CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

Coupang debuts with a bang

March 12, 2021, 3:32 PM UTC

This is the web version of Term Sheet, a daily newsletter on the biggest deals and dealmakers. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox. 

Coupang may get a lot of comparisons to Amazon, but it’s most certainly a different beast.

The South Korean company went public on Thursday, closing the day with its shares rising 40% on the New York Stock Exchange, valuing it at nearly $88 billion on a fully-diluted basis.

Often dubbed the “Amazon of South Korea,” the 11-year-old business has turned into a powerful e-commerce player in the country. And while it is taking pages out of Amazon’s early playbook by scaling first before focusing on profitability, it’s not taking pointers from more recent developments within the U.S.-based giant’s plans: Coupang plans to expand within the country rather than outside of it—unlike Amazon, which has made inroads in India among others.

“If you look at the size of the Korea market, the commerce market is just over $540 billion just in the next three years,” CEO Bom Kim told me when asked about any expansion outside of South Korea. “It’s a huge opportunity. We believe we were just three to four percent of the commerce market last year, which is such a small percentage. We’re just scratching at the surface.”

South Korea’s relative wealth, heavy Internet penetration, and high-population density have made it something of a prime breeding ground for e-commerce logistics, according to Goodwater Capital. While its 52 million citizens may not compare in numbers to the U.S. or China, South Korea has the highest online shopping penetration of any nation, according to Euromonitor.

And with an in-house army of delivery workers rather than using, say, an equivalent of a FedEx, Coupang has sought to capitalize on the economies of scale, taking on grocery as well as food delivery more recently.

And while Amazon has made moves into self-driving technology, including the acquisition of Zoox, Coupang’s IPO prospectus made no mention of the tech. In our conversation Thursday, Kim also downplayed investments in the space.

“We’re considering all different kinds of options for automation, and autonomous driving is certainly an interesting innovation that we work with. But right now we are just laser focused on what makes sense for us now,” he said.Still, the company has faced criticism over employee working conditions, with several deaths reported among its delivery and logistics workers. Korean politicians and the country’s Public Service and Transport Workers union, meanwhile, have linked eight of those deaths to overwork. Coupang for its has said that it is putting together reforms, but has also urged the media to stay away from reporting unconfirmed claims and speculation.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- Epidemic Sound, a Stockholm-based platform for sourcing music, raised $450 million. Blackstone Group and EQT Growth led the round valuing it at $1.4 billion.

- BlockFi, a Jersey City, N.J.-based crypto financial services company, raised $350 million in Series D funding, valuing it at $3 billion. Bain Capital Ventures, partners of DST Global, Pomp Investments, and Tiger Global led the round and were joined by investors including Susquehanna Government Products, Bracket Capital, Paradigm, Valar Ventures, and Morgan Creek Digital.

- Forward Health, San Francisco-based maker of a tool for doctors and patients to monitor health, raised $225 million in Series D funding. Investors included Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Marc Benioff, and The Weeknd.

- Neurelis, a San Diego, Calif.-based maker of treatments for seizures, raised $114 million in Series D funding. Investors included Cormorant Asset Management and Decheng Capital.

- Monte Rosa Therapeutics, a Boston-based biotechnology company focused on disease-causing proteins, raised $95 million in Series C funding. Avoro Capital Advisors led the round and was joined by investors including Fidelity Management & Research Company, BlackRock, T. Rowe Price Associates, and RTW Investments.

- ixlayer, a San Francisco-based provider of tech for diagnostic testing, raised $75 million in Series A funding. General Catalyst led the round and was joined by investors including PearVC, Signatures Capital’s Bobby Yazdani, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki, MBX Capital’s Zeshan Muhammedi, and Prologis CEO Hamid Moghadam.

- FalconX, a San Francisco-base cryptocurrency financial services company, raised $50 million. Tiger Global and B Capital Group led the round and were joined by investors including Accel, Accomplice VC, American Express Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, CMT Digital, Flybridge Capital Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Avon Ventures.

- Hugging Face, a New York-based natural language processing technologie company, raised $40 million in Series B funding. Addition led the round and was joined by investors including Lux Capital, A.Capital, and Betaworks. Read more.

- Alt, a San Francisco-based company for investing in alternative assets starting with sports cards, raised $31 million in funding. Seven Seven Six led the most recent round and was joined by investors including First Round Capital, Addition Ventures, SV Angel, BoxGroup, Chapter One, Thirty Five Ventures, Nat Friedman, John Collison, and Patrick Collison.

- Section4, a New York-based platform for business upskilling, raised $30 million in Series A funding. General Catalyst led the round and was joined by investors including Learn Capital and GSV Ventures. 

- Gather Town, a virtual social gathering platform, raised $26 million in Series A funding. Sequoia Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Index and YC Continuity.

- Autobooks, a Detroit, Mich.-based small business payment and accounting services platform, raised $25 million. MissionOG led the round and was joined by investors including Renaissance Venture Capital, Detroit Venture Partners and Draper Triangle.

- CalciMedica, a La Jolle, Calif.-based clinical-stage biotechnology company targeting acute and chronic inflammatory diseases, raised $21 million in Series D funding. Quark Venture and GHS Fund led the round and were joined by Valence Life Sciences and Sanderling Ventures.

