Singapore’s Carousell raises $85 M Series C from Rakuten Ventures, EDBI, and others


Singapore-based mobile listings portal and customer-to-customer (C2C) marketplace confirmed today that it had closed its Series C funding round, which reportedly began last October. The company said that it had raised $85 million in the round, led by existing investor Rakuten Ventures and new investor EDBI, the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board. Other participating investors included existing firms 500 Startups, Golden Gate Ventures, and Sequoia India as well as first-timer DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest bank that has over $330 billion in assets.

Carousell Co-founders Siu Rui Quek, Lucas Ngoo, and Marcus Tan. (Image: Carousell)

Speaking about the investment, Carousell Co-founder and CEO Siu Rui Quek said, “The investment will enable us to continue building up our teams with top-tier talent to accelerate our development of highly anticipated features, and more AI and machine learning capabilities. We are grateful for the support of our new and existing investors, and their strong validation of our team’s execution capabilities, passion for the mission and product vision.” He added that the proceeds from the round would be used to push product innovation, with a specific focus on talent acquisition and deep technology R&D.

Carousell was founded in May 2012 by Siu Rui Quek, Lucas Ngoo, and Marcus Tan, all alumni of the National University of Singapore. The platform’s core business allows users to list and sell items directly to one another, similar to hugely popular platform Craigslist. According to Carousell, they have sold over 50 million items to date, and list over 144 million items on the platform. The company recently expanded its offering to diversity into more high-value verticals like cars, property, job services, and finance.

According to a report in TechCrunch, Carousell’s primary C2C platform is free, but the company has begun to monetize itself recently, with advertising and partnerships forming a large chunk of the company’s revenue stream. The platform has also launched several new features recently in a bid to monetize some of its core business, including paid-for premium listings, “Bumps” which allow sellers to boost the profile of their items, and Carousell Pro, an analytics and marketing app aimed at commercial vendors.

The latest round of funding brings Carousell’s total funding to date to over $126 million. The platform previously raised $800,000 in a Seed Round in November 2013, $6 million from a Series A round in November 2014, and $35 million from a Series B round in August 2016. In an interview to TechCrunch, Quek joked, “It’s been six years since I made my parents very angry when I decided to do a startup, so it’s great to again get the validation of our investors...Six years ago it was mobile, now we’re going into an AI-first world [with other challenges such as] how do we make payments a lot more frictionless.”

Carousell’s funding comes as the platform finds itself in increasing competition with mainstream e-commerce platforms including Alibaba-owned Lazada and Aliexpress. Quek said that the company plans to move outside Southeast Asia in the future (it already has plans to expand into Indonesia and Thailand in the region), but those discussions are yet some time in the future. “We do have global ambitions as a company, but the focus is really still cementing our leadership in Southeast Asia. It’s such an exciting region, it’s still nascent, and there’s still a lot of work for us to do in the grand scheme of things,” he said.