oBike and Grab partner up

Judith Balea, writing for Tech in Asia;

OBike today announced a strategic partnership with ride-hailing company Grab.

For starters, oBike will integrate GrabPay into its app, offering its riders another cashless payment option and the ability to earn GrabReward points. Grab branding will also appear on its bikes.

Canva is now a Unicorn

Steven Millward, writing for Tech in Asia;

Nearly five years after Melanie Perkins, a former graphic design software tutor, first launched Canva as a Photoshop-for-people-terrified-of-Photoshop online tool, the startup is worth US$1 billion dollars following its latest round of funding.

She has just pocketed US$40 million from investors including Sequoia Capital to further grow Canva, which has users designing graphics with its intuitive tools in 190 countries and 100 languages. Its 10 million users make 1 million new designs each day.

WeChat rolls out ‘instant games’ you don’t need to install

Steven Millward, writing for Tech in Asia;

Already China’s most-used app, WeChat wants to make itself even more ubiquitous by allowing people to find and play games inside the messaging app.

WeChat, which has nearly a billion users, today rolled out a handful of what it calls “mini games.” They’re specially created games that work only within WeChat and don’t require downloading or installing.

Flipkart just launched its first phone

Steven Millward, writing for Tech in Asia;

Following in the footsteps of Amazon’s Fire phone flop, India’s Flipkart today unveiled its first ever phone.

Starting at US$170, the dual camera Billion Capture+ shows India’s biggest homegrown ecommerce store is going after the cheap-and-cheerful sector that’s currently dominated by Chinese brands Xiaomi and Oppo. It goes on sale November 15.

Here’s the full specs of the Billion Capture+ smartphone;

  • 5.5 inch FHD Display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, @401 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 64-bit Octa Core 2GHz Processor
  • Adreno 506 GPU
  • Android Nougat 7.1.2, will upgrade to Android Oreo
  • 3GB / 4GB RAM
  • 32GB / 64GB storage expandable up to 128 GB via microSD
  • Dual Rear Camera: 13MP with RGB sensor + 13MP Monochrome with f2.0 aperture, Dual tone 1A true Flash
  • 8MP Front Camera
  • Networks: GSM, WCDMA, 4G LTE, FDD
  • Wifi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Hotspot,
  • 3G, GPRS, Bluetooth,
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Sensors: G-sensor, Proximity Sensor, Light Sensor, Gyroscope, Hall Sensor, Fingerprint
  • FM Radio
  • Dimension: 76.5mm x 153mm x 8.5mm
  • Weight: 176 G
  • 3500 mAh Li-Polymer Battery
  • Colors: Desert Golder, Mystic Black

Price:

  • 64GB with 4 GB RAM – INR 13,999 or around $214*
  • 32GB with 3 GB RAM – INR 11,999 or around $183*

*$1 = INR 65.39

Korea’s Althea closes $7m series B funding for global expansion

Jack Ellis, writing for Tech in Asia;

Online beauty products store Althea has raised US$7 million in a series B round, with the funding coming from FirstFloor Capital, Korea Development Bank, Bridges Alliance Partners, Innoven Capital, and Tekton Ventures.

The South Korean startup said that the investment will be used to grow its private-label product lines and expand its reach worldwide.

Travel activities startup Klook nets $60m

Steven Millward, writing for Tech in Asia;

US$179 billion. That’s how much the online travel booking industry was worth last year. That’s set to expand to US$288 billion by 2021.

Amid all that growth, travel startups are finding their niches, where they can avoid being massacred by the Expedias and Kayaks of this world.

The Philippines just got its first billion-dollar startup

Judith Balea, writing for Tech in Asia;

The Philippines has hit a huge milestone: it just got its first unicorn startup. Revolution Precrafted, a developer of prefabricated designer homes, has raised its series B round co-led by Singapore’s K2 VC, valuing the company at over US$1 billion, according to two sources familiar with the deal.

Philippines’s first unicorn and here’s hoping the first of many!

Unless of course you consider Xurpas, as the first unicorn which is valued At Php 1.7 Billion.

