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Asia Tech Review: April 18 2016

Welcome back! I was on vacation last week so this update is fairly short. Most of my time was spent r
April 18 · Issue #5 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back!
I was on vacation last week so this update is fairly short. Most of my time was spent relaxing and seeing in Thai New Year (Songkran), but for the exception of tracking some fairly major Rocket Internet news. Alibaba’s investment in Lazada is a big deal for Southeast Asia, and I couldn’t resist jumping in with a little reporting of my own – see below!

Alibaba invests $1.25B in online food-delivery startup
Alibaba invests $1B on controlling stake in Lazada
Tencent reportedly in talks for $2B loan
Huawei is making its own VR headset
Twitter appoints Greater China head
Google for Entrepreneurs adds its first partner in China
The Economist got blocked in China
India introduces new digital banking program
Ex-Googler leaves Flipkart chief product officer role after less than a year
Micromax launches 15 new devices
Japan plans fingerprint-based payment system
Rakuten doubles its $100M global fund
Line to introduce bots
Samsung expects solid earnings
Mobile hotel booking startup lands $13M
Southeast Asia
Spiralling losses show Lazada desperately needed Alibaba investment
Zalora is selling of local businesses to cut custs
Sequoia invests $7.5M in video startup
Home improvement startup Houzz enters Singapore
Uber launches motorcycle service in Indonesia
Interesting Reads
I spent a lot of time talking to former Rocket Internet and Lazada staff and wrote this. Most people in Southeast Asia like to believe Alibaba took this deal because it needed to be in the region *right now*. But actually it seems to be driven by Lazada’s lack of cash, and (probably) a long-standing agreement to do this deal at some point. If Alibaba didn’t act now, Lazada might cease to exist. At the end of the day, this is good news for Southeast Asia. [link]
Another take: does the Lazada deal validate Rocket Internet’s model? [link]
Less optimistic: Rocket Internet holds out for a hero [link]
Moving on from 🚀 …
Netflix faces rivals in India and Southeast Asia that are better adapted to local realities [link]
Two Harvard students are changing lending in Southeast Asia [link]
An online fashion company you never heard of just had the best stock debut in Asia so far this year [link]
A look at Coupang: the “$5B startup filling Amazon’s void in South Korea” [link]
The BBC races an Indian autorickshaw against Uber [link]
And Finally...
What China has been building in the South China Sea [link]
Jack Ma had an influential childhood friend from Australia who helped shape his business [link]
China has a robot that can talk to people and pose for photos [link]
Urban exclusion in Southeast Asia [link]
Jakarta’s traffic problems are something else! [link]
That's All For Now, See You Next Week!
Say hi: | @jonrussell | | old archive
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