by Sina Technology
[Lieyun.com] Reported on December 23 (compiled by: Tian Xiaoxue)
In the past year, Amazon has aggressively entered the Southeast Asian market, and other large technology companies have followed suit and invested heavily in the Southeast Asian market. At the end of 2017, this article takes stock of the top ten technology news in Southeast Asia in 2017, in no particular order.
(1) Dave McClure was exposed to sexual harassment of women
Dave McClure is the co-founder of 500 Startups, a well-known investment company and startup incubator in Silicon Valley, and a senior investor. This year, there have been frequent incidents of sexual harassment in various industries. First, female workers in the technology industry complained of being sexually harassed by male superiors or colleagues, and then Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of harassing female stars. Among them, Cheryl Yeoh, a well-known female entrepreneur, said that she was sexually harassed by Dave McClure.
Yeoh is the former CEO of Magic, a global innovation and innovation hub in Malaysia. She pointed out that McClure had repeatedly proposed to have sex with her. Not only that, but in 2014, McClure also forcibly kissed Yeoh in her apartment.
At first, she chose to remain silent. It was not until later that another female entrepreneur (the founder of a health start-up in the United States) exposed McClure’s sexual harassment to the New York Times, and Yeoh came forward to testify.
McClure’s role within the company was scaled back after the sexual harassment revelations came to light. In the end, I had to choose to resign.
(2) Consecutive public listing of several companies
In the second half of this year, the Southeast Asian start-up community paid special attention to the public listing of Razer, the world’s top gaming equipment maker, and Sea, a gaming company owned by Tencent.
Razer is headquartered in San Francisco, California and Singapore. When it was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in November this year, it achieved relatively good market response. Shares soared in their debut trading day amid optimism about future sales of the company.
The company is backed by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund and Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, with a total financing of up to US$530 million, mainly for new market expansion, including the mobile service market. Just a week before the official launch, Razer unveiled its first smartphone.
However, given that the company’s stock is trading at a lower price than it was when it went public, and the year is coming to an end, it shouldn’t be doing much for the rest of the year.
Similarly, Sea, which was listed before Razer, is in a similar situation. Although this company already has a large number of users, it is still stuck on the issue of profitability. Of course, there are many other similar technology companies. Everyone is waiting to see how Sea will solve this dilemma.
Specifically, Sea was officially listed on the New York Stock Exchange in October this year , with an IPO price of $15 and a total financing of $884 million. When it was first listed, it also made a good start, but then the stock trading price gradually declined, falling below the listing price. Relevant analysts pointed out that considering the relatively serious operating losses, investors may be anxious about Sea’s future development.
Founded in 2009, Sea was formerly the online game company Garena, and then underwent a corporate reorganization, splitting into digital payment platform AirPay and e-commerce platform Shopee. Previously, the company claimed that Shopee was the most powerful e-commerce platform in the “Pan-Southeast Asia region”. However, Lazada (affiliated with Alibaba), which is also an e-commerce platform, does not agree with this statement. After all, for quite a long time, Lazada has insisted that it is the king of e-commerce in Southeast Asia.
Thanks to the development of its core business, Sea has achieved substantial growth in revenue. However, as the company continues to expand its market and try to gain a larger market share in the e-commerce market, its losses are also expanding. But even so, the company still firmly believes that from a long-term perspective, Shopee will eventually achieve independent profitability.
(3) Amazon aggressively enters the Southeast Asian market
When it comes to e-commerce, we have to introduce the American e-commerce giant Amazon. After all, with its addition, the drama in Southeast Asia will be more exciting.
Last July, Amazon finally launched Prime Now, a two-hour delivery service in Singapore. Five months later, it launched a full Prime membership, offering faster and cheaper shipping. At the same time, it also offers free international shipping without any restrictions.
However, it also encountered a lot of problems. At the time, a week after its launch, Prime Now couldn’t fulfill customers’ orders at all, and even had to hire additional private taxis to provide fast delivery services for a certain period of time.
But despite this, Prime’s entry into Southeast Asia has changed the landscape of the e-commerce market in the region on the one hand. At the time, its competitors included Shopee, Lazada and Tokopedia, which is also backed by Alibaba. On the other hand, it also involved the company in the fierce competition of streaming media content providers. Among them, there is competition from local companies such as iFlix, Hooq and Viddsee, as well as international companies such as Netflix.
In order to prepare in advance for the market competition brought by Amazon, Lazada launched a similar membership service as early as April this year, and has reached cooperation with online grocery provider Redmart and brands such as Netflix and Uber.
(4) Alibaba Shopping Carnival
This year, Ma Yun continued to vigorously promote Alibaba’s business development in the Southeast Asian market. Just in August, Alibaba announced that it would spend US$1.1 billion to lead the investment in Tokopedia, Indonesia’s largest e-commerce website, and hold a minority stake in the latter.
We all know that Taobao is the largest C2C e-commerce platform in China. The status enjoyed by Tokopedia in the Indonesian market is equivalent to that of Taobao in China. The deal marks Alibaba’s first direct investment in an Indonesian start-up.
In addition, in April last year, Alibaba officially acquired Lazada, the largest e-commerce company in Southeast Asia, and took a controlling stake in it. This year, it spent another $1 billion to increase its stake to 83%.
