Berlin-based Gorillas is planning a secondary share sale as part of an upcoming blockbuster funding round that could value the company at $6bn and allow founder Kağan Sümer to take home millions in cash.
Three people with knowledge of the plans said that the 10-minute grocery delivery company, which raised a €245m round just in March at a unicorn valuation, was hoping to raise as much as $1bn in fresh money in the coming months.
The company had been in early-stage discussions with Japanese investor Softbank to lead this investment, but the talks have currently stalled, according to sources familiar with the matter. SoftBank has previously invested in US delivery startup GoPuff, which acquired UK delivery company Fancy last month.
Despite this, Gorillas is still hoping to raise significant investment to fund future expansion plans and to have a secondary share sale as part of the deal, said the people, who did not want to be named because the discussions are private.
While a secondary share sale where founders take some money off the table is not unheard of for a fast-growing startup, it comes against a backdrop of tense relations between management and employees.
On Thursday afternoon at 2pm, approximately 300 employees — many of whom are behind the Gorillas’ Worker’s Collective Twitter account — gathered in Estrel hotel in Neukölln, Berlin, to elect an electoral board, which is the first step towards becoming a work’s council according to German labour law.
A number of employees involved told Sifted that they are campaigning for better wages, holiday and sick pay as well as more investment in equipment to help riders avoid injury.
“Gorillas hit a $1bn valuation this year and is growing so quickly: every week you see the number of deliveries increasing, but our salary stays the same. We want to be included in the success of the company,” says Marcos Vernengo, a 27-year old rider at Gorillas in Berlin.
A Gorillas PR representative said about the secondary share sale: “This is all speculation and there is nothing to confirm from our end. We will get back to you if we have any news to communicate officially.”
SoftBank declined to comment.
Europe’s fastest unicorn
The planned fundraise comes as VC firms have ploughed millions into a dozen on-demand delivery startups in Europe over the past year, hoping to capitalise on consumer demand for convenience.
In March, Gorillas €245m Series B, made the company a unicorn just nine months after launch. That handily beat the record set by Hopin in 2020 for the fastest European tech company ever to reach unicorn status.
On-demand delivery companies such as Gorillas offer customers about 1k to 2k grocery items that can be ordered via an app and arrive in less than 15 minutes. These goods are stocked in ‘dark stores’ — mini-warehouses in the city centre — and delivered by a fleet of riders, mostly on e-bikes.
Gorillas is selling a big vision. Like its competitors, it’s seeking to totally transform how we buy groceries, edge out the supermarket incumbents and transform the food supply chain all at the same time.
Just about every VC in Europe is paying close attention to the scene at the moment. Creandum, Index, Blossom, Northzone, Cherry, Heartcore and Target Global are amongst the well-known funds which have backed speedy grocery startups.
In a press release in March at the last funding round, Sümer said: “We have a simple goal: to change the game in the grocery retail market, which has been slow to implement new and speedier technological solutions. By effortlessly enabling immediate access to fresh and healthy food at retail prices, we essentially simplify the process of doing groceries."
At the time the company said that it plans to expand into 10 countries and 50 cities, including New York and Paris.