This website requires JavaScript.
Daily Briefing

In Brief

Sep 26, 2018 by The Passage Team
In Brief

Ola raises $50 mn from new Chinese investors

Source: Mint

Bangalore-based ride-hailing service Ola has raised USD 50 million from Hong Kong-based Sailing Capital and the China-Eurasian Economic Cooperation Fund (CEECF).

The latest fund-raise comes at a time when Ola is aggressively expanding outside and within India, while also building up a strong food-tech business to compete with Swiggy and Zomato.

Sailing and CEECF, a state-backed investment fund of China, will hold a combined stake of more than 1 per cent in Ola, implying that the latter’s valuation has inched up since its previous fund-raise from USD 3.5 billion to USD 4.3 billion. Other investors include China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. Ola is expected to raise fresh funds over the coming months from Singapore’s Temasek.

'Smart' tech goods escape China after US tariff

Source: Reuters

President Donald Trump on Monday announced a new tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. While the new tariff may space any high-profile consumer technology items such as “=smart watches and speakers, but the less flashy home modems, routers and internet gateways that make them work weren’t so lucky.

Consumer tech industry officials and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency say they expect billions of dollars’ worth of these products, including those designed for home use, will be subject to the 10 per cent tariffs activated on Monday.

The new catch-all category saw USD 23 billion in U.S. imports from China and $47.6 billion from the world last year. It was not clear how much of the USD 23 billion in Chinese imports could escape tariffs, but a Reuters review of industry data suggests the share could be small.

Google shrugs off trade war at Shanghai AI event

Source: SCMP

Themed as “AI for Everyone”, the Shanghai forum touched on Google’s artificial intelligence research and applications in areas such as healthcare, astronomy and arts.

Jay Yagnik, Google’s head of machine perception research, was in Shanghai last week for the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC), where discussions covered cool but not necessarily new AI applications to an audience unfamiliar with Google’s offerings.

When it came to Google’s current development plans in China, Yagnik was more circumspect, saying there were no “specific” further plans at this point. Although the company previously announced the opening of an AI centre in Beijing in December, it has faced a number of China challenges recently.

Baidu funds self-driving car start-up

Source: China Money Network

US-based Lunewave, a start-up building sensors for autonomous vehicles, has raised USD 5 million in seed funding from several investors including China’s Baidu Ventures.

The round was led by Fraser McCombs Capital (FMC), a Texas-based venture capital firm specializing in the automotive industry. Other strategic investors in this round include Baidu Ventures, BMW i Ventures, among others, and the fund currently manages about US$500 million across three funds, according to company’s statement.

Companies under Baidu Ventures’ portfolio include Chinese education mobile app start-up Knowbox, Beijing-based big data company LinkedSee and San Francisco-based acceleration technology company Falcon Computing Solutions.

WhatsApp appoints Komal Lahiri as grievance officer for India

Source: LiveMint

Whatsapp has appointed US-based Komal Lahiri, as the grievance officer for India. The chat service has also added a process for users to flag concerns and complaints, including those around fake news.

According to the WhatsApp website, users can reach out to the company’s support team directly from the app under ‘Settings’ tab and in case they wish to escalate the complaint, they can contact the Grievance Officer directly.

This comes post the meeting with Indian government where a key demand was to curb fake messages that triggered mob killings. In a meeting held with WhatsApp Head Chris Daniels last month, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had asserted that the company will have to find a solution to track the origin of messages on its platform, set up a local corporate entity that is subject to Indian laws within a defined time-frame and appoint a grievance officer. India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 200 million users.

Bangladeshi ride-hailer Shohoz raises $ 15 mn

Source: Tech in Asia

Shohoz, a Bangladesh-based online ride-sharing and ticketing platform, announced that it has raised USD 15 million in pre-series B investment.

It will use the fresh capital for customer acquisition and retention and expand into other on-demand services. Singapore-based Golden Gate Ventures led investment where China’s Linear VC, 500 Startups, and Singapore angel investor Koh Boon Hwee also participated.

Shohoz lets consumers book car and motorbike rides for their daily commute, reserve bus and ferry seats, and even buy movie tickets from its website and app. Shohoz’s main rivals in Bangladesh include Uber and local firm Pathao, which is backed by Indonesian ride-hailer Go-Jek and claims a valuation of over USD 100 million.

Singapore, Indian companies to co-invest

Source: VCCircle

IndoSpace, a Mumbai-based industrial real estate investor firm has entered into a strategic partnership with Singapore-headquartered logistics company GLP.

The partnership enables IndoSpace to leverage GLP’s fund management, development and operational expertise and resources, as well as the firm’s extensive global customer network, according to the statement. Under the pact, GLP, whose clients include Amazon, Walmart and Adidas, will co-invest in the investment vehicles of IndoSpace, a joint venture between homegrown private equity firm Everstone Capital and US-based Realterm Global.

IndoSpace has over USD 2 billion in assets under management. It plans to raise additional capital to build a pipeline of around 120 million square feet of logistics infrastructure. The firm currently has 30 industrial and logistics parks across India. Its real estate fund platform has assets of around 700 million square feet across the globe.

Singapore competition watchdog fines Grab, Uber

Source: The Star Online

Singapore’s Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) fined ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber Technologies a total USD 9.5 million. It also announced other measures to address competition concerns arising from the two companies’ merger in the city-state.

Uber sold its Southeast Asian business, including in Singapore, to bigger regional rival Grab in March in exchange for a stake in the Singapore-based firm. But the deal invited regulatory scrutiny in the region, with the CCCS, in a rare move, launching a probe, just days after the transaction was announced.

The competition watchdog has fined Uber USD 4.8 million and Grab USD 4.7 million, it said on Monday. CCCS also asked Grab to remove its exclusivity arrangements with drivers and taxi fleets.

Amazon, Alibaba to compete in Indonesia

Source: The Straits Times

American tech giant Amazon is planning a 14 trillion-rupiah (USD 1 billion) foray into Indonesia where the investment will be spread over a 10-year period. It will see the introduction of the firm's cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services (AWS), to the Indonesian market.

But Amazon will face stiff competition from its Chinese rival Alibaba which opened its data centre in Indonesia earlier this year as part of the company's plan to support local start-ups in the country. Alibaba has also invested USD 1.1 billion in Indonesia's e-commerce unicorn Tokopedia, and already owns Lazada, another online shopping business in South-east Asia.

Amazon's plan to enter the Indonesian market comes after it expanded to Singapore last year and will be the second major expansion in South-east Asia. According to market research firm Statista, cloud computing spending in Indonesia is expected to hit USD 1.3 billion by this year, up from just USD 160 million in 2012.

The Passage Team

The Passage is committed to creating in-depth content over technology industry across Asia with a focus on emerging startups in the technology, healthcare, education, food, tech, travel & mobility segments.

Follow The Passage Team