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Asia Tech Review: August 28 2019

Welcome back, This week's email comes to you a little later than usual as this past weekend was spent
August 28 · Issue #127 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
This week’s email comes to you a little later than usual as this past weekend was spent at The Ken’s annual offsite – with some very pleasant views – but the show must go on.
Normal service will resume next week, I’ll see you then if not before!

Well done, Twitter
I devoted precious inches of last week’s newsletter to covering Chinese state media’s use of Twitter ads to discredit pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and Twitter responded in the right way: it updated its policy to exclude state media (across the world) from its ad products.
Twitter evidently saw the outcry in the media (and apparently ATR, too) and it acted quickly and decisively. But, it went beyond merely addressing those concerns. It also identified and banned close to 1,000 accounts that “were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.”
Further, Twitter “tipped off” Facebook on its find and the social network, too, removed a small number of accounts, groups and pages that had undertaken the same activities on its service. YouTube was criticised for not taking action at the same time, but, on Friday, it announced it had followed suit and removed 210 channels.
Paul Mozur
Twitter to stop ads from state-controlled media. This is a big deal for China’s international propaganda campaigns. No more promotions from Cctv et al. At least millions in revenue. Puts pressure on Facebook, which still trains China’s govt and state media on using its platform.
Neither Facebook nor YouTube matched Twitter by banning state media, yet at least. That’s almost certainly due to financial incentives – China is Facebook’s second-largest advertising market, with an estimated at $5 billion per year. Twitter’s advertising platform is less lucrative but it deserves credit for putting ethics ahead of revenue, and for kickstarting last week’s chain of events.
AI firm Megvii files for Hong Kong IPO
Surprise! Meituan posted its first quarter of profit – $122M on revenue of $3.21 billion; the company was previously loss-making link
Alibaba is said to have a postponed a $15B Hong Kong listing due to the ongoing political tensions/protests link
The US is said to have received 130 requests to override a trade blacklist and sell to Huawei link
Meanwhile, Huawei is said to considering launching tablets in Russia that run a local OS link
Some cheer for Baidu, it is being edged out but it at least beat earnings estimates link
Alibaba’s acquisition of NetEase’s Kaola e-commerce unit has reportedly fallen through link
Chinese hackers are going after medical data link
Meanwhile Chinese agents are said to be using LinkedIn to spy link
Travel industry marketing company Zhiketong raised $42M link
WeChat is often called a mobile OS, a new deal with Samsung makes that even truer on selected devices – Samsung is bleeding market share in China hence this deal link
A look at why Xiaomi is not the services company as it claims to be link 🔒
Amazon is acquiring a 49% stake in Future Coupons
India’s confusing and incomprehensible ‘angel tax’ is going away link
Walmart pledged to give nearly $5M in grants to farmers link
Rising payments startup BharatPe closed $50M link
Cred, the startup from FreeCharge founder Kunal Shah, announced a $120M round link
US company Tala, which is backed by PayPal and offers emerging market loans, is headed to India after raising $110M link
FreshToHome, which sells fresh produce, raised $20M just months after a $11M Series A link
Despite being a high-tech economy, Japan has struggled to build a startup ecosystem
Sony bought Insomniac Games, which has developed titles like Marvel’s Spider-Man link
Uber Eats partnered with convenience store Lawson to help boost its business link
Taiwanese electric scooter startup Gogoro expanded to South Korea link
Southeast Asia
Facebook plans to bring WhatsApp payments to Indonesia
First Indonesia, now Grab has publicly pledged to invest $500M into Vietnam (following reports) link
I looked in depth at Zilingo, which has attracted attention from investors like SoftBank, KKR and DST Global for a pivot from consumer fashion e-commerce to merchant and supply chain services link 🔒
Live streaming service Bigo is selling a content moderation system – developed to appease the Chinese government in its home market – to help countries like Indonesia police the internet link
Play Ventures is a new $40M gaming fund based in Singapore link
Kedai Sayur, an Indonesia startup that helps vegetable hawkers go digital, raised $4M link
The head of Google Indonesia has left to join PE firm Northstar link
Netflix has applied for a license to operate (legally) in Vietnam link
Thailand plans to introduce an e-commerce tax next year link
Outside of Asia tech
Telegram plans to begin to distribute its Gram tokens – sold during its ICO – to investors before the end of the year link
Upcoming events
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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