Who’s Funding The Aggregators? — Hahnbeck
The e-commerce industry had a breakout year in 2020, with e-retail sales surpassing $4.2 trillion worldwide. As the dominant online marketplace, Amazon was a major beneficiary to this growth, along with its army of third-party sellers. Amazon launched its third-party marketplace in 2000, allowing individuals and established brands alike to sell products on the platform. Sine then, it has grown to encompass millions of sellers and now accounts to nearly 60% of Amazon’s overall retail sales.
The continued shift from shopping in brick-and-mortar store to online has resulted in the emergence of a new breed of companies, often referred to as Amazon FBA Aggregators. These are large e-commerce businesses focused on growing through acquisition, with Amazon FBA businesses as their initial targets. Their business models are varied and consist of more than simply acquisition and consolidation (they leverage in-house operational expertise to scale and even launch new brands from scratch), but we will continue to use the reductive term “aggregator” to describe them here, for the purpose of simplicity.
While the aggregators market is a relatively recent phenomenon (for example, the world’s largest aggregator, Thrasio, raised initial seed funding less than 2.5 years ago in April 2019), the space has seen astronomical growth, with 81 confirmed aggregators and over $12bn in disclosed funding to date. In fact, over $10bn of this was raised in the last twelve months.
Cumulative Capital Raised By Amazon Aggregators
Source: Marketplace Pulse
The committed capital is a combination of equity and debt, coming from hundreds of institutional and accredited investors, including private equity firms, family offices, and high net worth individuals. Some of the most prestigious private equity firms in the world, including BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital, and Silver Lake, are active investors in the e-commerce space and have deployed their own capital to back Amazon Aggregators.
BlackRock, one of the largest private equity firm in the world, with a $137bn market cap and operations in 38 countries, participated in Berlin’s Razor Group’s $400m financing round in May of this year. While the Razor Group was founded less than a year ago (August 2020), it has already secured €412.3m in total funding. BlackRock also participated in Thrasio’s $500m debt raise in January 2021 and the subsequent $650m debt facility in September.
Goldman Sachs, a preeminent global investment bank with offices in all major financial centres around the world and a $130bn market cap, has also recently entered the aggregator world. Alongside BlackRock, it was among a slew of banks (including JP Morgan Chase, Barclays, UBS, Credit Suisse and RBC) to participate in Thrasio’s $500m senior debt facility in January and the subsequent $650m in credit facility commitments in September.
In September 2021, Berlin Brands Group (BBG) raised $700m led by Bain Capital, in a move that propelled BBG to reach the ranks of “unicorn” start-ups valued at $1bn or more. Bain Capital is a private equity heavyweight with $150bn in AUM. It led the equity portion of the round and bought out 100% of the shares of the minority shareholder Ardian.
Silver Lake is another leading private equity firm that has been involved in the aggregator space. It is a global technology investment firm with over $88bn in combined assets under management (AUM) and committed capital, with operations in North America, Europe, and Asia. In October of this year, it led Thrasio’s $1bn Series D financing, bringing the aggregator’s total funding to more than $3.4bn.
SoftBank Group is a Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company which invests in businesses around the world. With a market cap of $94bn and $342bn in total assets, it is the world’s most influential technology investor. The conglomerate has been active in the e-commerce space, the SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led Perch’s $775m investment in May 2021, making the aggregator the latest unicorn and bringing the company’s total funding to date to over $900m. SoftBank also backed the India-based e-commerce roll-up firm GlobalBees in a $150m seed round in July, and is currently in talks with the aggregator to lead its next $100m round. It also co-led Merama’s $225m financing alongside Advent International, with the investment being the largest ever Series B round in Latin America.
There are a number of private equity firms which have been investing in the aggregator space, with the most prolific being Upper90. The hybrid investment firm focuses on the e-commerce and fintech businesses and is an early pioneer in the aggregators space. Upper90 helped to create the Amazon aggregator category with its involvement in Thrasio’s $6.5m seed round in April 2019, long before the space became what it is today. It then led Thrasio’s $20m Series A funding in December and its $110m financing in April of the following year, and participated in its latest $1bn Series D round in October 2021. Upper90 was also among the group of investors which participated in Heroes’ $65m raise in November 2020, Valoreo’s $50m seed round in February and $30 Series A in July, The Stryze Group’s $100m round in March, and Elevate Brands’ $55m equity funding in November. In addition, it is also behind Acquco, which raised $160m in Series A funding in May.
