Reliance Industries snaps up VC-backed SaaS firm NowFloats

By Narinder Kapur

  • 12 Dec 2019
Credit: Reuters

Reliance Industries Ltd has acquired a majority stake in software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider NowFloats Technologies Pvt. Ltd as part of efforts to boost its digital and offline-to-online initiatives.

India’s biggest company by market value said in a stock-exchange filing that it has bought an 85% stake in NowFloats for Rs 141.64 crore ($20 million) and that it will invest an additional Rs 75 crore to increase its holding to 89.66%.

RIL, which made the acquisition through wholly owned unit Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Ltd, said the additional investment is subject to NowFloats achieving certain milestones and is likely to be completed by December 2020.

Nowfloats was founded in 2012 by Jasminder Singh Gulati, Neeraj Sabharwal, Nitin Jain and Ronak Kumar Samantray. It helps small and medium enterprises (SMEs) set up an online presence. Its other services include a local content discovery platform, an online business management suite, and website promotion and marketing solutions.

The company counts Iron Pillar, Blume Ventures, IIFL and Omidyar Network among its investors. Malaysian consulting firm Wenlyn Global Group has also invested in NowFloats. Its most recent funding round was earlier this year when it raised Rs 25 crore from existing and new investors. In 2017, the company had raised $10 million (Rs 73 crore) in a Series B round.

The early-stage company reported revenue of Rs 32.56 crore for 2018-19, up from Rs 18.73 crore the year before and Rs 10.38 crore for 2016-17. It posted a net loss of Rs 43.24 crore for 2018-19, compared with Rs 47.49 crore the year before and Rs 31.43 crore for 2016-17.

The Rainmaker Group was the sole financial adviser to the company for this transaction.

RIL’s bets in the technology segment

This is at least the third acquisition that RIL or a RIL-owned firm has made since September. The energy-to-groceries conglomerate has made no bones about its strategic push into the technology segment. This is also factored in by Jio, India’s largest telecommunications operator.

In September, the Reliance-owned artificial intelligence-based conversational AI platform Haptik acquired, a Mumbai-based conversational commerce platform. In July, Haptik acqui-hired Los Angeles-based conversational AI startup Convrg Technologies Inc. to expand its business in North America.

In August, RIL said it would acquire a majority stake in Shopsense Retail Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs fashion portal Fynd, for Rs 295.25 crore (around $41.9 million). The acquisition came after the Mumbai-based Fynd raised its Series C funding in March last year. The investment was led by Google.

In December last year, it purchased an equity stake of 5.56% in UK-based blockchain startup Vakt Holdings Ltd for $5 million (Rs 35 crore) to accelerate its digital journey through active participation in an emerging and evolving blockchain-enabled technologies.

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