Watrium invests in 99x to solve software developer deficit

16 August 2021 – A group of renowned Norwegian technology investors, including Watrium, invests in fast-growing software engineering company 99x to satisfy the growing demand for software developers in Scandinavia and Europe.

“There is currently a huge demand and a rapidly growing capacity deficit for software developers in Scandinavia. Investing in growing 99x’s presence is our way of solving this capacity and competence gap,” says Knut Olav Rød, investment director at Watrium. 

99x is headquartered in Sri Lanka with offices in Oslo, Norway. The company is one of Asia’s best ranked workplaces and a global leader in agile product engineering and technology innovation. The company employs more than 350 software engineers in Sri Lanka and specialises in building high-quality, digital products on behalf of clients in Scandinavia and Europe.

99x has grown steadily since its inception and accelerated its growth with an average annual growth rate of 30 percent in the past three years. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company has added more than 100 new employees. 99x has been ranked as Best Workplace in Asia for five years and Best Workplace in Sri Lanka for nine consecutive years.

The consortium of Norwegian investors invests a three-figure NOK million sum to become the majority shareholder with a 60 percent ownership share in 99x. The investment is made through Herkules Deal-by-Deal, led by Fredrik Bysveen and Fredrik Kongsli.

“99x is a rapidly growing business with extremely high customer satisfaction. Until now, the company’s growth has been organic, without substantial business development presence in Scandinavia. The company’s next step is to build up a stronger presence in Norway, including initiating an active M&A strategy. We are proud of the reputable tech investors we have brought onboard to help 99x accelerate its development,” says Fredrik Bysveen, partner at Herkules Deal-by-Deal. 

Among the investors that are part of the consortium is Northzone founder Karl Christian Agerup; former CEO of Get, Gunnar Evensen; founder of StartupLab and Founders Fund, Alexander Woxen; and Norwegian investment firm Watrium, which will be the largest single shareholder of 99x with a 20 percent ownership share following the transaction.

Investor and chairman of 99x, Dag Honningsvåg, reduces his ownership from 20 to 10 percent in the transaction and continues as chairman of the company he has been instrumental in developing in recent years.

Honningsvåg will be joined by Mano Sekaram, Karl Christian Agerup, Gunnar Evensen, Alexander Woxen, Fredrik Bysveen, Fredrik Kongsli and Knut Olav Rød at the 99x board of directors.

“After exploring multiple approaches, we determined the best way forward was to establish a European office and raise additional capital to grow through acquisitions, both in terms of access to markets as well as to add capacity. We already have a large software engineering team, but our objective is to grow this further to offer even greater software development capacity to our customers in Norway and Europe,” says Dag Honningsvåg, chairman of 99x.

99x’s founder and CEO, Mano Sekaram, continues as CEO, board member and shareholder of the company.

“This is a significant milestone for all our employees and for the Sri Lankan IT industry. We can take pride in a Sri Lankan company being able to win the confidence and trust of such reputed Scandinavian investors,” says Mano Sekaram.