HR tech platform Darwinbox raised $72 million from TCV, Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia India, and Lightspeed just before the start of FY23. The firepower allowed the company to achieve around two-fold growth in its scale. However, Darwinbox’s losses outpaced its revenue growth and neared the Rs 160 crore threshold during the last fiscal year.
Darwinbox’s revenue from operations surged 91.5% to Rs 224 crore in the fiscal year ending March 2023 from Rs 117 crore in FY22, according to its consolidated financial statements filed with the Registrar of Companies.
Darwinbox is a cloud-based integrated HR technology product that covers solutions including recruitment, payroll, employee engagement, talent management, and people analytics across the employee life cycle.
The sale of subscription services formed 79% of the total operating revenue which grew 87.4% to Rs 178 crore in FY23 from Rs 95 crore in FY22. Implementation and integration services are other sources of collections for Darwinbox.
Check TheKredible for the detailed revenue breakup.
Significantly, 71% of the collection during the last fiscal year came from domestically while the rest of the income is from outside India.
Similar to many SaaS companies, employee benefits accounted for 55% of the overall expenditure. This cost grew 2.1X to Rs 222 crore in FY23 from Rs 104 crore in FY22. Its cloud hosting, software & technology, advertising cum business promotion, professional-legal fees and other overheads pushed the firm’s total expenditure by 2.1X to Rs 407 crore in FY23.
Head to TheKredible for the detailed expense breakdown.
- Employee benefit expense
- Cloud hosting
- Software and technology
- Advertising and marketing
- Professional fees and consultancy
As the total cost outpaced the revenue growth, losses for Darwinbox shot up 2.4X to Rs 158 crore in FY23 from Rs 66 crore in FY22. Its ROCE and EBITDA margin stood at -19% and -52% respectively. On a unit level, it spent Rs 1.82 to earn a rupee of operating revenue in FY23.
|Expense/₹ of Op Revenue
Darwinbox had raised $115 million to date and valued at little over a billion dollars. According to the startup data intelligence platform TheKredible, Lightspeed is the largest external stakeholder with 19.73% followed by PeakXV (formerly Sequoia Capital) and Endiya Partners. Its co-founders Rohit Chennamaneni, Chaitanya Peddi and Jayant Paleti collectively command 31.23%. For a complete captable, head to TheKredible.
Darwinbox, operating as it does in what one would almost call a generic services space, perhaps needs to do more on the branding side. A common issue with B2B firms increasingly has been the overt focus on lead generation, and standardized pricing. While that makes sense with products seeking massive scale while offering a clear set of productivity improvements, it is becoming increasingly obvious that it’s not the end of the story in these categories. Both buyers, and sellers of such services seem to be operating out of a template that is nearing the end of its due date.
The high focus on customer acquisition has simply increased cost of acquisition, with the brand itself playing limited to very little role possibly. The loss figures are much too high, and one will really have to lock in clients for a significant tenure to justify these costs. One hopes Darwinbox is getting there with clients who absolutely love its solutions, rather than seek to move away with the next similar yet lower priced option.