Amazon’s global march has yet to take it into emerging markets like Vietnam and Malaysia, so the Samwer brothers have smelled an opportunity to build out their own version in the absence of Amazon itself. Lazada, an Asia-focused “online shopping mall” that has come out of the bothers’ German incubator Rocket Internet, is today announcing an investment of $40 million to build out its business. Lazada is already operational in Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, which cover some 600 million online consumers. The news comes on the back of another, now confirmed, investment in Lazada from JP Morgan back in September,reportedly in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Although the investment is only being announced today, it looks like it’s part of a bigger financial deal between the Swedish VCs and Rocket.
Earlier this year Kinnevik took a 25% stake in Rocket, following the exercise of warrants during the first quarter of 2012. That deal also included Kinnevik investing directly into at least 15 of Rocket’s e-commerce businesses (clones, if you will) including those in fashion (a 10% stake in shoe site Zalando for $365 million/€287m, Dafiti, Lamoda, Namshi, the Iconic, Zalora and Zando); furniture and home decor (Home24, Westwing); Rocket’s Airbnb clones Wimdu and Airizu; Foodpanda for online food ordering; as well as other online shopping malls on top of Lazada (Kanui and Linio). There are others that are also un-named as yet, the company notes.
What’s notable about today’s news is that Rocket has actually put a $40 million price-tag on it: to date many of the company’s dealings have been vague on actual figures, with numbers more likely to be “double digit millions” rather than actual amounts.
What still remains vague, however, is any idea of how well sites like Lazada are doing in their respective markets. “We have attracted a very broad range of customers from both the bigger cities as well as rural areas but we are unfortunately unable to provide any numbers at this stage,” a spokesperson from Rocket tells TechCrunch.
As Rocket aggressively builds out businesses into new markets based on proven dot-coms from other parts of the world, it has had some very notable successes — for example, the clones CityDeal and Alando were bought respectively by their progenitors Groupon and eBay to spearhead each company’s European growth.