Wallapop, a peer-to-peer marketplace based in Barcelona that made a splash at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic with consumers seeking more localized, less wasteful and more environmentally friendly routes for buying and selling items, has raised more money to continue its expansion in Europe.
The company has raised €81 million ($87.4 million) which it will invest in its operations in Spain, Italy and Portugal following the 2.4 million downloads in the first half of the year in Italy (a newer market for the app) and a 600% increase in cross-border activity between Spain and Italy over that period. The company also plans to invest more in data science and other areas of R&D – crucial given that discovery, personalization and other tools to connect buyers with items they want are critical to people coming back and Wallapop time use at times.
The company describes this as an extension of its Series G – a $191 million round it raised in February 2021. That was before the tech market bottomed out (and investment fell with it), so it’s notable that Wallapop grew up here. The valuation has risen, but only in line with the amount being contributed. It says the figure now stands at €771 million, compared to €690 million previously. (In terms of USD, that works out to $832 million at current rates, which is actually lower than the previous dollar appreciation because the euro is significantly weaker against the dollar right now.)
This is an inside round, meaning all investors were already backers of Wallapop, which is not uncommon at this point: the market is currently difficult and so it makes sense to turn to existing investors to raise capital. The latest investment is led by Naver, the Korean internet company, and Naver’s European investment partner Korelya Capital, both of whom were part of the original Series G. Accel, 14W and Insight also participate. Naver — the company behind the messaging app Line and other holding companies — has been pushing to expand its reach beyond Korea, most notably buying second-hand clothing giant Poshmark in the US for $1.2 billion last year.
Spain is Wallapop’s home market, but it’s gradually using that as an anchor to move into neighboring countries, with Italy coming in 2021 and Portugal in September 2022.
The company’s growth is a useful barometer of how sustainable marketplaces in the circular economy can be: buying and selling items from other private owners took on a new profile as Covid-19 was in full bloom: people didn’t want to go to stores as often , and some couldn’t because shops were closed; but consumers also became more aware of how they spend their money (not least because many lost their jobs or went on furloughs), and the loss of the normal pace of modern life led many to think about how they could potentially become a could live life in a different, perhaps less wasteful way.
Fast forward to today, and we’ve seen consumers fall back into their old patterns: high traffic with one passenger car on the road; people are flocking to physical stores (and using fewer e-commerce services); and in many cases less community involvement than they were prepared to have during lockdowns and urgent requests to stay close to home.
There are signs that Wallapop continues to grow despite those shifts. It said fiscal 2022 had revenues of €72 million, up 40% from FY 2021. Meanwhile, Wallapop Envíos, its end-to-end shipping service (versus users who self-manage packages), grew to €32 million from €17 million in that period. Subscription services – a service it offers to professional sellers – brought in €10 million in revenue, up from €6.7 million in 2020. They are signs not only of the platform’s maturity, but how the company is also trying to diversify how it makes money.
“In recent years, Wallapop’s expansion efforts have allowed more and more people to benefit from our fundamental goal – facilitating a more mindful and human way of consuming that creates economic opportunities for people – which is equally important in today’s socio-economic environment. remains as relevant as ever,” Rob Cassedy, CEO of Wallapop, said in a statement. “We are focused on driving the reuse revolution in Southern Europe, prioritizing a healthy growth model that will allow us to increase our impact as we scale and create a unique supply ecosystem that can expand further in our future. Our investors, NAVER and Korelya, as well as others, share our vision.”
Nevertheless, there is an argument that the circular economy will remain a niche for the time being. It’s been 10 years since Wallapop was founded and currently it only sees traffic from 15 million monthly active customers across 100 million listings (that’s the total number over the year, not at any given time). I’ll also point out that the 15 million figure was the same number of users as in 2021 when I covered the original Series G.
The company has not commented from its investors. We’ve reached out to ask about this and will update when and if we get more. More generally, Naver is a strong player in ecommerce and apps in its home market and has taken a number of steps to expand its interests internationally, including that acquisition of Poshmark.