- Cowbell Cyber, a Pleasanton, Calif.-based cyber insurance provider, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Brewer Lane Ventures led the round.

- LO3 Energy, a Portland-based blockchain-based energy tech company, raised $11 million in Series B funding. Shell Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Shikoku Electric Power.

- ForSight Robotics, an Israel-based maker of robotics systems for ophthalmic surgery, raised $10 million in seed funding. Eclipse Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Mithril Capital.

- Apploi, a New York-based recruiting and onboarding software company for the healthcare industry, raised $8 million in funding. Underscore VC led the round and was joined by investors including Defy Partners.

- Bedrock Ocean Exploration, an ocean exploration startup, raised $8 million in seed funding. Investors included Eniac Ventures, Primary Venture Partners, Quiet Capital, and R7. Read more.

- Legl, a London-based legal tech company, raised $7 million in Series A funding. Octopus Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Backed, Samaipata, and First Round Capital.

- Occupier, a New York-based company for managing real estate leases, raised $5 million in funding. Alate Partners and MetaProp led the round.

- Woflow, a San Francisco-based data infrastructure, raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Craft Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Base10 Partners and Flex Capital.

- Sensi.ai, an Israel-based remote care quality management platform, raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Flint Capital led the round.

- Legislate Technologies, an Oxford, U.K.-based legal technology startup , raised £1 million ($1.4 million) in seed round. Investors include Parkwalk Advisors and Perivoli Innovations.

- Rock Paper Coin, a Portland-based collaboration tool and payments platform for wedding and event professionals, raised $1.6 million in funding. XYZ Venture Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Cascade Seed Fund.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- A group of investors led by Warburg Pincus agreed to invest roughly $700 million in JD Property, JD.com’s infrastructure asset management arm, the U.S.-based private equity firm said on Thursday. Read more.

- AUA Private Equity Partners recapitalized Bistro MD, a Naples, Fla.-based company for a doctor-designed and chef-prepared meal delivery subscription service. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- DaGrosa Capital Partners invested in Hoy Health, a company focused on telemedicine, remote patient monitoring and discounted medication services for the Hispanic community. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Spine and Sport Physical Therapy, a portfolio company of Great Point Partners, acquired Performance Therapy Center, a California-based provider of physical therapy. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Telestream, backed by Genstar Capital, acquired Masstech, a U.K.-based provider of cloud-based storage for the media and entertainment industry. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXITS

- Bentley Systems (Nasdaq: BSY) agreed to acquire Seequent, a New Zealand-based maker of software for geological and geophysical modeling, for $1.1 billion in cash and stock. Accel-KKR is the seller.

- CVC Capital Partners is in exclusive negotiations to acquire a majority stake in Cooper Consumer Health, a European independent over-the-counter drug manufacturer and distributor, from Charterhouse Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- CVC Capital Partners is looking to sell AR Packaging Holding, a Swedish packing business, in a deal that could value it at 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion), per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Lightspeed POS (NYSE: LSPD) agreed to acquire Vend, a New Zealand-based retail management software company, for about $350 million. Investors including Movac and Square Peg Capital invested in Vend.

- Sterling Investment Partners recapitalized Anser Advisory, an Orlando, Fla.-based -based advisory and consulting firm. Round Table Capital Partners exited its stake.

OTHER

- Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU), the Chinese search engine company, is looking to raise as much as HK$28 billion ($3.6 billion) in a second listing in Hong Kong. Read more.

- British American Tobacco (LON: BATS) agreed to acquire a stake of Organigram Holdings (TO: OGI), a Canadian cannabis producer, for about $176.6 million.

- BNP Paribas proposed to acquire the stake it does not own in Exane, a Paris-based investment firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

IPO

- Flywire, a Boston-based payments platform, filed for an IPO. Read more.

SPAC

- Grab, the Southeast Asian ride-hailing giant, is in talks to merge with Altimeter Growth, a SPAC from Altimeter Capital. A deal could value it at $40 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Holley, a Bowling Greene, Ky.-based platform for for the branded performance automotive aftermarket category, agreed to go public via merger with Empower, a SPAC. A deal values the firm at about $1.55 billion.

- Boxed, a New York-based online bulk retailer, is in talks to go public via  merger with Seven Oaks Acquisition, a SPAC, per Bloomberg. A deal could value the firm at over $1 billion. Read more.

- N2 Acquisition, a SPAC from the founders of TOMS Capital and Mariposa Capital, filed to raise $450 million. 

- Catalyst Partners Acquisition, a SPAC from General Catalyst, filed to raise $400 million.

- BCC Investment, a SPAC form Bain Capital, filed to raise $300 million. 

- Worldwide Webb Acquisition, a SPAC from the founders of Purple Innovation, is gearing up to raise $300 million, per Bloomberg. Read more.

F+FS

- High Alpha Capital, an Indianapolis-based software venture firm, closed a $110 million fund focused on enterprise cloud companies.

PEOPLE

- Instacart, a San Francisco-based grocery delivery company, named Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman as a member of its board.