November in Latin America: All the tech news you shouldn’t miss from the past month

November in Latin America: All the tech news you shouldn’t miss from the past month

While November is now behind us, it is still too early to compile detailed figures on the 2014 editions of Black Friday and Cyber Monday across Latin America, where these two very American events are surprisingly becoming something of an online tradition.

In Brazil alone, consulting firm e-bit reported that Black Friday sales were up 867 percent compared to a regular Friday, and we will definitely keep an eye out for more numbers. In the meantime, here’s the other news you don’t want to miss:

Google news

Google Play Música-Minha bibliotecaGoogle launched Google Play’s unlimited music streaming service in Brazil. Earlier last month, the company had also announced that Brazilian users would now be able to make Google Play purchases in their local currency and use MasterCard and Visa cards issued in Brazil.

In addition, Google expanded its offering in Cuba, which now includes Google Analytics’ free version and a limited version of Google Play, which only carries free apps due to the US embargo on the island.

Funding rounds

Miami-based online insurance marketplace HealthCare.com raised a $7.5 million Series A funding round, the Miami Herald reported. The funding round was led by Jeffrey H. Boyd and Robert J. Mylod, respectively current and former senior executives at Priceline Group, whose properties include Kayak and OpenTable. Healthcare.com was co-founded by PeopleFund’s president Jose Vargas (see our previous interview).

Etsy-like marketplace Elo7 raised a new round of $11 million from its current investors Accel PartnersInsight Partners and Monashees Capital, Startupi reported. The company plans to use this capital to boost its growth in Brazil and Spanish-speaking Latin America thanks to improved mobile solutions and offline marketing.

Elo7

Phone refurbishing company Trocafone raised seed funding from NXTP Labs, Quasar Ventures and Wayra, WebCapitalRiesgo reported (disclosure: NXTP Labs is an investor in my startup, MonoLibre). The startup plans to use this capital to launch in Brazil, followed by other Latin American countries.

Alpify closed a €400k funding round ($495k USD) to finance its international expansion, co-investor Caixa Capital Risc announced. Based between Andorra and Barcelona, Alpify developed a mobile geolocation app aimed at helping rescuers during emergency situations.

nubityMexican venture firm Venture Partners invested in Argentine cloud manager platform Nubity, Ventura Mexico reported. The startup previously received funding and support from 500 Mexico City and Escala.VC.

Indie VOD platform Filmin raised an investment round from French companies Metropolitan and Le Meilleur du Cinema, Novobrief reported. Originally from Spain, it plans to launch in Latin America in 2015.

M&A

iusacellAT&T reached an agreement to buy Mexican telco Iusacell from Grupo Salinas for $2.5 billion, CNBC reported. The deal is still subject to regulatory approvals.

Food delivery companies Foodpanda/Hellofood and Delivery Hero swapped acquisitions in India and in Latin America, which is what interests us here. On one hand, Foodpanda acquired three Mexico-based businesses from its rival: SeMeAntoja, Superantojo and PedidosYa’s Mexican operations. On the other, Delivery Hero acquired the Hellofood businesses in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Spanish enterprise social network Zyncro entered into a large financial transaction with Desarrolladora Río Paraná, a group that represents various Mexican family offices. The deal is set to take place in two steps; Desarrolladora Río Paraná now owns 44% of Zyncro, with an agreement to buy the remaining stake within a year, reportedly valuing the company at €30 million (around $30 million USD). Most of Zyncro’s users are based in Europe and Latin America, and its current CEO is being replaced by Mexican executive Carlos Ramón González.

Investment fund Riverwood Capital acquired Brazilian payments company Conductor for an undisclosed amount, LAVCA reported.

New launches and expansions

Event discovery app Vamos launched its new app on Google Play, almost two years after launching a first Android version it ended up pulling down, Venture Village reported.

According to its CEO Luis-Daniel Alegria, his team had realized that it was “far more important to provide a great service than just wanting to be on all platforms for the sake of it.” As you may remember, the Berlin-based startup recently raised a “six-digit amount” of funding from high-profile angel investors, including SoundCloud’s co-founder and CTO Erik Wahlforss.

