The Unicorn ? Careem Raises Another $150 Million To Breach $1 Billion Valuation Mark

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Careem, the regional ride-hailing app, has closed out a $500 million fundraising round after a final total infusion of $150 million led by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and the financial services arm of Daimler AG, the German luxury-car giant.

This latest infusion is part of a Series E round, of which $350 million was announced by the Uber rival in December last year.

DCM Ventures and New York-based Coatue Management LLC were also participants in this round, the ride-hailing company said.

According to reports, this round of fundraising firmly places the transportation startup in the Unicorn talk—Techcrunch reported Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder and CEO, confirming that Careem’s valuation is now over $1 billion.

With the investment, Alwaleed’s investment vehicle, Kingdom Holding Co., will get a seat on the Careem board.

It was in December last year that careem first announced this Series E round, raising $350 million from investors including Japan’s Rakuten Inc. and Saudi Telecom Co. At that time, Sheikha had said that he would consider taking the company public sometime in 2019.

Before this Series E round, Careem had raised a total of $72 million.

This infusion is an interesting bet by Saudi-based Kingdom Holding, which also backs another Uber rival in US-based startup Lyft and also invested in Twitter and Snap, the firm behind photo-sharing app Snapchat, before they went public.

In a way, it is also Saudi Arabia backing two different horses in the same race—Uber raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the kingdom’s chief investment fund, last year.

This is not the first bet in the ride-hailing space for Daimler however.

The German automaker has previously acquired Hailo in the UK, Taxibeat in Greece and MyTaxi in Germany.

Klaus Entenmann, CEO at Daimler Financial Services AG, said that with its investment in Careem, the automaker was taking another step towards becoming a leading provider of mobility services.

“Careem has quickly leapt to the leadership of ridesharing within the MENA regions by delivering rapid innovation and customer growth, and it is spearheading new ways to transport people from point A to point B.”

Launched in 2012 by Sheikha and fellow McKinsey Co alumni Magnus Olsson, Careem has a fleet of more than 250,000 drivers as of date. It also claims to have more than six million users registered through its mobile app.

Careem’s operations have grown to 80 cities since it started operations five years ago. It competes across the MENA region with Uber and other local ride-hailing apps.

Its largest markets are Cairo, Karachi, and Riyadh, while only last week it announced plans to start operations in Palestine.