Although the two companies, Lazada and Tokopedia, are in the same competitive relationship in this piece of land in Indonesia, since they have the same investors, people can’t help but think that they may merge.
(5) American giants make big bets in Indonesia
In addition, Indonesia also completed a huge deal this year, that is, online travel start-up Traveloka received US$350 million in new financing, led by Expedia, the world’s largest online travel company.
After completing this round of financing, Traveloka announced that the total amount of financing reached 500 million US dollars. In addition to Yikehang mentioned above, other investors include Singapore early stage fund East Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Chinese e-commerce website JD.com, etc.
According to Bloomberg News, after the completion of this round of financing, Traveloka’s valuation reached 2 billion US dollars.
(6) The first Philippine unicorn
This year saw a crucial development for the Philippine tech sector as it saw its first-ever unicorn start-up. Revolution Precrafted, a prefabricated home design company, successfully completed its Series B financing in October last year, co-led by Singaporean K2 venture capital firm. After the round of financing, the company is valued at more than $1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
According to relevant data, this emerging company, which has just been established for two years, has become one of the fastest-growing unicorn companies in Southeast Asia with a value of more than one billion US dollars.
New to the round is K2 Ventures, founded by veteran venture capitalist Ozi Amanat. You know, Amanat had already invested in Alibaba and Twitter before they went public. Currently, K2 has several unicorns among its investment targets, such as Spotify, Magic Leap, and Paytm.
As for Revolution Precrafted, it sells prefab home furniture designed by world-renowned architects and designers such as Zaha Hadid and David Salle. On average, it sells for around $120,000. Users can order the required products from the company’s official website, and they can be delivered worldwide, but the delivery time will take at least three months. As of March this year, the company’s total orders have reached 110 million US dollars.
Back in March when Revolution Precrafted raised its first round of funding, 500 Startups admitted it had gone to a lot of trouble to get in on the round.(7) Uber adopts devious tactics
For Uber, the originator of ride-sharing, 2017 has been a hell of a ride. In February, former company engineer Susan Fowler wrote an article claiming she was subjected to sexism and sexual harassment at work. The article was followed by a string of other similar allegations. In the end, under pressure from all parties, the company’s co-founder, then CEO Travis Kalanick had to choose to resign.
Uber has previously been accused of using certain illegal procedures to steal business transaction secrets from Google in order to speed up the development of its own self-driving cars. In order to strengthen itself and weaken the strength of competitors, including Grab from Singapore. Meanwhile, Uber paid bribes in Asian markets to try to cover up a massive data breach that compromised millions of users.
All these negative news forced the Japanese technology giant SoftBank Group to sell its shares in Uber at a discount at the fastest speed, reducing the company’s valuation by nearly 20 billion US dollars. Of course, considering the actual situation at the time, Softbank’s approach was also predictable. So, in an effort to shake up the corporate culture, new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi last month introduced a new employee code. Perhaps the most important of these is, “Do the right thing.”
(8) Uber reached cooperation with Singapore’s largest taxi company
This year, Uber inked a deal to sell 51% of its car rental business to ComfortDelGro, a major taxi company in Singapore, for $218 million. At the same time, it also formed a joint venture with this company.
The cooperation between the two will provide Uber with convenient conditions and help it gain a firm foothold in the Lion City with the help of ComfortDelGro’s advantages in fleet management and business operations in the region. After the partnership deal is completed, Uber users will be able to book ComfortDelGro taxis directly in the app. And ComfortDelGro’s drivers will also accept ride-hailing requests from passengers through the Uber app, so as to earn an additional income.
Still, the deal appears to have created some trouble for Uber. Because it has faced strong opposition from licensed taxi providers in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
(9) Malaysia opens a digital free trade zone
In November this year, with the support of Jack Ma, Malaysia opened a free trade zone, aiming to help the country gain an advantage in the fierce competition in the Southeast Asian e-commerce market and get a share of the pie.
The digital free trade zone was first announced in March this year. Only recently has it officially opened for business. The Malaysian government expects that once the digital free trade zone in cooperation with Alibaba is fully operational, it will be able to handle goods worth US$65 billion and create 60,000 new jobs by 2025. Its goal is to allow small businesses to take advantage of the convenience of the trade center as much as large corporations. Of course, in addition to e-commerce, this digital free trade zone will also be used to handle some non-e-commerce businesses, such as international exports.
Among them, Lazada should be able to benefit greatly from this free trade zone, after all, it has a variety of small merchants and well-known brands on its platform.
The last major event in the technology industry in Southeast Asia this year was the successful completion of US$2 billion in financing by Singaporean mobile travel platform Grab, with investors from China’s Didi Chuxing and Japan’s SoftBank Group. As a result, this became the largest ever financing in Southeast Asia.
According to estimates, after the completion of this financing, the company’s valuation will exceed US$6 billion, making it the most valuable start-up in Southeast Asia.
According to the company, it will use the new round of financing to accelerate its development in the mobility market in Southeast Asia. At the same time, it will also increase its investment in its own mobile payment platform GrabPay.
At present, GrabPay can be used in food centers frequented by Singaporeans, and can be used for mobile payments in stalls and restaurants. This is the business that the company attaches the most importance to besides mobility.
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