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SoftBank-backed travel platform Klook raises $200M amid COVID-19

Rita Liao
·2 min read

Klook, the Hong Kong-based travel activities platform backed by SoftBank Vision Fund, announced the closure of $200 million in funding for its Series E round, lifting the startup's total capital raised to date to $720 million.

Aspex Management, an investment fund focused on Asia Pacific led the round, alongside existing backers Sequoia Capital China, Softbank Vision Fund 1, Matrix Partners China, Boyu Capital, as well as a handful of new investors.

Securing sizable funding at a time the COVID-19 pandemic sacks the global economy is congratulatory, not to mention Klook is in an industry severely hit by the virus. The startup, which enables its mostly Asia-based users to book activities in overseas destinations, lost millions of orders over the first few months of travel restrictions. The company quickly regrouped for a pivot to staycation and software-as-a-service for local activity merchants, including ticketing, distribution, inventory management and marketing. Bookings subsequently rebounded.

"There are things to do at home, as well as local things to do when people could travel," co-founder and chief operating officer Eric Gnock Fah told TechCrunch in an interview last July. "Now [the pandemic] is giving us an opportunity to add a new aspect to it."

The arrival of the new funding appears timely. Klook reached profitability in a number of markets by last July but overall was still in an aggressive expansion mode, it told TechCrunch at the time. Founded in 2014, Klook exceeded $1 billion in valuation in 2018 but declined to reveal its latest post-money valuation, which almost certainly has increased since it reached the unicorn status. The company currently has no plans to go public, a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

In Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan where COVID-19 restrictions have gradually eased, Klook said it saw increased spending on local activities, with bookings reaching near pre-COVID levels. At the height of the pandemic, Klook onboarded 150% more activities compared to the same period in 2019.

Today, Klook's SaaS software powers millions of bookings for more than 2,500 merchants worldwide. With proceeds from the new investment, it will continue working on the development and roll-out of its merchant SaaS solutions.

"This new capital further strengthens our leading position to take us from defense to offense, as domestic tourism becomes ubiquitous and international travel gradually returns," said Ethan Lin, co-founder and chief executive at Klook.