Property Guru IPO: What to know about a SPAC merger


Property Guru, based in Singapore, connects real estate investors and real estate property sellers. Founded in 2007, they herald the company as the #1 property site in Malaysia. The company launched in the Singapore market and now is in 14 Asian markets. According to The Business Times, it is the largest real estate marketplace in Southeast Asia. The upcoming SPAC-Merger is valued at $1.78 billion.  

TL;DR

  • Steve Melhuish and Jani Rautiainen founded Property Guru in 2007
  • Initially the brand focused on simplifying the home search process in Singapore
  • Total fundraising is over $547 million
  • From 2015-2019, Property Guru’s sales and revenues grew each year. In 2020, the company experienced a dip in revenue and had a net loss amidst the pandemic. 
  • In September 2018, Property Guru sued 99.co over allegations of copyright infringement. While the court dismissed the allegations, they did find 99.co violated the terms of a 2015 settlement where the company had agreed to not reproduce contents of competitors’ websites.
  • Property Guru has never disclosed it’s prior valuations but the anticipated SPAC-merger will bring a $1.78 billion valuation

Related: What is a SPAC?

Property Guru at a glance

In 2007, Steve Melhuish and Jani Rautiainen founded Property Guru after experiencing a frustrating home search process in Singapore. They found that the time-intensive process lacked transparency, required searching multiple places and was difficult for consumers. 

Steve Melhuish served as co-Founder and CEO for 10 years and then became the Non Executive Director. He also sits on the Board. Prior to Property Guru, Melhuish started three companies including Business2Profit in the UK. He has since started Planet Rise, a firm that helps companies address issues related to climate change and inequality, in 2019. He had prior CEO and C-suite leadership experience at companies such as ComiAsia and Cable & Wireless. 

Jani Rautiainen after serving as co-Founder, Rautiainen served on the Board of Directors until last year. Prior to his tenure at Property Guru, Rautiainen founded two other companies. He has over 30 years of experience developing web and mobile solutions. He is also a partner at True Global Ventures, a fintech venture capital firm. Rautiainen earned an MBA from INSEAD and a Master’s in Computer Science from the Helsinki University of Technology. 

When Rautiainen and Melhuish started the company, they wanted to make the home search process easier in Singapore. They received their initial funding from angel investors in 2008. The platform has grown from 2 users in 2008 to 25 million monthly users across Southeast Asia.  

The company operates from its core values:

  • We own it and deliver it
  • We respect and care for each other
  • We push beyond good
  • We have fun and celebrate success
  • We create what’s next

These principles have helped steer the company through growth over the last 15 years. In 2019, it’s revenues were $66.7 million and they had a net loss of $29.6 million. In 2020, revenues were $61.9 million with a net loss of $8.8 million. While it did experience losses during the global COVID-19 pandemic, the company is watching property sales reach new highs in key markets. 

Neither of the co-founders remain in the C-suite. Melhuish pivoted to spend more time with family and to work on new projects. And Rautiainen has moved on to other ventures including being an angel investor himself. Here’s who is in charge now:

  • Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director: Hari V. Krishnan
  • Chief Technology Officer: Manav Kamboj
  • Chief People Officer: Genevieve Godwin
  • Chief Financial Officer: Joe Dische
  • Chief Business Officer: Joe Williams

All five of these leaders are experienced industry professionals. Krishnan has more than 20 years of industry leadership experience in technology and digital companies in the US and Asia. Prior to Property Guru he had leadership positions in LinkedIN, Fox Interactive, Yahoo!, Cisco and Travelguru. He earned an MBA from INSEAD and an MS in Telecommunications from the University of Colorado. 

While the company initially just focused on the Singapore market, it now functions in 14 markets spread across the following nations: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Their digital property platform is accessible via the web and mobile. Their revenues come from charging agents to use the platform, offering complete support packages to property developers and selling ads on its site. 

The mission of Property Guru is “To help people make confident property decisions through relevant content, actionable insights and world-class service.” Their website shares that their employees are solution-oriented and touts 1400 employees representing 30 nationalities and having 50/50 gender parity. They value their employees and treat them well according to Property Guru philosophies and policies.  Property Guru also invests in their local communities. They consistently support BillionBricks, a non profit organization working to solve homelessness in Asia. They also support Right to Play, a non profit organization that educates and empowers children facing adversity through the power of play.  

