ECONOMY

Billing Startup Chargebee Becomes a Unicorn With Tiger Funding

Chargebee Inc., a startup that helps enterprises with subscription billing and revenue management, raised $125 million in funding and boosted its valuation to $1.4 billion, reaching so-called unicorn status for the first time.

The round was led by existing investors Tiger Global and Insight Venture Partners and new baker Sapphire Ventures, along with participation from earlier investor Steadview Capital. The infusion will help the company scale globally as customers hasten their shift to subscription-based services, Chargebee said in an announcement on Tuesday.

“The pandemic has accelerated the shift to software-as-a-service subscription models,” Krish Subramanian, co-founder and chief executive officer, said during a Zoom call. “Every business from streamed content to e-commerce to e-learning has become subscription-based, needs global pricing and recurring billing systems.”

Subramanian and three friends founded the business in Chennai, India, in 2011 and have since gone global. The CEO is based in Amsterdam and the startup is officially incorporated in the U.S., though most of its operations and the other three founders remain in India.

Chargebee helps small and medium enterprises, from carmakers to cafe chains, automate billing, subscriptions, invoicing and payments in different geographies. Subscription models are increasing popular as customers look for predictable, recurring revenue. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to subscription-based billing, a market estimated to grow at 14% annually to $7.8 billion by 2025, according to consultancy MarketsandMarkets Research Pvt.

Chargebee has about 3,000 customers, including home automation company Ecobee Inc and sandwich chain Pret A Manger Ltd. It helps them implement subscription plans in different countries, roll out pricing experiments and partner with payment providers such as Stripe Inc. and PayPal Holdings Inc.

“We want to quickly scale to 30,000 clients in the coming years and drive innovation,” co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Rajaraman Santhanam said, speaking on the same videoconference call.

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