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Hungry For New Deals, Latin American Wireless Co. Movile Doubles Down On Delivery

6 February 2014

(TechCrunch) Brazil’s mobile content developer Movile is on the hunt for new investments after committing a fresh US$2m to its online delivery service company iFood. That recent investment is a sign of just how spicy food delivery companies have become in recent weeks.

Movile announced that it is doubling down on its bet in iFood – Brazil’s answer to GrubHub – with a new $2 million commitment just one day after FoodPanda raised an additional $20 million to get its paws around more of the global online food delivery market. And Vinod Khosla’s investment firm Khosla Ventures is backing a new mobile food delivery service in the U.S., while gourmet food delivery company Munchery raised $20 million.

Movile’s investment is part of a broader strategy to work closely with and invest in startup companies across the Americas. To that end, Brazil’s mobile macher is negotiating with five other undisclosed startups in seed investments ranging from $100,000 to $3 million, according to Eduardo Henrique, the head of Movile’s U.S. operations.

At iFood the cash will be used to help pay for its acquisition of another Brazilian-based online food delivery service, Central do Delivery. The deal consolidates online and mobile delivery technology within one large player ahead of the World Cup and the Olympics.

In all, iFood has raised $6.1 million in total funding from Movile and WH Investimentos.

Since its investment in iFood, Movile said the company’s orders have tripled from 40,000 to 130,000 and traffic has shifted from the web to mobile devices. Roughly 60 percent of the company’s orders are made from mobile devices, up from 4 percent when Movile first committed capital to iFood.

This is only the first step in Movile’s investment strategy, according to Henrique. While the company does not intend to become an investor, expanding the number of applications available on mobile devices is good for Movile’s business.

Opportunities for investment in new mobile applications abound in the Latin American market, according to Henrique. Mobile adoption in the region over the next five years will outpace any other geography worldwide, with a compound annual growth rate of 23.7 percent over a five-year period, according to data from IDC Worldwide. Asia is next on the list with a five-year growth rate of 23.2 percent.

“In my opinion no matter what crisis will come, Internet and mobile will grow like crazy in Brazil and Latin America,” Henrique said. “That’s why we’re positioning our apps and services business units in front. It’s a 600 million cellphone market [in Latin America] and people want to consume. They want to spend money on services; they want to spend money on games; they want to spend money buying food and on e-commerce in general.”

Movile is backed by investors who know the global mobile and technology marketplace well. The company’s major backer is Naspers, a South African media conglomerate that also holds a stake in the Chinese Internet behemoth, Tencent. As it looks to increase its mobile portfolio, the company is angling to back companies developing transportation, e-commerce around fashion, and healthcare and lifestyle applications, Henrique said.

Although the company is expanding its footprint and investment activity with the hopes of closing 10 deals in 2014, Movile’s U.S. head stressed that his company is not primarily an investor or financing company. “We are not a VC, we just make the deal when we’re sure we bring value to the company.”