2019: Latin America’s Inflection Point

It has been two years since we founded LatAm List to share news about the Latin American ecosystem in English; time flies when you’re having fun! 2019 has been an enormous year of growth both for LatAm List and for the Latin American tech ecosystem, bringing in far more investment than previous years. While the region is still underinvested, big startups in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia are raking in ever larger rounds, hinting that Latin America has finally grabbed global attention and will continue to grow. 

LatAm List grew 6x in 2019

We were thrilled to see over 600% organic growth in visitors to our website this year and more than 35% growth on our weekly newsletter. This growth has been aided by the sponsorship of PAG.law, who have supported LatAm List as a part of their efforts to bolster Latin American entrepreneurs. 

We have been proud to see our readership grow via word-of-mouth from our supporters and network in the US and Latin America. We also launched our roundups on TechCrunch this year, publishing four monthly summaries during Q4 2019, which will continue throughout 2020 to share news of Latin America’s most exciting rounds and deals. You can check out our previous roundups here:

September: Latin America Roundup: SoftBank bets on Brazilian unicorns and Konfio raises $250M for lending plans

October: Latin America Roundup: Uber acquires Cornershop, SoftBank invests in Buser and Olist

November: Latin America roundup: Neobanks raise $205M+; Softbank backs VTEX

December: Latin America Roundup: XP’s chart-topping IPO, Wildlife becomes a unicorn, SoftBank backs Konfio

We also added two new people to our team to be able to cover more deals and report on big news more quickly. Since we started, we have published over 730 articles, which have reached readers in 164 countries, from Ecuador to Uzbekistan. Our readership today is concentrated in the US (31.94%), Mexico (9.49%), Brazil (9.36%), Colombia (6.78%), and Chile (5.79%). 

Latin American Tech: 2019 In Review

The Latin American ecosystem grew enormously from 2018 to 2019, with the arrival of Softbank headlining many of the largest deals. While LAVCA has not yet released the official data for 2019 investment, we expect it could double the $2B received in 2018, given the rounds for Brazilian, Mexican, and Colombian startups last year. 

By the start of Q2 2019, Rappi had not only beaten, but also doubled, iFood’s previous record for the largest round ever raised in Latin America ($500M), by raising $1B from Softbank in April. This round also turned Rappi into Colombia’s first unicorn. Brazil added at least six new unicorns this year. Several more startups are well on their way to hitting a $1B valuation, as well. 

Here are our top articles and highlights for each month of 2019 to celebrate the year that Latin America truly hit its investment inflection point:

January: Grin and Yellow merge, raise $150M to expand across Latin America

Mexican and Brazilian e-scooter and bikeshare startups, Grin and Yellow, merged and raised an additional $150M to expand throughout the Latin American market. Previously, both startups raised record-breaking Seed and Series A investments, respectively. The company is looking to compete to be one of Latin America’s superapps, getting into fintech.

More January highlights:

  • Chilean banks clarified the legal void for cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country.
  • Mexico’s leading neobank, albo, raised $7.4M in the first part of their Series A.
  • Izea Worldwide acquired Colombia’s influencer startup, Fluvip.

February: Gympass receives $190M+ investment to become Brazil’s newest unicorn 

Gympass, a global fitness startup founded in Brazil, received $190M from Softbank at a $1.1B valuation to become Brazil’s second unicorn of 2019. 

More February highlights:

  • Point72 Ventures invested $20M in Brazilian small business tax management startup, Contabilizei. 
  • Brazilian delivery startup Loggi acquihired advertising startup WorldSense after receiving investment from Softbank. 
  • Colombia’s Rappi acquired Mexican fintech Payit to develop its payments platform.

March: Softbank Launches $5B Latin America Venture Capital Fund

Softbank launched the Innovation Fund led by Marcelo Claure to provide $5B to Latin American startups over the next three years, outstripping all previous investment in the region by several orders of magnitude.

More March highlights:

  • The Not Company raised a $30M round led by Jeff Bezos & Kaszek Ventures, one of the largest rounds ever to be raised in Chile. 
  • Softbank made its first investment in Colombia in Ayenda Rooms, the Colombian version of India’s OYO. 
  • Tripadvisor’s The Fork acquired Latin America’s Restorando to enter the LatAm restaurant reservations market.

April: Report: Rappi to raise $1B from SoftBank

Colombia’s top delivery startup, Rappi, raised $1B from Softbank in April 2019 to expand across the region rapidly, becoming Colombia’s first unicorn. This round was the largest ever raised by a startup in Latin America. 

More April highlights:

  • Tencent made its first investment in Argentina’s neobank, Uala.
  • Franklin Templeton invested $30M in Brazilian lending startup Weel. 
  • Brazil’s dog-walking platform, DogHero, raised $7M from US counterpart, Rover.

