SoftBank Mints New Unicorn in Indian Social Commerce App Meesho

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Bangalore-based social commerce startup Meesho Inc. has raised $300 million in new funding led by SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund 2, valuing the startup at $2.1 billion.

Existing investors like Prosus Ventures and Facebook Inc. also participated in the fresh investment round, which adds a new member to a growing coterie of Indian unicorns, or startups valued at more than a billion dollars. Meesho, which operates an online sales platform for micro, small and medium businesses across India, will use the funds to “strengthen its talent pool” across all areas, including technology, product and business.

“SoftBank has always been excited to back founders that provide unique solutions for the local market,” said Munish Varma, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “By using the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Meesho has created a platform for many small business owners to sell to the next cohort of internet users.”

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son has consistently stressed the transformative potential of AI to drive innovation and business opportunity. His second Vision Fund was in doubt a year ago amid losses at its predecessor from investments in the likes of WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc., but improvements among the firm’s portfolio companies since then have provided him with the confidence and capital to resume investing aggressively in developing startups.

Meesho serves over 13 million individual entrepreneurs in helping them start online businesses. The software developer has delivered orders from more than 100,000 registered suppliers to over 4,800 cities, pursuing a strategy of taking e-commerce to smaller cities and towns beyond the metropolitan areas already covered by the large online retailers.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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