Freelance.com turns down $430m and opts for IPO
Matt Barrie, the CEO and founder of Freelance.com has rejected numerous acquisition offers worth hundreds of millions of dollars, instead choosing to list his company on the Australian stock exchange. The latest offer, made by Japanese recruitment site Recruit Co. was a whopping $430 million.
In reaction to the decision not to sell his company, Barrie, 40, said: “It’s way to early for me to put my feet up and sit on the beach.”
Freelance.com is expected to list on the stock exchange at the end of this year. KTM Capital has been revealed as the broker and underwriter for the IPO.
The announcement of intention was made on day one of Australia’s first technology start-up festival, Startup Spring, which will see more than 100 events and activities held around Australia to celebrate and promote local start-ups.
Freelance.com is expected to create a number of new Australian millionaires with its IPO. Barrie has also announced that he will be opening an employee share scheme. Early investors in the company, such as Australian tech entrepreneur Simon Clausen, will also benefit greatly from the initial public offering. A valuation close to $1 billion on the ASX is being forecast.
“I think it's the right time for the company to go out there and raise some money,” said Barrie. Furthermore, he wants the ASX listing to pave the way for other technology companies “in whatever stage of their life cycle” to come to the ASX as a place to raise funds rather than all go overseas, “which is a traditional Australian venture capital model that I think is somewhat broken.”
He decided to list on the Australian stock exchange because it was “a national imperative” to build the technology industry locally, he said, and because more money had been raised by companies on the ASX than on the Nasdaq.
“We need to build the sector here and build some companies up and really build the industry up,” he said. “To a certain extent I'm putting my money where my mouth is and doing this.”
Freelancer claims to be the world's largest outsourcing marketplace, allowing users to post projects online, which freelancers then bid to carry out. More than 9 million users have signed up with more than 4 million projects posted since the firm launched in 2009. It takes a cut on all jobs listed.
Read related articles in Business Review Australia
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.