Southeast Asia's digital insurers reap investments and more
Asia Tech Review: 21 February 2022
It’s been a while since the last issue with a fair amount of change, too. I joined Crypto.com as a partner on its investment fund in January. I plan to return to regular writing again as I settle into the role—potentially with a crypto-focused newsletter—but want to get this newsletter back to work, too.
I picked a good week to return, particularly for Southeast Asia, where the money is raining in for digital lenders, one of Singapore’s most prominent alternate meat companies and a cashback firm that’s impressed me which is about to turn into a unicorn, according to press reports.
That’s all for this edition—see you next time,
Didi is laying off potentially up to 20% of staff as it continues the process of delisting from the NYSE
Controversial AI company SenseTime is pushing beyond facial recognition systems by applying its technology to the car components manufacturing sector. A public company since last year, SenseTime has been criticised for aiding China’s surveillance state activities—that got it blacklisted in the US, where the government has investigated US investment money behind the firm
3D virtual platform BUD raised a $15M Series A+ round from investors like GGV and Qiming
Shenzhen-based Hai Robotics, a maker of robots for warehouses, is reportedly close to raising about $170M at a valuation of over $2B
Chinese authorities announced that food delivery platforms must reduce the service fees to restaurants further—Meituan’s share price dropped over 15% on the news
Beijing called out a further 100-plus apps for data violations, including apps from Xiaomi, Shangri-La, IHG and others
Volkswagen may buy Huawei’s self-driving car business, according to reports from Germany
Event management platform EventX raised $8M to take its Series B to $18M—the company has been around for 8 years, that’s quite some time for a B round
India’s largest IPO is coming: state-owned insurer LIC will raise $8B by selling 5% of its shares
Payment company Pine Labs raised $150M, one of its last private funding rounds before a much-anticipated IPO
Glance, the lock screen advertising and content company spun out of Inmobi, raised $200M from telecom giant Reliance Jio—Google is among its existing backers and it is now reportedly valued at $1.7B
Social commerce startup DealShare bagged $45M from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority—that’s part of an now-enlarged Series E round that’s reached $210 million and values the startup at $1.7B
Uniphore, which uses AI and machine learning to improve customer relations and service, raised $400M at a $2.5B valuation
Health tech startup Goqii raises $50M to expand its services and go global—the company offers a wearable fitness tracker, app, health store as well as real-time coaching and insurance services
The government dropped the hammer and banned more than 50 apps with links to China, including Garena’s massively popular Free Fire game
Fintech startup CRED could invest in digital stock service Smallcase at a valuation of $300M-$400M, according to a TechCrunch report
Insurtech startup Kenko Health raised $12M led by Sequoia
Shopback could beSingapore’s next unicorn with Bloomberg reporting it is in talks to raise a new $150M round—I wrote about Shopback nearly 2 years ago and have been impressed with the way it has navigated Covid despite targeting offline retail for growth
Next Gen Foods, the creator of plant-based chicken alternative TiNDLE, closed a $100M Series A to go after the US market—that’s a big jump on the $30M it raised last year and it is a strong advocate for Singapore as a hub for alternate meat companies, something The Ken wrote about last year
Akulaku raised $100M from Thai bank SCB—the round is tipped to be a pre-IPO deal
It was a good week for another lender: Funding Societies raised $144M led by SoftBank and got $150 more in debt lines
Payment startup Xendit is reportedly raising $200M—the company reached a $1B valuation last year
Lummo—the online selling service for SMEs formerly known as BukuKas—revealed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was part of its recent $80M funding round led by Tiger Global and Sequoia. The deal, via Bezos Expedition, is not the Amazon supremo’s first VC deal in Indonesia—and it raises the strange question why Amazon hasn’t yet ventured into Indonesia.
Samsung is spending $920M to develop a new production facility in northern Vietnam to boost its capabilities in the country. The government has said the Korean firm has now invested $2.27B in manufacturing in Vietnam.
Rebeelo raised $20M for its refurbish and resale business for smartphones
Mental wellness startup MindFi raised $2M
After Telenor got the official nod to offload its business Myanmar, investors are asking for assurances on how sensitive data on users and more will be handled following the sale. Concerns focus around the prospective buyer—local firm Shwe Byain Phyu—and whether it will enable the junta government to access information.
Sony hit a first close of $215M on its fourth corporate venture fund. As well as more money, the fund will manage Sony’s other investment funds, which have over $500M in capital commitments and over 100 deals.
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