Property Guru fundraising to know about

Property Guru has raised over $547 million in funding over six rounds of funding. Here’s a breakdown of the key Property Guru fundraising over the years:

  • Seed Round: 2008, unknown amount, led by undisclosed angel investors
  • Series A: 2011, $3.7 million led by undisclosed venture capitalists
  • Series B: 2012, $47 million, led by Deutsche Telekom
  • Series C: 2015, $130 million, led byTPG, Emtek & Square Peg Capital
  • Series D: 2018, $144 million, led by KKR
  • Series E: 2020, $223 million, led by KKR & TPG

Property Guru has also made several acquisitions:

  • 2015, RumahDijual, an Indonesia based property and media buying company
  • 2016, Vinhomecity, a Vietnamese real estate information site
  • 2018, Batdongsan, a Vietnamese property site
  • 2021, Prakard, a Thailand-based online property listing site
  • 2021, Brickz, a Malaysian property-information site
  • 2021, iProperty, a Malaysian site for property sales and rentals
  • 2021, ThinkofLiving, a Thailand-based real estate media company
  • 2021, REA Group, Malaysia and Thailand based real estate company

Path to the Property Guru IPO

Property Guru has closely guarded its valuation so it is undisclosed whether they have already reached unicorn status. However, the SPAC-merger IPO will surpass this marker with a $1.78 billion valuation.  The company has been interested in going public for some time. They initially explored going public in Australia with a goal to raise $257 million; however, due to market uncertainty during the global COVID-19 pandemic, they backed away from an IPO. Now they’re back at it in earnest; but this time forgoing a traditional IPO to complete a SPAC-merger with Bridgetown 2 Holdings. Bridgetown 2 Holdings just went public in January 2021. 

When is the Property Guru IPO? 

Property Guru has not yet filed but the public offering is expected to take place in either the Q4 of 2021 or Q1 of 2022. It’s five lead investors are: KKR, TPG, Square Peg Capital, Emtek Group and Deutsche Telekom. Neither Property Guru nor it’s lead investors have commented publicly about the anticipated merger.  However, in 2018, the head of KKR’s Southeast Asia division, Ashish Shastry, applauded Property Guru’s business success saying that the company has “clearly established itself as the Southeast Asian champion in the online property space.”

What investors should know about the Property Guru IPO 

So far the company has not had many performance issues or controversial complaints about its business practices. In fact, the company is so popular that it has become a household name in many of its markets and Property Guru touts a 75% market share in its Singapore market. 

The company has experienced growth and expansion primarily in two ways – by expanding to new markets and by acquiring competitor and complementary companies. In addition to it’s property-related services, the company also recently released a new product line, PropertyGuru Finance, digital home financing services. Each market expansion or new product line exposes the company to risk in terms of the capital investment required for the expansion and the technology, marketing and customer service to maintain it. Southeast Asia is a booming real estate market – especially coming out of the pandemic. The region contains over 650 million residents and the region has renewed investor interest. 

The spac-merger deal includes a private investment in public equity (PIPE) of $100 million from investors such as Baillie Gifford, REA Group and Akaris Global Partners. Top competitors include 99.co and ohmyhome. Both of these companies are private companies. The real estate market has been growing since 2020 and PropertyGuru has operations in all five hotspots. All five nations are projecting GDP growth into 2022 and an increased demand for real estate related services.  

Bottom line

PropertyGuru is pursuing a spac-merger with Bridgetown 2 Holdings that when completed will create a new entity valued at $1.78 billion. PropertyGuru wants to be positioned to benefit from the market trends in Southeast Asia of increased demand for housing and the increased ability of young professionals to pay for it. If the company can continue to maintain and/or grow its market share, there is the potential for gain. 

Julie Pierce Onos is a Massachusetts-based writer and Organization Development expert. She loves the stories that numbers tell us about business, relationships and health. You can connect with her on Twitter at @juliepierceonos.

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