latin america

Lending startup Portal Finance nabs $200 million for small business loans in Latin America

Latin American small businesses just got a big boost with a new commitment for a $200 million lending joint venture between the Bogota-based startup Portal Finance and Latin America’s largest financial services institution, BTG Pactual. For Portal Finance, the deal with BTG caps a meteoric rise, which has seen the company raise $1.5 million at a $60 million valuation and move from a small $5 million lending pilot to a $200 million deal in the span of two years. “A year ago we were four guys in a closet. Now we’re 70 people,” says Diego Caicedo, the company’s chief executive and co-founder.  The company’s success is a testament to the changing fortunes of many Latin American economies and the role that venture capital is playing. For the last several years Colombia’s economic fortunes have ...

AI training and social network content moderation services bring TaskUs a $250 million windfall

TaskUs, the business process outsourcing service that moderates content, annotates information and handles back office customer support for some of the world’s largest tech companies, has raised $250 million in an investment from funds managed by the New York-based private equity giant, Blackstone Group. It’s been ten years since TaskUs was founded with a $20,000 investment from its two co-founders, and the new deal, which values the decade-old company at $500 million before the money even comes in, is proof of how much has changed for the service in the years since it was founded. The Santa Monica-based company, which began as a browser-based virtual assistant company — “You send us a task and we get the task done,” recalled TaskUs chief executive Bryce Maddock — is now one of the main pr...

A new $124 million for Brazil’s Movile proves that investors still see promise in Latin American tech

Brazil’s macroeconomic picture may be gloomy, but technology investors still see hope in the nation’s burgeoning technology sector — and a recent $124 million financing for the mobile conglomerate Movile is the latest proof that that the pace of investment isn’t slowing down. Brazil was already the hottest spot for technology investment throughout Latin America — with Sao Paulo drawing in the majority of the record-breaking $1 billion in financing that the region’s startups attracted in 2017. And with this latest funding for Movile, led by Naspers, that trend looks likely to continue. Indeed, Naspers investments in Movile (supplemented by co-investors like Innova, which participated in the most recent round) have been one of the driving forces sustaining the Brazilian startup community. In...

TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield is coming soon to Beirut, São Paolo and Lagos

Everyone knows there are thriving startup communities outside of obvious hubs, like San Francisco, Berlin, Bangalore and Beijing, but they don’t always get the support they deserve. Last year, TechCrunch took a major page from its playbook, the Startup Battlefield competition, and staged the event in Nairobi, Kenya to find the best early stage startup in Sub-Saharan Africa, and also to Sydney, Australia, to find the same for Australia and New Zealand. Both were successes, thanks to talented founders and the hard traveling TechCrunch team. And now we’re pleased to announce that we’re stepping up our commitment to emerging ecosystems. TechCrunch is once again teaming up with Facebook, our partner for last year’s Nairobi event, to bring the Startup Battlefield to three major cities representi...

Global tech firms and investors are reshaping Latin America’s startup environment

Latin America is emerging as the new battleground for the global tech giants, and some of Silicon Valley and Asia’s biggest investors—from Sequoia Capital to SoftBank—are taking notice. International investment in Latin American startups has more than doubled since 2013, with 25 new investors entering the region in 2017 alone, including SoftBank, Didi Chuxing and TPG’s US$1B global impact fund, The Rise Fund. Some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names are now active in Latin America, including Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners, Founders Fund, Sequoia Capital, and Y Combinator, choosing deals opportunistically across financing stages and sectors: Andreessen Horowitz made its inaugural investment in Latin America in Rappi, a last-mile delivery service operating in Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, ...

Latin America’s Groupon Mafia

Nathan Lustig is an entrepreneur and managing partner at Magma Partners, a seed-stage investment fund in Santiago, Chile. More posts by this contributor: The founders of PayPal and its employees have produced many highly successful companies over the years. In fact, PayPal’s founding team often is referred to as the “PayPal Mafia” because they’ve had such an impact on the startup ecosystem. Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman and many other former PayPal employees have shaped some of the world’s biggest tech firms, founding companies like YouTube, Tesla, SpaceX, LinkedIn, Yelp and many more. This serial entrepreneur success story, where one company breeds a remarkable crop of entrepreneurs, is reminiscent of a similar phenomenon taking place in another part of the world. The story starts ...