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Asia Tech Review: April 22 2019

Welcome back, It's a shorter email without the editorial this week as I spent the last seven days or
April 22 · Issue #111 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
It’s a shorter email without the editorial this week as I spent the last seven days or so trying to disconnect from the internet in the name of the Thai New Year holiday. I’m giving myself a B for that – just one story filed while on leave – but these days tech is everywhere and I ran into Neuron, the VC-backed Singapore electric scooter startup, for the first time while in Chiang Mai.
The scooters are pretty cheap – a discounted 50B (around $1.60) for a day pass, which gives you unlimited rides of up to 30 minutes per go. I found it a neat option to get around the city – Chiang Mai still has Mobike bicycles but fewer since its global retreat – but the real winner came as a way to keep my two kids (8 and 10) entertained for a few hours in between hotel check-out and our late evening flight home.
We’ll see if I use them again, it seems unlikely in Bangkok where the madness of local traffic genuinely scares me on a bike let alone a scooter. That said, Neuron has set up fenced areas in the city which, I guess, it sees as safer zones for those who commute – but that’s not me 😉
On to this week’s update!

China's gaming regulator set to introduce new approval process
Who owns Huawei? Two academics try to piece together the murky details; tldr: almost certainly not the employees, as Huawei claims link
Qualcomm is (widely) reported to have ended a joint venture with Huaxintong Semiconductor Technologies and the Guizhou government link
In Xinjiang, AI startup SenseTime has reportedly exited a JV that helped government surveillance link 🔒
The New York Times reveals what it is like to be tracked by the government in China following its reporting from Xinjiang link
A Baidu spinout and other Chinese companies were found to have committed large-scale ad fraud link
Tencent won approval to (finally) sell the Nintendo Switch in China, it was launched in the US and other markets over two years ago link
Tencent is also rumored to be considering a gaming phone, it recently inked a high-level partnership with Razer which does offer such a device link
Amazon has closed its China marketplace, following recent media speculation, but it isn’t leaving China and is now focusing on cross-border opportunities link
Baidu is apparently developing a music app link, which just raised $50M, said it plans to test an autonomous taxi service in Guangzhou link
The FCC plans to block China Mobile’s effort to offer US services link
China isn’t just cracking down on live-streaming platforms, some stars have stopped broadcasting entirely leading to suspicions of bans link’s founder is being sued for damages over an alleged rape in the US – a criminal case was dismissed last year link
💸Deals 💸 Luckin Coffee, China’s Starbucks challenger, raised $150M at a $2.9B valuation (link)
Terry Gou will resign as Foxconn’s chairman to run for president of Taiwan
HTC backed a new $50M blockchain fund called Proof of Capital – one of its managing partners is Phil Chen, who leads development of HTC’s blockchain phone link
TikTok removed from Android and iOS app stores
Economic Times argues that the TikTok crackdown could usher in a period of more intense scrutiny of social platforms, particularly video/streaming link
Sequoia revealed the first cohort for its Surge accelerator program link
Here’s a look at the thesis behind Surge, and Sequoia’s need to get into companies early, from The Ken in India link 🔒
The Reserve Bank of India published its proposed framework for a regulatory sandbox but startups in the crypto space (among others) are not welcome, although blockchain-based companies are not excluded
IT services giant Wipro got hacked link
India is now the second highest country for credit card fraud link
With 300M MAUs, Hotstar may be the world’s largest streaming platform link
Reliance Jio has reportedly applied for a license to offer in-flight connectivity link
Tech-focused media startup FactorDaily is pivoting to audio after three years – good luck, FD, media is a tough business… link
Southeast Asia
Many Indians are moving to Southeast Asia to launch new ventures
Malaysia’s RHL Ventures raised a new $24M fund link
But why are there so few early-stage deals in Malaysia link 🔒
A look at Vietnam’s top e-commerce service Tiki, which includes among its investors link 🔒
Carousell, which just raised $56M from Naspers at a valuation of over $500M, is open to acquisitions to grow in Southeast Asia link
💸Deals 💸 Unilever made an undisclosed investment in Malaysia-based logistics startup TheLorry (link)
Elsewhere in Asia
Nepal: The government has proposed a new IT bill which critics have said is vague and potentially stifling link
Nepal: The country has ended a ban on popular game PUBG link
Outside of Asia Tech
Investigative journalist Lyra McKee, who people might know from Twitter, was murdered in Northern Ireland whilst covering riots – a GoFundMe campaign is active to cover funeral expenses and continue her work pursuing reform of libel laws and advocating for LGBT rights link
Zoom went public in the US – there’s been a lot of focus on the incredible story of its Chinese CEO who had a US visa refused eight times and finally arrived in the country not being able to speak English; he’s now a billionaire link (also see video interview on Bloomberg link)
A number of Chinese intellectuals are criticizing President Xi and the Communist Party’s authoritarian approach in what is seen as “the most serious critique of the system in more than a decade” link
Google Maps as the ‘super app’ of the West 🤔 link
Photo of the week
Plastic waste piled outside an illegal recycling factory in Jenjarom, Malaysia
Plastic waste piled outside an illegal recycling factory in Jenjarom, Malaysia
The Business Insider story on Southeast Asia buying up waste illegally from Western countries is actually from February but the issue remains ongoing
Github is hiring a GM to build its India office link
This is a semi-regular feature when I find opportunities that I think are interesting, none of the above are paid for listings
Upcoming events
  • Splice Beta: May 1-3 in Chiang Mai, Thailand link
  • SaaStock Asia: May 14-15 in Hong Kong link
  • E27 Echelon: May 23-34 in Singapore link
  • Tech Sauce: June 19-20 in Bangkok, Thailand link
  • Innovfest Unbound: 27-28 June in Singapore link
  • Wild Digital: 3-4 July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia link
  • Rise: July 8-11 in Hong Kong link
  • Deal Street Asia’s PE-VC Summit: 17-18 September in Singapore link
  • Tech In Asia Conference: 8-9 October 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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