Investments

Fetchr secures $15 million in fresh funds after cutting over 1,200 jobs: report

Dubai-based logistics startup Fetchr that was on the verge of bankruptcy last year and was saved by $10 million investment has secured $15 million in fresh funds, Bloomberg reported today. The latest round according to the documents seen by Bloomberg, includes commitments from company’s early investor Beco Capital, Saudi-based Tamer Group, and French shipping company CMA CGM but it still needs the approval of Fetchr’s shareholders.

The details of the round were confirmed by Fetchr’s interim CEO Mazen Mamlouk to Bloomberg. Fetchr had quietly appointed the former UPS executive Hussein Wehbe as its CEO earlier this year but according to the report, Mazen Mamlouk (who was apparently appointed after the departure of company’s co-founder and CEO Idriss Al Rifai) is still with the company. The report noted that Mazen will soon hand over the control to Hussein and will continue to serve the company as an adviser.

Since raising $10 million in emergency funding late last year to avoid its bankruptcy, Fetchr, the report said, has cut about 1,230 jobs and exited Jordan, Bahrain, and Oman. The new management of the company has helped the company reduce its burn rate.

It now plans to use the latest funds to expand its business in Saudi Arabia. It is one of the six companies that won a parcel delivery license by Saudi’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) last month. Fetchr is the only company to have received a license for both domestic and international deliveries.

Started in 2012 by Idriss Al Rifai and Joy Ajlouny, Fetchr wanted to solve the no-address problem of emerging markets by delivering couriers using customer’s phone as a GPS location. Initially, it followed an Uber-like model relying on freelancers to deliver packages to customers on its behalf but eventually moved to own a fleet with its own drivers – becoming a courier company with tech.

When asked (in a 2017 interview with MENAbytes) if the move will turn Fetchr into a traditional logistics player, Idriss Al Rifai, company’s co-founder and CEO (at the time) had said that he doesn’t think that what defines a logistics company as traditional is the mere fact that it owns or rents cars or trucks, “I believe that the initial hype around outsourced model and the “uber of” faded down and what matters more now is the economics of the deal, the business model. What we are doing at Fetchr is unique, nobody in the world works on the type of issues of problems we work on both mathematically, operationally or technically. We are far from being “traditional”.”

Having raised over $50 million (before raising the money to avoid bankruptcy in December 2019) including $41 million Series B (which was one of the largest rounds for a Middle Eastern startup at the time), it used to be billed as one of hottest startups in the region. It’s Series B had reportedly valued the company at close to $300 million. But the $10 million emergency financing resulted in the value of its existing shareholders dilute to almost zero.

Fetchr’s co-founder and CMO Joy Ajlouny had departed from the company in early 2019. Its co-founder and CEO Idriss Al Rifai left in January earlier this year and joined Spanish on-demand delivery startup Glovo as its Vice President for Strategy, Data, and New Businesses. The former Chief Operating Officer Omar Yaghmour who left Fetchr in April this year joined a Dubai-based car servicing marketplace Garaji as their COO earlier this month.

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Founder at MENAbytes
A tech and startup enthusiast based in Lahore, Pakistan. Zubair apart from leading MENAbytes is also building Qraar, a career discovery and development platform for millennials in MENA. He can be reached on Linkedin, Twitter or zubair [at] menabytes [dot] com.
Zubair Naeem Paracha
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