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The tale of two very different IPOs
J&T Express and WeBuy go public, Singapore space tech startup emerges and more
We have two very different IPOs this week. One blockbuster Hong Kong listing from a very prominent and well-backed company and the other, a quieter and far less lucrative IPO in the US. Neither really suggests the window for listings has reopened. J&T’s big Hong Kong coming out is more a reflection on needing an exit, I would guess, while WeBuy’s Nasdaq bow appears more opportunistic.
Elsewhere, we have a mysterious Singapore-based startup that’s literally aiming for the moon; a big round for Southeast Asia’s Monzo; Disney’s impending exit from India; and much, much more.
Thanks again for reading and catch you next week, if not sooner…
News in focus
J&T Express raises $500M in Hong Kong IPO
Courier firm J&T Express raised $500M in a down-sized and much-awaited Hong Kong IPO but shares have so far been lacklustre, falling 1.3% on its debut day
I’ve always been fascinated by J&T, which was founded by Jet Lee, the former CEO of Oppo Indonesia, and Tony Chen, Oppo’s original founder—hence the name. It focused on problems in tough markets like Indonesia, where logistics is highly complicated, and it landed the backing of top investors including Tencent and Temasek. But, like others including Lalamove, China is the firm’s biggest market (80%+ of revenue) though it sees Southeast Asia as the growth opportunity.
It fairly directly represents China’s interest in Southeast Asia—helping Chinese e-commerce firms and Chinese brands sell to this new ‘blue ocean’ market—and its origins come directly from the issues that Oppo found in the region. That made it a darling for Chinese investors and customers. But still, it had to downsize its plans for a $1B IPO raise. That’s a reflection of the market, and the challenge of logistics.
WeBuy quietly goes public raising $15M in US IPO
The group buying company has struggled to find an identity, as The Ken wrote nearly 2 years ago.
WeBuy came through when social commerce was hot. It was able to mop up assets from rivals who fell as the market went cold. But still this listing on the Nasdaq was fairly left field, perhaps because I wasn’t keeping an eye on the business, which has eyes on doubling down on Indonesia—where, of course, TikTok has had its social commerce service banned.
On that note: TikTok and YouTube are considering joining Meta in applying for e-commerce licenses in Indonesia after the country banned online shopping on social media platforms. TikTok parent ByteDance is said to be considering more options in Indonesia, too, such as building a new app or partnerships with local companies.
Multi-currency card startup YouTrip raised $50M
YouTrip is a sort of Monzo or Transferwise (now just Wise) for Southeast Asia. Covid was, understandably, tough on the business which relies on tourists travelling across Southeast Asia and beyond.
During the pandemic, it built out business services that included enabling sending and receiving currencies from across the world—mostly for SMEs—and that appears to have picked up and helped give its business another edge. Lightspeed led this round, which takes YouTrip to $100M raised so far since it was founded 5 years ago.
Disney on the verge of exiting India
Reliance is nearing a cash and stock deal to buy Disney’s India operations. Disney may sell a controlling stake in the Disney Star business, which it values at around $10B, as opposed to piecemeal transactions weighed earlier. The acquisition could be announced as early as next month with some of Reliance’s media units merged into Disney Star.
A record number of companies have dropped plans to list on Shanghai’s tech-focused stock market, with regulators raising the bar for initial public offerings in order to pick out domestic champions that can help Beijing’s drive towards technological self-sufficiency link
An employee of chip equipment giant ASML who is accused of stealing company secrets was reportedly later hired by Huawei link
Tenders from the government, military and state-linked entities show that China has stepped up spending to replace Western-made technology with domestic alternatives link
China spent 1.4 trillion yuan ($191 billion) replacing foreign hardware and software in 2022, marking a year-on-year increase of 16.2%, according to IT research firm First New Voice.