Foodie startup Chope feasts on $13m funding

Michael Tegos, writing for Tech in Asia;

Singapore-based restaurant discovery and booking startup Chope announced today it’s raised a fresh round of funding worth US$13 million.

The round is led by Asia-Pacific investment firm Square Peg Capital and joined by C31 Ventures and Moelis Australia. Existing investors NSI Ventures, Susquehanna International Group, DSG Consumer Partners, and SPH Ventures also came in for a top-up.

Wavemaker raises $66m in oversubscribed Southeast Asia tech fund

Jack Ellis, writing for Tech in Asia;

US-Singaporean venture capital firm Wavemaker Partners has closed a US$66 million fund for Southeast Asia – its second focused on the region.

The new vehicle – which exceeded its initial US$50 million target – has been backed by Singapore sovereign fund Temasek Holdings, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, and veteran investor Tim Draper, among others. AddVentures, the corporate venture arm of Thai conglomerate Siam Cement Group, also announced an investment in Wavemaker this week.

Uber allegedly used secret program to spy on Grab

Judith Balea, writing for Tech in Asia;

A secret Uber program supposedly spied on Southeast Asian rival Grab and stole data on its drivers, according to a Bloomberg report.

Called Surfcam, the program developed by an Uber staff out of its Sydney office scraped data published by competitors to figure out how many drivers were on their systems in real-time and where they were, the report said quoting anonymous sources. It started in 2015 while Travis Kalanick was CEO.

The tool, said to have been mainly used on Grab, raised concerns with a member of Uber’s legal team “who questioned whether it could be legally operated in Singapore because it may run afoul of Grab’s terms of service or the country’s strict computer-crime laws,” the report added.

It’s one of the invasive and possible illicit schemes that US authorities are looking into as they launched “at least five criminal probes” against the embattled ride-hailing company.

This is bad and its a Herculean task for Uber’s CEO to clean up the mess made by its previous CEO.

iSelect takes control of iMoney, one of Southeast Asia’s top financial comparison sites

Judith Balea, writing for Tech in Asia;

ustralian Securities Exchange-listed iSelect has boosted its stake in Malaysia-based financial comparison service iMoney, giving it majority ownership of the company.

In a disclosure to the ASX, the company said it hiked its iMoney stake to 51.5 percent from 23.8 percent by buying US$4.15 million worth of shares from other shareholders. The purchase price equates to a value of “5.9 times iMoney’s FY17 revenue,” it said.

AdAsia gets an extra $2.5m to take its AI tools beyond adtech

Jack Ellis, writing for Tech in Asia;

Singapore-based adtech startup AdAsia has completed its series A funding round, hauling in an extra US$2.5 million to add to the US$12 million it raised back in April.

The “series A-plus” money comes from angel investor Hisanori Watanabe – founder of WebCrew – and Japanese news app Gunosy. Along with the first tranche of funds from Singaporean VC firm JAFCO, AdAsia’s total series A raise now stands at US$14.5 million.

If read the whole article, the keyword phrase here is;

… use artificial intelligence-driven matching technology, which it uses to link advertisers with publishers and brand owners with social media influencers.

UberFlash and UberTaxi launch in Malaysia

Leighton Cosseboom, writing for Tech in Asia;

Uber Malaysia introduced two new services today, UberFlash and UberTaxi, aiming to make it easier for Malaysians to use the ride-hailing app.

With UberTaxi, Malaysian taxi cabs will be available upon request via Uber. Meanwhile, UberFlash will connect riders to the driver closest to them, whether that is a private UberX car or a taxi on the e-hailing network.

Uber is launching these services inside Grab’s own backyard.

You can read Uber’s announcement here.

Grab will pour $100m into Myanmar as it faces off with Uber

Judith Balea, writing for Tech in Asia;

Grab, Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing app, has committed to invest US$100 million over the next three years in Myanmar, where Uber also debuted earlier this year.

The company will use the money to extend its services to more cities in the country, which has seen exploding mobile phone adoption. It will also roll out other products such as its digital payment feature GrabPay, and increase its local headcount to 200, it said in a statement. The company is exploring offering its corporate ‘Grab for Work’ solution after seeing healthy demand.