Brazilian startup Yoozon released its private beta, which lets users host websites using Dropbox, without having to set up “servers, databases, DNS and FTP,” but without giving up options such as custom domains. The team previously took part in Startup Farm and has now joined Start-Up Chile.

Yoozon

As for language learning company Duolingo, it released a Windows Phone app to complement its mobile offering and further boost its adoption in emerging markets.

citymapper dfTelefónica announced that its MVNO Tuenti would soon launch in Argentina, following earlier rollouts in Mexico and Peru.

Argentine tech provider Globant opened a new development center in Lima to continue developing its customer portfolio in Latin America. Globant’s chief of staff and co-founder Martin Umaran commented on the expansion: “We chose Peru due to the outstanding growth it has shown during the past years. Lima has become a remarkable business center in the region. We see a growing amount of highly qualified professionals that are at the same level as the best professionals worldwide.”

Meanwhile, transportation planning app Citymapper added Mexico City to its supported cities, potentially reaching a whopping 21 million new travellers. Its app release note boasted support for most of the city’s main modes of transport: “the Metro, the Metrobus, the trolleybuses, the light rail as well as the suburban rail, the RTP buses, and the ecobici.”

gymforless mxStill in Mexico, Colombian travel booking startup Viajala rolled out a dedicated portal for Mexican customers, http://viajala.com.mx, Pulso Social reported.

Spanish startup GymForLess also launched in Mexico City, where locals and visitors can now use its app to buy coupons that grant them access to partnering sports clubs.

New devices set to hit the shelves

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus became available in Brazil at their highest price: respectively R$3.199 and R$3.599, approximately $1246 and $1402 USD, MacMagazine reported. While this is bad news for local Apple fans, it is hardly a surprise: as we explained in a previous post, electronics are notoriously overpriced in the country.

Nevertheless, this may explain why the iPhone isn’t one of Latin America’s most popular smartphones, according to a recent study by ScientiaMobile. Its findings attribute the largest market share to Motorola’s Moto G. Interestingly, Motorola seems to reciprocate, as it recently revealed that its newest smartphone – the Moto Maxx – would only be available in Latin America to start with.

As for GoPro, it will start manufacturing cameras in Brazil to bring its local prices down. While it didn’t officially name its local partner, most reports made direct or indirect references to Foxconn’s infrastructure in Brazil.

More acceleration and seed funding

500 Startups announced the list of startups that joined its 11th acceleration batch in Mountain View. As usual, several of these come from Latin America, such as Brazil’s VaiVolta, Argentina’s Funnely and Coinding, as well as Costa Rica’s Slidebean (see our previous story).

Angel investment grew by 11% in Brazil in 2014 compared to 2013, while the number of angel investors increased by 9%, according to angel investor network Anjos do Brasil. These findings were presented during the third edition of Brazil’s Angel Investment Conference.

Startup competitions

The Spanish edition of the MIT Technology Review unveiled its 2014 list of top Argentine and Uruguayan innovators under 35: Victoria Alonsopérez, Ezequiel Escobar, Acamica’s Tomás Escobar, Aivo’s Martín Frascaroli, Néstor Ghenzi, Mate Marote’s Andrea Goldin, Paganza’s Marcelo Lanfranconi, Camila Petignat, Beepi’s Alejandro Resnik and Inquisur’s Valeria Springer.

Startup Buenos Aires teamed up with startup hub 1776 and Google to organize the first local edition of the Challenge Cup, a pitch competition whose finals take place in Washington, DC. Winners of the Buenos Aires chapter will be flown to Chile for the next stage: regional finals, where four semi-finalists will be picked. The global winner will be granted up to $650,000 in funding and awards.

ConnectFinally, the CONNECT competition is now open to new European entrepreneurs interested in taking part in an exchange with Brazil. Now in its second edition, the program is supported by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry and financed under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).

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