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Several factors can explain the recent increase in the number of Latin American unicorns. The injection of capital from investors such as SoftBank has been key: as they’ve set their eyes on the most promising startups in the region, other international VC funds are also turning their heads towards the tech potential of countries like Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank was founded in Tokyo in 1981. It was initially a company focused on telecommunications and internet services, but it began to diversify its businesses by investing in the marketing, finance and e-commerce sectors.
Starting in 2013, SoftBank began investing in tech worldwide. In 2016, it created the SoftBank Vision Fund, which is behind companies like Uber, WeWork, Didi, and DoorDash.
About Softbank’s Latam Fund
In 2019, the conglomerate announced the creation of the Latin American Fund I, which consisted of US$5 billion. This capital has been backing companies like GBM, the partnership between TV behemoths Univisión and Televisa; and Rappi, which received a US$1 billion mega round that pushed it into unicorn status.
Two years later, the Latam Fund II was created with a budget of US$3 billion. In total, SoftBank has allocated US$8 billion to Latin America. In addition to the investments already mentioned, SoftBank has also invested in most of the new Latam unicorns, notably Kavak, Bitso, Clip, and Konfío.
Of course, unicorns have not been the only companies to benefit from SoftBank’s big bucks. The entire list of its investments in Latin America during 2021 is here, arranged in chronological order:
1. MadeiraMadeira (Series E) –January 7 / Brazil
The Brazilian online home goods platform raised US$190 million in a new round of financing that valued it above US$1 billion. SoftBank and Dynamo led this fifth round, which also included Flybridge, Velt Partners, Brasil Capital, Lakewood Capital and monashees.
2. Contabilizei (Series C) – January 14 / Brazil
SoftBank led an undisclosed Series C on Contabilizei, a SaaS tax filing and accounting platform for Brazilian SMEs. Other investors were Kaszek, Point72, Quona Capital and IFC.
3. Descomplica (Series E) – February 18 / Brazil
A group of investors led by SoftBank invested $450 million reais (about US$83 million) in this Brazilian startup for academic test preparation. They saw a great increase in demand for its online learning services during the pandemic.
4. Loggi (Series F) – March 1 / Brazil
This Brazilian logistics unicorn announced a US$212 million Series F led by CapSur Capital with participation from Green Fund and several current investors. These included monashees, SoftBank (both Vision Fund and Latam Fund I), GGV, Microsoft, and Sunley House.
5. Afya (Post-IPO Equity) – April 27 / Brazil
Afya Limited, or Afya, is the largest medical education group in Brazil. They announced that SoftBank Latin America Fund I agreed to buy $822 million reais, equivalent to US$150 million, of Afya’s Series A in perpetual convertible preferred shares.
6. HashDex (Series A) – May 12 / Brazil
The Brazilian cryptocurrency manager raised US$26 million in an investment round led by the Valor Capital Group. SoftBank, Coinbase, Igah Ventures, Globo Ventures and the Canary group of Brazil also participated.
7. QuintoAndar (Series E) – May 28 / Brazil
The São Paulo-based proptech announced that it closed a US$300 million Series E, which gave it a valuation of $4 billion. Ribbit Capital led this round, which also included the participation of SoftBank, LTS, Maverik and Alta Park.
8. Kushki (Series B) – June 1 / Ecuador
9. Grupo Bursátil Mexicano (GBM) (Venture) – June 4 / Mexico
The stock market intermediary and investment technology platform agreed to an investment of up to US$150 million dollars with SoftBank’s Latam Fund I. With this investment, GBM achieved a valuation of US$1 billion
10. Buser (Series C) – June 10 / Brazil
The Brazilian intercity bus startup announced the raising of $700 million reais (almost US$138 million) from LGT Lightrock, SoftBank, monashees and other VC firms. This is to finance new services destined for a tenfold expansion during 2022.
11. Clip (Series D) – June 10 / Mexico
SoftBank and Viking’s Series D investment in Clip made this fintech the third startup with a valuation of more than US$1 billion; because of this it became the third Mexican-born unicorn.
12.- Betterfly (Series B) – June 16 / Chile
SoftBank invested US$60 million in the Chilean platform Betterfly, from the health technology branch. Other investors in this round were DST Global Partners, QED Investors, Valor Capital and Endeavor Catalys. These investments helped Betterfly’s capitalization value reach US$300 million.
