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

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

There’s a saying that new year in Brazil starts after Carnival, but this doesn’t hold true in the startup world. As we noted in January, activity in Latin America’s tech scene barely slowed down during the Southern hemisphere’s summer holidays.

Here’s the news you don’t want to miss:

M&A

Spanish entrepreneurs Evaristo Babé and Diego Ballesteros sold their latest startup SinDelantal Mexico to food delivery heavyweight Just Eat… which had already bought their original company SinDelantal back in 2012. At the time, its founders had moved to Mexico to take over SinDelantal’s operations in the country, which were born from the acquisition of Mexican startup MiOrden.com. The pair will become Just Eat’s country managers in Mexico, Novobrief reports.

Both SinDelantal and SinDelantal Mexico were backed by European VC fund Seaya Ventures, which likely got nice returns from both; according to TechCrunch, the first deal was worth £2.5 million (around $ 3.86 million USD) while rumors refer to a $20 million price tag on the latest one.

Two-factor authentication service Authy got acquired by Twilio. Authy is a Y Combinator alum that facilitates two-factor verification, while Twilio helps developers integrate SMS and voice calls into their apps. According to its founder and CEO, Colombian entrepreneur Daniel Palacio, “the Authy team will become Twilio’s Authentication team and maintain [its] brand and [its] people.”

Brazil-born global IT firm Stefanini announced its merger with engineering group IHM Engenharia to widen its customer base in the industrial segment, Nearshore Americas reported. Meanwhile, the company took some heat in Switzerland for alleged wage dumping, but ended up coming to an agreement with the country’s labor regulator.

In addition, Brazilian intercity bus booking platform ClickBus acquired its competitor Chegue.lá to add new features to its site and app, Startupi reported. As for Brazilian HR software company LG lugar de gente, it acquired SaaS HR management firm W3net to broaden its scope, its backer H.I.G. Capital announced.

Funding news

Drone maker 3D Robotics raised a $50 million Series C round led by Qualcomm Ventures, with Foundry Group, OATV, Mayfield, Shea Ventures, True Ventures and additional investors also participating, TechCrunch reported. The deal also envisions a partnership between the startup and Qualcomm Ventures’ parent company, as 3D Robotics plans to embed Qualcomm technologies and chips in future drones.  3D Robotics is based in Berkeley but also has a foot in Tijuana, where its manufacturing facility is located. Its co-founders are Wired’s former editor-in-chief Chris Anderson and Mexican entrepreneur Jordi Muñoz.

Fintech company YellowPepper raised $19 million in a Series C funding round led by Mexican VC firm LIV Capital, bringing its total funding to $34 million to date, TechCrunch reported. YellowPepper is based in Miami and targeted at Latin America. Its flagship product is mobile wallet Yepex, soon to roll out in beta in Mexico in partnership with Mexican bank Banamex.

‘QuickBooks for Brazil’ startup ContaAzul announced having secured a Series C round of funding from previous backer Ribbit Capital, with participation from Tiger Global Management and existing co-investors 500 Startups, Monashees Capital and Valar Ventures. As you may remember, it had raised a Series B round in November 2013.

contaazul

Latino-focused media content company MiTú raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Upfront Ventures, with participation from AMC Networks, Daher Capital, Northgate Ventures and others, Deadline reported.

Brazilian travel startup Voopter received a ‘seven-digit figure’ Series B round of funding from Germany-based Global Founders Capital. Voopter is a free flight meta-search app, available on mobile and desktop. It boasts more than one million monthly users and a 40 percent monthly user growth.

Mobile app marketing startup Jampp raised $7 million in Series A funding, the company announced. The round is led by Highland Europe, with participation from Endeavor Catalyst, Innova and NXTP Labs (disclosure: NXTP Labs is an investor in my startup, MonoLibre).

Taxi app 99Taxis raised a new investment round led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from previous backers Qualcomm Ventures and Monashees Capital.

Meanwhile, above-mentioned fund Seaya Ventures added a third Latin American company to its portfolio with a $4 million investment in Mexican startup ComparaGuru, TechCrunch reported. Launched in 2014, ComparaGuru is a comparison site for banking and insurance products.

comparaguru

Brazilian liquidation sales startup eStoks raised a Series A round from VC and PE firm Performa Investimentos, Estadão reported. The company is also going to diversify beyond its initial focus, which was to help civil engineering companies get rid of their excess stock.