It is reported that SMIC used Dutch chipfirm ASML’s less-advanced lithography machines alongside tools from other companies to make the highly-regarded ‘domestic’ chip used on Huawei's new 5G smartphones link
Speaking of which: “Futile” US sanctions won’t the likes of Huawei, SMIC and others from advancing their chipmaking abilities, according to a veteran TSMC and semiconductor executive—he believes the US should focus on maintaining its chip design leadership instead of fighting China link
We all know about Foxconn, but how about Luxshare? The WSJ profiled this Chinese supplier that “Apple increasingly relies on” link
Weibo is implementing more real-name measures after several influencers said they were told that users commenting on politics, entertainment, and finance with one million followers or more would have to start displaying their real names link
SenseTime, once a Chinese AI darling, has found its efforts to diversify into AI datacenters hit by the US-China chip war—SenseTime initially made its mark with AI-based surveillance but it has found business with government units to be unreliable in recent times link
iFlytek claims its large language model outperforms ChatGPT in Chinese, but it too has been hit by US chip curbs link
Blued, the Chinese equivalent of Grindr, plans to expand beyond China and into Southeast Asia and other regions through content and other services beyond matching link
China smartphone shipments fell 5% year-on-year in Q3 2023 to 66.7M, according to data from Canalys link
Autonomous vehicle startup Pony.ai landed $100M from Neom, Saudi Arabia’s futuristic city and development project link
Binance is behind HKVAEX, a newly established cryptocurrency trading platform in Hong Kong that has announced its intention to apply for a licence in the city link
Taiwanese companies should assume their social responsibilities and play a "positive role" in promoting the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait, China's government said amid a probe into major Apple supplier Foxconn link
That Foxconn probe has been compared to China’s effort to put Jack Ma to task ahead of the proposed Ant Group IPO in 2021 link
Taiwan has officially proposed a crypto bill with first reading passed at parliament link
Revenue from click-to-message ads in India has doubled, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg link
India is the biggest market for WhatsApp, with over 500 million users. In February 2023, Zuckerberg had said that click-to-message ads had reached a $10 billion revenue run-rate globally. Meta on Thursday said its revenue from click-to-message ads in India doubled year on year in the third quarter ended September as the company continues to push WhatsApp business messaging in the country, which is its largest market. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated that business messaging will be the next major pillar of the social media giant’s business.
Amazon is pushing hard to make live video commerce big in India—but it faces challenges around trust and viability. So far, nearly all livestreaming startups have shut down or been acquired in fire sales as Indian VCs try to replicate the success of China’s $180B industry (although that has suffered crackdowns and seasonality too) link
Tata Group is set to become the first Indian company to manufacture iPhones in India after it agreed to buy Wistron's India iPhone manufacturing in a deal reportedly worth $125M link
Byju’s, once the world’s highest-valued edtech startup and a major Indian startup presence, is shrinking its empire as creditors gather at the gates. An M&A lawyer told the Financial Times that the firm could kick of an M&A spree as it releases assets link
Its efforts to realise cash through disposals are set to begin with Epic, a California-based digital reading platform, which it acquired in 2021 for $500M
Spoils could include Byju’s subsidiary Great Learning, which offers online higher education courses. Through legal action, Byju’s term lenders won the right to appoint financial firm Kroll to oversee the Singapore-based edtech company. Byju’s acquired Great Learning just two years ago for $600M
Just to make the point clearer still: Byju’s CFO quit after six months as the firm delayed its accounts link
India is demanding $12B in missed taxes from online gaming firms, according to a government source link
Razorpay—the fintech valued at $7.5B—is making its first overseas move in Malaysia, where it previously acquired a business and has now secured a licence for direct merchant onboarding—it’s not clear what other expansions it is planning link
The Asia Internet Coalition—a tech industry group including Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft and others—has asked India’s IT Ministry for an extended deadline to comply with certain provisions of a newly approved data protection regulation governing user data processing link
Bike-hailing taxi startup Rapido is getting into the cab business link
Singapore-based space tech startup Qosmosys has come out from under the radar after it announced a massive $100M seed round to go after its goal of sending its ZeusX spacecraft to the moon in just four years. It’s quite of the blue, and the round itself is scant on details link
The company did not disclose its investors, nor did a Qosmosys spokesperson respond to TechCrunch’s email. In a press release published to its website, the startup simply said that it practices a “unique and protective funding model.”
“The structure welcomes a limited consortium of investors, safeguarding all stakeholder interests in anticipation of a planned IPO by 2028 at the latest,” the release says.
China crackdown on cyber scams in Southeast Asia nets thousands but leaves networks intact link
Temasek and SBI have invested $384M in new capital into India’s Ola Electric—the electric vehicle business that emerged from ride-hailing firm Ola—at a reported valuation of $5.4B link
Korean Investment Partners is the latest Korean VC firm to launch a Southeast Asia fund link
Japan launches anti-monopoly probe into Google's search dominance link
SoftBank’s Vision Fund is reducing its investment staff in China, highlighting how global investors are pulling back from the country due to increased government control of the private sector link
Japan aims to set shared standards with the U.S. and Europe on subsidies for electric vehicles, semiconductors and other critical fields, according to Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry link
The share price of Kokusai Electric jumped 32% after it held Japan’s biggest IPO for 5 years raising over $720M link
It looks like Western Digital’s proposed merged with Japan’s Kioxia is off after major Kioxia backer SK Hynix objected to the deal, which has been formally discussed for years link
A look at how Japan is leading the race to regulate stablecoins link
AI startup Rebellions.is aiming to raise $100B at a valuation of over $500M for its Series B accelerate the development of a next-generation AI chip link
Seattle- and Seoul-based AI-based data center optimization startup MangoBoost raised a $55M Series A link
AMD and Korean telco KT back AI software developer Moreh in $22M Series B link
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