In March, the Moscow-based online hotel booking service Ostrovok.ru closed its fourth round of financing, raising as much as $25 million from General Catalyst Partners and Accel Partners with a range of US business angels and several Russian investors joining the round.
Its rival, Oktogo.ru, headquartered in Moscow, secured its fourth round almost simultaneously, attracting $11 million from a group of Russian and Western investors, the latter including Luxembourg’s Mangrove Capital Partners and France’s Ventech.
That same month, Kima Ventures, the fund started by prominent French tech entrepreneurs Jérémie Berrebi and Xavier Niel, along with angel investors Fabrice Grinda, Jose Marin, and Alexander Aivazov, teamed up to invest several hundred thousand dollars in Martmania. A startup based in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Martmania focuses on trading “interesting and unusual things," following in the footsteps of Bonanza and Etsy in the US and DaWanda in Europe.
Online classifieds leaders Avito.ru, Slando.ru, and OLX.ru merged in March, fuelling hopes from their shareholders that they will one day reach their $1 billion valuation target. Avito’s investors include three Scandinavian funds, Kinnevik, Vostok Nafta and Northzone Ventures, as well as Russia’s Baring Vostok Private Equity and US-based Accel Partners. Slando.ru and OLX.ru are properties of the South African holding company Naspers, which also owns a stake in Mail.Ru Group, a leading Russian internet group.
On the corporate front, early this year the US giant Cisco invested an undisclosed amount in Parallels, a Russian-based global provider of desktop virtualisation solutions.
The invest-abroad trend among Russian funds continued, illustrated in May by a $1.5 million injection by Mail.Ru Group into the Israeli visual search developer Cortica, as well by an $500,000 investment of Grishin Robotics, an international venture fund launched by the Mail.Ru Group’s CEO Dmitry Grishin, in California’s Swivl.
In April, two other Russian funds, Almaz Capital and Runa Capital, jointly financed the launchof the Global Technology Fondation, Ukraine’s first grant fund specifically dedicated to IT, while Russian business angels Leonid Gluzman and Leonid Volkov injected an undisclosed amount in the Finnish startup Walkbase.
That same month, TMT Investments, an LSE-listed Russian fund, announced a $350,000 investment in the US e-publishing startup Graphicly.
In the preceding months, Runa Capital led the international pools of investors which funded Israel mobile solution provider Cellrox and Dutch cloud backup provider BackupAgent. Russia’s Bright Capital, on its side, led the investment round of the German online wine retailer Wine In Black.
What is more, the German press revealed that DST – the giant internet fund from Russia which has fuelled a number of US startups, including Facebook, had invested – since 2009 – no less than $315 million in Rocket Internet, the famous German startup incubator.
Qiwi, a major Russian payment company, announced its readiness to fund startups – be they from Russia or anywhere else – that develop solutions for payment operators. The company raised more than $212 million during its introduction on the NASDAQ in May.
Also worthy of note is the recent launch of a later-stage IT fund, “RT-Invest Global technology I,” by RT Invest, a major Russian state-owned corporation. The fund will invest in companies in Russia and the CIS, but said it is also open to international opportunities.
Adrien Henni is co-founder and chief editor of East-West Digital News,the first international resource on Russian digital industries www.ewdn.com
Investment deals involving foreign investors in Russian IT companies in H1 2013
(Publicly disclosed transactions as of June 1, 2013)
|Company||Sector||Investors||Type of transaction||Amount||Date|
|Parallels||Software||Cisco||Later stage private equity||Undisclosed||January|
|Avito.ru, OLX.ru, Slando.ru||Online classifieds||Kinnevik, Vostok Nafta, Northzone Ventures, Accel Partners, Naspers + Russian fund||Merger||Undisclosed||March|
|Ostrovok.ru||Online travel||General Catalyst Partners, Accel Partners, international business angels + Russian business angels||Private equity (Series C)||$25 million||March|
|Oktogo.ru||Online travel||Mangrove Capital Partners, Ventech + Russian investor||Private equity (Series C)||$11 million||March|
|Martmania.ru||Online retail||Kima Ventures, international business angels + Russian business angel||Private equity (seed stage)||Undisclosed||March|
|Yaklass||E-learning||Data Pro Group (Latvia) + Russian investors||Private equity (seed stage)||Undisclosed||May|