May: Softbank contributes to $100M round for Mexico’s Clip

Softbank led its first investment in Mexico with a $20M contribution to $100M round for mobile PoS system, Clip, alongside General Atlantic. 

More May highlights:

  • Brazil’s largest neobank, Nubank, launched in the Mexican market. 
  • Auth0 raised $103M from Sapphire Ventures to become Argentina’s fifth unicorn.
  • Colombia’s MUY Tech raised $4M from Seaya Ventures to improve food delivery in the country.

June: Mexican Government Opposes Walmart’s $225M Cornershop Acquisition

Mexico’s antitrust organization blocked Walmart’s acquisition of Chilean-Mexican delivery platform, Cornershop, stopping a $225M deal that was symbolic to the growth of the ecosystem. 

More June highlights:

July: Nubank values at $10B+ after Series F

Brazil’s Nubank became the world’s most valuable neobank after a $400M Series F round led by TCV. This investment brought Nubank’s total capital raised to $820M. 

More July highlights:

  • Softbank partnered with Brazil’s Valor Capital to seek out the region’s best startups. 
  • Brazil’s Movile revealed plans to become the region’s Alphabet.
  • Grow Mobility hit 10 million rides across Latin America.

August: Kaszek Ventures raises new $600M Fund as Latin American investment heats up

Argentina’s Kaszek Ventures, one of the region’s top funds, closed two more funds totalling $600M at the end of August to invest in new startups and larger, growth-stage follow-ons. 

More August highlights:

  • Kushki Pagos acquired counterpart QVO to enter the Chilean market.
  • Sixteen Latin American startups participated in Y Combinator’s 2019 Summer Batch. Only six participated last year. 
  • Mexico’s Bridgefy connected protesters in Hong Kong during the height of the movement.
  • Volanty received $17.6M from Softbank and Kaszek Ventures.

September: Softbank creates another Brazilian unicorn: QuintoAndar

Brazilian property rental startup, QuintoAndar, reached unicorn status after a $250M Series D round led by Softbank along with Dragoneer, General Atlantic, and Kaszek Ventures. 

More September highlights:

  • Konfío raised USD$250M from Goldman Sachs and Victory Park Capital. 
  • Softbank invested $110M in homewares startup, MadeiraMadeira.
  • Nathan Lustig predicted the region’s next startup unicorns. 
  • Mexican neobank, Klar, raised $57.5M in debt and equity from US investors. 
  • Mexican credit startup, Credijusto, raised $42M in a Series B round.

October: Uber to pay $450M for 51% of Cornershop

Cornershop’s acquisition saga continues with an acquisition offer from Uber that quadrupled the previous deal from Walmart. The acquisition is still under review in Mexico and Chile. 

More October highlights:

  • SoftBank invested an undisclosed round in Brazilian mobility platform Buser.
  • Brazilian online payments startup Ebanx, became the country’s newest unicorn after investment from FTV Capital.
  • Colombia’s MUY raised an additional $15M in a Series B round.
  • Carrefour Brazil acquired a 49% stake in Brazil’s Ewally.

November: Argentine neobank Ualá raises $150M Series C from Tencent and Softbank

Argentina’s Uala raised a further $150M from Tencent and Softbank to expand across the country and the region, putting it close to becoming Argentina’s sixth unicorn. 

More November highlights:

  • Brazilian neobank, Neon, raised $95M from Banco Votorantim and General Atlantic in a Series B round. 
  • OLX revealed plans to invest $400M in Frontier Car Group, a Chilean used car marketplace. 
  • Itau Bank acquired Brazilian digital marketing startup Zup for $140M.
  • Mexican online supermarket, Justo, raised a $10M Seed round to grow in the local market.
  • Ecuadorian cybersecurity startup, Kriptos, received investment from SixThirty Cyber to reach the US market. 

December: Mexico’s leading neobank, albo, raises $19M to bank the unbanked

Mexico’s largest neobank, albo, closed a further $19M for their Series A from Valar Ventures, which has previously backed startups like Transferwise and N26. This round brought albo’s Series A to a total of $26.4M. 

More December highlights:

  • XP Investimentos launched the US’ fourth-largest IPO of 2019.
  • SoftBank invested $100M in Mexico’s lending platform, Konfio.
  • Gaming startup Wildlife became Brazil’s newest unicorn after a $60M Series A. 
  • Goldman Sachs revealed plans to lend $125M to MercadoLibre for MercadoCredito Mexico.
  • Brazilian food delivery startup Mimic received $9M in their Seed round.

Looking back at 2019, Softbank left a strong impression on the region, but other international funds also began investing larger rounds into Latin American startups, including several outside of Brazil. Ticket sizes are rising quickly and we are seeing more $50M+ rounds from the biggest economies of Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia. 

Here’s to an incredible 2019 and an even better 2020! Latin America’s day in the sun is just starting. 

Want to stay updated on Latin American startups? Subscribe to our mailing list below or send us a message through the contact form!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You May Also Like