‘Latin America’s eBay’ Mercado Libre invested an undisclosed amount in Brazilian startup Ecommet through its investment arm Mercado Libre Commerce Fund. Ecommet builds automation and management software for e-commerce and boasts 700 clients.

Brazilian bank reconciliation startup Concil received R$1 million (around $352k USD) from the innovation fund of São Paulo’s development bureau Desenvolve SP. According to Startupi, the company focuses on SMBs and hopes to reach 100,000 clients in the next three years.

Online education platform Platzi joined Y Combinator, the Latin American startup told its users in a blog post. As you may remember, it changed its name from Mejorando.la to Platzi last January to reflect its move beyond Spanish-language content. Its first course in English was a recent live startup class by Sam Altman, soon to be followed by other live talks from Gitlab, RethinkDB and SailsJs.

In addition, Colombian influencer marketing startup The Mid Game revealed to VentureBeat that it was also part of YC’s winter batch. Both companies therefore received a $120k investment each from the accelerator.

500 Mexico will welcome 15 companies from several Spanish-speaking countries as part of its new acceleration batch, 500 Startups’ Mexican arm announced. The selected startups are BioFab, CodePicnic, Cursos Totales, Disenia, ExploiterHitsbook, Incluyeme, LaMusiquitaMision Admision, Nuvelar, Rocket Journey, Ropanroll, Skydrop, ThinkParametric and UnikoDf.

Chilean ride sharing startup Yeba.me raised seed funding from Sean O’Sullivan‘s fund SOS Ventures and moved to Cork, Ireland to join its carpooling accelerator Carma Axlr8r. Yeba.me’s co-founder and CEO is former Start-Up Chile’s director of business development Carolina Rossi Pantoja. The startup also recently released yeba.me/trips, which focuses on inter-city journeys.

yebame

Expansions and new launches

Visa will offer its digital payments service Checkout in 13 additional countries by the end of 2015. The list includes several Latin American markets: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico.

Netflix officially rolled out in Cuba, where it is now available to Cuban subscribers at the same $7.99 monthly rate it charges in the US. The move is mostly symbolic for now, but reflects the new opportunities potentially opened by the White House’s December announcement.

Google for Nonprofits launched in Mexico and Chile, with other Latin American countries to follow, the company announced. Organizations can apply respectively through google.com.mx/nonprofits and google.cl/nonprofits to get access to dedicated resources, discounts and freebies.

Argentine IT firm Globant launched a delivery center in New York City, its third location in the United States alongside San Francisco and Boston.

Miami-based startup Senzari expanded its offering with the launch of film analytics engine MovieGraph,  Tech.co reported. Back in 2013, the company had already released a music analytics API called MusicGraph.

French dating startup Happn recently launched in Buenos Aires and Santiago, following its January rollout in Mexico City. The company is currently opening up two cities a month, and grew from 1 million to 2 million users since announcing its $8 million Series A round last December.

happn

Finally, industry network Latam Founders is gearing up for the second edition of its annual awards gala, which will take place in São Paulo on March 18 and honor leading figures of Latin America’s startup sector. Here are the nominees among which winners will be picked:

  • Best Investor: Astella Investimentos, e.bricks, Kaszek Ventures, Monashees, Redpoint eVentures;
  • Best B2C Company: Dafiti, Easy Taxi, Guia Bolso, ifood, Ingresse;
  • Best B2B Company: Canal da Peça, ContaAzul, Printi, RockContent, SambaAds;
  • Best International Company: Airbnb, Eventbrite, Sendgrid, SurveyMonkey, Zendesk;
  • Best Accelerator: 21212, Aceleratech, Gema, NXTP Labs, Wayra.

Two people’s choice awards will also be attributed during the event (Most Innovative Company and Most Impactful Company), as well as an Entrepreneur of the Year award, first won by VivaReal’s founder Brian Requarth in 2014.

Also on TNW:

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Image credit: 3D Robotics

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