This week SoftBank, the venture capital fund that invested the most in Latin America in 2020 and 2021 and sparked a wave of unicorns, made strategic changes.
Taizo Son, younger brother of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and founder of Japanese-Singaporean incubator Mistletoe, bought SoftBank’s Asian venture capital arm. He made the deal for The Edgeof, a firm he co-owns with startup investor Atsushi Taira. The aim of the purchase – of 100% of SoftBank Ventures Asia’s shares – would be to cultivate a “pan-Asian ecosystem” for new startups.
PitchBook data shows that SoftBank Venture Asia’s deal pace has slowed in the quarters leading up to the sale, as have SoftBank’s Vision Funds, where Latin America is included, which have similarly slowed their activity.
SoftBank has been present in Latin America in only one investment in 2023. In early March, Chile’s Rankmi, an HR tech startup, closed a Serial A round led by SoftBank Latin America Fund. The amount was not disclosed by the Chilean company. However, it said it received a total investment of US$48 million when it merged with Mexican payroll company Osmos.
Round of the week: Kran
Venture capital investments are cautious in Latin America. This week it was only announced that Chilean startup Kran closed an equity round led by family office Amarena and VC Invexor Venture Partners, both from Chile. The amount of the transaction was not disclosed.
The startup is dedicated to the development of applications with nanobubbles to generate solutions with productive and environmental impact in processes where a liquid is incorporated.
With this investment, the company’s goal is to go international. For now, Kran has offices in Santiago and Puerto Varas, in the southern part of the country. It plans to open offices in Silicon Valley and in the coming months, in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
In other news
The adverse context for startups continues to wreak havoc with personnel cuts.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Examedi, a Chilean startup that offers services and technology in the health area, laid off around 25% of its workforce in Chile and Mexico after a restructuring process that, according to statements by its co-founder and CEO, Ian Lee, would not affect its plans in the short term in either of these markets.
Examedi laid off 30 workers in Chile and 15 in Mexico.
The layoffs are aimed at improving business efficiency and achieving profitability, according to Lee, who rules out management or resource issues. The healthtech had closed a US$17 million Series A round in June 2022.
Alliances and acquisitions
In Mexico, Walmart revealed the name of the startup it acquired in early March. It is Trafalgar Digital, a fintech with IFPE (“Institución de Fondos de Pago Electrónico” in Mexican legislation) permission to improve the operation of its financial solutions and accelerate the access of its customers and partners to the benefits of the digital economy.
Walmart of Mexico (Walmex) seeks to strengthen its fintech service, Cashi, which already has 5.4 million users in the country.
On the other hand, Clara, the unicorn startup for corporate expense management for companies in Latin America, announced an alliance with Banca Afirme to grant loans of up to 15 million Mexican pesos for terms of up to five years.
Both institutions are actively involved in providing financial solutions to small and medium-sized companies. The credit flow resulting from this alliance will be 1 billion Mexican pesos during 2023, and it is estimated that more than 200 companies will benefit in the first year alone.
Main image: Santiago de Chile (Adobe Stock)
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