13.- Habi (Series B) – June 23 / Colombia
Habi is a startup that buys houses, removes them, and sells them. It closed a US$100 million investment round in a Series B led by SoftBank’s Latam Fund I, and in which Inspired Capital, Tiger Global, Homebrew and 8VC also participated.
14.- Konfío (Series E) – 22 junio / México
Konfío announced a US$125 million round led by VEF, who would invest an extra US$20 million in the company’s operations. Lightrock launched as an investor and joined existing investors, including Softbank, Kaszek Ventures, QED Investors and IFC.
15.- Mercado Bitcoin (Series B) – July 1 / Brazil
2TM Group, the parent company of Mercado Bitcoin and a benchmark for cryptocurrency exchange in Latin America, got US$200 million from SoftBank’s Latam Fund I. It was, until then, the largest Series B in Latin American history and SoftBank’s largest investment in a Latin American crypto company to date.
16. Rappi (Series F) – July 16/ Colombia
This Colombian on-demand delivery startup had previously received funding from SoftBank. In a Series F led by T. Rowe Price they raised more than US$500 million, valuing them at US$5.25 billion. Baillie Gifford, Third Point, Octahedron, GIC, and SoftBank also participated.
17. Cobli (Series B) – July 21 / Brazil
Cobli is a transport fleet management platform for deliveries. They received US$35 million in a Series B led by SoftBank and in which Qualcomm Ventures, NXTP, Valor Capital Group and Fifth Wall Ventures also participated.
18.- Yaydoo (Series A) – August 2 / Mexico
The Mexican startup Yaydoo, who specialize in the financial automation of companies to streamline business-to-business payments, managed to close an investment round in series A for US$20.4 million. This new capital raising was led by the Base10 Partners and monashees funds, as well as the participation of SoftBank’s Latam Fund I and Leap Global Partners.
19.- Omiexperiencie (Series C) – August 3 / Brazil
Omiexperiencie, abbreviated as Omie, is a management platform (ERP) focused on medium-sized companies. They received a contribution of $580 million reais in a Series C led by the SoftBank Latam Fund. Riverwood, Dynamo, VELT, Bogari Capital, Hix Capital and Brasil Capital also participated in the round. With this transaction, the company is on its way to becoming a new unicorn in the Brazilian market.
20.- unico IDTech (Series C) – August 3 / Brazil
This is a Brazilian startup that develops digital identity protection solutions. They announced a financing round of $625 million reais led by General Atlantic and SoftBank. With this investment, unico became a unicorn with a market value of more than US$1 billion. The new investment comes less than a year after Unico received another round of $580 million reais, also led by General Atlantic and SoftBank.
21. Ualá (Series D) – August 13/ Argentina
The Argentine fintech Ualá raised US$350 million in a round led by the SoftBank Latin America Fund and Chinese technology Tencent; and they reached a valuation of US$2,45 billion. This Series D represents the largest round of private investment that an Argentine company has received.
22. PetLove & Co (Series C) – August 31 / Brazil
Petlove & Co, a São Paulo-based digital platform for products and services for the pet market, announced a round led by Riverwood Capital in which it raised US$150 million ($750 million reais). Tarpon, SoftBank, L Catterton, Porto Seguro and monashees also participated.
23. GAIA (Series C) – September 13 / Mexico
GAIA Design raised US$50 million in the largest investment round it has ever had, according to Crunchbase. It was led by SoftBank Latin America Fund, and contributes to the US$80.9 million in funding it has received in total thus far.
24. Kavak (Series E) – September 22 / Mexico
Kavak, the Mexican marketplace for buying and selling used cars, announced a mega round of US$700 million. The General Catalyst fund led the round, which was joined by other investors including Tiger Global, Founders Fund and SoftBank.
25. Buk (Series A) – October 5 / Chile
The human resources management company received a Series A investment for US$50 million led by Greenoaks and with participation from Softbank. This injection of capital is the largest to date that a Chilean startup has received in a Series A.
