Mobile classifieds startup Carousell makes first acquisition weeks after raising $35M

Less than a month after raising $35 million in new financing, social commerce and classifieds startup Carousell has made its first acquisition. The Singapore-based company has picked up most of the team from Watch Over Me, a safety app for principally for women that is based in Malaysia, in an acquihire deal that beefs up its engineering chops.

This is very much a talent grab. Watch Over Me had a nine-person team, and five members of the startup’s product team have joined Carousell as part of the deal, while CEO Xin-Ci Chin is stepping aboard as a part-time consultant to help with “CRM infrastructure and processes.”

“As the acquihire required a relocation to Singapore, not all [of the Watch Over Me team] wanted to be a part of it,” Carousell explained to TechCrunch in a statement.

Watch Over Me, which claimed 250,000 registered users, will be open sourced to Github soon in a move that Chin hopes may be of benefit to others looking to develop safety apps.

The deal size is undisclosed, but a source close to negotiations told TechCrunch that it was a mix of cash and shares. Essentially, Watch Over Me’s investors, who include SEGNEL Ventures, Quest Ventures and a number of angels, earned their money back.

Carousell, for its part, didn’t confirm additional details.

“As this is an acquihire, we believe that the focus should be on the talented individuals joining our product and engineering team, instead of the financial terms of the agreement. Their expertise in building trust and safety, and location services are critical to improving community engagement, and accelerating our growth into new markets,” CEO Siu Rui Quek told us.

In tandem with this agreement, Carousell has hired Andrius Baranauskas, who helped second-hand fashion startup Vinted reach 11 million members in eight countries, as its head of product. This is its second major hire of the year following the addition of Airbnb’s Southeast Asia lead JJ Chai to manage its international expansion plans.

Four-year-old Carousell operates a mobile listings and classified service — which is much like a Craigslist for mobile — in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia. Speaking to TechCrunch last month when it closed its Series B financing, Quek said the company is planning to expand in Asia and potentially make a foray outside of the continent, too. Hiring more staff, particularly in technical positions, is a priority in order to make that happen — and that could mean more M&A activity.

“We aim to double the team by the end of 2016. Whether it’s through acquihires or individual hires, we’re looking for teams or people who are interested in exploring how machine learning, data science and AI can help to improve discoverability and overall community engagement,” the company said.

Carousell’s investors include Rakuten Ventures, Sequoia, Golden Gate Ventures and 500 Startups.