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Asia Tech Review: October 29 2018

Welcome back! News of the week is no doubt the reports that Bytedance has closed a highly-anticipated
October 29 · Issue #90 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back!
News of the week is no doubt the reports that Bytedance has closed a highly-anticipated (massive) round valuing it $75 billion, a figure that sees it leapfrog Uber to become the world’s highest-valued startup.
Rather than an overview of the newsletter as an intro this week, I want to take a moment to consider whether that update is more than just numbers.
The answer is yes it is and no it isn’t, or rather no (first) and then yes.
Startup valuations are always fluctuating, and in the case of funding rounds the gains and figures are paper-based and, importantly, they defined by those few investors writing checks. As a number of firms that went public this year know – including Chinese pair Nio and Xiaomi – paper figures can easily change in an IPO, or at acquisition time, events when the real money is counted.
But, in the case of Bytedance, this ‘valuation crown’ does have meaning.
A Chinese company that was last year little known in Silicon Valley has built a series of products that value it above anything else in the US, and that’s without actually doing much work in the US. It’s proof that there’s a market outside of the US, and that today its size and potential opportunities have never been bigger.
A recent report from the Center for American Entrepreneurship put some figures to the overseas startup/VC rise and, whilst I’m naturally skeptical of the used deal data and the potential for outliers, the end findings are in line with the exact global opportunity that Bytedance is tapping into – and it isn’t just China.
That’s all for now – enjoy this week’s newsletter and see you again next week!
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Bytedance reportedly raises $3B at $75B valuation
China’s pause on game approvals set to drag into 2019
Daimler and Geely start ride-hailing business
Xiaomi announces Mi Mix 3 with sliding cameras and no notch
Ex-Facebook exec Alex Stamos calls out Apple practices in China
China and Russia are apparently listening in on Trump's phone
Amazon and Apple reportedly take "retributive measures" against Bloomberg following China chip story
Google-backed AI biotech startup XtalPi closes $46M Series B+
Mobvoi launches new $200 smartwatch and $130 AirPods alternative
Nio leads $30M investment in LiDAR startup Innovusion
EV startup WM Motor said to be raising $288M+ from Baidu and others
AI finance startup reportedly raises $16M from Sequoia
Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific says 9.4M passenger records affected by data breach
Neat raises $3M to offer easy banking for startups and SMEs
Naspers plans to lead $600M round for Swiggy
SoftBank reportedly investing $200M in baby care products startup FirstCry
Bitcoin ATM in Bangalore seized and co-founder arrested
Foodpanda expands to reach 50 cities
Bharti's Airtel Africa raises $1.25B from SoftBank and Singtel
Japanese crypto exchange group gets legal status to self-regulate
LG retains confidence in its mobile business despite continued losses
Southeast Asia
Binance takes investment from Vertex for Singapore business
Southeast Asia’s Grab partners with MasterCard to offer prepaid cards
Apple picks Thailand for its second retail store in Southeast Asia
Interesting Reads
China and America’s ‘cold war’ over AI link
As ride-hailing booms in Indonesia so do cases of sexual harassment link
VC Hans Tung tips India to become world’s most competitive market for deals link
India already minted a record number of unicorns in 2018 link
But Indian e-commerce firms haven’t figured out AI despite heavy investment link
KPMG’s new digital India report link
Southeast Asia’s startups draw inspiration from China not Silicon Valley link
Interview with Stratechery’s Ben Thompson on business and tech link
Bill Gates hails Thailand’s “condom king” for his work progressing family planning and contraceptives link
Finally: a must-read BBC story on China’s “re-education” camps for Muslims link
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