5 Oct 2021
by Alexandre Margoline

Doubling down on Mirakl – why Permira continues to back a great French unicorn

Permira’s growth fund has re-upped its investment in Mirakl, whose SaaS marketplace platform is re-defining B2C and B2B online commerce

Let’s start by congratulating Mirakl – it recently announced its $555 million Series E round at a valuation of more than $3.5 billion. Quite astonishing, particularly when you consider that this is more than double its valuation from just one year ago, when Permira’s growth fund led the company’s $300 million Series D round. Permira’s growth strategy is to back disruptive and market leading companies as they scale to the next level and create category defining franchises – and in Mirakl there was a perfect fit.

To understand this amazing company, let’s first take a step back to see where Mirakl has come from…

A unique French scale-up

Mirakl was established in 2012 by its two visionary, growth-driven co-founders. Their passion for the enterprise marketplace model began in 2005 when they first joined forces to launch SplitGames, the first omnichannel online marketplace. After experiencing the exponential growth of online marketplaces themselves, they were determined to bring this revolutionary model to businesses of all kinds.

It was the first enterprise marketplace SaaS platform to provide the proven technology backbone, expertise, and partner network needed for businesses to launch and grow an enterprise marketplace at scale. The company has helped more than 300 companies transform their business to become leaders in the changing B2C and B2B commerce landscape.

But years before we invested in Mirakl, we could already see what they had set out to do. At the time we had already successfully backed another company at the forefront of e-commerce technology, Magento, and this gave the Permira team a strong understanding of the market and, more importantly, the direction that it was heading.

It was early days for Mirakl at the time, despite the fact that it had successfully created a new category within the marketplace economy. But through our relationship with Magento, we had gotten to know Mirakl’s founders and believed in what they were doing, so we made sure to keep a close eye on its growth.

Fast forward to March 2020 when Covid-19 had just entered Europe. Everything was upended, but what Mirakl was able to do over a 48-hour period set the tone for what was to come. While the majority of businesses rushed to secure their own safety, Mirakl launched a marketplace for the French government, pro bono, to facilitate the supply of personal protective equipment – gloves, masks, sanitizers, and all kinds of other PPE in short supply.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turned out to be a tremendous success. So when we emailed Adrien Nussenbaum, one of Mirakl’s co-founders, to congratulate them, he informed us that they were soon to launch a fundraise and asked if we would be interested in investing. He joked: “We’re not so small anymore!”

The decision was easy.

Investing at the right time

Months later in September 2020, Permira led Mirakl’s Series D round, I joined the Board and Permira’s Senior Advisor Bruce Chizen joined Mirakl as an advisor to the Board. By then, we knew the company and its co-founders were a perfect fit for our growth strategy; Mirakl was the only SaaS marketplace that embraced both B2C and B2B organizations, and it was the clear (and only) leader in the enterprise marketplace sector, evidenced by its $1.5 billion valuation at the time.

It already served 11 of the top 40 North American retailers, and it kept adding others, growing at scale even in the face of serious global economic disruption.

Of course, the decision to lead the Series D wasn’t ours alone. Mirakl’s founders wanted a partner that would provide market and technical savvy as well as financial backing. And fortunately, they recognized the value of an experienced, global team working seamlessly across offices from Menlo Park to New York, London to Paris, to support great founders to accelerate the growth of their businesses into market leaders.

12 months of growth at scale

The acceleration in growth at Mirakl over the past 12 months has been extremely impressive. Since the Series D, we’ve supported a number of initiatives, both organic and inorganic, to drive growth, including building customer success teams, creating industry verticals and ensuring judicious hiring to build a solid C-suite around its two founders.

It has also expanded its Mirakl Connect ecosystem to realize the company’s vision of becoming the central hub and platform for enterprise marketplace operators, sellers, and partners.

Today, Mirakl has offices across the globe and employs more than 560 people. Mirakl is reinforcing its position as the world’s most widely adopted enterprise marketplace vendor through continued investments in its technology, expertise, and partner ecosystem, as it grows its team around the globe to meet the accelerating adoption of the marketplace model.

Last year, Mirakl-powered Marketplaces generated over $3.1 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) for over 300 of the world’s leading brands – including ABB, Saloncentric (a subsidiary of L’Oréal USA), Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Best Buy Canada, Toyota Material Handling and more – and in 2021 it’s on track to hit $5B in GMV.

Our journey isn’t over!

So, back to where we started – another milestone for Mirakl.

We’re thrilled to be re-upping our investment in Mirakl and confirming our position as the company’s largest shareholder. Mirakl still has a huge runway for growth and we are excited to continue to support the team as they invest in hiring more people (they’re aiming to hire 1700 people over the next three years!), as well as further growing the customer success business and Mirakl Connect, expanding into the US and Asia, and continuing the M&A drive.

The number of French unicorn technology companies has boomed in recent years. This is a great thing in itself, and what’s more, we’re confident that Mirakl is the best of the best. After all, marketplaces grew at twice the rate of e-commerce in 2020. It is an honour to be in partnership with Philippe, Adrien and their category-defining business and we look forward to helping drive its continued growth.

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