Funding

The five biggest US retail funding rounds of 2021

Instacart’s $265 million round in March came in at no. 4, per Pitchbook data.
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· 3 min read

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While last-minute holiday gifters may still be recovering from any final, desperate shopping sprees (or finding stray gift cards in couch cushions), VCs have been putting startups in their carts all year long.

Across the world, retail funding totaled $5.1 billion this year, per PitchBook data, with 141 deals made in all. But which were the biggest? In the US, one industry dominated.

Here are the five largest rounds of the year (as of December 7). You’ll see a theme emerge pretty quickly.

5. Jokr: $260 million in December

Fifteen-minute delivery took over 2021 faster than we could finish this sentence, with the $$ following just as quickly. This round made Jokr a unicorn less than a year after it was founded.

CEO and founder Ralf Wenzel told us at the time that the investment will go toward creating “the ultimate shopping proposition.”

  • “We want to be the biggest challenger to classical supermarkets and eventually to all of retail,” he said via email. “We are creating the most customer-centric e-commerce business in history.”

4. Instacart: $265 million in March

The delivery company has raised so many rounds of funding, coverage of this one didn’t even get a letter (I? K? R?). But it did get Instacart a $39 billion valuation.

Still, everyone is still wondering when Instacart will go public, which was teased out this year at one point. The latest? Next year, maybe—or even later, sources told The Information in November.

3. Weee!: $315 million in March

Perhaps that’s how the specialty e-grocer reacted when it landed this huge Series D round (we might’ve said, “Wooo!”), considering it valued the company at $2.8 billion. It also brought its total funding to $415+ million.

Weee!, which focuses on Asian and Hispanic foods, planned to use the capital to get into new cities and categories.

  • Investing in warehouse automation was also on the list.

2. Gopuff: $1 billion in July

Don’t be surprised to see another delivery company here. Gopuff’s monster $1 billion Series H round, which included existing investors like SoftBank Vision Fund, valued the instant delivery company at $15 billion—nearly double what its last raise pegged it at.

Which actually brings us to...

1. Gopuff: $1.15 billion in March

Nope, that’s not a typo. This year, Gopuff was in serious competition...with itself, and landed two seven-figure rounds. It has big plans to expand across North America, the UK, and Europe.

  • Gopuff currently has at least 450 locations, including 285 dark stores (as of July).

+1: You have to skip past the top 10 to see a round outside of the food-and-delivery space. At no. 12, Material Bank, a marketplace for architectural and construction products, raised $100 million in May.—JS

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