Investment

Richest Australian families back New York City e-commerce platform

Some of Australia’s richest families are backing a New York City-based e-commerce platform as its valuation heads towards unicorn levels. 

Rokt, founded in 2012, is an e-commerce marketing software provider that is benefitting from the huge boom in online sales since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. That surge and the technology platforms taking advantage of it haven’t gone unnoticed by wealthy investors. 

Last week Rokt raised $80 million in a Series D funding round, giving the company a valuation close to $500 million. Investors believe it can go much higher as the e-commerce boom looks likely to continue even beyond the pandemic. According to Adobe Analytics, US consumers spent $466 billion online between March and September of this year, up 52% from the same period last year. 

Rokt’s latest venture round was led by TDM Growth Partners, a Sydney-based investment group that manages the money of some of Australia’s richest individuals. Also backing the round was Square Peg Capital, a Melbourne-based venture group backed by the Liberman family, some of whom are billionaires.  

Also backing Rokt in early rounds was Lachlan Murdoch, the co-chairman of News Corp and a member of the Murdoch family-owned media dynasty that began in Australia. Greg Roebuck, founder of carsales.com, Australia’s biggest e-commerce platform for car sales that listed on the local stock market with a market capitalisation of A$2 billion in 2009, has also backed Rokt in early rounds. 

Fellow Australian investor John Ho is also a backer of Rokt. After working for a number of prominent hedge funds, Ho launched Janchor Partners, a Hong Kong-based investment group that backed a number of Chinese internet companies including Alibaba very early on and made a fortune in the process. Ho sits on the board of Rokt. 

Rokt was founded by CEO John Buchanan after he bought the Australian-based referral marketing company Rocklive in 2012. The business moved to New York in 2014 and now has offices around the world with more than 250 staff. 

Buchanan made his name as CEO of the Australian-based low-cost airline Jetstar, growing revenues substantially during his time there. 

 

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