Ola gets $330m from SoftBank, but valuation plummets to $3.5b

DurbaDurba Ghosh, writing for Tech in Asia;

India’s Uber arch-rival Ola has once again won backing from Japan’s SoftBank, with fresh funding of US$330 million, a person familiar with the details of the deal told Tech in Asia.

However, the fresh funding comes at a cost. Ola’s valuation has dropped by more than 30 percent to US$3.5 billion, Business Standard reported today. Ola’s valuation drop is indicative of declining investor confidence in India.

It’s high time for Ola to expand to other markets and not just their home country.

WeWork continues Asian expansion with Hong Kong launch

Steven Millward, reporting for Tech in Asia;

Nearly eight months after first entering Asia with a co-working space in Shanghai, US-based WeWork has brought its hustle to the bustle of Hong Kong.

WeWork has just officially opened two Hong Kong facilities, bringing co-working spaces and services to entrepreneurs for prices that start at US$590 per month. One in Wanchai is in an unassuming building on Lockhart Road, while the other is in Jaffe Road’s Tower 535, affording an impressive view over Victoria Harbor.

After surge in transactions, Philippine central bank regulates Bitcoin

Judith Balea, reporting for Tech in Asia;

The Philippine central bank has decided to regulate virtual currencies, particularly Bitcoin, with more and more people using it to transfer money across borders.

Taking its cue from Japan, the first country to issue rules for Bitcoin in Asia, the central bank finally recognizes that the cryptocurrency “has the potential to revolutionize delivery of financial services” and “further support financial inclusion.”

You can read the full text of BSP’s Circular No. 944 here.

Eduardo Saverin in $25m funding for insurance and wellness marketplace

Judith Balea, reporting for Tech in Asia;

CXA today announced it has become a US$100 million company following a US$25 million series B investment, co-led by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group and Singapore-based EDBI. Global life and health reinsurance company RGA, Philips Healthcare, maker of data-driven medical devices and disease management programs, and existing investors NSI Ventures and Bioveda Capital also put in some cash.

Samsung Pay launches in Thailand

Michael Tegos, reporting for Tech in Asia;

Samsung Pay, the Korean mobile giant’s cashless payment service, has officially landed in Thailand, the company announced today. The service has been running in the country in an “early access” fashion for a limited number of users since October last year.

Samsung Pay works with MasterCard, Visa, KCC, Bangkok Bank, Citibank, KasikornBank, KTC, and Siam Commercial Bank. Samsung says that department stores and shops in the country will also accept payments through Samsung Pay.

Grab to invest $700m into R&D, talent development in Indonesia

Nadine Freischlad, reporting for Tech in Asia;

At a star-studded press conference today, Southeast Asian ride-hailing startup Grab announced its plans to allocate US$700 million into a “2020 master plan” for Indonesia.

Over the next four years, the company pledges to invest heavily into R&D as well as tech talent development.

Grab wants to hire 150 engineers over the next two years, and set up a US$100 million fund for investing in startups focusing on social issues, like financial inclusion, among other targets.

Fidelity joins Morgan Stanley, cuts Flipkart’s valuation to $6 billion

Nivedita Bhattacharjee, reporting for Tech in Asia;

A fund managed by US-based mutual fund giant Fidelity Investments has cut Flipkart’s valuation, pegging the company at around US$6 billion, filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission showed.

This is the latest in a series of valuation markdowns that India’s biggest ecommerce company has seen over the past year. In November 2016, Morgan Stanley had pegged Flipkart’s valuation at US$6 billion, which is in sync with Fidelity’s latest assessment.

Hugo Barra to leave Xiaomi for the clean air of Silicon Valley

Nivedita Bhattacharjee, reporting for Tech in Asia;

Hugo Barra, arguably the most public face of Chinese electronics company Xiaomi, is quitting after three and half years at the company. Hugo was vice president of Xiaomi’s international business.

The comments on the articles suggests that he was fired but the company and Hugo would make it look like he left the company in good terms.

We may never know the real reason why he left, unless of course Hugo disclose it himself.

Foxconn invests in bike-sharing startup Mobike

Steven Millward, reporting for Tech in Asia;

Weeks after securing US$215 million in funding, Chinese bike-sharing startup Mobike has received investment cash from Foxconn.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, sees Foxconn helping with manufacturing of the startup’s smart bikes, which can be unlocked, paid for, and locked again using an app. The plan is to double annual production to 10 million as Mobike expands to new cities across China.

Indonesia’s Sociolla bags series B from Japanese fashion portal, East Ventures

Nadine Freischlad, reporting for Tech in Asia;

Sociolla, an ecommerce site for all kinds of cosmetics and beauty products just freshened up with a new round of financing.

The startup’s series B comes from Istyle, a Tokyo stock exchange-listed fashion company that operates, among other things, popular beauty website @cosme in Japan. East Ventures also participated in the round. The terms weren’t disclosed.

Zeotap gets $13 million to unlock treasure chests of telco user data for mobile ads

Malavika Velayanikal, reporting for Tech in Asia;

Whether it is artificial intelligence or targeted advertising, it’s the quality of data that determines how smart the results will be. Berlin-based Zeotap, which also has a joint venture in Bangalore, zeroed in on this aspect from the very outset of its adtech business in late 2014. It started tying up with telecom companies across Europe and Asia to use their customer data for targeting mobile ads.

SPH’s media profit crashed by half quarter-on-quarter

Terence Lee, writing for Tech in Asia;

Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore’s largest newspaper publisher, continues to struggle in the online world. Its quarterly media profit before taxation fell from US$43 million to US$23 million, a 47 percent decline from Q1 2016 to Q1 2017.

That’s one big decline and since Singapore is practically the startup/tech hub in Southeast Asia, I think it’s about time to think like a startup as well.

New incubator seeks out Southeast Asia’s blockchain and bitcoin startups

Kylee McIntyre, writing for Tech in Asia;

If you’re just starting work on a blockchain tech startup in Southeast Asia, there’s a new gateway open to you. Satoshi Studios, a brand-new incubator for Southeast Asia, is seeking startups to whip into shape for its first batch.

Blockchain is not only for Bitcoin but can also be applied to other industries as well and that is probably what Satoshi Studios is looking for startups.

To apply, you can visit https://satoshistudios.typeform.com/to/OtQyzw