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Asia Tech Review: April 8 2019

Welcome back, Being based in Bangkok, I'm preparing for Thai New Year next week so the newsletter may
April 8 · Issue #109 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
Being based in Bangkok, I’m preparing for Thai New Year next week so the newsletter may be a little shorter the week after next. For someone who doesn’t take a lot of vacation, I’ve sure had/am about to have a lot of time off lately.
In more general news, I’m noting for posterity that published my first paywalled story which covers Snap’s move into social gaming and how it takes its cues from Asia. It’s a pretty US-focused post, but it remains frustrating that TechCrunch’s paywall can’t be unlocked in Asia – it’s a strange feeling to know a large chunk of your regular audience is locked out of something you spent hours writing. That’s an interesting ‘quirk’ of Extra Crunch at this point.
On to this week’s update.

💰 The New York Times shows us Xinjiang's demise 💰
If you’d yet, you should read this interactive story from the New York Times on Xinjiang, the North West Chinese province that’s home to the country’s Muslim population.
Using a combination of photos and video, the Times shows us around Xinjiang, pointing out the omnipresence of surveillance cameras, the destruction of buildings, homes and families, as well as the impact on local culture and daily life. The city is described as an “open air prison.”
Paul Mozur, one of the reporters involved in making the story, added more colour on Twitter.
Paul Mozur
Snapshot of a culture under siege. Our attempt to show what it feels like in Xinjiang right now. Blanketed with surveillance technology and checkpoints, the ancient Silk Road city has the feel of an open-air prison.
The Improbable Rise of Huawei
The FT’s editorial board urges Alphabet/Google to “resist the urge to return to China” link
MIT has cut its financing from Huawei and ZTE over US government security concerns link
More details on fears the Chinese government wanted to tap Grindr for info following its sale to a Chinese company link
A profile of Shenzhen-based Transsion Holdings which sells ‘affordable’ phones and tablets in emerging markets like Africa link
Xiaomi, Tencent and others have reportedly blocked employee access to a Github-based website that protests tough work conditions at Chinese startups and tech companies link
ByteDance – parent of TikTok and Toutiao among others – has launched its productivity app, Lark link
Speaking of TikTok, it has already launched an artist in the US link
Altaba, the Yahoo spin-out that housed lucrative stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, is selling its latest remaining Alibaba shares and closing down link
There’s a new newsletter that covers crypto news from Asia link
💸Deals 💸 HelloBike is reportedly raising $500M-$1B (link) Tencent is raising $6B through a bond sale (link) Xiaomi span out its chip unit and is looking to raise money for it (link) Hyundai denied reports it is working with Tencent to develop software for self-driving vehicles (link)
Swiggy and UberEats have reportedly called off their planned merger
A look at how Reliance Jio has transformed India with its low-cost service and focus on mobile data link
Speaking of Reliance, it just dropped $100M on startup Haptik to help develop voice and text services for the future India internet user, ie those for whom English isn’t a first language link
Ahead of imminent elections, WhatsApp was widely reported to have added a tip line for reporting fake news but it turned out that was inaccurate – the line is merely for research purposes link
Google’s India head (a seasoned angel investor) is joining Sequoia to lead its early stage incubator program called Surge link
AngelList launched its first syndicate fund in India with backing from Binny Binsal among others link
As I said last week, the only April 1 jokes that really get media coverage are those that go wrong, like Ola’s link
Apple has dropped the price of the iPhone XR in India, and Apple Music too link
💸Deals 💸 Zoomcar is reportedly raising $500M more led by existing investor Mahindra (link) Transport app Chalo is reportedly raising $15M from Xiaomi and affiliated VC Shunwei (link) Japan’s Incubate Fund is raising a new $27M fund (link) Sequoia India and SE Asia is reportedly raising a $200M fund for Surge (link) smart POS company Mswipe raised $30M (link)
Crypto exchange Liquid says it is now valued at over $1 billion following new investment
India’s OYO has entered Japan through a joint venture with SoftBank link
Samsung says profit slid 60 percent year on year
E-grocer Kurly closed an $88M Series D led by Sequoia China link
Southeast Asia
Singapore's controversial 'fake news' law raises fresh questions over its status as a regional tech and media hub
B Capital, the VC firm from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin which is backed by BCG, just closed first close of its second fund – currently at $406M link
Grab has a new feature that uses pictures and words to help passengers find their driver link
AirAsia intends to open an online marketplace that’ll include hotels and travel activities link
Crypto exchange Binance is expected to fully launch its local service in Singapore, which it has been piloting this year, this month link
Facebook’s efforts in Myanmar are “not nearly sufficient,” according to a UN investigator link
Uber is keeping its Singapore HQ despite leaving Southeast Asia link
One investor thinks Southeast Asian startups are over-valued – I’m not really exposed to valuations but people I know who are doubt this trend is really happening aside from a few cases… yet at least link
SCMP sat down for some games and an interview with Razer CEO Min Liang Tan link
💸Deals 💸 Myanmar’s Phandeeyar has $1 million more for its incubator program (link) B Capital, the VC firm from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin which is backed by BCG, just closed first close of its second fund – currently at $406M (link)
Outside of Asia Tech
Australia (APAC not Asia) passed a controversial law that’s aimed at preventing violence on social media – related: it also enacted anti-encryption legislation recently link
Snap got into games, AR and advertising as it looks to become an internet platform link
Saudi Arabia hacked Jeff Bezos’ phone, according to an investigator he hired to look into how his photos leaked to media link
Photo of the week
Truly horrifying
LinkedIn is hiring a news editor to be based in Singapore link
Grab is hiring a corporate comms manager link
This is a semi-regular feature when I find opportunities that I think are interesting, none of the above are paid for listings
That's all for now, see you next week!
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