The CEO of Naspers — one of the world’s most powerful, and lowest flying, investment firms — is coming to Disrupt – gpgmail


In 2001, Naspers, a media company that launched in 1915 and later evolved into a media holding company with pay TV interests, agreed to invest $32 million for a 46.5% stake in Tencent. The China-based company had been founded just three years earlier, and, as Quartz notes in a 2014 story about the deal, Tencent wasn’t a brand that many aside from users of its instant messaging platform, QQ, knew at the time.

Of course, given Tencent’s wild growth, it has largely come to define Naspers . Consider that today, Tencent is a roughly $410 billion company, and though Naspers has sold off some of its holdings in the company over the years, it still owns a little more than 30% of Tencent for a stake currently worth roughly $120 billion.

The story is not so unlike that of SoftBank, which made an early, $20 million bet on a nascent China-based company called Alibaba in 2000. Though SoftBank has sold some of its ownership in the company, including to fund an acquisition of acquisition of the British chip designer ARM in 2016, it maintains a 26% stake worth roughly $100 billion.

The bets have proved a blessing but also a challenge for both companies as they work to create valuable portfolios that correlate less closely with these home runs.

For its part, Naspers is finding a number of ways to buffer itself, including, most notably, carving out a new holding company called Prosus NV that’s due to list in Amsterdam this week and that features Nasper’s stakes in the online classifieds business OLX, the Craigslist competitor Letgo, as well as Nasper’s massive piece of Tencent.

Prosus also holds stakes in numerous social networking, food delivery, payments, online travel bookings, and other companies, packaging together its shares in roughly 20 different companies altogether.

It’s a huge deal for Naspers, which is spinning off Prosus to lessen its own dominance of Johannesburg’s stock exchange where it trades, and to minimize the valuation gap between itself and its stake in Tencent. It’s also a highly unusual listing, including because the value of the shares is largely established already (given that they currently trade within Naspers).

Luckily, CEO Bob Van Dijk is joining us at gpgmail Disrupt in early October to talk about Naspers and Prosus and to help us understand this fairly novel and important effort for the company.

Yet that’s not all we want to know.  We want to better understand how the company thinks about new investments, including how it views different sectors and different geographies.

We want to hear what Naspers thinks of the SoftBank’s investing strategy. (Among other things, the two coinvested in Flipkart, which proved a lucrative bet for both. Naspers sold an 11% stake in the company last year for $2.2 billion after investing $616 million. SoftBank sold its 20% stake for roughly $4 billion after investing $2.5 billion into the company.)

We also want to learn more about Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, the recently appointed CEO of Nasper’s South African unit — and the company’s first female and first black chief executive.

For these reasons and many others, we can’t wait to sit down with Van Dijk during our upcoming show. If you’re curious about where the big money is moving around the world, this is one conversation you won’t want to miss. Disrupt SF runs October 2-4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Tickets are available here.


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India’s Milkbasket in talks to raise over $50M – gpgmail


Milkbasket, a Gurugram-based micro-delivery startup, is in talks to close a new financing round as it looks to expand its footprints in milk, groceries, fruits, and vegetables delivery market that has attracted the attention of many in recent months including Amazon India.

The four-year-old startup is in advanced stages of talks with private equity funds to raise more than $50 million, up from $26 million it has secured to date, people familiar with the matter told gpgmail. The round, Series C, is likely to close within the next two months, they said. A Milkbasket spokesperson declined to comment.

Milkbasket, which operates in Bangalore, Gurugram, Noida, and Ghaziabad, and Hyderabad, allows users to order their daily supplies until midnight and delivers it in the early morning hours. It has also started a subscription service for users who need the same set of items delivered to them everyday.

In a recent interview with Indian newspaper Economic Times (paywalled), the startup executives said they are not trying to get items instantly to customers but focus on recurring supplies that need to reach people’s doorsteps at certain hours of the day, thereby mimicking how a traditional milkman and paperboy operate to lower delivery costs.

The startup, which focused on just delivering milk in its early years, is increasingly exploring new categories to enter, and might soon begin delivering prescribed medicine in some cities, one of the people said. Milk delivery is now a small portion of the startup’s business.

It competes with BigBasket and Grofers, both of which are heavily backed and locked in a fierce battle to gain market share. Many more startups are entering micro-delivery territory. Naspers and Tencent-backed Swiggy launched a new service called “Go” yesterday that will enable people in Bangalore to have anything delivered to them.

Google-backed Dunzo is also increasingly gaining popularity and slowly expanding to more cities across India. FreshToHome, a startup that delivers meat and vegetables, recently started to offer milk delivery in select places.

Last month, Amazon launched Fresh to offer fresh fruits and vegetables in parts of Bangalore. The company is increasingly expanding its fulfilment centers across the nation to offer its customers a wider selection of items, Siddharth Nambiar, Director of Prime Now in India, told gpgmail in a recent interview.

The foods and grocery market is growing in India. According to some estimates, it will reach $869 billion in sales in 2023, with digital-based services seen as an important vector for growth.


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India’s Meesho raises $125M to expand its social commerce business – gpgmail


Meesho, a Bangalore-based social commerce startup, has raised $125 million in a new financing round to expand its business in the country and change the way millions shop online.

The Series D round was led by Naspers, and existing investors SAIF, Sequoia, Shunwei Capital, RPS and Venture Highway participating as well. Facebook also participated in the round, so did Arun Sarin, former CEO of Vodafone Group. The four-year-old startup has raised $190 million to date.

Meesho is an online marketplace that connects sellers with customers on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. The startup claims to have a network of more than 2 million resellers from 700 towns who largely deal with apparel, home appliances and electronics items.

These resellers are mostly homemakers, most of whom have purchased a smartphone for the first time in recent years. Eighty percent of Meesho’s user base is female.

meesho android

Meesho said the startup will use the fresh capital to expand its reach in the nation and add as many as 18 million new sellers by end of next year. “The latest investment will also strengthen Meesho’s aim to grow its community of women entrepreneurs who have dreamt of running their own businesses but lacked the funds and expertise to do so,” the company said.

More than 90% of businesses in India are still offline and unorganized. Meesho is trying to get these businesses, most of whom don’t have working capital to enable their own online presence, sell online, Vidit Aatrey, Meesho co-founder and CEO, told gpgmail in an interview.

“I am particularly proud that Meesho has cut across gender, education levels, risk appetites and vocations to create livelihoods for people with no investment of their own. Our social sellers are small retailers, women, students and retired citizens, with 70% being homemakers who have found financial freedom and a business identity without having to step outside their homes,” said Aatrey.

Meesho also plans to use the new funds to further bulk up its technology platform to accommodate new product lines.

“The phenomenal growth they are already experiencing shows that Meesho has hit a sweet spot in the market and is well-poised to serve the next 500 million online shoppers in the country,” said Ashutosh Sharma, Head of India Investments, Naspers Ventures, in a statement.


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