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Asia Tech Review: 4 November 2019

November 4 · Issue #134 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
What a week – India was rocked with a cyberattack that went after journalists and researchers via WhatsApp, there were big earnings reports for Alibaba and Sony, Tencent doubled down on its big entertainment bet in India, a one-time unicorn quietly sold for less than $100M, and China shut the door for Juul and others by banning online e-cig sales.
Oh, and Microsoft Japan has good news for those of you who fancy a three-day weekend. That’s something Masayoshi Son looks like he might need after he was spotting dozing off while on stage at an event.
Meanwhile, there’s no rest at The Ken – my employer – after we added two reporters to the Southeast Asia team. You can read more about them here.
Thanks for reading and see you again next week.

China effectively bans online sales of e-cigarettes
A big quarter for Alibaba as it reported a 40% revenue increase ahead of Singles’ Day on Nov 11 link
Alibaba is said to be planning to resume its HK IPO listing plan before the end of the year link
The FCC says it will ban telcos from using Huawei and ZTE networking equipment in the interest of national security link
Despite global pressure, Huawei’s Chinese smartphone market share reportedly jumped to 42% – Apple was the biggest loser from that growth link
As the US continues to worry about China’s supply chain role, here’s the story of how an unlikely Beijing company became the world’s biggest maker of electric vehicle batteries link 🔒
Another reminder that tech giants in China are chasing grow in rural areas as internet access reaches relative saturation in urban areas – just over ¼ of China’s internet users are said to be in rural areas link
Smartisan launched its first new phone under ByteDance’s ownership link
The FT reported ByteDance is angling for a HK IPO as soon as Q1 2020, but the company fired back to deny that link
China is launching its own high-res satellite to reduce reliance on overseas topographic mapping tech link
China has now apparently released a blockchain-based app that allows communist party members to pledge their loyalty – this comes right after President Xi talked up opportunities presented by blockchain technology link
Flying taxi startup Ehang filed to raise $100M in a Nasdaq IPO link
Media startup 36kr is set to raise over $60M in a slimmed-down Nasdaq IPO link
Auto parts e-commerce platform Casstime raised $80M link
Hong Kong
Blizzard president gives vague apology for Hong Kong protest response
Hong Kong’s largest ATM operator is in touch with soon-to-launch virtual banks to potentially grant them access link
Indian journalists and activists were targeted with spyware through cyberattack using WhatsApp
India is probing MakeMyTrip for allegedly giving special treatment to OYO link
Tencent made a second investment in MX Player – leading a $111M round – which now means Times Internet no longer owns a majority share – makes for interesting future, with a future IPO already suggested link
There’s concern that Facebook is allowing the same hate speech/violence that happened on its site in Myanmar, to occur in India’s state of Assam, where Bengali Muslims are being targeted link
ShopClues was sold to Singapore’s Qoo10 for an estimated $80M – a look at its fall from once being a unicorn link
UPI, the Indian government’s payment initiative, has crossed 1 billion transactions to date link
Amazon’s deal to acquire a stake in Future Retail is reportedly subject to an anti-trust probe link
The US e-commerce firm has also partnered with BookMyShow on cinema bookings link
New digital bank Amica Financial Technologies raised $24M link
Logistics startup ElasticRun raised $40M link
Shuttl raised $18M from Toyota & Japan’s SMBC Trust Bank link
Fintech startup Paidy raises $143M from PayPal Ventures and others
Good times for Nintendo: Mario Kart Tour reportedly clocked nearly 125M downloads in its first month – with an estimated $37.4M in revenue since its Sept 25 launch link
Sony also had a happy week with record Q2 profit: gaming revenue is slowing but the company’s image sensors – which power cameras and smartphone cameras – is doing well link
Following reports of a sale, Sony said it will shutter its PlayStation Vue streaming service link
Japan’s Fair Trade Commission wants e-commerce services to be more transparent about its algorithms link 🔒
Fancy a longer weekend? An apparent trial of 3-day weekends at Microsoft Japan resulted in increased productivity of 40% and lowered bills, but details are sketchy on what happens next – apparently, there’s likely to be another trial so don’t get too excited yet link
And Masa Son defended SoftBank’s investment strategy at an event in Saudi Arabia link
Samsung says quarterly profit crashes but it still beats estimates
Southeast Asia
Digital financial services will generate $38B in Southeast Asia, according to a new study 🔒
Jungle Ventures made a final close of its third fund at $240M – that’s quite a jump on its maiden $10M fund in 2012 link 🔒
Thailand announced a fake news ‘war room’ (just before the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok…) link
Temasek invested an undisclosed amount into Vietnam-based logistics startup Scommerce – reports suggest amount could be as much as $100M link
A long (70 min) podcast with Grab executive Ming Maa on expansion, super app (🙃) strategy and more link
Market research platform Milieu Insight raised $2.4M link is adding ride-hailing via Grab – the fruits of a strategic investment in the ride-hailing firm link
Outside of Asia tech
Myanmar jailed five members of an entertainment act for a year because they criticised the military in a performance link
An insightful look at travel (and tech) trends in Southeast Asia from the eyes of the founder of long-time independent media site TravelFish link
Uber is following Gojek and Grab with a push into fintech and, potentially, lending link
Photo of the week
Ali Al-Salim علي السليم
Watch Softbank chief Masayoshi Son fall asleep during a panel at the Future Investment Initiative in Saudi yesterday...

Sorry, Masa, but we can’t ignore this one…
Upcoming events
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
HealthTech Summit Singapore: 13-15 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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