Mergers & Acquisitions | Venture Capital August 24, 2012, 5:39 pmComment Crowdfunding Merger Points to Ambitions in Latin America

Published by The New York Times

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The crowdfunding site Ideame has acquired the Brazilian company Movere in a deal that may prompt more consolidation in this sector in Latin America.

Ideame, based in Buenos Aires and one year old, said it had acquired 100 percent of Movere’s shares in exchange for 15 percent of Ideame’s stock, valued at about $ 2.5 million. Movere, based in Rio de Janeiro, is thought to be Brazil’s second-largest crowdfunding site.

While most Latin American crowdfunding sites are country-specific, Ideame is trying to become a top player for the entire region. It started at the same time in Argentina, Chile and Mexico.

Ideame’s acquisition comes as the popularity and success of Kickstarter in the United States has been fueling the development of similar sites throughout the world.

Kickstarter, backed by Union Square Ventures, recently said it would expand to Britain this year, but for now it operates only in the United States. While anyone in the world can fund projects on the site, only United States residents can create them because of the requirements of the payment provider, Amazon.com.

Kickstarter declined to comment if it had plans to expand to Latin America.

Ideame registered 117,000 total unique visitors in July, according to comScore data. (The company did not exist in July 2011.) Brazil’s leading crowd-sourcing site, Catarse, reported a rise to 104,000 from 21,000 in July 2011. In comparison, Kickstarter’s Web traffic in Latin America grew to 194,000 last month, from 31,000 total unique visitors in July 2011.

Ideame was started in 2011. One of the founders, Mariano Suárez Battán, previously founded Three Melons, also based in Buenos Aires, which was sold to Playdom in 2010 before the Walt Disney Company acquired Playdom. Another founder, Tiburcio de la Cárcova, helped start Atakama Labs of Chile, which was sold to DeNA of Japan last year.

The two other founders are Juan Pablo Cappello, a Chilean lawyer, and Eduardo Costantini Jr., a filmmaker and son of the founder of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, or Malba.

The company’s investors, who have raised more than $1 million, include the founders and Lawrence B. Benenson, who is with Benenson Capital Partners and is a trustee at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Others include Andy Kleinman, former head of Zynga’s Latin America operations, and Wences Casares, who co-founded Lemon and is a prominent figure among Latin American entrepreneurs.

Movere said in its first 15 months it received pledges in excess of $300,000 to fund projects. Out of 143 projects, 60 reached their funding goal. The two companies combined have $420,000 pledged.

Ideame had also initially registered in Brazil, contemplating expanding here independently. But Mr. Cappello said in an interview that the company decided that “Brazil is not a market that goes well when you don’t have a local presence.”

One challenge Ideame faces in becoming a regional crowdfunding player is integrating payment systems that vary from country to country.

For example, it uses Dineromail for Chile and Mexico, MercadoPago for Argentina and MoIP for Brazil.

Rebecca Plofker, Ideame’s business development head, said in an interview that the company now has an agreement with PayPal for transactions across countries. She said 20 percent of contributions currently use the service, a figure she expected to increase.