Spain's Glovo delivery service hits 'unicorn' status with UAE funds

Spain's Glovo delivery service hits 'unicorn' status with UAE funds

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3 -min read
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[MADRID] Barcelona-based delivery startup Glovo said Thursday it had officially obtained "unicorn" status with a valuation of more than US$1 billion after raising funds from Emirati investment firm Mubadala.

The move came after Glovo, which provides on-demand courier services, said it had raised 150 million euros (S$226.2 million) in funding, mostly from Mubadala.

The funding has pushed the startup into the pantheon of tech firms hitting the US$1-billion valuation mark before going public, such as Uber, Airbnb or France's car-sharing platform BlaBlaCar.

"Following the close of its most recent investment round, the company has secured its status as a unicorn, making it only the second privately-held business in Spain to surpass a US$1 billion valuation," said a company statement.

The first to achieve unicorn status in Spain was ride-hailing service Cabify, which crossed the threshold in January 2018.

Set up in Barcelona in 2015 as a food delivery service, the company has since expanded and today delivers everything from flowers to pharmaceuticals.

Operational in 26 countries, Glovo said the investment would be used to fund the expansion of its global tech team by "hiring 300 additional engineers by mid-2020" that will enable the startup to "reduce waiting time for couriers and customers".

The firm already employs around 100 engineers.

Around 90 of the new staff would be employed at its newly-opened Warsaw offices where it has opened a second technology hub.

"Our investment is a testament to our commitment to the European tech market," Mubadala said, recalling it had launched a 400-million-euro fund to invest in the sector in mid-2018.

In July, Glovo signed a shopping-delivery deal with French supermarket giant Carrefour in four countries, and on Thursday said it wanted to increase its investment in so-called "dark supermarkets", giant warehouses which store products exclusively for delivery.

By 2021, the startup is looking to increase its stock of such warehouses to 100 from the seven currently operational in Europe and Latin America.

The on-demand service, which employs 1,500 staff, is currently operational in 288 cities in across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, and relies on a network of some 50,000 drivers who get around by bicycle or motorbike.