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Asia Tech Review: September 9 2019

September 9 · Issue #129 · View online
Asia Tech Review
Welcome back,
It was quite a week. India’s moon landing didn’t go quite to plan, but the Chandrayaan-2 mission has been rightly celebrated and it’ll doubtless serve as inspiration for the future.
Meanwhile, in the world of startups we saw more details on the scope of China’s quite frankly frightening efforts to target Uyghur muslims, Alibaba made a massive $2 billion acquisition, Xiaomi passed a major landmark in India and Samsung switched strategy on the launch of its first foldable device. I also wrote a few words on why I’m excited by the future of tech/startups in Southeast Asia.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the ATR Singapore meetup last week, it was great to put some faces to names and meet new people.
And finally, a quick shoutout to a new newsletter on sustainability and Gen Z: CAOSE.
See you again next week,

How China targets Uyghur diaspora worldwide through the internet
The Information on why Huawei did not expect to need an alternative to Android link 🔒
Meanwhile, Huawei claims the US government pressured its employees link
Apple and Foxconn reportedly broke Chinese labour lies while making the iPhone link
First Alibaba, no WeChat has face pay link
A Chinese cloning company will bring your beloved cat back to life for $35K link
An easy-to-use app that creates deepfake videos is sweeping China link
Alibaba confirmed it has completed the much-rumoured acquisition of NetEase’s Kaola cross-border e-commerce service link
ProtonMail denies it has struck a “partnership” with Huawei: it is actually just weighing an app on Huawei’s app store – goodness only knows how this became a story… link
Group chats have become a commercial channel for service providers – still feels wieldy to build a long tail of groups but there’s clearly been an emergence of trust in private communications. Also unclear how this works outside of China and the WeChat monopoly link
Tencent invested $125M into comic book platform Kuaikan World, an e-book-like platform that claims 200M users link
Tencent has reportedly put $120M into CRM startup Xiaoshouyi link
Hong Kong
Hong Kong protestors take to 'unblockable' chat app
Xiaomi reaches 100M shipments in India
Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal is said to be setting up a $400M fund link
Milkbasket is reportedly raising a $50M Series C link
India is set to overtake the US on video consumption link
Alibaba’s UCWeb business, best known for web browsers, plans to launch an e-commerce recommendation service link
Swiggy launched a new concierge service link
OYO made another acquisition: spending $10M for a Denmark-based data science startup link
SoftBank is more than $600M underwater on its Uber investment
Samsung cancels all Galaxy Fold preorders
Southeast Asia
Grab and Go-Jek are battling to own food delivery in Southeast Asia
A look at the strategy behind Singapore’s bid to become the region’s tech hub – it’s hard to see it being dethroned as the financial HQ, but other markets already way ahead in terms of consumption/revenue/growth link
Indonesian beauty platform Social Bella raised $40M led by Temasek and EV Growth link
Thailand plans to legalize ride-sharing next year – remarkably still operating in a grey area… link
GoJek now has a gaming section inside its app in Indonesia link
Temasek has set up a $50M fund for logistics and supply chain investments link
Outside of Asia tech
Denmark has an ambassador to Silicon Valley link
Google’s paid search ads have sprawled out of control links
Google overview of how Buzzfeed’s tech team works with reporters on stories link
Myanmar jailed a filmmaker for Facebook posts that were critical of military link
Photo of the week
Hong Kong Hermit
The wholesome content we need right now. Protect these kids at all costs.
The pen zone meme
And finally... on the future
Visiting Singapore always gets me thinking. This week it was triggered by Bloomberg’s ‘Sooner Than You Think Event’ – as the name implies it is focused on current companies, tech and trends that will impact the future.
It didn’t take long to notice how so many of the faces on stage for interviews were people who I had met/got to know years ago when their companies were much smaller. Now they are the big guns, and I can think of countless others who weren’t at the show but fit that bracket.
Southeast Asia and tech are on such a growth spurt that it propels founders and startups. That’s not a bad thing at all, but it is quite something to see familiar faces consistently on stage at events, on TV interviews, or managed by large entourages such has been their rise.
The last five years have seen so much growth that it is impossible to imagine what the next five or ten will bring. Putting aside the tech and business models, I can say with certainty that many of the biggest companies/founders of the future are already active in the region today. That may sound obvious, but it is easy to lose perspective. (I’m not alone in thinking this.)
A recent report from Golden Gate Ventures – an investor in tech startup, of course – predicts “at least 700 anticipated startup exits between 2023–2025.” While, in the here and now, a new report from Preqin shows an increased interest (and activity) in Southeast Asia from global investment firms.
I’m not in the business of predicting numbers, but it is clear it’ll be a heck of a ride. That applies to tech anywhere in the world, but I do think it’ll be even wilder in Southeast Asia where the region is moving upwards despite challenging global conditions.
(This is also why I joined The Ken, I believe we need more analysis and thoughtful commentary. Shameless plug over.)
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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