The year in megarounds: Top 20 European Tech funding deals of 2021

Image credit: Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

According to every possible industry data source, including our own proprietary database, this year has set a new record in the amount raised by European-founded startups. The grand total for 2021 is likely to exceed €100 billion, and a very sizeable chunk of it has been secured in megarounds.

To look closer at European startups that have landed really big amounts of money this year, we’ve identified 20 largest rounds, which amount to the total of some €20 billion. The results were quite surprising even for ourselves:

  • Despite the media buzz around the British and French startup ecosystems, the UK only accounted for three of the top 20 megarounds, while France got none at all.
  • Germany is the absolute leader with eight deals, mostly thanks to its on-demand delivery and fintech industries.
  • More than half of the megarounds were bigger than $1 billion! Only one of them went to a pure fintech company, despite the vertical dominating the funding landscape as a whole in 2021.
  • Neither Germany nor the UK made it to the top three positions, which are occupied by Norway, Turkey, and Sweden.

Let’s see who has managed to raise the most funding in one go.

20. 🇳🇱 Mollie gets €665 million

The Dutch payment service Mollie raised its largest funding round to date in June, bringing the total amount it’s secured to €780 million. Among other thing, Mollie said that it planned to spend the money on launching in the UK.

The round valued Mollie at €5.4 billion, making it one of the largest European fintech companies. At the time of the announcement, it employed 480 people and planned to hire 300 more by year’s end.

19. 🇩🇪 $750 million for Flink

German online grocer Flink landed $750 million just a few weeks in a Series B funding round that valued it at $2.1 billion pre-money. It was the second round secured by Flink this year; in total, it’s raised an eye-watering $1.1 billion since the beginning of 2021.

The funding illustrates the rapidly heating up market of hyperlocal hyper-fast grocery delivery in Europe. The space became very competitive over the course of 2021, and the players tried to throw as much fuel as possible into the growth furnace.

18. 🇬🇧 Revolut secures $800 million

The UK-based challenger bank Revolut secured a Series E funding round of $800 million in July, at a cool valuation of $33 billion. The backers in the deal included SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Tiger Global Management.

At the time of the announcement, Revolut stated that it’d use the money to fund the expansion in the US, as well as enter other international markets such as India. The latter hasn’t happened yet, but the company did in fact expand its offering stateside in Q3.

17. 🇳🇱 MessageBird bags $800 million

Another Dutch startup, omnichannel communications platform MessageBird, extended its $200 million Series C round closed back in October 2020, rounding it up to $1 billion.

Most of the capital raised seems to have been spent on or earmarked for acquisitions right away. In 2021, MessageBird has acquired Hull and 24sessions for undisclosed amounts, as well as paid $600 million for US-based SparkPost.

16. 🇩🇪 IONITY attracts €700 million

Bavarian high-power charging station network IONITY secured €700 million in November. It’s been reported that BlackRock’s Global Renewable Power platform was responsible for most of the funding, chipping in with €500 million. All other existing investors of the company are car manufacturers, like BMW Group, Ford Motor Company, Hyundai Motor Group with KIA, Mercedes-Benz AG, and Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche.

IONITY, which operates manufacturer-agnostic network of car chargers in 24 countries, expected to spend the funding to quadruple the number of charging points to 7,000 in 2024.

15. 🇩🇪 Trade Republic nabs $900 million

Berlin’s neobroker Trade Republic raised $900 million in a Series C investment round led by Sequoia in May. The deal valued the startup at more than $5 billion.

Trade Republic, which boasts over 1 million customers in Germany, France, and Austria, offers its customers access to capital market investments, including stocks, ETFs, and derivatives. In addition to that, this year it also added a possibility to invest in cryptocurrencies.

14. 🇬🇧 SumUp snags €750 million

London-based SME-focused payments provider SumUp announced its latest funding round in March, raising €750 million from the likes of Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital Credit, Temasek, Crestline, and funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management.

