Carsome bags US$200m in fresh funds, fuels expansion of B2C biz

Carsome Group has bagged US$170 million in Series D2 round of funding, bringing the company’s valuation to US$1.3 billion. This is complemented by new credit facilities of US$30 million, bringing total funds raised to US$200 million. The latest round aims to empower its strategic focus on the growth and expansion of its B2C business, as well as boost its capabilities in strategic investments and mergers and acquisitions.

The Series D2 round saw participation from sovereign wealth funds in the region and a pool of new international investors such as the internet group, Catcha Group, and semiconductor company, MediaTek. Existing shareholders such as Asia Partners, Gobi Partners, 500 Southeast Asia, Ondine Capital, MUFG Innovation Partners, Daiwa PI Partners, and among others also participated in the funding. 

According to co-founder and group CEO, Carsome, Eric Cheng, the latest funding round enables the company to accelerate its organic growth in the retail and auto-financing business. “We are deeply honored and encouraged by the confidence and support accorded by our investors. We are geared up to achieve even greater heights while rolling out Southeast Asia’s integrated car eCommerce platform, now further solidified by various strengths within the ecosystem,” Cheng added. 

Just this year alone, the company has opened at least seven B2C retail centres known as Carsome Experience Centers across Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. It is set to have several more in the pipeline for the rest of the year. The company has also opened its first vehicle reconditioning center in Malaysia to add to its array of retail services and boost consumer confidence in its Carsome Certified cars. The funding injection also strengthens Carsome’s offering in auto-financing for car buyers and used car dealers.

While Carsome did not comment on the specific percentage allocated to the marketing function, Cheng told A+M that this funding round would further enable the company to build into a brand that offers quality assurance in mobility assurance. 

Believing in building authenticity and cultivating trust in relationships with consumers, Carsome aims to give the control back to the consumers when it comes to buying and selling cars. The company will continue to ramp up the reach and depth of its commitment to existing and new relationships. In addition to revolutionising communications and democratising the used car industry. 

Carsome’s priority is not just to build awareness, but also changing the mindset on the used car industry, Cheng said. Aware that this was not a feat that could be accomplished overnight, he added that time and resources were necessary investments in order for change. The company will continue to invest in the brand according to its desired strategic outcomes while balancing growth with short and long-term views, he explained. 

According to Cheng, there was so much more the company could do to build beyond its tactical strategies. With a goal of instilling pride and empowerment to the consumer in used car transactions, Carsome aims to change the currency of the transaction from price to things such as trust, experience and a piece of mind, as it revolutionises the entire used car industry and moves forward together under such critical times, he added.

Catcha Group co-founder and group CEO, Patrick Grove said that the company was excited to partner with Carsome, aiming to build the "best and most comprehensive automotive ecosystem in Southeast Asia". He was also confident that the company would continue to grow its leadership in the overall industry. 

This year, Carsome acquired a Jakarta-based car and motorcycle auction service, Universal Collection. A strategic partnership was also struck with iCar Asia, with Carsome acquiring 19.9% of iCar Asia from Catcha Group. A joint proposal was also inked between Carsome and Catcha Group to iCar Asia's independent directors to acquire the balance of 80.1% of iCar from its shareholders. This acquisition of iCar cemented Carsome's status as a tech unicorn in Asia.

At the same time, the company also brought some fresh faces on board this year. In Malaysia, the former group account director from Ogilvy, Melanie Mei took over as the company's new head of marketing. Derek Tan also joined the team as chief brand officer in March to lead the growth of Carsome’s brand, marketing and communications. That same month, group CMO group Danny Chin took on the role of chief expansion officer. Prior to his new role, he was leading all of Carsome’s brand marketing, consumer marketing, and trade marketing activities across the region with offices in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia.

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