2018: The Year Latin American Startups Hit the Gas – And Didn’t Let Up

It’s been a year since we founded LatAm List to share Latin American tech news with the English-speaking public, and it’s been a great one! 2018 has been a year to test our model and watch it become a resource for many English-speaking professionals in Latin America and worldwide.

LatAm List Updates

Since we started, we have published over 320 articles that have reached more than 24,000 visitors and have been shared hundreds of times on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Some of our articles have even made their way into top industry newsletters and were linked in bylines in TechCrunch, Crunchbase News, and The Next Web.

Scanning over numbers for 2018, our top readership was in Chile and the US, together making up almost half of total viewers last year. After that, 14% of our readers are in Mexico, 7% in Peru, and 5% in Brazil. However, we also had readers in over 108 countries (!), from Russia to Indonesia, and Belgium to South Africa.


Latin American Tech: 2018 in Review

2018 was a standout year for Latin American tech, which made it a great time to be a news source! LAVCA hasn’t yet released their official 2018 data, but early numbers show that last year was by far Latin America’s best year in tech and investment. In just the month of October, public tech deals outstripped tech funding in Latin America for all of 2016. After iFood’s historic US$500M investment, tech deals in the last three months of 2018 should have far exceeded Latin America’s record breaking US$1B in tech investment in 2017.

To celebrate an outstanding year in Latin American tech, here are our top articles and highlights for each month in 2018:

January – Didi Acquires 99 for $1B to Expand Into Latin America

China’s Uber rival, Didi Chuxing, acquired Brazil’s rideshare app 99, creating Latin America’s first unicorn of the year.

Other January Highlights:

February – Wayra Chile Invests $500K into Three Chilean Startups

Telefonica’s investment arm in Chile invested in Postedin, Cloner, and Zapping TV.

Other February Highlights:

March – Chilean cryptocurrency industry asks banks to clarify regulations

Chilean banks closed accounts for two major cryptocurrency exchanges, Buda.com and CryptoMKT, without warning, although they were later reopened.

Other March Highlights:

  • Nubank became Brazil’s third unicorn of the year
  • Mexican.VC exited Yogome (more news on that later!) and provided 8x returns for investors

April – Tickeri expands Bandsintown partnership to allow in-app purchases

The largest US-based ticket seller for the Latino market, Tickeri, partnered with event discovery platform, Bandsintown.

Other April Highlights:

  • AliPay made its way into the Mexican market
  • Movile invested US$18.3M into payments app, Zoop
  • Creditas raised a US$55M Series C to improve lending in Brazil

May – NXTP Labs leads investment in Argentine fintech, Pay per TIC

Pay per TIC, a fundraising startup in Argentina, received an undisclosed investment from NXTP Labs after participating in the accelerator.

Other May Highlights:

  • Morgan Stanley invested in a Latin American fintech startup for the first time
  • YellowPepper raised US$12.5M from Visa

June – Report: Walmart to Acquire Cornershop for $200M

Hint: This acquisition did happen and it was even bigger than predicted!

Other June Highlights:

  • Argentine startup, Auth0, raised US$55M from international investors
  • Colombian e-learning startup, UBits, was accepted into Y Combinator

July – Student Loan Hero Acquired by Lending Tree for $60M

Fully bootstrapped Start-Up Chile graduate, Student Loan Hero, which helps students manage their loans, was acquired by Lending Tree.

Other July Highlights:

August – Rappi raises US$200M investment

Colombia’s delivery app, Rappi, raised a US$200M round led by DST Global that turned it into Colombia’s first tech unicorn.

Other August Highlights:

September – Insurtech startup ComparaOnline acquires Colombian rival, ComparaMejor

Chilean insurtech startup, ComparaOnline, acquired a Colombian competitor to streamline expansion into the new market.

While ComparaOnline was our most-read article of the month, September was a huge month for startups in LatAm. We also launched our monthly roundups in September, which you can read here.

Other September Highlights:

  • Walmart made good on rumors about acquiring Chilean/Mexican delivery app, Cornershop for US$225M
  • Omnibnk (previously Portal Finance) closed a US$200M partnership with investment bank, BTG Pactual
  • Mexican e-scooter startup, Grin, raised Latin America’s biggest seed round at US$20M
  • Brazil’s e-scooter startup, Yellow, raised Latin America’s biggest Series A at US$63M
  • Brazil’s Uber for Trucks, CargoX, raised US$60M

October – Latin American startups have raised US$853M+ in the past 6 weeks. That’s more than all of 2016.

September and October were banner months for tech in Latin America. We were there to celebrate the region’s inflection point.

October Highlights:

  • Uala raised a US$34M Series B led by Goldman Sachs
  • Mexican edtech startup, Yogome, created ripples when it closed due to fraud
  • Nubank raised US$180M from Tencent and hit a US$4B valuation
  • U-Planner raised Chile’s highest venture round of the year at US$5M
  • Jooycar raised Chile’s second-highest venture round of the year
  • Grin Scooters raised a US$45M Series A just weeks after its Seed round
  • Brazil’s StoneCo raised US$1.5B in its IPO – Ant Financial and Berkshire Hathaway bought shares

November – Puerto Rican startup Brands Of raises US$1M from foreign and local investors

The Puerto Rican e-commerce business raised US$1M to start expanding into the US Hispanic market, showcasing local entrepreneurs to help them sell through the platform.

November Highlights:

  • Visa made its first investment in Brazilian fintech
  • Monashees, Latin America’s largest VC firm, raised a US$150M fund
  • Mexico’s ALLVP (Cornershop investors!) closed a US$100M fund to invest in Latin American startups
  • iFood raised US$500M – potentially Latin America’s biggest round ever

December – Magma Partners signs MOU with China Youth Center for International Exchange

During a visit from the Chinese delegation, Chilean VC firm Magma Partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further support their Sino-Latin American accelerator program.

December Highlights:

  • LentesPlus raised a US$5M Series A
  • Amazon hinted at an aggressive Latin American expansion plan
  • Chilean IoT startup Citysense raised US$1.7M to expand to Mexico

Looking back at 2018, it is easy to see how Latin American tech took off in the past three months. And it hasn’t slowed down. Here’s to an even better 2019 full of record-breaking investments, new success stories, and even more exits.

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