Monte Carlo raises $135M Series D at $1.6B price, showing that unicorn rounds are still a thing – TechCrunch

Monte Carlo, a startup that sells data observability (data obs) software to other companies, announced this morning that it has closed a $135 million Series D at a valuation of $1.6 billion.

The round is an interesting echo of 2021‘s fundraising market, making our ears perk up when we caught wind of the capital event; how did a startup raise such a round in 2022, when the late-stage market is in the tank, valuations are under pressure, and growth more generally has lost some of its appeal as investors go after companies with greater profitability and cash flow stability?

The simple answer is that Monte Carlo is growing quickly while not setting all its raised capital aflame. That fact makes the Monte Carlo round good news of a sort for other startups. Why? Because the company’s latest round — IVP led; prior investors participated — shows that it is still possible to raise nine figures at a fresh unicorn price today. The other side of that coin is that Monte Carlo doesn’t make it look easy.

Recall that when Monte Carlo raised a $60 million Series C in August 2021, we reported that it had “doubled its ARR in each of the last four quarters.” Since that round, the company said in a release that it has “more than doubled revenue every single quarter, with an 800 percent increase in revenue year-over-year.” If you grow that quickly, yes, you can raise capital for your software business like it’s still 2021. (How many unicorns meet that bar? Data aren’t clear, but we’re not wildly optimistic that it’s a majority.)

What will Monte Carlo do with its new capital? Lior Gavish, the company’s co-founder and CTO, told TechCrunch in an interview that his startup spent aggressively since its Series C, but that it still had cash in the bank when its latest round came together. The new cash, per Gavish, will be invested “across the board,” with the founding exec citing upcoming investments in engineering, data, product, and go-to-market work in the near future.

Monte Carlo’s growth underscores how quickly the data obs market is itself growing. Data obs is a product category that the startup likes to analogize to the now-established application monitoring market. The analogy is reasonable as both software niches deal with flagging issues with software systems in motion, if somewhat rosy for Monte Carlo — application monitoring has given birth to hugely successful companies like Datadog, which is worth just under $30 billion as of the close of trading yesterday.

Looking around the world, around two-thirds of Monte Carlo’s business is in the U.S., with another third coming from the Middle East/North Africa market. Gavish also said that he sees similar demand patterns between the European and U.S. markets, underscoring how the SaaS market has truly become a global game.

TechCrunch also asked Gavish about the company’s growth mix: How much of its growth comes from upsells versus new customer adds? Per the CTO, the company is young enough that most of its growth comes from new customers, though he did share that the company is seeing positive, if early, indications that its net retention is trending in a healthy direction.

The tech market has quickly lost its shine this year. Layoffs are now part of the regular startup discourse. This puts companies like Monte Carlo that are newly capitalized in a position to snag talent and make outsized noise given a more quiet competitive landscape.

Let’s see how far the new capital can get the startup, and whether Monte Carlo will finally reach the scale needed for it to stop sharing percentage-gain growth metrics and instead disclose some hard numbers.

Finally, the company is not sponsoring this year’s Grand Prix in Monaco, sadly.

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