Digital food ordering platform Flipdish has become the state’s fifth official local company « Unicorn Technology » after a new $100 million (€87 million) investment led by Chinese conglomerate Tencent.
The funding, which comes after a $48.5 million investment from Tiger Global Management early last year, puts the company at $1.25 billion. That compares to a valuation of $25 million in 2018, according to PitchBook.
Flipdish, co-founded by brothers Connor and James McCarthy, has followed in the footsteps of Intecom, Workhuman, Fenergo and LetsGetChecked with a valuation of more than $1 billion. Stripe, currently the most valuable private company in Silicon Valley with a US$95 billion value and one of the largest globally, is headquartered in Dublin and San Francisco, but was originally incorporated in the United States.
As part of the investment, Flipdish said it plans to hire 700 people this year with the expectation that many new jobs will be created locally. The company will primarily recruit for technology-related roles including software engineers, data scientists, engineers, and product designers.
Founded in 2015, Flipdish is positioning itself as an alternative to online fast food delivery aggregators such as Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats by helping restaurant owners provide the ability to order online within the company. The company provides software that allows direct ordering from restaurants via a « white label » application solution to enable owners to retain control of business data while continuing to benefit from the growing market for fast food. The company charges a fee of 7 percent per order versus up to 30 percent from some competitors.
Flipdish has thousands of independent restaurants as clients as well as major brands such as Yamamori, Dunnes Stores and Eddie Rockets.
The new investment will be used to support international expansion and to research and develop additional products for companies operating in the hospitality sector.
The funding comes amid a business boom for the company that has benefited from the coronavirus pandemic. Flipdish was only worth $24.2 million as recently as July 2018 according to Pitchbook. But as consumer spending on fast food increased during the Covid crisis, revenue soared.
“Digital transformation has transformed the hospitality industry for years. The ongoing pandemic has accelerated this trend as hospitality companies increasingly rely on digital experiences to attract and retain customers,” said CEO Conor McCarthy.
« Our investment will help us enable more hospitality companies around the world to grow using best-in-class technology, » he added.
Tencent paid nearly $80 million for roughly 8 percent of the business. Although their stakes have since been diluted and Tiger’s latest investment, the McCarthy brothers still control the board.
The registration of China-owned Tencent as an investor is a huge coup for Flipdish. Among the companies previously backed by the WeChat developer are Didi Chuxing, Flipkart, Tesla, Lyft, Snapchat, Spotify Temasek, and Uber.
Tencent joins Tiger, Global Founders Capital, Elkstone, Enterprise Ireland and Growing Capital as supporters of Flipdish. As with LetsGetChecked, which became a unicorn tech company last year, Flipdish has received no backing from Irish institutional backers.
Flipdish, which employs more than 300 people and has more than 3,000 restaurants on its platform, currently operates in 25 counties.
The company’s latest publicly available accounts show that accumulated losses rose to 4.5 million euros in the year to the end of March 2020, compared to losses of 1.56 million euros in the previous year.
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