South Africa’s Silvertree acquires top Nigerian tech firm, TopCheck

Screenshot of TopCheck's mobile site
Screenshot of TopCheck's mobile site

Africa’s leading Internet platform, Silvertree Internet Holdings, has acquired Nigerian price comparison site, TopCheck, for an undisclosed amount.

A statement jointly signed on Wednesday by TopCheck’s founder, Thomas Pilar, and his Silvertree counterpart, Manuel Koser, stated that the website recorded fast growth in 2016, processing up to 3 billion Naira (10 million USD) in Gross Application Value per month.

TopCheck, the statement said, is Nigeria’s leading price comparison site for financial services offering free online comparison for insurance products, loans, and broadband internet plans. It was founded in 2014, and headquartered in Lagos and Berlin.

According to the statement, the start-up that dubs itself the “Money supermarket of Africa”, had raised 1 million Euros in venture capital in 2015.

“Silvertree Internet Holding is a Cape Town based Internet holding company which owns and operates Internet assets across Africa. TopCheck will join Silvertree’s subsidiary Compare Africa Group (CAG). CAG is active in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, and offers online price comparison of goods and services through various websites,” the statement said.

“The group owns financial services websites Compareguru, as well as
product comparison site PriceCheck, which was recently acquired from Naspers.”

According to the statement, Silvertree has been very active in acquiring Nigerian tech companies in the past, having taken over Nigerian insured (dot)ng from Spark in 2015 and deals site Dealdey from Kinnevik in 2016.

“The TopCheck team is excited to join forces with Compare Africa Group. Together, we are forming Africa’s undisputed leader in price comparison”, said TopCheck founder, Thomas Pilar.

“While our two companies had been competitors before, our strategies are completely in line: to be the number one online destination to acquire financial services in Africa. With TopCheck’s market position in Nigeria, and Silvertree’s wide reach throughout Africa, we look forward to further accelerating the company’s growth across the continent.”

On his part, Manuel Koser, co-founder and MD of Silvertree, said, “We want to replicate the success of Check24 in the German financial services and insurance comparison space. TopCheck joining our
portfolio is another step in building Africa’s largest comparison conglomerate.”

The statement added that Christian Wiesner and Thomas Pilar will step aside as managing directors, but will continue to work with CAG as advisors. Ryan Marx, CAG’s MD, will be heading TopCheck with immediate effect.

The development is the latest in the acquisition of Nigerian Tech start-ups by foreign business owners and investors.

It could be recalled that in 2015, Apple Inc. bought Nigeria’s Chinedu Echeruo’s HopStop.com.

Founded in 2005, HopStop.com made mobile applications for both iOS and Android that covered over 300 cities and that helped people get directions or find nearby subway stations and bus stops.

Similarly, in June 2016, Andela, a Nigerian start-up company based in Lagos and New York, received a $24 million Series B funding round from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

Andela, a start-up coding school, brought a brand new approach to education on the African continent, with campuses in Nigeria and Kenya.

Reacting to the development, Adekeye Adeyinka, a Tech entrepreneur, said, “the acquisition is a welcome development. It goes a long way to confirm that Nigerian start-ups are good enough and are world class standard to attract such investment.”

Mr. Adeyinka, who also runs a Tech hub, said the developments should make the Federal government pay attention to Tech start-ups as they stand the chance of attracting Foreign Direct Investments, FDI, that can help grow the nation’s economy.

“This will also go a long way to give start-up founders the confidence that if they do it right, there is a brighter future for them. It is also a challenge to our local investors to support the start-ups in seed funds to grow them for future investment,” he added.

“It also will reduce the unemployment rate as more graduates come together to form start-ups rather than look for jobs. This will grow the start-up ecosystem and better our economy.”


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