EzCater Celebrates “Unicorn” Status After $150M Funding Round

Xconomy Boston — 

Stefania Mallett was sitting at her kitchen table when she wrapped up the details behind her catering technology startup ezCater’s latest funding round, a $150 million investment.

Mallett shared the details to her husband before the size of the occasion sank in.

“I’m busy, already onto the next thing. He said, ‘Wait, that is a big number.’ I looked at him and it dawned on me: ‘That is a big number,'” Mallett recalled.

That figure is the software company’s latest valuation by its investors: $1.25 billion—its first step into “unicorn” territory, the increasingly crowded land of venture-backed companies with valuations of at least ten figures. Mallett confirmed ezCater’s Boston office would be feasting on unicorn-themed cupcakes today, although employees and shareholders must wait until an acquisition or public stock offering to cash in on the unicorn status—assuming it holds.

EzCater is announcing today the new $150 million funding round led by Menlo Park, CA-based Lightspeed Venture Partners and Singapore-based GIC. The company closed a $100 million Series D less than a year ago. The latest investment boosts ezCater’s total venture haul to $320 million.

“We always want to bring in as much money as we know what to do with,” Mallett says. “When people were knocking down our door, we said, ‘Let’s go to $150 million and stop there.'”

The sentiment jibes with what Mallett identified to Xconomy in November as her guiding principal to fundraising: “We don’t raise money unless we know what we are going to do with it.”

It’s what ezCater has done for the global $60 billion catering industry—$24 billion of which comes from business catering orders alone—that brought investors to the door, Mallett says. The company’s first big move was building a software platform for restaurants to advertise and sell catering services. The next chapter is deepening that software for restaurants by integrating it into their other sales and management systems—a task that will be well-funded with the cash infusion.

EzCater has about 665 employees, Mallett says, and plans to add 300 more in the next year across its offices in Boston; Denver; Vancouver, Canada; and Paris, France. Sales professionals and software programmers are in high demand at the company. Last month, it acquired Monkey Group, a Vancouver-based catering technology competitor, for an undisclosed price. And last July, ezCater bought GoCater, a Paris-based online catering platform. Mallett says she expects ezCater to buy at least one more company this year, likely in Europe.

Dragging restaurants into the 21st century has been high on investors’ lists, if investment dollars are any measure. On Monday, restaurant technology company Toast, also based in Boston, raised $250 million in a Series E funding round led by TCV and Tiger Global Management. And like ezCater, Toast also closed another nine-figure funding round in 2018.

Despite some dark clouds gathering on the economic horizon, Mallett is none too concerned with the demand prospects for catered spreads of croissants and Danish at business meetings.

“We lived through the 2008 recession and the mini one at the beginning of 2016,” she says. “The majority of our work is done satisfying business meetings, not employee lunches. We figure in the event of a downturn, it’s the employee lunches that get cut back before the business meetings.”

Other investors joined in the latest funding round, including Light Street Capital and previous ezCater backers Wellington Management Company, ICONIQ Capital, Insight Venture Partners, Quadrille Capital, and others.