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Asia Tech Review: 11 November 2019

November 11 · Issue #135 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
Today is 11.11, the big online sale in Asia, so expect to see a lot of big splashy numbers from Alibaba, Lazada, Shopee and, well, everyone. Single’s Day, as the event is called, has largely become irrelevant – the deals are lined up ahead of time with massive discounts and new ‘records’ every year. User acquisition through subsidies… that sounds familiar doesn’t it?!
This week is also Singapore fintech week which is bigger than ever and an event to rival anything run by a private conference organiser. Alas, I’m not there this year but if you are and you want to meet someone from The Ken, my colleague Ka Kay Lum will be there. You have her permission to get in touch – contact details on her Twitter account.
Also at The Ken, we wrote about Gojek after Nadiem Makarim – a first story for our other new reporter Nadine Freischlad. It is a free read so you can create an account or log in to an existing one to access it regardless of whether you’re a paying reader. Do take a look if you’re curious about our work in Southeast Asia.
Here’s a recommendation I didn’t get to yet: a new podcast called Asia Matters. The podcast looks at the big topics in Asia news, the first episode is on the Japan-South Korea trade dispute.
See you again next week!

China sets rules for gamers to curb addiction
How an initiative is using AI to prevent suicides in China link
ByteDance’s Topbuzz news app (which the company is reportedly trying to sell) is losing out in the US to Chinese rival News Break link
Alibaba invested $3.3B more in Cainiao, it now owns 63% of the logistics business link
Baidu beat quarterly estimated thanks to streaming growth link
Many of Apple’s services are blocked in China, a situation that could impact hardware sales there, too, if not already link
But the success of Apple’s AirPods is boosting manufacturers in China link
Related, a look at obscure Chinese audio/headphone brands link
Alipay and WeChat Pay are finally open to tourists link
Didi is relaunching its peer-to-peer Hitch service more than a year after two passengers died in separate incidents – it has added evening curfews and limits of travel distance link
Ucommune, a Chinese WeWork rival, has reportedly filed for a US IPO following months of speculation link
36kr’s Nasdaq listing has been less than auspicious – the IPO raise dropped from an initial $100M to $20M and its share price was down 10% on its Friday debut link
BrightGene, which is backed by Sequoia Capital among others, raised $75M through an IPO in Shanghai link
African logistics startup Lori Systems raised Series A led by Chinese investors, reportedly as much as $30M link
Hong Kong
How Shutterstock removed all trace of Hong Kong protest photos and handled other demands from China
Well, I thought it would be hard for Blizzard fans to move on from the Hong Kong debacle… turns out many have already link
Hong Kong’s financial regulator set out rules for crypto exchanges to get licenses link
Alibaba’s Hong Kong is branching out from fintech and AI to cover biotech deals too link
Swiggy-Uber Eats merger deal faces challenges
Freshworks has reportedly raised $150M from Google, Sequoia and Accel at a valuation of $3.5 billion link
Google hired a new head of India, Sanjay Gupta is a former executive with Disney India and Star link
WhatsApp added a shopping catalogue feature to encourage e-commerce in countries like India and Indonesia link (it also finally let users control when they are added to groups, first rolled out in India)
SoftBank is stalling on Vision Fund deals in India link
No such problem for US investment platform AngelList, which added ‘Funds’ in India to allow investors to raise capital through its service link
While Tencent, too, is ramping up its investing in India link
Thorough report of the state of startups in Pakistan link
Masa Son admits judgment was "really bad" on WeWork investment 🔒
Xiaomi plans to enter Japan in 2020 – non-China was over 40% of revenue in Q2 and it is keen to continue its global push link
Rakuten’s Lyft investment nearly wiped out its entire quarterly profit – firm booked a 103 billion yen ($945 million) writedown on its 11% stake link
Kakao's profit doubles as chat app ad revenue soars 🔒
Southeast Asia
Singapore banned e-scooters from sidewalks following a rise in injuries 🔒
Good story looking at alleged financial irregularities at Honestbee, including how CEO Joel Sng is said to have bought property using company funds link
Gojek looks set to enter Malaysia in 2020 – it is one of a handful of motorbike hailing apps that has gained government permission for trial services from January… although Gojek played the situation down link
Meanwhile China’s Didi denied reports it plans to launch in the Philippines link
TransferWise is adding support for e-wallets in Southeast Asia, including GoPay, OVO and Dana in Indonesia link
Vietnam-based streaming service Pops raised $30M from Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund and others link
Story of Gojek driver in tears after buying $15 in goods before customer canceled shows the flip side of on-demand services – workers often bear the brunt and lose out financially link
Vietnam’s central bank proposed a 49% cap on foreign ownership in e-payments link
Police shut down Thailand’s largest pirated movie website link
Outside of Asia tech
The FT has lunch with Joshua Wong, one of the faces of Hong Kong’s protest movement link
A construction boom in Sihanoukville has brought problems including water shortage link
The FT talks about its strategy with ‘mini brands’ and relationship with parent company Nikkei link
A new podcast called Asia Matters launched to “go beyond the headlines with experts from around the globe to help explain what’s really going on in Asia today” link
Photo of the week
Newley Purnell
“Delhi breathes toxic air 365 days. Now, it has turned into the toxic capital of the world." #DelhiPollution
Stay safe if you’re in Delhi 😷
Upcoming events
TechCrunch Shenzhen: 9-12 November in Shenzhen, China link
Singapore Fintech Festival: 11-15 November in Singapore link
If you run a tech event not listed here or want to recommend an addition, please email me
That's all for now, see you next week!
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