Carousell’s potential acquisition of 99.co will increase its valuation to a whopping $1.5 billion dollars. 

Word on the street is that Carousell, the most valued classifieds startup in Southeast Asia, is going to acquire 99.co, a Singapore-based real estate marketplace. The acquisition, if it goes through, will increase the valuation of Carousell (currently at US$1.1 billion), as well as speed up its public listing plans. 

This isn’t Carousell’s first acquisition. From 2019, when it raised $50 million, Carousell started acquiring a slew of companies like OLX Philippines, OneShift, and 701 Search. Recently, after raising $100 million funding in September 2021, Carousell bought sneaker marketplace, Ox Street.

Why would Carousell go on a shopping spree? 

It needs to show better traction of monetisation. For years, how to make money is the biggest challenge Carousell has been facing. 

As a classifieds marketplace, it does not close the transaction loop, so most revenue should naturally come from advertising. However, as the co-hosts of Low Level Barbarians have pointed out, the most lucrative segments for classifieds, namely property, used cars and jobs, already have leading players in the region. At the same time, the C2C sellers are all on Shopee (or Facebook/Instagram/TikTok). 

Therefore, though Carousell is a widely-used, much-loved product with a very loyal user base, the revenue it generates is minuscule. Mostly used as a platform that matches potential buyers and sellers, Carousell has its users settling their transactions privately. The major source of revenue is advertisements and a small percentage is through insurance (protection against fraud).

Though Carousell’s revenue has increased significantly year-on-year from 2017 to 2019, it’s nowhere near enough to justify its valuation of $1.1 billion.

That said, Carousell is a lucky company to have a name, a good valuation, and cash at hand. It is capable of shopping around for good classifieds assets that, for whatever reason, are not valued along the same metrics. 

99.co’s revenue will come in handy, and Carousell has the financial resources to bump it further. 

However, the combined revenue will still not be enough for the valuation. 

Therefore, Carousell will need to continue shopping, which is good for the region’s classifieds entrepreneurs and investors looking to exit!  

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.