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Mutual Funds Invest in Brazilian Online Deals Company

19 January 2012

(NYTimes DealBook) January 18, 2012 -Peixe Urbano, Brazil’s first online daily deal company, has closed a series C round of financing with mutual funds and institutional accounts managed by Morgan Stanley Investment Management and T. Rowe Price Associates. General Atlantic and Tiger Global Management, who had previously backed the company, also participated. The size of investment was not disclosed.

Julio Vasconcellos, Peixe Urbano’s chief executive and co-founder, told DealBook in an interview that the new capital would be used to finance research and development and product development. He said the company, based in Rio de Janeiro, planned to develop new features and seek to improve the daily deal business model, including a push into local ecommerce.

Mr. Vasconcellos says Peixe Urbano also plans to hire engineers and fill out its senior leadership team.

The site started in March 2010, when Brazil had no daily deal market.

Its founders, Mr. Vasconcellos, Emerson Andrade and Alex Tabor, met while at Stanford University.

Early investors in the company are Chamath Palihapitiya, Benchmark Capital and Monashees Capital, based in São Paulo. Matt Cohler of Benchmark and Eric Acher of Monashees continue to serve on Peixe Urbano’s board of directors.

The company has grown rapidly in its brief history. It says that by the end of 2010, in its first nine months, it had sold two million coupons and employed 270 people. By early this month, it had sold roughly 12 million coupons and had 1,000 employees. It has also expanded in Latin America, and is now present in more than 80 cities.

Brazil’s daily deal market initially exploded following Peixe Urbano’s founding. More than 2,000 similar sites developed, according to Guilherme Stocco, vice president of business development at the Buscapé Company, which owns intelligence-gathering units.

The market has since experienced a significant correction: there are now just 1,000 sites, and only 300 generate revenue.

While Peixe Urbano does not disclose its revenue, Mr. Stocco told DealBook that in 2011 the total daily deal market in Brazil was about $843 million. He says the top three companies — Peixe Urbano, Groupon and Click On — have been running neck and neck in the market’s brief history. The top three sites account for 40 percent of total market revenue, he said, while the top eight account for 70 percent.

Mr. Stocco said that while there had been a lot of consolidation, “the market is still growing,” adding that “the companies doing well are picking up business from those that failed.”

Benchmark’s Mr. Cohler said in an interview that he continued to see an “unbounded upside” to Peixe Urbano’s growth.

By Vinod Sreeharsha