Victory Park Capital
Victory Park Capital has quickly established itself as one of the leading investors in the e-commerce space and one of the largest debt providers. In July and August 2020 the firm provided credit facilities of $100m and $150m to Perch and Heyday respectively. Then in February 2021, it announced a multi-year credit facility for Cap Hill Brands. This was followed by 3 investments in May, which included the Razor Group’s $400m financing, Perch’s $775m Series A round, and Factory14’s $200m seed round. The following month, it backed Moonshot Brands in its $160m raise. In August, Victory Park was involved in the $20m seed funding for Wonder Brands, a aggregator focused on the Latin American market. Most recently, it doubled down on its investment in Razor Group by participating in a $125m Series B round that pushed the company’s valuation past $1bn.
Another participant in Razor Group’s November 2021 Series B round was Presight Capital, the flagship venture capital fund of Apeiron Investment Group. Along with Victory Park Capital, it was one of the first private equity firms to see potential in the aggregator space and was among the handful of German private investors, institutions and angels that was involved in Razor Group’s €3.5 million capital investment round in August 2020, and has subsequently participated in several additional rounds for the Razor Group. Presight Capital has founded in 2019 and over the last 3 years, has invested into 50+ businesses. It is particularly bullish towards the aggregator world, with 4 investments in the space so far and with a keen focus on geographic diversification. It participated in Una Brands’ $40m equity and debt round in May 2021 to roll up Asia-Pacific e-commerce platforms. The following month, it was involved in Opontia’s $20m seed round to roll up e-commerce brands in Africa and the Middle East. In February, it participated in a $50m seed round for Valoreo, a Mexico-based aggregator specialized in Latin America-focused Amazon FBA businesses, and subsequently co-led a $30m Series A round for the aggregator in July.
MPGI, the investment arm of Mato Perić, is behind the same 4 aggregators as Presight Capital. It also participated In the Razor Group’s initial €3.5 million capital investment round in August 2020, Una Brand’s $40m seed round in May 2021, and Opontia’s $20m seed round in June 2021. MPGI also participating in Valoreo’s $50m seed round in February, alongside Upper 90, FJ Labs, Angel Venture, Presight Capital, and a number of other angel investors.
Global Founders Capital (GFC)
The potential of these aggregators was not lost on Global Founder Capital, who also invested in the Razor Group, Una Brands, and Opontia. It participated in the Razor Group’s €3.5 million funding round in August 2020 alongside Presight Capital, MPGI, and Global Capital, among others, then in October 2020, it participated in the subsequent €500k raise, alongside the Swiss VC Redalpine Capital. The following month, it raised another €10m Series A funding for the Razor Group, alongside Redalpine Capital, 468 Capital, and Presight Capital, with an additional €15m debt facility provided by Claret Capital Partners. It also backed Una Brands in its $40m seed round in May and Opontia’s $20m round the following month. It was also involved in Wonder Brands’ $20m seed round in August 2021, alongside Victory Park Capital and others.
Rounding out the list of most prolific investors in the aggregator space is FJ Labs, investors in global marketplaces who have built and operated over 20 companies. FJ Labs participated in Valoreo’s $50m seed round in February and its $30m Series A round in July, which was co-led by Presight Capital. Around the same time, it also backed Elevate Brands through a $55m round in February and a subsequent $250m round in July. In May of this year, FJ Labs also participated In the Razor Group’s $400m round and backed the Dutch aggregator Dwarfs, in a €7.5 million Series A financing round.
Selected Investors in the Amazon Aggregator Space
In aggregate, there have been over 200 investors including private equity firms, venture capital funds, debt providers, incubators, family offices, and high net worth individuals which have committed funds to Amazon aggregators. To date, aggregators have attracted over $12bn, with nearly all of the funding raised within the last 24 months. As the data only includes public disclosed funding to date, this is like an underestimate of the actual number and amount of funds that have been committed to the aggregator space.
The competition for aggregators to acquire the most attractive Amazon brands continues to heat up, with hundreds of completed acquisitions already made and a massive pipeline of future deals. Thanks to the huge influx of capital from investors, aggregators have more cash than ever to deploy on successful brands.
As an Amazon seller, now is a great time to consider your exit options. If you have a large Amazon business and you would like our advice on potential exit opportunities, we would be happy to help. Just email us at Hahnbeck and we’ll get back to you right away.
Originally published at https://www.hahnbeck.com on November 30, 2021.