Retail analytics startup Trax closes US$100m round, makes Singapore unicorn list

Retail analytics startup Trax closes US$100m round, makes Singapore unicorn list

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3 -min read
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TRAX, a GIC-backed startup providing computer vision and in-store analytics for the retail industry, has joined Singapore’s unicorn stable after closing a US$100 million investment to expand its footprint in China and globally.

The Series D round was led by Hopu Investments, an alternative asset manager in Asia focusing on the consumer and technology sectors, Trax said in a media statement on Tuesday.

During an interview in May, before this deal was finalised, Trax had said it was in talks with private equity firms to raise US$100 million at a pre-money valuation of about US$1.1 billion. With this price tag, Trax joins the likes of Grab, Razer, Lazada and Sea as a Singapore-based unicorn – a startup valued at more than US$1 billion.

A source with direct knowledge of the deal told Reuters on Tuesday that Trax was valued at US$1.3 billion after the latest round.

The firm said in May that the fresh capital would be used to finance three acquisitions. It had recently purchased a Beijing computer-vision startup, LenzTech Co, and was also in advanced talks to buy a European competitor and a US company, according to Trax’s chief executive officer and co-founder Joel Bar-El during the interview.

On Tuesday, Hopu’s managing director Gunther Hamm said: “We are convinced that Trax can grow rapidly in China’s consumer landscape.”

“China’s retail market has digitalised rapidly, yet the vast majority of China’s brick and mortar stores remain underserved in store management, assortment and optimisation,” Mr Hamm noted, adding that Trax will be able to quickly capture this white space.

Trax said on Tuesday that the latest round of funding will go into accelerating its innovation and mass-market deployment of its retail solutions.

Headquartered in Singapore, Trax counts GIC, Boyu Capital, and Investec among its existing investors. American private equity firm Warburg Pincus is its largest shareholder. 

Trax is eyeing an initial public offering in the US within the next 18 to 24 months, and said in May that it was also in talks with the Singapore Exchange for a potential dual listing. 

The startup provides in-store execution, market measurement and data analytics for manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods. It combines its proprietary fine-grained image recognition and machine-learning with an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, to turn photos of retail shelves into granular, actionable shelf and store-level insights.

Trax is also engaged in digital transformation projects with global retailers, to provide them with continuous shelf-tracking through its software and wireless IoT camera system.

To date, the company has raised more than US$350 million in equity financing, and operates in over 50 countries.

JP Morgan advised Trax on the Series D round.

Last month, the startup said it is acquiring US rewards app Shopkick, adding a customer-tracking service to its growing stable of retail technology.

Other unicorns in Singapore include Tencent-backed gaming operator Sea, which is listed in New York and had a market cap of US$15.7 billion at the close of trading on Monday.

Ride-hailing giant Grab was valued at US$14 billion after a US$1.46 billion cash boost from SoftBank in March, according to a CNN report citing a person familiar with the company.

Meanwhile, BT understands that online retailer Lazada had a valuation of US$3.15 billion as at 2017, although Alibaba Group has since injected an additional US$2 billion in the company in early 2018.

Gaming hardware firm Razer, listed in Hong Kong, had a HK$13.9 billion (S$2.42 billion) market cap during the midday break on Tuesday, according to stock exchange data.