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Asia Tech Review: July 22 2019

Welcome back, The newsletter took a rest last week as I started a new job at The Ken, the subscriptio
July 22 · Issue #123 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
The newsletter took a rest last week as I started a new job at The Ken, the subscription media startup that’s headquartered in India.
In anticipation of many questions – and to avoid repeating my answers over and over – I wrote a Medium post to explain why I’m making this move. The Ken also has an announcement post of its own.
Brief tl;dr: I am still based in Bangkok; I’m no longer writing news stories; my new focus is longer-form reporting on tech, business and startups in Southeast Asia; this newsletter will continue to run as usual.
Since I’m stepping out of the news cycle, I’ll become a more active user of the ATR news channel on Telegram – which is now pretty much run by Sai single-handedly. It provides updates on notable news stories across Asia – I highly recommend checking it out.
There may be scope to add more editorial to the newsletter in the future, but for now I’m settling in at The Ken. Still, I’m open to your ideas and feedback as well as any questions: is where to reach me.
That’s all for now – onwards to this week’s newsletter!

Why the wheels fell off China’s tech boom 
Google says it has killed its Dragonfly project in China – seemingly in response to President Trump’s pledge to investigate link
Huawei is playing down its Hongmeng OS – though expect it to be worked on as an insurance policy, as we’ve said before link
SCMP released its joint annual China internet report – lots to dig into link
Douyu, a streaming service backed by Tencent, raised $775M through a US IPO link
MIT Technology Review digs into how WeChat censors conversations in real-time link
An explosive look at how Grindr’s sale to Chinese gaming company Kunlun went very wrong link
A look at how Chinese tech companies work with the police, which has a physical presence onsite at campuses from Tencent and others link 🔒
EV maker NIO may be struggling but it is now doing M&A with its own $1.5B fund, which includes support from LPs link
Didi is reportedly raising a further $2B for international expansion link 🔒
Lufax is reportedly ditching its p2p lending service – the entire sector is under pressure due to some horror stories link
Voice recognition company iFlytek raised over $400M from state investors link
Related, smart speakers are seen as a key battleground in efforts to bring new internet users online in China link
A look at Jollychic, a billion-dollar Chinese e-commerce startup that’s big in the Middle East link
While, in Africa, Chinese hardware company Simi is growing despite overall sales shrinking link
Juul just entered Indonesia, now it is said to be working with to launch in China link
OYO CEO makes unprecedented $1.5B share buyback
Netflix is bringing cheaper subscription packages to India as part of a major push to grow its international business link
Also sweet on India, TikTok (parent ByteDance) is planning content deals to grow its appeal to consumers link
Jio is now India’s second-largest operator link
Ebay bought 5% of Paytm Mall link
Yatra was acquired by Ebix for nearly $340M link
Samsung reportedly bought a 20% share of IndusOS for $5.75M – worth noting that Google has backed another Android alternative called KaiOS link
Swiggy could raise $500M from Korean investors link
Paytm is reportedly putting off IPO plans – it claims 6M registered users in Japan link 🔒
Financial services company MyMoneyMantra (over 30 years old!) raised $15M link
Incertis, which provides contact management services for enterprise, raised $115M at a unicorn valuation link
A look at Eruditus, one a handful of education startups in India, which is said to be a unicorn-in-waiting link
Speaking of which, Byju’s – the leader of that pack – raised $150M for international expansion link
SoftBank's Son says Japan lacks investment opportunities and is an AI "developing country"
Southeast Asia
Cloud communications platform Wavecell acquired by US-based 8×8 in deal worth $125M
Go-Jek announced that Visa has joined its ongoing Series F round – interestingly, Visa I understand that Visa is also an investor in Grab from an undisclosed deal in the past link
GGV’s Jenny Lee on Southeast Asia’s explosion in VC – her firm being one of the new arrivals link
A look at Grab Ventures’ investment thesis link
Go-Jek plans to offer insurance services soon link
Vietnam’s government once again says it wants its local alternatives to win against global companies like Google and Facebook link
It appears Honestbee has “temporarily paused” all operations in Malaysia, hinting at more cost-cutting link
East Ventures is reportedly close to raising $70M for its 6th fund link 🔒
Travelstop, a startup that helps manage corporate travel and expenses in Southeast Asia, raised $3M led by Accel, a rare Southeast Asia investment for the US firm link
EasyParcel, an AsiaAir logistics company, raised $10.6M link
‘AI platform’ Near raised $100M link
Outside of Asia Tech
Things are still crazy in Hong Kong, where apparent Chinese triads carried out violent attacks and caused chaos link
Facebook is rapidly backpedaling on Libra as – surprise surprise – regulators aren’t too keen on being disrupted link
Reporting suggests that Wall Street just isn’t in blockchain despite the early hype and promise link
A look at Mobile World Congress in China and the key themes link
McKinsey’s ‘Asia’s Future Is Now’ paper link
Photo of the week
Mark MacKinnon
There’s a new Top Gun movie coming out. And Maverick is wearing the same leather jacket - only this time it’s Communist Party of China-approved, so the Japanese and Taiwanese flag patches are gone (screenshot on right is from the new trailer)...
The film is produced by Tencent Pictures so go figure…
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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