Just-Eat plans to devour rivals with $64m funding

Just-Eat, the European online food delivery service, has set its sights on global domination after raising a new $64 million round of funding.

The London-based company, which acts as the middleman for restaurants and helps them take orders online, announced on Monday morning that its third round was being led by the private equity group Vitruvian Partners (OpenBet, Unicom) , along with follow-ons from existing investors including Index, Greylock and Redpoint.

It’s further confirmation that the business — which we featured in the GigaOM Euro 20 last summer — has ramped up its growth since moving from Copenhagen to London four years ago. Now operating in 11 markets, including several in Western Europe, as well as Canada, India and Brazil, it now claims to be more popular online in the U.K. than brands like Domino’s and Pizza Hut.

Just-Eat provides hungry shoppers the chance to order food online from local restaurants and food sellers, who in turn give the company around 11 percent commission on each purchase made through the site.

Not all restaurants are comfortable with the model — not least because Just-Eat controls the entire transaction, and holds onto the money for several weeks before paying it out, which can be tough for many small operators without a large cash float to help them through.

But as consumers increasingly move online, more than 25,000 businesses feel it’s their best choice for taking online orders.

Acquisitions on the horizon

Just-Eat has fueled growth in significant part through acquisitions, and in the last year or so it has bought up lots of smaller, local rivals, including British service Urbanbite and GrubCanada.

In an interview with the Financial Times, CEO Klaus Nyengaard said that the money was earmarked for a dramatic expansion, and acquisitions were definitely on the cards — especially as the company looked for greater international opportunities.

“There are consolidation opportunities coming up here and there so it’s nice to have a war chest to know for sure you can do the deal, if it’s attractive,” he said.

“We’ll definitely also keep increasing our investment in product and technology. Thirdly it makes sense to strengthen the balance sheet when you have the opportunity to get good money from good investors.”

What’s not clear, however, is how fast the company is burning through its cash.

It is only a year ago that the venture backers who joined this round pumped $48 million into the company — a move which helped fund its move into Brazil.