When an investment expert gets on board

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Careem, the leading ride-hailing service in the Middle East and North Africa, announced today the appointment of Zach Finkelstein as vice president of corporate development to accelerate the company’s growth through strategic partnerships and investments.

“Ridesharing is shaping the technology industry as we know it, and Careem is right at the center of this trend,” said Finkelstein in a press release.

Zach Finkelstein

From one big ship to another

This move is no stranger to Finkelstein, cofounder of Silicon Valley-based Lumia Capital, which had participated in the Series C $60 million investment round in Careem two years ago.

“Being part of Careem is more than just a full time job,” he told Wamda,emphasizing on his dedication to his new company.

The past few months have been very dynamic on the growing startup. Last June, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has joined Daimler AG, one of the world’s biggest luxury-car makers, DCM Ventures and New York-based Coatue Management LLC, in a $500 million Series E fundraising in Careem, which valued the company at $1 billion. The company had raised $350 million from investors including Japan’s Rakuten Inc. and Saudi Telecom Co. when it announced the results of its first round of fundraising in December 2016.

In parallel with the deal, The Abraaj Group, one of the leading investors operating in growth markets, today announced that it divested its shareholding in Careem to Kingdom Holding Company.

Also in June, Careem announced its debut in Palestine. Back then, Careem’s CEO Mudassir Sheikha told Wamda in an email interview: “We’ve had a banner year so far, in terms of user growth as well as revenue growth, and we have no intention of slowing down. We’re scaling significantly in 2017, adding new services, entering additional markets, and also expanding aggressively in our current markets.”

A solid investment background

While with Lumia Capital, Finkelstein was responsible for investment sourcing, due diligence, and portfolio company management. As a vice president, general partner and a cofounding member of the fund, besides participating in investing in Careem, he was part of the transactions with OpenDNS, Xtime, Kabbage, Pitzi, Eatstreet, Procore, and Hired, among others. In 2016, he was named 30 Under 30 in Venture Capital by Forbes Magazine.

With over 10 years of experience in the financial and investment fields, Finkelstein’s repertoire involves tasks at Goldman Sachs, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Citibank among others. “My new tasks will involve leading Careem’s investment agenda across the MENATP region. I will be also more focused on investor relations, in addition to considering potential acquisitions to fuel up Careem’s market leadership.”

Since its launch in 2012, Careem has made several acquisitions, including Saudi-based address coding service Enwani, Egypt-based seasonal taxi service Taxi Sahel, Morocco-based startup Taxiii, and Pakistan-based startup Savaree, each of which have proven instrumental in accelerating the company’s growth and market expansion. Additionally, Careem invested last month $500,000 in Swvl, an Egyptian bus transportation network provider.

Lumia Capital participated in the Series C investment round in Careem.

Finance and startups: Mixing water with water?

Moving from the investment pool to the startup’s ecosystem might be unusual to some, with all the differences that distinguish each of the two worlds. However, “there is more similarity between the two than distinction,” he said. He explained that as he is moving from a world-class team to another one with similar standards and business norms, the two worlds seem to be more homogenous. Speaking of challenges, Finkelstein said that Careem has already a group of the best talents in the region. “It will be an opportunity for me to learn from them and share knowledge and ideas, a somewhat joint effort to drive the company’s business operations forth.”

Feature image via Careem.

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