PE HUB Wire Highlights, 11.5.19

Orangewood Fund II raises initial $100 mln; Thoma Bravo, THL bid for Fiserv wealth; Is PE responsible for Popeyes’ chicken sandwich?

One of the more interesting meetings I had at Money20/20 was running into Upasana Taku, the very friendly cofounder and COO of MobiKwik. Taku, who chatted during a Money20/20 networking event, said she worked at PayPal for three years before she left to cofound MobiKwik in 2009 with Bipin Singh. Singh, who is now Taku’s husband, is CEO of MobiKwik.

The Gurugram, India, payments company is building a full fintech stack, Taku said. MobiKwik’s payments business has 100 million users and three million merchants. Consumers can use MobiKwik to shop, pay for bills online, as well as transfer money to friends and families. Earlier this year, MobiKwik began offering loans to customers as it aims to become one of India’s largest digital credit card lenders, she said. The market in India is underpenetrated with only 6 percent of consumers having access to credit, she said. MobiKwik’s goal is to become the fintech app for the burgeoning middle class of India, which has about 400 million users, she said. “Only 25 million unique Indians have a credit card,” Taku said. In the past year, MobiKwik has provided one million loans worth $120 million, she said. “Every month we are giving 100,000 loans,” she said. The company is also selling 100,000 insurance policies each month, she said. MobiKwik, she said, has just turned breakeven and is going to hit $100 million in revenue, Taku said.

MobiKwik has raised $110 million so far from investors including Sequoia Capital India and American Express Ventures. The company is currently seeking $50 million to $70 million in an F round, Taku said. “We expect to IPO in two years,” she said.

Last week also marked the fourth anniversary of Centana Growth Partners’ launch. Ben Cukier, a Centana co-founder and partner, talked to me about the “terror” of having his own firm and becoming responsible for paying people. “I always thought I spent a dollar like it’s mine,” he said at Money20/20 during a break between meetings. “I now spend every dollar like it’s mine. We are thoughtful in how we spend money. We have nice but modest space [in New York City].” Cukier, who stands 6 feet 1 inches, said he flies coach and spent the flight to Las Vegas scrunched in the middle seat. “We live like how our portfolio company’s management live,” he said.

Notable investment: Private equity seems like it’s getting blamed for everything. But this one might not be so bad. PE is the reason Popeyes’ chicken sandwich is back, according to Fox Business NewsFreeman Spogli acquired Popeyes parent in 1996, which then led to 3G Capital acquiring Popeye’s in 2017. Private equity provided the capital that Popeyes needed to grow and implement “an innovative menu-development process that eventually produced a crispier chicken sandwich,” the story said. So, there you have it. PE is responsible for Popeyes’ chicken sandwich.

Jokes aside, 3G also operates Burger King. I just wonder if this means PE is taking credit for the Impossible Burger.