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The Truecaller IPO: nine years of “instant” success

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In 2012 we were honoured to lead the series A funding round for a fast-growing new Caller ID app called Truecaller. Nine years on, Truecaller has grown into a true industry leader. Today the company went public on Stockholm’s Nasdaq exchange, reaching above > $2,2 Bn in valuation.

On behalf of everyone at OpenOcean, I would like to extend massive congratulations to founders Alan & Nami and the whole Truecaller team; the company’s investors Sequoia, KPBC, Atomico, Zenith, Inbox Capital, Balderton, many more; and all the many visionaries on the Truecaller board. We are truly grateful to have worked with the company, and in this blog post, I want to reflect on the amazing journey that takes us from first meeting Truecaller right the way through to today’s major milestone.

Green shoots of growth

Following initial discussions the year before, OpenOcean invested in Truecaller in the second half of 2012. At this point, the organisation was in the early stages of its growth. The company had about 10 employees, a seed investment by several strong Swedish angel investors including Pandelis Eliopoulos, Magnus Bergman and Stefan Lennhammer, and a small office in a basement in Stockholm.

In these humble beginnings, we saw real potential in Truecaller. Its newly launched Caller ID app already had over 1 million monthly users (MAU) in total, and the company had some revenue from a software licensing deal.

We loved the ambition and vision of the founders. In a short space of time, they had managed to create a global, trusted phonebook, built on the foundations of an expanding user community and a comprehensive number database. The founders were primed to achieve the rarest of feats and truly revolutionise a market, disrupting both white and yellow pages industries forever with a smart global phonebook. Going into the investment, the key risks we saw on the horizon were privacy evolution, legal risks regarding the database, and potential cybersecurity threats. 

Milestones along the way

There have been many milestones across the years since our initial €1 million investment in Truecaller. Each one holds invaluable lessons for any company hoping to one day achieve a big outcome and help us track how Truecaller ended up going from the leading Caller ID app to becoming a trusted communications suite with value-added services. Here are just a few below:

  • Hiring and setting up the first leadership team of the company in early 2013. Alan and Nami quickly hired HR, commercial, and product professionals to build out their first leadership team.
  • Sequoia leading the $18,8M B-round in late 2013. After Jerry Murdock and OpenOcean jointly led a €2M “top-up” round in summer 2012, Sequoia’s Michael Moritz (who at the time was on Klarna’s board) heard about the company from the Klarna founders. The rest, as they say, is history. Indeed, when Sequoia joined one of the very first board decisions was to go easy on monetisation (which Truecaller had recently started doing) to not scare a single user away and instead continue to maximise user growth. This strategy was the right one!
  • Kleiner Perkins and Atomico leading the $60M C-round in 2014. The company had experienced explosive user growth, taking in even tens of thousands of new users per day, and was joined by two further world-class investors to scale-out globally.
  • Starting monetisation in early 2016, after a key period of reorganisation and moderate adjustment in strategy. Initially, it was ads, then smarter ads, eventually also subscriptions, and payments, and quite quickly reaching a serious revenue scale.
  • Truecaller breaking even in late 2019 and in 2020 it was strongly profitable. The strong financial profile of today can now be gleaned from the public reports of the company. 
  • Reaching first 100M MAUs in 2017, then 200M MAUs in 2019 and finally over 200M Daily Active Users in 2021. You can only imagine the wealth of data and insights a company possesses at this scale, enabling developing and delivering better and better new solutions.

A new chapter for Truecaller

It is impossible to recall and list all the significant events during OpenOcean’s almost decade-long time as a Truecaller shareholder. It is, however, safe to say that through the regular ups and downs of any rapidly growing startup, Truecaller has evolved into a profitable company at significant commercial scale with major operations in Sweden and India, category leadership in many emerging markets, and now has both the governance and organisational structure fitting a listed company. Some additional history and key developments/learnings are reflected in the video interview series we did with founders Alan and Nami a few months back.

So much has changed since we first saw the company over nine years ago, which is a testament to the unwavering passion, energy, tenacity, problem-solving skills, and continuous learning of the founders. Major kudos to Alan and Nami for building the company into this fabulous success story and exceeding even our joint ambitious dreams in the early days! Truecaller has also from day one been a deeply multicultural and diverse company and has continued to excel in this regard. As our team at OpenOcean has experienced with our businesses in the past, and all our best investments, it is clear that the best companies outperform here.

And there is certainly much more to come. Although the IPO marks the beginning of the end for OpenOcean as a shareholder in the company, as Truecaller founder and CEO Alan says, “this is only a sprint in the (ultra)marathon journey for the company.” I am confident the next nine years will be equally impressive as the first years we got to enjoy together.

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