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Asia Tech Review: 23 September 2019

Welcome back, Highlights from a busy week of news across Asia include: 🎓 A look at how Chinese school
September 23 · Issue #131 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
Highlights from a busy week of news across Asia include:
🎓 A look at how Chinese schools use tech in the classroom
🐦 How Twitter trolls, controlled out of China, tried to discredit Hong Kong’s protesters
💰 Ola’s CEO has curiously made millions from the startup’s EV spinoff
🦄 Acronis now a unicorn
💸 Vertex Ventures closes record fund
I also spotlighted a couple of stories from The Ken this week that I think are particularly relevant to readers outside of India. As regular readers know, I don’t bang the drum too much in this newsletter 🙂
That’s all for now, see you again next week!

China wants to raise smarter students using AI
Huawei denied it is in talks to buy an operator in Brazil link
Meanwhile, Huawei’s Ark Compiler was criticised for being ‘not even being half finished’ link
Alibaba and Tencent refused to share data belonging to customers of their financial services with People’s Bank of China – one for those who assume Beijing wins every time… link 🔒
Alibaba and are chasing PDD to go after more rural markets in China link 🔒
Tesla dominate China’s second-hand EV market link
Tencent’s $150M investment in VIP Kid is reportedly back on, just weeks after Reuters reported that it had broken down link
Zoom set up a local service for China-based users after its global one got blocked link
Self-driving startup AutoX raised $100M link
Crypto exchange Binance made its first investment in China, backing data startup Mars Finance in an undisclosed deal at a reported valuation of $200M link
Evolver Robotics, which develops educational robots, raised $70M from Qingdao’s government and it is exploring a STAR market listing link
Hong Kong
How China used Twitter trolls to discredit Hong Kong's protesters
HTC Appoints Yves Maitre as CEO To Embrace 5G, AI And XR Future
Ex-Foxconn chief Terry Gou surprisingly announced that he won’t run for President in Taiwan after all link
Alibaba will reportedly invest in AR startup Perfect Corp link
A look at how Ola created a second unicorn -- and its founder profited from it
India banned e-cigarettes link
A look at life as a delivery driver in India link
Google announced an AI lab in India and other local initiatives link
Chinese VCs are increasing their investment in Indian startups link 🔒
Groww, which offers online mutual funds and investing, raised $21M link
Trading platform Upstox raised $25M link
Digi-Prex, a pharmacy subscription service that lives on WhatsApp, raised $5.5M link
Apple is reportedly pumping $1 billion into its India business link
Avataar Ventures is a $300M fund investing in B2B and Saas in India link
Scooter sharing has come to Japan, with Honda partnering with one venture link 🔒
Southeast Asia
Data backup startup Acronis raised $147M at a valuation of over $1B
Vertex Ventures, which is wholly owned by Temasek, closed a record $305M for its fourth fund link 🔒
Grab’s plan to spinout its financial services may have hit a snag with PayPal reportedly backing out of an investment – PayPal had been mooted as an anchor investor alongside Alibaba’s Ant Financial link 🔒
Advanced.AI raised $80M link
Auto seller site Carro, which has raised $108M to date, spent $30M on a minority stake in Malaysia’s MyTukar – the deal, which is a mix of cash and equity, is an aggressive way to grow, and Carro told The Business times that it has four more acquisitions set up before the end of this year. This kind of strategy hasn’t been seen in startup younger than Grab/Gojek, will be interesting to watch link
AIA Group is the latest backer of Gojek, and yet another insurance firm to put money into ride-hailing in Southeast Asia link
Meanwhile, Gojek’s Vietnam business is without a CEO for the second time this year link
Shipper, a logistics platform in Indonesia that previously graduated Y Combinator, raised $5M link
Vietnam is profiting from uncertainty in China as companies like Apple and Google shift their manufacturing link
Influencer marketing startup Gushcloud raised $11M – the founders bought it back from Korea’s Yello Mobile last year, now they have secured new funding from investors who include hip hop mogul Russell Simmons link
P2P lending company Julo raised $10M link
Outside of Asia tech
A detailed (and long!) look at WeWork’s financials and future link
As China’s football investment fad passes, lower league teams and players are suffering link
Open source code bases, often maintained by volunteers, underpins a frightening amount of internet services link
Suddenly Facebook’s Libra is all about defending “the Free World” from China link 🔒
Photo of the week
Kirsten Han 韩俐颖

This week’s ‘photo’ is a fascinating Twitter thread from journalist Kirsten Han
And finally... About The Ken
A small plug for a couple of stories from The Ken last week might interest readers outside of India.
We wrote about the runaway success that is Google Pay in India – days later, Google confirmed its payment prowess at an event where it said Google Pay has 67M MAUs and $110B in processed transactions over the last year.
Secondly, I wrote about Sequoia’s Surge accelerator program and its early impact in Southeast Asia, where its cohort are hitting the market with aggressive numbers, ruffling feathers among other VCs and changing Sequoia’s role in the region. Surge’s second cohort starts this week, and I was quite surprised how little had been written about the program – Sequoia’s first ever such effort any where in the world – despite the deafening hype when it launched and announced its inaugural cohort.
I don’t intend to aggressively plug The Ken each week, don’t worry, but these two are particular examples that shine light on stories that haven’t been told – yet or at all – and that is exactly what we do at The Ken and why I’m excited to be here. We are ramping up our coverage of Southeast Asia so I hope there will be more stories relevant to ATR subscribers beyond the excellent job that the team already does in India.
Upcoming events
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!
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