South Africa’s Naspers, a multinational group of ecommerce and media brands, is ‘taking a big bet’ on a US-based start-up letgo, which was recently launched to offer a highly visual mobile marketplace allowing users to post, buy, sell and communicate with each other instantly and for free. Naspers is investing $100 million (R1.38 billion) into the start up. By Gugu Lourie
Letgo, which was founded in 2015 has already been downloaded more than 2 million times – with users in the U.S. and around the world posting more than 500,000 listings with a total gross merchandise value of over $25 million.
The start-up headquartered in New York and Barcelona was founded by Alec Oxenford, Jordi Castello and Enrique Linares. Oxenford and Fabrice Grinda co-founded global online classifieds leader OLX, which has attracted hundreds of millions of active users in India, Brazil, Poland and other growth markets around the world.
Naspers also has minority investments in two listed, integrated social-network platforms: Chinese-based Tencent and Russia’s Mail.ru. In May 2001, Naspers acquired a 46,5% interest in Tencent, the operator of an instant messaging platform in China called QQ. The business has since developed into the leading instant messaging business in China. It is also invested in other tech firms such as India’s Flipkart, OLX, Allegro and other top internet businesses globally.
Available on iOS and Android devices in the U.S. and worldwide, letgo app offers features like instant chat and geolocation-based search, allowing users to connect instantly and for free, without the hassles and delays of email.
The app competes with eBay and Craigslist, but seems prepared to compete aggressively with the backing of Naspers.
“We built letgo because we saw an immense opportunity for innovation and growth in this space, particularly in the U.S.,” said letgo founder Alec Oxenford.
“Our platform makes buying and selling household items faster and more intuitive than ever before. This technology – along with Naspers’ significant investment and support, our aggressive plan to grow the platform, and our shared experience building successful companies in this sector – will allow us to capitalize on an area of ecommerce that is poised for explosive growth.”
Naspers, a company valued at R720 billion, has a strong track record in identifying, nurturing and operating successful technology businesses across a range of sectors.
Letgo already ranked in the top 10 free shopping apps in the Google Play store in the United States, Sweden, Turkey, New Zealand,
Norway, Italy and Spain, the company plans to launch an aggressive marketing campaign focused on U.S. consumers in the coming months.
“Alec has distinguished himself as an expert with an extraordinary track record in mobile ecommerce,” said Martin Scheepbouwer, CEO of Naspers Classifieds.
“We have seen firsthand Alec’s ability to execute on his vision as we worked together to build OLX into the global force it is today. In letgo, Alec has built a platform that is perfectly tailored to the American consumer, and we’re excited to help his team take it to the next level.”
Naspers today is a broad-based group with operations in ecommerce (especially online classifieds, etail, marketplaces, online services and payments) and other internet services, video entertainment and print media. It operate mainly in markets with high growth potential – Africa, China, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Most of its businesses are market leaders in their sectors.