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Asia Tech Review: 9 March 2020

March 9 · Issue #146 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
The Coronavirus outbreak – of course, we start with this – is taking hold of the tech scene. You’ve probably seen a lot of awkward tweets relating the virus to startup growth – this and this for example. While China is trying to play down its own issues with the outbreak, it is hitting a lot of companies hard including ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, which is one story in the newsletter.
There’s yet more on Grab-Gojek merger rumours in Southeast Asia, with the FT now reporting investors are turning to SoftBank to push through a deal to end the expensive and draining battle between the two. Makes sense on paper, but can a deal be done?
Also in Southeast Asia, we officially launched The Ken SEA for all today after a week long closed test. I wrote a little about what we do on Twitter (and LinkedIn) if you are curious to know more.
Onward to this week’s newsletter!

US government orders China's Shiji to sell US hotel tech firm StayNTouch
The Chinese government is trying to use software and surveillance to figure out citizens who require quarantining as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak link
In a bid to restrict comments about the outbreak, the government is also tightening regulations that make websites, producers and service providers responsible for comments that might include “harming national interests,”“spreading rumours” or “inappropriate commentary on natural disasters” link
Didi Chuxing is struggling to handle the Coronavirus outbreak with its ride-hailing business down as much as 50% link
Luckin Coffee may face a fraud lawsuit from shareholders link
Leaked documents show Huawei violating trade sanctions by playing a direct role in sending prohibited US computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator link
Chinese companies are selling content-moderation tools that experts fear could increase online censorship across the world link
SoftBank has become the majority investor in real estate platform Beike following a $2.4 billion in its series D+ round link
JD has struggled in recent times but it just posted promising Q4 financials link
Oppo just cloned the Apple Watch link
WeDoctor, a Tencent-backed digital health startup, is reportedly planning to raise $1B from a Hong Kong IPO at a valuation of $10B link
Autonomous driving startup raised $500M led by Toyota link
“Chi-Fi”: How Chinese audio companies bridging the gap and making quality audio products affordable link
Hong Kong
Tutoring startup Snapask raised a $35M Series B to expand into Southeast Asia link
Yes Bank takeover causes chaos for fintech startups
A look at how Apple has tried to build a supply chain in India link 🔒
Crypto companies are planning services in India after RBI overturned a ban on bank access for trading virtual currencies link
ByteDance raised Resso, a music streaming app, in India after a lengthy beta test period link
Apple has been on a good run in India after a disastrous 2018 link
Amazon could begin food delivery in India as soon as this month link
India restored internet access in Kashmir for two weeks following a seven-month-long shutdown link (things were pretty bad as this Buzzfeed story explains)
OYO said it is trimming 5,000 jobs link
Online jewelry pawner Rupeek raised $60M from GGV and others link
Second-hand car marketplace Spinny raised $43.7M link
The head of SoftBank's Vision Fund says its critics will be proven wrong
South Korea
Ride-hailing service Tada pauses service following introduction of new regulations
South Korea has passed a comprehensive bill on cryptocurrencies link
North Korea
A look at how North Korea steals millions using crypto
Southeast Asia
Investors are reportedly urging SoftBank to deliver Grab-Gojek tie-up in Indonesia
Vaping startup Juul quit Indonesia link
Monk’s Hill Ventures closed its second fund at $100M link
Fintech startups in Indonesia are working to be Sharia-compliant to win over its Muslim majority link
Dahmakan, a cloud kitchen startup in Malaysia and Thailand, closed an $18M Series B – interesting to see investors included Woowa Brothers, the Korean food delivery business bought by Delivery Hero link
Twitter and Facebook suspended accounts that were linked to Indonesian army’s campaign in Papua, where it is in conflict with separatists link
Japan Post Capital lead a $26.4M investment in AnyMind Group link
E-commerce comparison and aggregator iPrice raised a $10M Series B link
Outside of Asia tech
An explosive report details how Uyghur Chinese who were imprisoned for ‘re-education’ are now being sourced by factories near Xinjiang as part of “a revived, exploitative government-led labour transfer scheme” link
ICYMI on The Ken SEA
  • Default, fraud turn Indonesia’s digital lenders into unlikely collaborators link
  • Grab-bed away? Gojek’s stunted SE Asia expansion story link
  • The tech-first future of SE Asia’s family offices link
  • Fool’s gold? Singapore’s digital banking licence rush link
That's all for now, see you next week!
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