SumUp stated at the time that the new round would accelerate further growth and the acquisition of new clients, organically and via M&A deals, and refinance existing debts. With more than 2,000 employees, the company is currently present in Europe, the US, and Brazil.

13. 🇩🇪 N26 acquires $900 million

Another fintech player, Berlin-founded neobank N26, raised $900 million in October at a valuation of $9 billion. The round was led by Third Point Ventures and Coatue Management.

“It gives us a lot of time over the next three to four years to line up for an IPO,” co-founder and CEO Valentin Stalf told TechCrunch.

With 7 million clients across 25 countries, N26 also stated that it was planning to focus its home continent, including a planed expansion into Eastern Europe.

12. 🇩🇪 Celonis raises $1 billion

Munich-based process mining software startup Celonis landed $1 billion in a Series D funding round at a $11 billion valuation in June. The company is focused at the beginning of the process automation food chain, making it easier and cheaper to map workflows within an organisation.

The list of mostly American investors in the deal included Durable Capital Partners LP and T. Rowe Price Associates, which co-led the round, as well as Franklin Templeton, Splunk Ventures, and Arena Holdings. Celonis also announced it had hired ex-Google’s financial specialist Carlos Kirjner as CFO, signalling a potential IPO in the foreseeable future.

11. 🇸🇪 Klarna receives $1 billion

Europe’s major player in the “buy now, pay later” vertical, Klarna nabbed $1 billion in funding back in March, at a valuation of $31 billion. The deal made Klarna the highest-valued private fintech company in Europe at the time, and second only to Stripe globally.

The cash was expected to be used to “accelerate international expansion and further capture global retail growth.” In addition to that, Klarna put 1 percent of the raised amount towards a new initiative that focuses on key global sustainability challenges.

10. 🇩🇪 Grover lands $1 billion

Subscription-based consumer tech rental platform Grover secured “over $1 billion” in July to “accelerate growth and enter new markets.” Founded in 2015, the company offers customers to rent all sorts of consumer electronics against a monthly payment that varies depending on the contract length.

Grover reported at the time of the announcement that “4,000 metric tonnes of CO₂ were saved due to device recirculation, and 1,400 tonnes of e-waste were spared from landfills.”

9. 🇩🇪 Gorillas bags $1 billion

One of Europe’s major rapid grocery delivery startups, Gorillas raised “close to $1 billion” in October, at a pre-money valuation of $2.1 billion. This was the company’s second funding round this year after a $290 million capital injection in March, which put Gorillas on the unicorn list.

Interestingly, the megaround was led by another German on-demand delivery player, Delivery Hero (#4 in this list). The company confirmed that it paid $235 million for some 8 percent stake in Gorillas.

8. 🇸🇪 Sinch raises $1.1 billion

Stockholm-based communications platform Sinch got $1.1 billion of extra cash via a new share issue in May. Like its Dutch rival MessageBird (#17 in this list), Sinch has been quite active in the M&A space — one of its latest purchases was that of the US-based Inteliquent for $1.1 billion. The company said that the fresh capital “will strengthen its financial position and flexibility.”

A few months after the raise, Sinch made a smaller acquisition, paying €48 million in cash and stock for Munich’s MessengerPeople.

7. 🇸🇪 Spotify borrows $1.3 billion

One of Europe’s largest startup success stories, Spotify announced an “exchangeable senior notes offering” from its US branch in February. Amounting to $1.3 billion, the raise is similar to receiving debt funding, Musically explained. Investors in the notes can exchange them for cash and/or Spotify shares after March 20, 2024. The company, in the meantime, said it’d use the proceeds for “general corporate purposes.”

One corporate purpose seems to have been a global shopping spree. Spotify has made at least for acquisitions this year, as it purchased app developer Betty Labs, podcast discovery platform Podz, audiobooks aggregator Findaway, and podcast tech company Whooshkaa.

