquisitions are, however, yet to be seen.

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