Welcome to this week’s Brazil tech and innovation round-up, with a selection of three key developments in Latin America’s largest economy. First up, enterprise software giant Totvs buys marketing automation startup RD Station in Brazil’s largest private software M&A. Next, the government gives Huawei the cold shoulder again as discussions over the upcoming 5G auction continue, and a bill proposing facial recognition use in São Paulo’s subway and train network is vetoed.
This week has seen the announcement of what is the largest deal ever in the Brazilian software industry, as enterprise software giant Totvs acquired 92% of marketing automation startup RD Station for 1,86 billion (US$ 330 million).
The deal saw founder and chief executive Eric Santos and the four other cofounders Guilherme Lopes, André Siqueira, Bruno Ghisi and Pedro Bachiega selling part of their shares in the company and an exit for Riverwood Capital, TPG, Endeavor Catalyst, DGF, Redpoint ventures and Astella Investments, a pool of backers that owned over 80% of the business.
At an enterprise value of 2 billion (US$ 360 million), the RD Station deal was described by Totvs as the largest acquisition in Latin America in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) space. “The union of two pioneering companies in the technology market is undoubtedly an unprecedented milestone for consolidating an ecosystem of B2B technologies in Brazil and the world”, said Dennis Herszkowicz, chief executive at Totvs.
Totvs is one of the main enterprise resource planning (ERP) system vendors in Brazil, with a market share of about 50%. The company is widening the scope of its B2B portfolio, which includes management and techfin products. The company’s systems are particularly popular among small and medium businesses (SMBs) and the firm has been ramping up uptake of its SaaS model.
RD Station is also a relevant player in the SMB space and brings an important contribution towards Totvs’s aim to broaden its B2B ecosystem, as well as its addressable market and increase customer loyalty. Founded in 2011 in Florianópolis, the startup built a SaaS platform that enables small and medium businesses to digitize customer acquisition and relationship.
Following the deal, Santos will remain at the company, leading its growth plans which include international expansion. With projected net revenue of 206 million reais (US$ 37 million) for 2021, RD has over 25,000 customers in 20 countries with offices in São Paulo, San Francisco, Bogotá and Mexico City.
On Tuesday (9), Brazilian communications minister Fabio Faria said Huawei would not be able to supply equipment to its private communications network. Part of a series of guidelines and obligations for telcos regarding Brazil’s upcoming 5G auction, the network exclusive for government use will be built by the successful bidders.
At a public hearing of a Congress working group on 5G on Tuesday (9) the minister said the Chinese company would not be able to get involved with the government’s exclusive structure, since it does not meet the requirements set by Brazilian telecommunications agency Anatel to participate in the network, which include corporate governance that is compatible with publicly listed Brazilian corporations. Faria denied the requirements were designed to leave Huawei out of its own structure.
Huawei said in a statement that it has been in Brazil for over 23 years, “always working with integrity, ethics and transparency” and that it is committed to its “clients, partners and Brazil’s digital transformation.” Originally set to be held in March 2020, Brazil’s 5G auction was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is expected to take place in June. Anatel expects 5G technology will be available in all Brazilian capitals by July 2022.
A bill proposing the roll-out of cameras equipped with facial recognition technology across São Paulo’s underground and train network has been vetoed. The proposals, passed by the city’s Legislative Assembly in February, were intended as a means to increase security in the public transport network. São Paulo governor João Doria blocked the proposals with justifications including that the proposals extrapolate the attributions of the companies running the underground and train networks.
Originally, the bill entailed a compulsory roll-out of the cameras, and was later amended to authorize the train and underground companies to buy the equipment. However, the project was heavily criticized due to implications including the potential of misidentification of suspects, as well as other concerns such as data protection and the right to privacy in public transport. The veto did not include a response to these concerns.