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Jeff Bezos joined Northstar group, AC Ventures, Citius, and Tencent in a new funding round for Ula, months after the startup raised $20 million.
Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos was part of an $87 million Series B funding for Ula, a startup in Indonesia. Bezos’ participatory role in the investment round marks the Amazon founder’s first-ever investment in Southeast Asia’s e-commerce space. Ula said in a statement on Monday that Bezos Expeditions, Northstar group, AC Ventures, and Citius joined the funding round. The e-commerce marketplace further stated that Prosus Ventures, Tencent, and B-Capital co-led the exercise.
Ula co-founder and CEO Nipun Mehra released an official statement commenting on the latest development. Mehra noted his company’s mission statement last year when they launched and the methodology used. The official statement reads:
“We launched in 2020, with a single-minded mission to empower small, neighborhood retailers with technology to increase their income. We take a long-term approach to solve the underlying problems of traditional retailers by investing in technology, supply chain and data-enabled credit offering.”
Mehra further commended the collective expertise of Ula’s new investors and how these new partnerships will be mutually rewarding. He ended by saying Ula hopes to learn from them in “re-imagining retail in other emerging markets.” The round could close as soon as this month.
The previous fundraising, which took place in June 2020, included $10.5 million in seed round. Furthermore, there was a Series A round in January this year which raised an additional $20 million. Ula’s existing investors include Sequoia Capital India, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Quona Capital, and B Capital Group.
Jeff Bezos’ Investment in Indonesian company Ula Could Be Big for Amazon
Ula, a startup that provides technology solutions to small retailers, looks to expand its base with the funds generated. The company hopes to cover more cities in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, and even contemplates overseas expansion across the region. Furthermore, Ula seeks to develop the buy-now-pay-later service, in addition to building local supply chain and logistics infrastructure. Company co-founder and chief commercial officer Derry Sakti best underscored this in an official statement which reads:
“Our core mission to support traditional retailers is especially relevant during the pandemic. We are deliberately strengthening our presence, selection, and services in rural areas and hard-to-reach neighbourhoods,”
On the management front, Ula named Pandu Sjahrir as an adviser. Sjahrir holds commissioner roles at a wide range of institutions, including the Indonesian Stock Exchange and leading ride-hailing company PT Aplikasi Karya Anak Bangsa (also known as Gojek). Other companies included are Singapore’s Sea Limited’s local branch, which also owns Shopee, and Garena, an online games developer.
Ula has its headquarters in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. The startup currently serves over 70,000 traditional stores on its platform and has more than 6,000 products in its offering. It was founded just before the pandemic in 2020.
Bezos’ decision to invest in Ula through his family office Bezos Expeditions, could be a seminal period for Amazon. The American multinational e-commerce juggernaut does not have a presence in most Southeast Asia nations.