The Funding Rounds of Latin America’s 9 Tech Unicorns

Latin America’s tech ecosystem is maturing rapidly. 2017 was a standout year for foreign investment in Latin American startups, with investors in the US and China taking an interest in tech companies that are solving both local and global problems. Not only are the startups in the region becoming more numerous and innovative, but the older tech companies that started in the mid-2000s are reaching high valuations that allow them to compete globally.

Over the past decade, the number of tech startups reaching billion-dollar valuations, known as ‘unicorns,’ has grown considerably. At least nine of these unicorns were founded in Latin America, concentrated in Argentina and Brazil.

There is a lot to be learned from tech companies that can reach a billion-dollar valuation in a challenging market like Brazil or Argentina. What’s more, building a billion-dollar business in Latin America does not happen overnight.

Here’s a look at how each of Latin America’s billion-dollar tech companies reached their current valuations.

1. 99 (Formerly 99Taxis)

Headquarters: São Paulo, Brazil

99 is Uber’s biggest rival in Brazil and has raised five rounds, totaling US$241.3M, since it was founded in 2012. Top investors include Brazilian VC Monashees (Seed), Tiger Global Management (Series A&B), Qualcomm Ventures (Series A&B), Didi Chuxing (Series C), and SoftBank (Series D).

99 Taxis was acquired in January 2018 for a rumored US$1B by Uber’s Chinese rival, Didi Chuxing.

2. Nubank

Headquarters: São Paulo, Brazil

Nubank is a Brazilian fintech startup that provides mobile wallets for the unbanked in Brazil. Since 2013, Nubank has raised 8 funding rounds in venture capital and in loans, reaching a total of US$527.6M in investment.

Investors include Kaszek Ventures, Sequoia Capital, QED Investors, Tiger Global Management, Founders Fund, Goldman Sachs, DST Global, and Redpoint eVentures. Nubank’s Series E round, led by DST Global, reportedly nudged the startup to a US$2.1B valuation.

3. PagSeguro

Headquarters: São Paulo, Brazil

PagSeguro provides payments solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses in Brazil.

In January 2018, PagSeguro had one of the top five billion-dollar IPOs on the US Stock Market, raising US$2.7B at a valuation of US$5.6B.


Headquarters: São Paulo, Brazil

Founded in 1983, TOTVS is one of Brazil’s oldest tech companies and a global leader in software development.

TOTVS was the first Brazilian company to file for an IPO, raising US$213M in 2006 when it went public. The company is currently valued around US$2.1B.

5. MercadoLibre

Headquarters: Buenos Aires, Argentina

MercadoLibre is Latin America’s answer to eBay. Founded in 1999 by Hernan Kazah and Marcos Galperin, MercadoLibre raised four rounds before going public in 2007.

Main investors include JP Morgan Chase, HM Capital, Goldman Sachs, Santander, and Tiger Global Management. MercadoLibre raised US$289M in its IPO at a valuation of US$788.4M, and now has a US$12B market cap.

6. OLX

Headquarters: New York, New York, USA

OLX is an online classifieds platform founded in Buenos Aires in 2006. OLX has raised almost US$30M over five rounds, led by investors such as General Catalyst, Founders Fund, DN Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Nexus Venture Partners.

OLX was acquired in 2010 by Naspers.

7. Globant

Headquarters: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Globant is a software company founded in Buenos Aires in 2003. They have raised three rounds for a total of US$28M from Riverwood Capital (partner: Nicholas Brathwaite), FTV Capital (partner: Brad Bernstein), Endeavor Catalyst (partner: Allen Taylor), and WPP (partner: Martin Sorrell).

Globant’s current valuation is US$1.7B.

8. Despegar

Headquarters: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Despegar is a travel meta-search company that helps people research and book hotels, flights, and activities. Despegar was founded in 1999 in Buenos Aires and has raised two rounds from HM Capital, Merrill Lynch, Newbridge Andean Partners, and Sequoia Capital, totaling US$31.5M.

Despegar went public in 2017 at a valuation of US$1.7B.

9. B2W

Headquarters: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

B2W is a Brazilian e-commerce company that was founded in 2006 as a result of the merger of and The company went public in 2007, with a valuation of US$6.2B.

Every year more Latin American startups are reaching valuations in the hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. While the number of success stories and exits in the region is still relatively low, the recent spate of unicorns in Brazil in 2018 might be a sign of an increasingly mature startup ecosystem in Latin America.

Most of the billion-dollar companies on this list have either IPO’d or were acquired by international companies, though several reached unicorn status before their exits. Brazilian and Argentine companies currently dominate this list, but that may change as ecosystems throughout the region mature, especially in countries such as Mexico, Chile, and Colombia.

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