26.- Gabriel (Series A) – October 6 / Brazil
Gabriel, a Brazilian security startup, raised US$12 million in a round led by SoftBank. Canary, Norte Ventures, Globo Ventures, Indie Capital, QMS Capital, MontLacer Investments, CamelFarm Ventures, Endeavor ScaleUp Ventures and Wayra also participated.
27.- Pismo (Series B) – October 19 / Brazil
Pismo, who offer financial services in the cloud, have raised US$108 million; capital that will be used to expand globally and accelerate technological development for the use of banking services, payments and infrastructure within the financial market. The round was led by SoftBank and other investors such as Amazon, Accel, B3, Falabella Ventures and Redpoint Ventures participated.
28.- Justos (Series A) – October 24 / Brazil
Justos is a Brazilian insurer that uses data to establish insurance policy rates. They raised US$35.8 million in a Series A led by Ribbit Capital. SoftBank was one of their new investors, as they already had existing investors such as Kaszek, BigBets, and the CEOs of two unicorns: David Velez of Nubank and Carlos García Ottati of Kavak.
29.- Konfío (Series E) – September 29 / Mexico
Mexican fintech Konfío, which offers loans to small and medium-sized businesses, is now valued at US$1.3 billion after raising this US$110 million Series E. SoftBank participated as a secondary investor, as the round was led by Tarsadia Capital and QED Investors.
30.- Frubana (Series C) – November 4 / Colombia
The Colombian logistics startup raised US$65 million in a round led by Hans Tung, a partner at VC firm GGV Capital and one of the founders of the Southeast-Asian super app Grab. It also had participation from Tiger Global Management, Softbank, monashees and Lightspeed Venture Capital.
31.- Isaac (Series B) – November 9 / Brazil
Isaac, the Brazilian startup that develops financial management solutions for schools, announced an investment of US$125 million in a Series B led by General Atlantic. SoftBank’s Latam Fund I and a minority investment from Arco Educação, the largest Brazilian company in the education sector, also participated.
32.- Cargo X (Series F) – November 10 / Brazil
The Brazilian trucking platform received US$200 million in a series F led by Tencent and SoftBank. With this round it exceeded a valuation by $1 billion dollars.
33.- Merama (Series B) – December 9 / Mexico
Merama, which reached its unicorn status this same year, raised a US$60 million round led by Advent International and SoftBank. This takes it to a figure of US$445 million of the total capital raised, and combines US$345 million of investment and US$100 million in debt.
34.- Olist (Series E) – December 15 / Brazil
The e-commerce solutions platform managed to enter the unicorn category after receiving US$186 million in a Series E led by Wellington Management, thus valuing them at US$1,5 billion. SoftBank also participated, although to a lesser extent since it had already led their Series D in 2020.
35.- Open Co (Series D) – December 15 / Brazil
Open Co received an investment of US$160 million in a round led by SoftBank’s Latam Fund I, with the participation of Raiz Investimentos, IFC and LTS. The investment was one of the most important operations of the year in fintech financial services for the final consumer in Brazil.
36.- Nowports (Series B) – December 16 / Mexico
The Mexican digital logistics company closed the year with the announcement of a new round of US$60 million, one of the largest B Series in LatAm. The round was spearheaded by three globally prominent funds: Tiger Global, SoftBank and DST. Previous investors such as Mouro Capital, monashees, Base10 Partners, Broadhaven Ventures and Foundation Capital also joined.
37.- BotCity (Seed Round) – December 16 / Brazil
The automation startup announced a US$15 million seed round from Astella Investimentos and SoftBank Latin America Fund. Alexia Ventures, Norte Ventures and angel investors also participated.
38. Addi (Series C) – December 21/ Colombia
Addi, a BNPL company, raised US$200 million in a series C, thus raising it’s valuation to more than US$700 million. The investment amount was US$80 million dollars in a Series C, which included SoftBank through its Latin American Fund, and previous investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, GGV, Greycroft, monashees Capital and the Opportunity Fund of Union Square Ventures.
39.- Alice (Series C) – December 21 / Brazil
The Brazilian healthcare startup raised US$127 million in a series C still led by SoftBank’s first fund. Other investors included Kaszek Ventures and ThornTree Capital Partners, as well as Allen & Company LLC, G Squared, Globo Ventures and StepStone.
You may also be interested in: The Complete List Of Latin American Unicorns