Trax robot in Auchan store
A Trax shelf-monitoring robot at work in an Auchan supermarket. Image credit: Trax

Trax secures $640m from SoftBank, BlackRock for retail robotics & analytics

April 8, 2021

Retail tech firm Trax — Southeast Asia’s highest-funded agrifoodtech startup in 2019 — has raised a further $640 million in funding.

The Series E round, which involved both primary and secondary capital, was co-led by new investor SoftBank Vision Fund II — the second iteration of the AI-focussed mega-fund established by Japan’s SoftBank — and funds managed by existing US investor BlackRock.

Aside from SoftBank, other new investors to come on board for this round included Canadian pension fund OMERS and Japan’s Innovation Growth Ventures, a fund launched by tech giant Sony and investment bank Daiwa Securities.

In a statement, Trax CEO Justin Behar said the startup will use the funding to “invest in our team, extend our market leadership, continue to scale our retailer business, and drive the next stages of long-term growth and innovation.”

“We are witnessing the retail industry adopt digital technologies at an unprecedented pace and scale. Despite the turbulence of 2020, we made tremendous strides in our business because of the hard work, dedication, and team spirit at Trax,” said co-founder and executive chairman Joel Bar-El.

“Our many solutions address the complex needs of CPG brands and retailers as they rapidly adjust to shifts in consumer behavior. This funding puts Trax confidently at the forefront of the future of retail, where the physical and digital combine in new ways to bring meaningful experiences to shoppers.”

Founded in Israel in 2010, Trax — now headquartered in Singapore — provides a range of tech solutions to help retailers and CPG brands optimize shop floors, manage layout, monitor products availability, and understand consumer preferences in-store.

To do this, it deploys a combination of technologies including computer vision, machine learning, data analytics, IoT, and robotics. Sensors placed on shop shelves, ceiling-mounted cameras, and autonomous robots that roam around stores and warehouses are able to give the startup’s enterprise clients “continuous visibility” of every product they sell.

Trax operates in more than 90 countries worldwide and claims to serve over 250 consumer brands and retailers – including 30 of the top 50 global CPG companies – such as Auchan, Unilever, Sanofi, Coca-Cola Hellenic, and Molson Coors.

Agrifoodtech has ‘captured the retail investor’s imagination,’ says BlackRock fund manager – read more here

According to the most recent edition of AgFunder‘s ASEAN Agrifoodtech Investment Report, Trax’s $100 million Series D raise was Southeast Asia’s single biggest funding round for an agrifood startup in 2019. [Disclosure: AgFunder is AFN‘s parent company.] That round was led by Chinese private equity firm HOPU Investments.

Over the last three years, Trax has made no fewer than six acquisitions – most recently buying US-based Survey.com for an undisclosed amount. Nevertheless, despite its willingness to spend in order to accelerate growth, Trax has also had to cut costs of late. In May last year, it laid off 120 employees – about 10% of its global workforce – to “adjust our expenses […] to match our financial position, considering our burn rate,” Bar-El told Calcalist at the time.

At the beginning of this year, the startup let go of more Israel-based employees as reports emerged that it was planning to go public in the US at a $2 billion valuation.


Comment? News tip? Story idea? Email me at jack@agfunder.com or find me on LinkedIn and Twitter

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