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Asia Tech Review: August 19 2019

August 19 · Issue #126 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
The August news lull has reared its head in Asia tech and, even though there was no newsletter last week, today’s edition ranks pretty high on the readability scale.
The most notable updates this week include:
💤 Baidu is falling further behind China’s top tech companies
🐦 Twitter led an investment in a fast-growing Indian social platform
💰 OYO’s biggest rival in SE Asia closed second investment in a month
🏦 SoftBank may let employees borrow to invest in Vision Fund II
See you again next week!

Twitter is selling itself out for Chinese propaganda
It has long been known that the Chinese government is a major advertiser on Western social platforms. The New York Times wrote about the phenomenon in 2017, while Beijing is a major part of the estimated $5 billion Facebook makes from China-based advertisers – who are second only to those in the US.
And yet, in mid-2019, we have this:
Every day I go out and see stuff with my own eyes, and then I go to report it on Twitter and see promoted tweets saying the opposite of what I saw. Twitter is taking money from Chinese propaganda outfits and running these promoted tweets against the top Hong Kong protest hashtags
One of many talking points around the Hong Kong protests is the way China is shaping discussion of events. The government is seeking to position protests are terrorists, not just among its own people – they are the priority – but among the rest of the world too.
Here’s one state broadcaster on Twitter:
Hong Kongers, are you going to remain silent? #HongKong
And a look at what happens on more traditional media:
Paul Mozur
CCTV has yet to show a shot of the anti-police-violence march today. Instead it’s all five-star flags, calls for peace and misleading quotes about HK breaking away from China. Stuff just about everyone in China can get behind. Best quote: “I love China, I love HK.” Controversial!
This is clearly a propaganda war being waged through information, and in the middle of it you have Twitter – which used to position itself as ‘the free speech wing of the free speech party’ – selling its platform out by taking money in exchange for hosting propaganda.
The issue hasn’t received much attention yet, but an excellent Twitter thread from @pinboard – it starts with the first tweet above – will hopefully shed some much-needed light on the situation.
Baidu falls further behind among China’s biggest tech firms
Alibaba enjoyed a strong quarter thanks to Ant Financial link
Tencent missed its earnings target and there are concerns around its advertising business link
Huawei has a 90-day reprieve from US purchasing sanctions link (but, as per the new norm, Trump is already casting doubt on what comes next despite words that appeared to be to the contrary in June)
JD is reportedly planning a $500M US IPO for its supermarket JV Dada-JD Daojia link 🔒
The dominance of payment apps in tech hub Shenzhen is raising concern around privacy link
Alibaba is reportedly buying rival NetEase’s cross-border e-commerce unit for $2B – Amazon was linked with an acquisition bid earlier this year link
Quora-like Q&A service Zhihu raised $434M from live-streaming service Beijing Kuaishou, Baidu and Tencent link
UPS invested in self-driving lorry startup TuSimple link
PingAn plans to list three of its $1 billion-valued businesses “when timing is right” link
How Huawei helped African governments spy on political opponents link
Twitter led $100M investment in ShareChat
Reliance Jio, which has transformed mobile in India, formally announced its move into broadband link [a deep read from The Ken here 🔒]
It recently added Facebook as an investor, now Meesho announced a $125M round link
OYO is getting into coffee now link – it is also pumping over $300M into its European business link
Naspers’ lastest India deal could be Dream11, it is being linked with a $100M investment link
A two-week internet shutdown in Kashmir caused chaos offline link
Snap is finally taking India seriously, it plans to open an office after it hired its first exec on the ground link
AI company Uniphore raised $51M link
Xiaomi continues to dominate India link
Meanwhile, PayPal is pushing hard in its effort to dominate India link
SoftBank may reportedly lend $20B to employees to invest in new Vision Fund
Japan’s answer to Slack is also going public link
Japan may increase scrutiny on overseas investment in tech link
Southeast Asia
RedDoorz raises $70M more to compete with OYO
I wrote a lengthy story looking at Iflix, which recently announced a $50 round before a planned IPO – it is behind our paywall but touches on the companies struggles, the ‘real’ size of the round, IPO prospects and more link 🔒
VC firm Cento has a worthwhile report on Southeast Asia link
Chinese smartphone brands won their home market, then India and now it’s Southeast Asia, where they reportedly accounted for over 60% of 30.7M shipments in Q2 link
Startup incubator Antler is exploring expansion to China link 🔒
Go-Jek is reportedly eying the acquisition of payment startup Moka link
Property startup 99 raised a $15M Series B link 🔒
Ramping up in Southeast Asia, SoftBank is said to be keen to invest in Indonesian startups Ruangguru and Aruna link (and Zilingo, too, apparently 🔒)
Vietnam’s KiotViet, which does point-of-sale payments, raised $6M from a round that curiously included Indonesian unicorn Traveloka link
Mr Speedy, a crowd-sourced logistics service based in Russia but operating worldwide, raised $15M for growth in Southeast Asia link
Facebook is apparently getting more compliant with Vietnamese censorship government requests… according to the Vietnamese government – the country is battling to ‘reclaim’ its internet from overseas tech companies and has implemented wide-ranging, vague cybersecurity laws link
Another F&B deal, Indonesia’s Goola raised $5M link
Outside of Asia tech
WeWork is going public, that has left most people very confused but also entertained link
Auttomatic CEO explains why it acquired Tumblr link
A harrowing story on teenage girls in Myanmar trafficked to China as brides link
Photo of the week
Jack Hazlewood
Incredible aerial shot of the start of the march by @appledaily_hk (蘋果日報) in Victoria Park. #反送中 #antiELAB #HongKongProtests
Upcoming events
NEW: SEA Connect: A Fireside Chat with Two Southeast Asian Founders: 27 August in San Francisco link
Deal Street Asia’s PE-VC Summit: 17-18 September in Singapore link
Tech In Asia Conference: 8-9 October in Jakarta, Indonesia link
TechCrunch Shenzhen: 9-12 November in Shenzhen, China 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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