MENA’s ride-hailing app Careem gets another boost. The company has announced the second close of its Series E funding round with US$150 million, led by HRH Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), a KSA-based investment company, and Daimler AG, a German-based automotive corporation. Also joining the round are investors DCM Ventures and Coatue Management LLC. This $150 million infusion is on top of the initial round in December 2016 of US$350 million- taking its valuation over $1 billion, and solidifying the homegrown brand of its unicorn status.
This latest investment accelerates Careem’s plans of further growth and expansion, as well as “driving innovation that can have a meaningful impact in our communities,” says Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder and CEO of Careem, in a statement regarding the investment. Launched in 2012 and now with operations in more than 80 cities, Careem continues to scale rapidly, with notable milestones of launching in Palestine and Turkey, doubling its numbers in Egypt and Pakistan, and re-launching in Abu Dhabi and Kuwait. It has also integrated with Google Maps and Digital Barriers, a facial recognition software enabled booking using Siri, and partnered with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority to support booking a Dubai taxi with the app.
The Abraaj Group, a previous investor in Careem, has sold its stake to KHC. As part of this round, HRH Prince Alwaleed’s KHC will gain a seat on Careem’s board of directors. It has also backed US-based (and Uber rival) Lyft, as well as Twitter and Snap, the company behind Snapchat, before it went public, while KSA’s Public Investment Fund has also invested $3.5 billion in Uber last year.
Having DCM Ventures and Coatue on this round makes it a first for Careem to have Silicion Valley-based investors join a round, a sign that more investors are taking a look at Middle East startups. The previous round in December was led by Japanese tech enterprise Rakuten and KSA telco Saudi Telecom Company (STC), with other investors from previous rounds including STC Ventures, Al Tayyar Group, BECO Capital, El Sewedy Investments, and Wamda Capital, among others.