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Asia Tech Review: August 5 2019

Welcome back, This newsletter is a little lighter than its predecessor, which is just as well as my o
August 5 · Issue #125 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
This newsletter is a little lighter than its predecessor, which is just as well as my own week was a manic one, but still there’s a lot to get to. In particular, India’s deal speculation reporting went into overdrive with the likes of Amazon and Walmart said to be closing in on strategic investments, while Cred, Swiggy and PhonePe were linked with massive funding rounds of their own.
This week I was part of my first ‘free to read’ story at The Ken – it went out today, in fact – looking at Truecaller’s India strategy. More details on that further down if it piques your interest.
That’s all for this week – catch you again next Monday if not sooner!

Huawei sales hit by US trade block
ByteDance added a web search feature to its Toutiao business, a sign of its interest in getting into mobile search. There’s certainly potential when you consider how much engagement its app get. link
Facial recognition for payments is increasingly taking over from QR codes link
Didi span out its autonomous vehicle business, as Uber did earlier this year link
400,000 – that’s how many dock-less bikes have been cleared out of Beijing alone this year link
More detail on what is happening at Tink Labs, the unicorn going through a crisis and making mass layoffs link
Truecaller's payment snafu shows hard it is pushing in India
A $500M valuation at Series A is pretty wild for a 1.5yo startup, but Cred CEO Kunal Shah sold FreeCharge to Snapdeal for $400M and seems to have a knack for generating media attention link
Speaking of big deals, PhonePe is reportedly closing in on a $1B raise that could see DST join the round at a valuation of $8-$12B (that is a wide range) link
And, Swiggy is reportedly close to raising $750M link
Walmart is said to be investing $50M in Ninjacart link
While its rival Amazon is being sensationally linked with an investment in Reliance’s brick-and-mortar commerce unit link
But here’s a confirmed deal: Reliance paid $42M for 87.6% of Fynd, a startup that helps offline retails tap online-commerce and counts Google among its backers link
And, another one inked: Urbanclap raised $75M led by Tiger Global, the firm’s first consumer deal of 2019 link
The Juggernaut, a subscription media company in the US that’s aimed at the South Asian diaspora, landed seed investment link
This startup helps find blue collar jobs via WhatsApp link
News aggregator SmartNews hits $1.1B valuation
Sony said it has now sold over 100M PS4 consoles, but its gaming business was weak in Q2 link
Rakuten took a majority stake in Marie Condo’s company – lots of jokes to be made here given Rakuten’s checkered investment history 😄 link
Samsung had a poor quarter on account of sluggish memory chip sales link
LG continues to struggle on mobile link
Southeast Asia
Honestbee commences Singapore High Court supervised restructuring process
Aspire, which helps SMEs get credit, raised $32.5M link
Wealth management startup Bambu raised $10M link
Thailand’s VCs are chasing global deals more than local startups link
Travel Kalanick’s cloud kitchen startup is hitting back at Grab and Deliveroo, who it claims have tried to lock it out of Singapore link
Outside of Asia Tech
China says it has released the Muslims it detained, but that’s difficult to prove link
Photo of the week
Hong Kong Hermit
How I think I look during a police search. How I actually look during a police search.
This tweet made me laugh but the situation in Hong Kong is anything but a joke. There’s too much for this tech-focused newsletter to do the situation justice, but Hong Kong Hermit’s tweets and live-streaming earlier this week are a timely reminder of the potential broadcast power of Twitter. The police’s attitude to him (aggressive ID checks and references to him being a CIA agent – he isn’t American) are a small anecdotal piece of something larger, but nonetheless it’s a worrying window into the current hostility.
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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