SoftBank, BlackRock Lead $640 Million Funding for Startup Trax
Yoolim Lee and Manuel Baigorri, Bloomberg News
April 7, 2021
(Bloomberg) -- Trax, a Singapore-based startup serving the retail industry, raised $640 million from investors led by SoftBank Vision Fund II and BlackRock Inc. to bankroll its global expansion.
New investors in the Series E financing included Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, one of Canada’s largest pension funds known as Omers, as well as Sony Innovation Fund by IGV, the startup said in a statement. The round valued Trax at more than $3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the information is private.
Trax plans to use the fresh capital to expand its services including so-called dynamic merchandising, which combines computer-vision and machine-learning platforms with Uber-like on-demand workers to help customers keep their shelves stocked. In North America, the company has more than 1.4 million staffers that can be deployed to outlets of Walmart Inc. as well as smaller convenience stores.
“We will expand this flex worker marketplace to a number of additional markets, likely to start with countries in the EU over the next 18 months,” Chief Executive Officer Justin Behar said in an interview. “We are very well capitalized to continue to grow and scale the business.”
The financing comes after Trax promoted Behar to CEO in January as part of a management reorganization aimed at accelerating growth. Joel Bar-El, co-founder and CEO for the previous eight years, assumed the position of executive chairman, while Dror Feldheim, co-founder and chief commercial officer, was appointed president.
Bar-El founded Trax as a computer-vision platform in 2010 after a chance meeting in Singapore with Feldheim. Their startup grew quickly by offering image recognition technology to help global consumer packaged goods companies like Coca-Cola Co. and Nestle SA track their products on retail shelves.
In recent years, Trax turned to acquisitions to add on-demand worker marketplace and shopper-engagement platforms to help modernize retail stores. In 2018, it acquired Quri Inc., which was founded and led by Behar, who then joined Trax as chief corporate development officer. Trax also bought U.S. retail rewards app Shopkick, French computer-vision startup Qopius as well as LenzTech Co., a Beijing computer-vision technology service provider.
Trax’s largest shareholder is now SoftBank Group Corp., followed by New York-based private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, according to the company.