Asia Tech Review: 9 June 2020





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June 9 · Issue #153 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
Tech has been particularly politically charged over the past week. Anti-China services went viral in India: where an app that claimed to remove any apps from China became popular. As did an app claiming to be India’s homegrown answer to TikTok. Both may be flashes in the pan after they were pulled from the Google Play Store.
In China, interestingly, there are companies lining up to go public in the US despite political tensions, which could see Chinese firms delisted, and of course the pandemic.
In Southeast Asia, Gojek pulled off an investment from Facebook and PayPal (plenty more on that below) and also landed a deal for its GoPlay streaming service.
All of that and more this week—stay safe and see you back here next week!
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 👉🏻

Huawei hid business operation in Iran after Reuters reported links to CFO s
TikTok was the world’s most downloaded app during May 2020 with nearly 112 million new installs, according to Sensor Tower (Zoom was second and India’s health app is a notable mention in 8th) link But ByteDance doesn’t always knock it out of the park. Its TopBuzz news app, which struggled to get off the ground in global markets, is being shut down link
ByteDance is now pushing for increased separation between its China and rest of world operations: the firm reportedly just “implemented a restriction on domestic employees’ access to code bases for overseas products"—in other words, Chinese devs can’t touch US product code link
Electric car firm Xpeng is reportedly planning a US listing link It’ll hope to learn from the fortunes of Nio. The US-listed company was once China’s preeminent Tesla rival, but is now very closely aligned with the Chinese government following a crucial bailout deal link
In other IPO news: Mobile gaming firm Playtika is planning to raise $1B via a US listing link
The US government ordered China’s Kunlun to sell Grindr, but its new owner maintains strong links to the company according to a Reuters report link
Ride-hailing giant Didi is getting into logistics services link Didi’s CEO says its ride-hailing business has returned to pre-Covid levels link
Hong Kong
Tencent’s WeDoctor is planning a Hong Kong IPO to raise up to $800M link That’ll see it follow in the steps of NetEase, which raised $2.7B in its recent listing link
Google and Walmart establish dominance in India’s mobile payments market
An app that claimed to remove Chinese apps from phones went viral in India, riding on anti-China sentiment, but was removed from the Google Play store link Another app that went viral in the same storm—a homegrown take on TikTok—was also suspended last week link
India announced a $6.7 billion plan to boost electronics manufacturing link
Analysis of the broken deal between US-listed Ebix and Yatra, India’s second largest OTA link 🔒
Apple’s new head of streaming for India comes from HotStar—HotStar executives have left to run Facebook and Google’s India businesses in the past link
After Jio’s investment spree, reports have suggested Amazon may spend $2B to buy a piece of Bharti Airtel link [The telco said only that it has “no other activity to report” link]
Deals: Postman, which helps companies manage, test and develop APIs is reportedly in talks to raise money at a valuation of $2B, up from $350M last year link Digital insurer Acko is reportedly raising $60-70M at a valuation of $400-500M link InfoEdge, which has backed Zomato and others, is raising a new $100M fund link Edutech startup Unacademy is reportedly raising $100-$150M at a potential valuation of $1B link
Japan to look at building a common infrastructure for digital payments
Southeast Asia
Facebook, PayPal's payments play a super app-ortunity for Gojek 🔒
Tiki, Vietnam’s top e-commerce service, is reportedly raising $130M—it is rumoured to be pushing to merge with rival Sendo link
Grab wants to help ditigise SMEs with its newest service link
Ex-Google angel syndicate XA Network invested in Vertex Ventures fund link
Malaysia scrapped its 5G permits after question marks arose over how they were awarded link
Malaysia is also setting up a $281m National Stimulation Fund that will work with global VCs link
Singapore is planning to develop a wearable virus-tracking device to overcome the issues of Bluetooth tracking link
The Philippines was hit by surge in fake Facebook accounts link 🔒
Outside of Asia tech
The Results Are In for Remote Learning: It Didn’t Work link
A naturalised American journalist writes about leaving her Chinese family following China’s purge on US reporters link
The CEO of Thailand’s top co-working space reflects on building Bangkok’s startup community and co-working in the time of Covid-19 link
ICYMI on The Ken SEA
Here’s what we got up to last week:
  • Swallowed in the Sea, Garena’s still making waves link [free read]
  • Kopi Kenangan wants to walk in Luckin’s path, not in its shoes link
  • Facebook, PayPal’s payments play a super app-ortunity for Gojek link
  • Trimmed, steady and Covid-ready, M17’s finally rising above ‘18 link
  • DoctorOnCall, patients log in as Malaysian telemed mushrooms unregulated 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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