KKR of U.S. leads funding round for Bangkok startup

KKR & Company, the United States-based global private equity investment firm, is banking on the potential of aCommerce, a Bangkok-based startup that helps major global brands garner sales through e-commerce across Southeast Asia, as KKR-backed Emerald Media led a $65 million funding round to propel aCommerce’s growth and expansion to the next level.

The funding by KKR & Company, formerly known as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, is a signal that the startup scene in Thailand and Southeast Asia is heating up and producing innovative companies and solutions that have global potential and appeal. Building a fertile startup ecosystem is one of the goals of Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy to transform Thailand into a nation driven by innovation and higher technologies.

“We like aCommerce as it is an ‘arm’s dealer’ in one of the most exciting high-growth sectors in Asia – Southeast Asian e-commerce,’’ Paul Aiello, a managing director of Emerald Media, told Bloomberg news service.

KKR & Company has long been one of the most prestigious global private equity investment firms. Founded in 1976, it was a leader in mergers and acquisitions throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In the private equity industry, KKR & Company has completed more than 280 private equity investments in portfolio companies with approximately $545 billion of total enterprise value as of June 30, 2017. The company has offices in 20 cities in 16 countries on five continents.

aCommerce was founded four years ago in Bangkok and now also operates in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines and has plans to expand into Viet Nam. Among its 260 clients are global heavyweights such as Samsung, Unilever and L’Oreal. aCommerce specializes in digital marketing, inventory and delivery for online sales. It supports customers that sell through their own web stores and also through Asian e-commerce sites such as Lazada and Shopee.

“Brands are realizing that in order to stay ahead of the retail game, they need to be omnipresent. Customers want to reach their favorite brands any time through any platform,’’ aCommerce co-founder and Group Chief Executive Officer Paul Srivorakul, told Bloomberg.

Emerald Media was founded by KKR in 2015 specifically to invest in Asia with a focus on media, entertainment and consumer technology. The funding for aCommerce is Emerald Media’s first commitment to an e-commerce company.

“In e-commerce, we see a great deal of convergence in the future between demand generation, data analytics and consumer media and entertainment. aCommerce, an e-commerce enabler, fits our mandate perfectly,’’ Rajesh Kamat, managing director of Emerald Media told Bloomberg.