VR Startup Volob Technologies Acquired by CarDekho
GirnarSoft, the parent company of Indian auto classifieds portal CarDekho.com, announced on Tuesday, that it has acquired virtual reality startup Volob Technologies in an all-cash deal.
This is the eight time GirnarSoft, which has emerged as one of the most active players in the Indian startup M&A leaderboard over the past 18 months, would be involved in such transactions, and it comes less than a week after it announced its acquisition of SaaS startup Connecto.
The company announced that the acquisition will improve CarDekho’s 3D visualisation capabilities through technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality.
Volob Technologies, which was founded in 2010 by Tarun Kumar and Shweta Jain, provides 3D visualisation solutions to various industries, mostly automotive. The startup has been engaged to provide services for brands like Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra & Mahindra, Godrej, Greenply, and Somany Ceramics.
According to Amit Jain, co-founder and CEO of GirnarSoft: “Visual experience is an important element in assessing a car or bike. Volob has proven expertise in the virtual content. With this acquisition we aim at amplifying the visual experience of car buyers in both real and virtual settings.”
“Joining CarDekho.com will help us provide solutions which can enable automotive industry deliver life-like experiences to car buyers across multiple touch points,” Volob Co-founder Kumar said.
This latest acquisition is the second of such made by GirnarSoft, having previously acquired Drishya360s, a premier photography and video production firm to develop its virtual reality framework.
GirnarSoft, however, did not disclose terms of the Volob Technologies acquisition.
CarDekho’s VR/AR Background
The company made it known that CarDekho has been working on developing virtual and augmented reality solutions to assist users in making better car buying decisions. They recently launched an online tool that gives users 360 degree interior/exterior views with sounds of the car along with explanations of features with videos, dubbed ‘Feel the Car.’
Aside from Volob, GirnarSoft has in the last two years also acquired Connecto, Help on Wheels, Zigwheels.com, Gaadi.com and BuyingIQ. CarDekho acquired Times Internet-owned Zigwheels last year and Gaadi from Ibobo in the second half of 2014.
The company raised $15 million from Sequoia Capital in 2013, and in January 2015, it secured a $50-million funding, in a round led by Chinese funds Hillhouse Capital and Tybourne Capital, at the end of which its valuation stood at about $300 million. This year, it was able to secure a $15-million funding, in a round led by Google Capital, Hillhouse Capital and some existing investors. Ratan Tata and HDFC Bank are also some of the investors who have a stake in the Jaipur-based company.
Opportunities Abound in the Car Sales Business
The six-year-old company claims that it enables 25 percent of all sales of organized, dealer-driven used cars with Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru being its top three markets. “Demand from Tier-II and III cities have been picking up gradually. Cities like Jaipur, Indore, Rajkot, and Guwahati are driving decent business for us,” says Amit.
While the used-car segment is believed by most to hold massive opportunity, the new-car segment makes up nearly 80 percent of Cardekho’s business. Amit says that: “used-car segment is going to be big in the coming years and we have been launching a slew of features to assist users in evaluating crucial check and balances of used four-wheelers.”
Cartrade is Cardekho’s direct competitor in the used-car segment. This year, it was able to raise a massive $145 million from Temasek, March Capital and from existing investor Warburg Pincus. Last year, online automobile classifieds had greatly consolidated, with the battle for the automobile classifieds crown being mostly waged between CarDekho and CarTrade.