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Spotlight on Grab's tough ride as a public company
Plus: SoftBank quietly back in investing game, J&T's $1B IPO downsized and more
There were lots of interesting thoughts shared after last week’s suggestion that SPACs could make a recovery (of sorts). I’m still not bullish on the idea, but market conditions could make the possibility of a quality listing more feasible, on a case-by-case basis. I’m not convinced that 17LIVE is of that level but it is sure to have got some investors and CEOs keeping an eye on how it develops with a view to their own business.
Right, on to this week’s newsletter—Bloomberg has a much-shared and detailed story on Grab’s current stock market woes (courtesy of the world’s largest SPAC) with lots of interesting details from reporter Yoolim Lee. I’d love the piece to be a precursor to a future book—come on, Yoolim!
Elsewhere, SoftBank is reportedly looking to invest again (without the Vision Fund?!), the fund formerly known as Sequoia China is looking at global opportunities, Amazon is applying for broadband-from-space services, J&T Express’s $1B IPO is getting downsized and much, much more.
See you again next week,
News in focus
How Grab is struggling as a public company after record SPAC listing
Bloomberg has an insightful story on how Grab has struggled as a public company, as even Uber has cut much of its big losses. The story ties Grab’s struggles back to the plight of Singapore’s efforts to replicate Silicon Valley. I don’t know how much of Grab’s malaise really reflects Singapore and Southeast Asia—since ride-hailing as an industry has struggled to prove itself more than Southeast Asia has—but the piece does subtly raise the question over whether Anthony Tan should continue to lead Grab. Generally I think this is a tough period for any startup in any industry and any part of the world, but still very much a must-read story this week.
Didi aims to list shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange next year
Speaking of ride-hailing companies and public market problems, Didi is reportedly planning to list in Hong Kong next year. The company suffered a very tough period after going public in New York in 2021, and subsequently being pushed to delist as the US-China political climate became tense.
The plan could mean a long-awaited payoff for investors and employees, who watched the startup’s shares nose-dive from a valuation of $80 billion when Chinese regulators opened a probe into the company just days after its initial listing. The stock, which is now only traded over-the-counter, jumps 6% to $3.56 on Friday, giving the firm a valuation of $17.3 billion.
Meanwhile, Didi’s autonomous vehicle arm raised $149M from state investors link
SoftBank is quietly developing a new investment business
SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son is reportedly readying a new SoftBank division that will get back into building businesses and making investments again. Codenamed ‘Project R,’ it is not related to SoftBank’s Vision Fund and it is said to have made investments in an autonomous vehicle startup and warehouse as a service business. Son has also held meetings to invest $1B in a new hardware device involving OpenAI’s Sam Altman and former Apple designer Jony Ive.
HongShan, formerly Sequoia China, targets global investments and opportunities
And finally in news that will surprise nobody, HongShan—the venture fund formerly known as Sequoia China—is reportedly plotting global expansion moves. Head honcho Neil Shen It is said to be evaluating opportunities for portfolio companies as well as potential investments for the fund outside of China.
I wrote back in June after the Sequoia split that it was only a matter of time before the new funds competed with each other. Peak XV—formerly Sequoia India and Southeast Asia—was first reported to be looking globally, but HongShan was inevitably doing the same given China’s links to the US, Southeast Asia and beyond.
Senior members of Arm China have left and started potentially competitive business on Chinese soil—the firm is actually 2.5 years old but details are only coming out now as concerned investors spoke to Bloomberg link
Chinese Bitcoin mining sites in the US are drawing national security concerns for their apparent ties to the Chinese state link
Huawei has been stockpiling components for months as it aims to double its smartphone sales next year to 60-70M despite expectations of a further US crackdown link
The Biden administration is considering closing a loophole that gives Chinese companies access to American AI chips through units located overseas link
Vanguard, the world’s second-largest asset manager, is acting as a pipeline through which US investment dollars are being funnelled into Chinese military companies and corporations sanctioned over human rights abuses, according to a new report by a US producers’ lobby group link
China aims to boost the country’s aggregate computing power by more than 30% by 2025, as Beijing tightens its focus on supercomputing and artificial intelligence innovations link
Saudi-Chinese collaboration in artificial intelligence has stirred fears within the Gulf kingdom’s premier academic institution that the ties could jeopardise the university’s access to US-made chips needed to power the new technology link
Crypto miner Bitmain has paid delayed staff wages after an apparent cash flow issue link
Self-driving startup Plus—which is backed by China's Full Truck Alliance (FTA)—has split its US and China operations amid tensions. FTA will run the Chinese arm of the business link
Alameda Research allegedly paid Chinese officials around $150M to regain $1B worth of exchange accounts, according to court testimony link
China’s livestream shopping bubble may be popping as livestreamers question their job prospects amid salary cuts, long working hours, and gruelling competition link
The Chinese government has proposed a blacklist of sources that can be used to train generative AI models link
China has given Ehang approval to offer and operate fully autonomous, passenger-carrying air taxis link
Logistics firm J&T Express has slashed its planned $1B Hong Kong IPO target due to apparent weak investor demand—the firm is said to have kept the same valuation but it will instead sell less of its business for the listing link
India is rolling back its earlier plan to impose restrictions on laptop imports—it announced the plan abruptly just months ago, drawing criticism from industry and Washington link
World Bank's IFC led a $24M funding round for insurtech startup Onsurity link
Dream Sports, once valued at $8B, has paired back its venture arm after the market collapsed and a new tax put pressure on the financials of its core business link
Amazon has sought approval from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre to offer broadband-from-space services in the country link
India's financial crime agency arrested four telecom industry executives, including one Chinese national working for smartphone maker Vivo, for alleged money laundering link
Vivo itself has been accused of visa violations and syphoning off $13B to avoid taxes link
InsuranceDekho raised $60M at a valuation of $600M from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, insurer BNP Paribas Cardif and others link
Blackstone is said to be in talks with Disney to buy a stake in its India arm link
Fintech CRED in talks to acquire mutual fund startup Kuvera link
Rocket Internet’s quick coffee startup Flash Coffee shut down its business in Singapore, it still remains active in Thailand, Hong Kong and other parts of Southeast Asia link
Circular, a service that offers consumers in Singapore and Australia subscriptions to high-end electronics, has closed a seed round of $7.6M link
Vietnamese government agents tried to plant spyware on the phones of members of Congress, American policy experts and U.S. journalists this year in a brazen campaign that underscores the rapid proliferation of state-of-the-art hacking tools, according to forensic examination of links posted to Twitter and documents uncovered by a consortium of news outlets that includes The Washington Post link
Southeast Asian countries are taking a business-friendly approach to artificial intelligence regulation in a setback to the EU's push for globally harmonised rules that align with its own stringent framework link
Japanese VC Beyond Next Ventures raised $67.7M in a first close of its deep tech fund link
South Korean firms have landed an indefinite waiver on US chip gear supplies to China—Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix will be allowed to supply US equipment to their Chinese factories easing a potential bottleneck that could have impacted their output link
Samsung’s Q3 profit beats analyst expectations and raised hopes of chip recovery link
Suppliers to Taiwan’s semiconductor manufacturing industry are plotting an entry into Europe as the construction of the first advanced chip factories on the continent in decades reshapes its supply chains link
Apple’s key suppliers in Taiwan saw another major sales drop in September, despite the launch of a new iPhone and several Android handsets link
Like the Korean firms, TSMC expects permanent US approval to supply chip tools to its China factory link