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Asia Tech Review: 20 April 2020

April 20 · Issue #149 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
Last week was incredible reading for anyone tracking the Vision Fund. SoftBank’s huge bets don’t read so well now, but as Masayoshi Son and others on his team have said, it just takes a few big wins to return a fund. That’s a very different approach to SoftBank’s previous vision of a portfolio of champions, as I wrote in The Ken’s newsletter this week.
This week, watch out for details of China’s blockchain fund, which is reportedly slated to be announced on Wednesday ending years of speculation.
If you’re looking for non-pandemic reads, Couchfish is a new newsletter from Travelfish, the indie travel site for Southeast Asia. With the virus impacting business, Stuart is re-telling the many stories from his decades of travel across the region – and using audio, too. Cue lots of ideas for when we can all move freely again.
You can get Asia tech news as it happens by subscribing to the ATR Telegram channel. It’s totally free and there’s no catch, just follow 👉🏻

China's much-rumoured blockchain program is poised to be announced this week
The UN backed down on using Tencent’s video service for its upcoming 75 anniversary event link
But Chinese companies are still aggressively pushing productivity and remote working services link
The Tech Buzz China podcast on the Luckin Coffee saga link
It’s open season to go after listed Chinese firms. After Luckin and TAL Education look into fraudulent sales numbers, another edtech company (GSX) was accused of cooking books – although the accuser is Citron Research, which had backed Luckin link
Unsurprisingly, many firms are now keen to list closer to home rather than the US link
Airwallex, a China/Australia startup that helps companies manage and move money across borders, raised $160M – that’s $360M so far and already a valuation of over $1B link
ByteDance is hiring 10,000 new people worldwide link
Foxconn’s promised US operations are still empty despite many promises and denials link
How a Reddit-like forum helped Taiwan prepare early for Covid-19
Reliance Retail and Facebook are reportedly considering a joint app
Alibaba, Tencent and other Chinese investors are using a loophole in laws to run fantasy sports and other gambling apps link 🔒
India’s lending startups are in financial trouble due to the outbreak link
India’s most popular apps are also struggling to rebound link
The country’s media industry, and particularly print media, has cut jobs and salaries en masse link
Cloud kitchen firm Rebel Foods raised $47M from Uber investor Coatue link
Chat bot startup Yellow Messenger raised a $20M Series B link
Set, which connects banks and fintech services, raised $15M link
Autodesk is buying a minority stake in Bengaluru-based Aurigo, which provides cloud based systems for managing infrastructure projects link
SoftBank expects nearly $17B loss for Vision Fund as valuations plummet
Coral Capital launches $25m growth fund to double down on portfolio link
South Korea
Coupang, SoftBank's only Korea investment, sees business surge
North Korea
US issues guidance on North Korean hackers with a $5M reward
Southeast Asia
Insta-star wars: China tensions in Southeast Asia flare online
The Ken profiled, the Singapore-based MVNO, and looked at its struggles to win market share, make its business sustainable and expand overseas link 🔒
A look at the powerful old money families in Indonesia that have invested in tech link
I looked at the real reason Singtels’s HOOQ streaming businesses failed: Singtel itself link 🔒
Zilingo is the latest to make layoffs – everyone is in that boat but a weird way to announce it: “planned company-wide restructuring” link 🔒
Grocery trucks which go through neighbourhoods selling fruit, vegetables and other essential are seeing a boost in business link
Payments firm 2C2P has its own investment fund now link
Quest Ventures, a full-time VC, hit first close on a new $50M fund, its first with institutional LPs link
SME-focused lending startup Koinworks raised $20M link
Another, Lending Societies, raised $40M but cut jobs as part of its Covid-19 readjustment link
Kargo, a startup that digitises trucking logistics, raised $31M link
Philippines live-streaming startup Kumu raised $5M link
Outside of Asia tech
The New York Times visited the city of Hefei to see how average China is covering – instead they got followed by the police and abused for being foreign link
What the world can learn from Kerala about how to fight Covid-19 link
How Vietnam has tackled the outbreak link
Struggling with isolation life? This podcast on the day-to-day life of Thailand-based monk (and a foreigner, to boot) gives some perspective link
ICYMI on The Ken SEA
  • Circles.Life or circles of hell link
  • A hasty rapid test sealant for Indonesia’s Covid testing leak link (free read)
  • HOOQ, the first (and last?) casualty in the house of Singtel link
  • Best fruit forward: Grab, Zalora and the lockdown pivot to grocery link (free read)
This is where I (briefly) plug last week’s stories from The Ken, the subscription media startup where I work. We take a qualitative approach to telling business stories in Southeast Asia – you can sample our work at our free reads page.
That's all for now, see you next week!
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