Win for ride-hailing apps as Indonesia overthrows key transportation rules

Nadine Freischlad, writing for Tech in Asia;

  • Indonesia’s supreme court, the country’s highest judiciary institution, has overthrown key parts of the regulatory framework that affect ride-hailing companies like Uber, Grab, and Go-Jek.
  • 18 paragraphs were ruled to be in conflict (PDF link) with existing laws regulating SMEs and the transportation sector and declared ineffective.

LTFRB could learn a thing or two from Indonesia’s experience. There’s a reason why Uber, Grab and other transport network vehicle services (TNVS) are thriving and that’s where LTFRB is failing the commuting public.

You can read the translated version of the original article here.

Facebook sneaks into China with a new app

Steven Millward, writing for Tech in Asia;

In a surprise move, Facebook has made and released an app just for China – where Mark Zuckerberg’s social network has been blocked since 2009.

Facebook’s China app, launched stealthily into the local app store under a company pseudonym, is a photo-sharing service called Colorful Balloons. The New York Times first spotted and reported on the app after verifying that it was indeed made by Facebook.

The Colorful Balloons app is actually a walled-off, China-only version of Facebook Moments, the spin-off app dedicated to photos that was first introduced mid-2015.

Sneaky!

Didi and Softbank to invest $2b in Grab; round may reach $2.5b

Judith Balea, reporting for Tech in Asia;

Southeast Asia’s leading transportation app Grab has new ammunition to battle rivals Uber and Go-Jek. The Singapore-headquartered company announced today that its two largest shareholders – China’s Didi Chuxing and Masayoshi Son-led Softbank – are investing up to US$2 billion to lead its current funding round.

Grab expects to raise an additional US$500 million from existing and new investors, bringing the round’s total to US$2.5 billion. Jack Ma’s Alibaba was supposedly eyeing to join in.

That’s one massive funding. This could threaten Uber’s growth in the region.

AI creates fake Obama

Steven Millward, reporting for Tech in Asia;

Researchers made the AI-powered mimicry tech for well-meaning reasons, but this could have nefarious uses in creating fake news.

This is interesting, creepy and disturbing in so many levels. Just think of all the (legal, political, religious, etc.) implications that this software/AI can cause.

Payments company Ayopop raises $1m seed funding

Nadine Freischlad, reporting for Tech in Asia;

Indonesia’s Ayopop specializes in bill payments, which means it wants users to pay for things like their phone bills, electricity, and internet services through its app.

Ayopop launched about a year ago and has been angel funded so far, with some investment from venture capital firm Gree Ventures.

Finally, Google’s Android beats Microsoft’s Windows as world’s most popular OS

Malavika Velayanikal, reporting for Tech in Asia;

Google’s Android has finally usurped Microsoft’s Windows’ throne as the world’s most popular operating system. dependent web analytics company StatCounter found that Android topped the total internet usage across desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile combined at 37.93 percent. Windows is at 37.91 percent – second for the first time. This is based on global internet usage data for March.

Not a surprising stats.

Since the number of phones sold is greater than the number of windows PC sold. Android’s lead will still increase in the coming year and I can see iOS devices overtaking Windows in the next 5 years or less.

IFC injects $2m in SeedPlus to fund early stage startups in Asia

Nadine Freischlad, reporting for Tech in Asia;

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a US$2 million equity investment in SeedPlus, a seed stage venture fund based in Singapore, to support early stage technology entrepreneurship in Asia.

SeedPlus is a collaboration between four investment firms – Jungle Ventures, Infocomm Investments, Accel Partners, and RNT Associates.

The group formerly known as KFit has bought Groupon Singapore

Michael Tegos, reporting for Tech in Asia;

After nabbing Groupon Indonesia and Groupon Malaysia, the Fave group has come for the Singapore version of the daily deals site. Fave, which has a similar mandate, announced today it has acquired Groupon Singapore.

Details about the deal have not been disclosed.

The Fave group evolved out of Malaysian fitness subscription service KFit. While KFit is still available as a separate service and app, it’s now part of Fave along with Groupon Indonesia. Groupon Malaysia has been completely integrated into Fave, and Groupon Indonesia and Singapore will follow in 2017.