Business & Economy

Uruguay’s 1st “unicorn” celebrates Nasdaq debut

By Concepcion M. Moreno

Montevideo, Jun 3 (EFE).- Uruguay’s first unicorn – privately held startup valued at more than $1 billion – made its debut Thursday on New York’s Nasdaq stock exchange, where shares in payments firm dLocal surged more than 47 percent in early trading.

In the face of strong demand, the company had already increased the share price from $16 to $21 for the initial public offering (IPO), but investors pushed it up to $31 per share, which translates to a market capitalization of around $9 billion.

“As when (singer-songwriter Jorge) Drexler won the Oscar or when we win an international soccer cup, beyond the pride the interesting thing is that it a route remains, a path opens that other entrepreneurs can follow,” Isabelle Chaquiriand, a professor of business at the Catholic University of Uruguay, told Efe.

Founded in 2016 by Sergio Fogel and Andres Bzurovski, dLocal is focused on bringing innovative payments technology and practice to to emerging markets.

The firm now employs more than 300 people and has offices in Montevideo, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, London, Tel Aviv and Shenzhen, while its operations span 29 countries in Latin America, East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Through its application programming interface (API), dLocal offers “something like a universal translator” allowing global giants such as Spotify, Amazon, Netflix and Uber to work with more than 600 different types of local payment systems, Chaquiriand said.

Last September, dLocal made history by achieving a value of $1.2 billion after raising some $200 million in a funding round, setting the stage for Thursday’s Nasdaq IPO..

Only one other Uruguay-based company, internet portal starMedia, has secured a stock market listing in the United States.

“The Uruguayan entrepreneurial ecosystem has had an enormous evolution in the last 20 years. In the decade of the 2000s it didn’t exist and the word entrepreneur wasn’t even used,” Chaquiriand pointed out.

In the Uruguay of 2021, she said, a would-be entrepreneur can turn to startup incubators and even public institutions for support, though there remains a scarcity of “angel investors” ready and able to make long-term commitments to new ventures.

“It is official: @dLocalPayments is now a publicly-traded company on @Nasdaq. We are proud to see how our customers’ trust and our team’s hard work are reshaping payments in #emergingmarkets,” the company said Thursday on Twitter.

CEO Sebastian Kanovich and President Jacobo Singer were joined by board members Fogel, Bzurovski and Eduardo Azar for the launch in New York, where they had the honor of ringing the “virtual” bell that signals the start of the Nasdaq trading session. EFE


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