Home >Companies >Start-ups >After Lee Fixel exit, Tiger Global prowls for B2B startup deals in India

Mumbai: New York-based hedge fund Tiger Global Management LLC that made a blockbuster exit from Flipkart last August has since made a return to Indian startups, betting more than $125 million across four deals.

Tiger Global, which has avoided funding Indian startups since a $30 million investment in accommodation platform NestAway in 2016, on Wednesday said it has invested $89 million in Ninjacart, a marketing and delivery platform for farm produce. This follows three deals struck since December, in which Tiger Global invested a total of over $36 million in business-to-business (B2B) startups.

The Ninjacart deal is also Tiger Global’s biggest first investment in an Indian startup. It was the lone investor in the Series C round.

Significantly, Tiger Global’s interest in India continues even after its celebrated private equity (PE) chief Lee Fixel decided to leave in March. Fixel’s confidant and head of Tiger’s India operations Kalyan Krishnamurthy too has moved to lead Flipkart. Tiger Global realized $3 billion when Walmart bought a majority stake in Flipkart last year, according to Bloomberg.

Tiger Global’s PE business is now headed by Scott Shleifer, the fund’s New York-based co-founder. According to Forbes, some of Shleifer’s best investments have come from China, where the company exited its $200 million investment in e-commerce platform JD.com with $5 billion and counts Meitu Inc., Didi Chuxing Technology Co. Ltd and Despegar.com Inc. as other portfolio wins. Shleifer, who started as an analyst at Blackstone, had joined Tiger Global in 2002—four years before Fixel joined in 2006.

The Ninjacart deal highlights Tiger Global’s focus on B2B startups, as it moves away from the consumer-centric approach of 2011 to 2015 when it invested in consumer internet firms such as Ola, ShopClues and Hike, apart from Flipkart. Since December, Tiger Global has invested in Facilio, Fyle and CleverTap, all of which operate in the B2B segment.

“The biggest factor driving B2B investments is that Indian companies are doing business with Indian startups. That has changed big-time in the last five years. Now, there is world-class talent and products and India with a big market to address," said Manish Singhal, managing partner, pi Ventures, an early stage B2B technology fund.

“B2B startups like Ninjacart will also be very valuable because they bring in efficiencies in a chaotic supply chain market. So, removing inefficiencies gives enough and more of an opportunity," Singhal added.

While Fyle provides expense management software for enterprises, Facilio provides real-time facility management for real estate businesses. CleverTap’s software and analytics help businesses find people, events and behaviour on their websites and apps.

Tiger continues to hold stakes in some of India’s biggest B2B startups, including logistics provider Delhivery, freight transport firm BlackBuck, SaaS startup Freshworks Inc. and robotics startup GreyOrange. While Freshworks became a unicorn—valued at over a billion dollars—last year, Delhivery became one last month when SoftBank Group Corp. led a $413 million round. While BlackBuck is currently seeking a valuation of around $800 million, GreyOrange was valued at $500 million after its last round.

All of these indicate a positive experience in the B2B sector, leading to a plan to double down on companies in the space.

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