6. 🇳🇱 Just Eat Takeaway.com orders €1.1 billion

Amsterdam-based food ordering and delivery juggernaut Just Eat Takeaway.com, a public company traded on Euronext Amsterdam, also bagged up some cash through a two-tranche convertible bonds offering early this year. As reported by our editor Robin Wauters, the “Dutch company said that it would not use the bond money to raise its $6.9 billion takeover offer for US rival GrubHub, but that it might use a portion of it to cover costs of the transaction and meet funding requirements for iFood, the Brazilian food delivery business in which it owns a minority stake.”

Just Eat Takeaway.com didn’t make any major takeover announcements subsequent to the raise and only acquired its Slovakian peer Bistro.sk for €50 million in July.

5. 🇬🇧 Cinch secures £1 billion

Constellation Automotive Group, which owns the digital used car seller Cinch, attracted £1 billion in private equity investment in May to grow the business and keep competing with the likes of Cazoo and Carzam.

Reports at the time suggested that the size of the deal was twice as large as the company planned initially, meaning that blue-chip investors were quiet eager to pour money into the business. The round became one of, if not the biggest ever for a UK-based company.

4. 🇩🇪 Delivery Hero lands €1.25 billion

In September this year, Delivery Hero raised €1.25 billion from an offering of notes convertible into shares. The company stated that it would use the money for the mysterious “general corporate purposes,” as well as to “take advantage of attractive investment opportunities that may arise.”

It looks like only one attractive opportunity has arisen so far: in October, Delivery Hero announced its acquisition of Hungry.dk in Denmark for an undisclosed amount. Prior to the deal, Delivery Hero already had a 44 percent stake in the Danish company.

3. 🇹🇷 Trendyol brings home $1.5 billion

Turkish e-commerce platform Trendyol announced a massive $1.5 billion funding round in August, which made it the country’s first decacorn, valued at $16.5 billion. The round was co-led by General Atlantic, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Princeville Capital and sovereign wealth funds, ADQ (UAE) and Qatar Investment Authority. The investment marks SoftBank’s first venture deal in Turkey.

Not particularly well-known in the West, Trendyol dominates its local e-commerce market, serving over 30 million customers and delivering more than 1 million packages every day. The company’s founder Demet Suzan Mutlu stated at the time of the announcement that the cash injection would be used for “expansion within Turkey and globally.”

2. 🇳🇴 Stake in Adevinta sold for €1.9 billion

In a secondary-market private deal that still technically counts as an investment, the UK-based PE powerhouse Permira bought a 10.2 percent stake in Adevinta from eBay for €1.9 billion. Announced in July, the deal came weeks after the Austrian competition regulator finally approved Adevinta’s takeover of eBay’s classified ads business for $9.2 billion.

The takeover deal made Adevinta world’s largest online classifieds company, in which eBay received a 44 percent stake. Now that Permira has acquired a chunk of it, the American e-commerce behemoth still holds 33 percent.

Later in the year, Adevinta also sold the popular UK-based classified website Gumtree, which it promised the Competition and Market Authority to do in exchange for getting the green light to eBay’s classified business acquisition.

1. 🇸🇪 $2.75 billion for Northvolt

Swedish energy tech company Northvolt that makes (relatively) sustainable lithium-ion batteries went into a league of its own this year, raising $2.75 billion in a private placement. Announced in June, it was co-led by Swedish pension funds AP1, AP2, AP3, AP4, and OMERS Capital Markets alongside existing investors Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Volkswagen Group.

Northvolt has already secured contracts worth north of $27 billion with players like BMW, Fluence, Scania, and Volkswagen. It’s currently expanding its first gigafactory in Sweden to reach 60GWh, and plans to achieve a total production capacity of 150 GWh in Europe by 2030.

These were the 20 largest megarounds in European tech in the year 2021. Stay tuned for a series of more focused snapshots of the industry — and find everything we’ve published so far over here.

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