Hi there, it’s Mars from the Philippines.
Southeast Asia deals and investment activities have been muted this week as most parts of the region observed the Christmas season. As journalists used the holidays to take their much needed R&R, and to recharge after a very busy year in Asia, we presented some roundups of deals, investments, and developments that further shaped up the region’s bustling tech space.
My colleague in Jakarta, Khamilla Mulia, wrote about the journey of Indonesia’s unicorns – Go-Jek, Tokopedia, Bukalapak, and Traveloka – this year and how they’ve attracted the attention of many investors. The country has already minted four homegrown unicorns and remains optimistic that it will continue to produce another billion-dollar company in the future. In fact, Indonesian Minister of Communication and Information Technology Rudiantara expressed confidence that the country will have 5 unicorns by the end of 2019.
Will the Philippines also produce a billion-dollar tech startup? Latest data showed it might not happen soon. This week, we took a look at the Philippine startups that have raised venture capital money this year and how VC funding in the country lags behind its Southeast Asian counterparts. Actually, only a handful of local firms managed to secure fresh funds even as the region’s VC funding reached more than US$3 billion this year. Could it be the limited scalability potential of Philippine startups that turns off these VC funds or there just aren’t enough interesting firms to invest in?
Meanwhile, despite the holiday season, Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing giant Grab continued to make headlines this week, first, with the news that it might be receiving up to US$5 billion in Series H, beyond the planned US$3 billion, following SoftBank’s US$1 billion investment and, second, its legal battle against Vietnam’s largest taxi operator, Vinasun, which has turned down a US$2.78-million investment offer.
Grab described its offer to buy a US$2.78-million stake in Vinasun as an investment activity but the Vietnamese firm, which is seeking nearly US$1.8 million as one payment compensation for losses it attributed to Grab’s operations, turned down the offer, saying it was “not appropriate”. And the court hearings continued.
On Friday, however, a Vietnamese court ruled in favour of Vinasun and ordered Grab to pay the taxi operator about US$206,000, lower than what Vinasun had asked for. Grab said it will appeal and seek a reversal of the first instance decision of the court.
Overall, it’s been quite an exciting year for Southeast Asia’s TMT sector and we had the privilege to chronicle the major deals, investments, and milestones that took place in this part of the world. For 2019, expect more comprehensive coverage, more insightful stories, exclusive interviews, and data-driven analysis from the KrASIA team.
Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss from this week: