Kumu's Total Funding Reaches P5 Billion After Completing Series C
Filipino startup Kumu’s total funding has now exceeded $100 million (P5 billion).
In a press release, the social entertainment platform revealed that it raised an undisclosed sum from a Series C funding round led by General Atlantic, a global growth equity firm that was recently named a top “investor-friendly founder” by Inc.
Kumu did not disclose the amount raised in Series C, but according to a DealStreetAsia - DATA VANTAGE report on regulatory filings, at least $73.6 million was raised, with $25 million coming from Openspace Ventures and SIG.
The funding round set a precedent on two accounts. One, it is the first Philippine investment of General Atlantic, a private equity giant that has invested in the likes of Slack, Airbnb, Alibaba, and ByteDance (TikTok). Second, according to Kumu, it is the “largest equity financing to date for a Filipino startup not founded as a subsidiary or spinoff of an established conglomerate.”
Kumu is currently the top-grossing local app in the country. In the Play Store, it’s currently ranking at number four, beaten only by Google One, Facebook, and Tinder. In the App Store, it’s currently the second top-grossing social app, beaten only by Facebook. The Filipino social app is also ranked in the top 10 in foreign markets such as Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
The startup was founded only four years ago in 2018 by Roland Ros, Rexy Dorado, Andrew Pineda, and Clare Ros. Kumu is currently led by CEO Roland Ros and president Rexy Dorado. The social app has over 10 million registered users from over 55 countries.
“Kumu is rapidly emerging as a leading digital content community and social platform in the Philippines, as well as for the global Filipino diaspora,” said Sandeep Naik, managing director and head of India and Southeast Asia at General Atlantic.
“We believe an immense digital opportunity exists in the Philippines, a market that is hungry for content and ripe for disruption, with Kumu’s innovative live-streaming offering paving the way for the company’s continued growth as a broader online media platform. We are thrilled to partner with Roland, Rexy, and the driven team at Kumu as they focus on empowering creators and transforming the Filipino digital ecosystem.”
How Kumu Works
“The first generation of social media was defined by passive engagement, where the platform wins through advertising, but all except the top one percent of creators struggle to earn a living,” said Dorado.
He describes Kumu as part of a “movement toward a genuine creator economy.” Unlike other platforms where users need thousands of followers to monetize content, creators on Kumu can earn a steady income from just 100 “true” fans.
Kumu’s business model is based on virtual gifting, advertising, and e-commerce, and they recently partnered with the hit show Pinoy Big Brother to help users actively participate and even audition for the show. The startup also teamed up with director Cathy Garcia-Molina (Hello, Love, Goodbye and The Hows of Us) to produce a movie and Kumu users can use the app to earn a spot in the movie or the movie’s soundtrack.
Kumu says it will use its new funding from General Atlantic, Openspace, and SIG to invest in more innovative content in the Philippines and beyond.
“We are less than one percent of the way to our goal,” said Roland Ros, CEO of Kumu. “Our team is thrilled to take on the challenge of creating a consumer internet champion in the Philippines. Billions of dollars are being spent on internet infrastructure, and you have a market of over 100 million people with a median age that is GenZ and Millennial, with affordable, 4G-capable smartphones. That together is a perfect playground for us to build a social platform at a global scale that is founded upon deep engagement and positivity.”
In the last two years alone, Kumu has secured Series A, Series B, and Series C funding. Prior to the pandemic, Kumu received $1.2 million in seed funding from Summit Media, Foxmont Capital Partners, and Two Culture Capital.
In April, 2020, Kumu raised $5 million in a Series A led by Openspace Ventures. The venture capital firm also invested in the Series A of Indonesia’s unicorn startup Gojek and returned for Kumu’s Series B round in June, 2021.
“As a regional fund, Openspace has always recognized the Philippines’ potential to become a vibrant startup market in Southeast Asia. This belief, combined with our proprietary data, gave us the confidence to make an early investment in Kumu - and to double down now with capital from our mid-stage growth fund OSV+,” said Hian Goh, co-founder and partner at Openspace.
Kumu’s Series B was led by Openspace and SIG, the latter of which was an early investor of Bytedance (TikTok). The Filipino startup did not disclose how much it raised in Series B, but DealStreetAsia estimates that the total was approximately $15 million.
Both Openspace and SIG returned for Kumu’s Series C round, which raised Kumu’s total funding to over $100 million (P5 billion).
“Kumu has built one of the hardest things to build on the internet—a safe space,” said Akshay Bajaj, founding member of SIG Southeast Asia. “As a safe space on the internet and a focus on Filipino culture, Kumu has emerged as the leading platform for both organic and professional content creators, users seeking genuine connection, and partners looking to create novel experiences to access and engage audiences. Kumu is just at the beginning of an exciting journey.”