Time to loosen Zomato‘s belt: the Indian startup whose restaurant search app is now used in 22 countries is growing some more. The company has raised $50 million more in funding, and it has made its first acquisition of a product outside of the restaurant search space: it has bought payments platform MaplePOS. The funding values the startup at over $1 billion, a source close to the company tells me.
MaplePOS’s original service has been shut down as the product has been absorbed into Zomato’s platform and the plan is to roll it out globally later this year. New Delhi-based MapleGraph co-founders Arun Tangri, Varun Tangri, and Abhishek Rohilla have all joined Zomato. The acquisition — not to be confused with U.S.-based food delivery startup Maple — was a cash-and-equity deal, although the price is not being disclosed.
Meanwhile, the funding, a Series F, had been reported in local press about a week ago, but we have now been able to confirm it, along with the other details. Led by strategic investor Info Edge, which runs a classified advertising business in India, the round also had participation from Sequoia Capital and Vy Capital. It brings the total raised by Zomato to just under $164 million since being founded in 2008.
Maple POS is Zomato’s first acquisition of a restaurant-focused product. To date, Zomato has made seven other acquisitions of search businesses to expand its presence into new countries. Most recently, it acquired Urbanspoon from IAC for $55 million to spearhead its entry into the U.S. market; and Mekanist to ramp up in Turkey.
The idea behind adding a payments service is for Zomato to build up its B2B offerings for restaurants. This will help the company not only grow its margins with those businesses — who potentially now can buy multiple services from Zomato — but also to provide a recurring source of revenue for transactions on the cloud-based platform.
While there are a lot of other companies trying to tackle the POS space for the food service sector specifically — they include the likes of Groupon with its Breadcrumb business and Orderbird in Europe, but also payments businesses like Square and iZettle that have seen a lot of traction with cafes and restaurants — there are still way more small businesses out there that have yet to tie themselves to any tech at all.
“We are excited to partner with Zomato to realise our dream of building the best and most widely adopted restaurant point of sale system in the world. Technology has seen very little penetration in the restaurant industry, and we are excited to be driving this change at large scale,” Tangri said in a statement.
MaplePOS’s tech will now become a part of Zomato Base, Zomato’s Android-based POS system. As part of this, Zomato will pair the cloud-based POS software with its own hardware, and as with many other restaurant POS systems, it will also include other features like menu and inventory management, recipe management, CRM software, analytics, receipt-making capabilities, offline support, “and a stealth feature which Zomato claims will change the way restaurants go about their business. Forever.” (Yes, we are trying to find out what that stealth feature is.)
All of this is part of Zomato’s B2B push, which it calls Zomato for Business, which also includes a new mobile wallet product that it calls Cashless. It’s also preparing to launch online ordering later this month in its home market. The building up of the B2B part of the business, indeed, is part of the logic behind raising more money so soon after the last round. It was only in November 2014 that Zomato raised $60 million at a valuation of $660 million.
Deepinder Goyal, founder and CEO, Zomato, in a statement says that Zomato “is the only food-tech company in the world which is building products for consumers as well as restaurant owners.” And that “There is a lot that can be done if we are able to build a technology platform that connects consumers to restaurants and vice versa, and we believe that a world-class cloud-based POS system is the first step towards building that platform. MaplePOS is a great point-of-sale product, and we are excited about the prospect of working with the MaplePOS team to build this further.”
But of course others are all looking for ways to move deeper into the same space.
Groupon offers a way for restaurants to advertise themselves online, and while Yelp is not in payments (yet?) it has moved beyond listings and into B2B restaurant services, too, specifically helping them with food delivery through its acquisition of Eat24 and reservations by way of SeatMe. With Zomato moving closer into Yelp’s, Square’s, and Groupon’s territory, it may be only a matter of time before we have a full-fledged food fight on our hands.