View profile

Asia Tech Review: 16 September 2019

Welcome back, This week Alibaba turned 20 and Jack Ma finally departed the company in an official cap
September 16 · Issue #130 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
This week Alibaba turned 20 and Jack Ma finally departed the company in an official capacity – you can read more further down. Overall, the past week was a fairly quiet one but there were a few majors highlights, including:
💰 Yahoo Japan is spending $3.7B to buy Japan’s top online fashion retailer
☎ Huawei has offered to license its 5G tech to a Western rival
💳 Grab is reportedly trying to create an Indonesian payment giant through a merger
✋🏻 Uber Eats is leaving South Korea
One small note for the Telegram group: this week we will be trying the ‘slow mode’ feature which puts a limit on how often users can send a message.
“Slow Mode can make conversations in the group more orderly, while raising the value of each individual message,” Telegram said when it launched the feature in August.
The initial cap will be 15 minutes – meaning you’ll need to wait 15 minutes after sending a message to send another – but we will see how it goes. The goal is to open the discussion to more people. I’m always open to feedback.
See you again next week!

Huawei offers to sell its 5G technology to a Western buyer 🔒
Comments from a US official are being taken as a hint that the US may go after other Chinese firms like Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent as did with Huawei and ZTE link (I’m not convinced fwiw)
ByteDance has prioritised TikTok’s focus on the US, India and Japan link
Plant-based meat companies are a big deal in China, too link
A reminder that a new generation of Chinese tech startups is showing that the country can innovate not just copy link 🔒
Sky9 Capital closed $440M across two new funds link
Weibo cloned Instagram, and its version is used for social shopping link
Second hand sales app Zhuan Zhuan reportedly raised a $300M Series B that was led by existing backer Tencent link
Vape startup Juul is entering China link
Video service Kuaishou, which rivals TikTok, is reportedly planning a US IPO, first step is said to be a pre-IPO round of over $1B link
Tencent is buying out other shareholders of car marketplace Bitauto in a deal that would value the company at $1.2B – it currently owns just under 7% link
Hong Kong
The new battle in Hong Kong isn’t on the streets, it’s in the apps
How Hong Kong’s ‘self-learning, open source’ protest movement decides what to do next link
Concern around the lack of Hong Kong protest content on TikTok – rightly or wrongly; TikTok says it doesn’t cover politics nor censor in the US – illustrate the conflict of a Chinese company making it big in the US link
A newly-minted Indian VC takes an honest look at his industry
Facebook remains at odds with India’s government over WhatsApp monitoring link
Meanwhile, here’s a reminder of how important WhatsApp has become for businesses in the country link
The Information looks at why India’s massive (and growing) internet population hasn’t translated to significant ad revenue link 🔒
Glance, the media business of InMobi, raised $45M for global expansion link
Okcredit, which helps SMEs digitize their accounting, raised $67M – this is months after a $16M Series A link
Food delivery and restaurant discovery service Zomato has added… video streaming link
Good Capital launched a maiden $25M fund link
Ex-Tiger Global executive Lee Fixel is reportedly eying a new investment business focused on India link
Google will reportedly launch a job search service in India this week link
Yahoo Japan is buying online fashion retailer Zozo for $3.7B
Uber Eats is leaving South Korea
Southeast Asia
Grab is reportedly in talks to merge payment firms OVO and Dana
Alibaba hasn’t won Southeast Asia’s e-commerce market despite expectations link 🔒
Vertex Ventures announced a $290M growth fund – becoming the latest from Southeast Asia to do so link
InnoVen Capital, the venture debt fund, announced its first deals in Vietnam link
Direct-to-consumer fashion startup Pomelo announced a $52M Series C link
E-commerce unicorn Bukalapak laid off 100 people, around 10% of its staff link
Gojek’s GoVentures let a $3M deal for fintech startup Pluang link – Gojek also introduced an accelerator program in Indonesia
Myanmar is finally adopting unicode – this has been a big issue for tech for years link
PropertyGuru is said to be preparing for an Australia IPO to raise $275M link
Razer CEO Min Liang Tan pledged to invested SG$10M (US$7.3M) in Singapore’s esports industry over the next year – that’ll include “supporting esports teams in Singapore as well as investing in gaming/esports companies in Singapore or founded by Singaporeans” link
Vingroup, Vietnam’s biggest private company, is ordering senior managers to buy the company’s own tech, including cars, scooters and smartphones link 🔒
Outside of Asia tech
WeWork could go public at a valuation that’s as low as $10 billion link
Germany and France have pushed back on Facebook Libra link
There is no techlash link
Photo of the week
A TV news anchor took drastic measures to illustrate the effects of flooding in the northeast of Thailand
And finally... Alibaba turns 20
Alibaba celebrated two decades since its founding last week. The biggest talking part was the departure of Jack Ma, who formally left his role as chairman one year after announcing that Daniel Zhang – the man who replaced him as CEO – would step into the role.
Ma, ever the showman, marked his exit with a ‘rock star’ performance as part of a four hour event.
Beyond the event, Alibaba used the occasion to revamp its core values with the addition of “work-life balance” – remember when Ma endorsed 996 working culture earlier this year, before later backtracking?! – and there was also a gift for staff.
Matthew Brennan
Jack Ma's special message in a bottle. Gift to #Alibaba staff for the company's 20th anniversary.
There’s been plenty of press around Ma’s departure – which came on China’s Teachers’ Day; Ma is a former teacher – so it seemed like a good idea to round up a few reads:
Upcoming events
Deal Street Asia’s PE-VC Summit: 17-18 September in Singapore link
Origin Thai Conference by Technode: 19 November in Bangkok, Thailand link
Tech In Asia Conference: 8-9 October in Jakarta, Indonesia link
Hong Kong FinTech Week: 4-8 November in Hong Kong link
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!
You just finished reading Asia Tech Review, the weekly newsletter for keeping up with the tech industry across Asia.
If someone sent this to you, you can sign up for free at
Follow along on Twitter at @asiatechreview
Join the Telegram community here
You can also subscribe to curated news alerts via Telegram here
Did you enjoy this issue?
If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue