SINGAPORE: As e-commerce continues to grow in the Asia-Pacific region, so too are the efforts of online merchants. In a bid to gain an edge over the competition, online vendors are providing new ways to connect with their customers in real time through services such as online chats. Seeking to capitalise on that, United States-based customer service software company Zendesk – which last year acquired Singapore live-chat start-up Zopim for US$29.8 million (S$40.2 million) – on Thursday (Feb 26) opened its Asia-Pacific headquarters on Commonwealth Drive.
Though startups in India raised nearly US$5 billion from venture capital funds and angel investors last year, a large number of young companies still find it tough to access capital, especially if they don’t want to share equity with VCs. Banks tie them up in red tape, informal moneylenders demand too much for too little, and microfinance companies have far too little to offer these entrepreneurs. Indian lenderAye Finance, which aims to mitigate this problem, has just bagged US$1 million in funding from SAIF Partners and Accion.
Singapore has announced new measures to invest in innovation and modernize its economy. Finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam mentioned in his Budget speech on February 23 that the government has added “advanced robotics” and “additive manufacturing” – 3D printing in other words – to a list of areas Singapore should be a leader in. To support its ambition, it is starting a SkillsFuture program that will finance every Singaporean’s pursuit of new skills.
BENGALURU: Infosys, after signing its first big-ticket acquisition under CEO Vishal Sikka last week, is evaluating a dozen more startups — all aimed not at bulking revenues or adding clients, as Indian IT companies typically do, but at gaining cutting-edge technology such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI). “We have a dozen targets we are looking at now,” Sikka said in an interview to ET, days after the software company bought automation startup Panaya for Rs 1,200 crore ($200 million).
NEW DELHI: Tech Mahindra plans to invest $150 million (Rs 933 crore) over the next three to four years in creating innovative solutions, both in-house and with other partners, as well as to fund acquisitions, as the company focuses on developing next-generation technologies. The IT business of the agribusiness-to-automobiles Mahindra Group has recently formed a unit, Global Strategy & Growth Factories, under former mobility services head Jagdish Mitra to push newer technologies and engagement with startups.
The late-stage fund, which was first announced almost exactly one year ago today, is set to open its first office outside the United States, according to a report out from the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. The country it has chosen: India. Beyond that, details are sketchy right now. There is no time frame for opening the office, it is unknown which city it will be based in, nor did the firm disclose how much funding will be available for investing in startups in the country.
BENGALURU: Wipro’s investments in next gen programmes, overseen by Rishad Premji’s strategy office, could soon be spun off into a separate entity. Called H2H3 (Horizon 2, Horizon 3), the programme operates like an in-house incubator and fund, identifying potent ideas that have the potential to scale up over a two- or three-year timeframe and generate substantial revenues.
BANGALORE: Private equity giant Blackstone has made a surprise offer to buy back the Indian BPO unit of the London-listed Serco, as formal bids were fired last week for the asset put on the block, people familiar with the matter said. The bids have valued the Serco unit (formerly Intelenet) at $450-500 million, sources added. PE giants buying back large assets are not uncommon in the US and European markets, but rare in the Indian context.
NEW DELHI: The government is planning to come up with an incentive package in the upcoming Budget to encourage manufacturing of electronic hardware including mobile phones and laptops as part of the ‘Make in India’ campaign. Some announcements to this affect are likely to be made in the Budget by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 28. Pitching for a package of incentives, the Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) has suggested that the Finance Minister should look at providing 10 year tax holiday for manufacturing of mobile handsets, tablets, laptops, desktops, telecom equipment, solar cells and medical electronics.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited announced on its website that the company will invest over NTD500 billion, which is about USD15.9 billion, to build a new plant to meet the ever-growing demands for chips. The new plant will be located in Central Taiwan Science Park and it is currently undergoing an environmental impact assessment.
BHOPAL: US based Cricket Semiconductor will invest $ 1 billion to set up India’s first analog electronic chip making plant in Madhya Pradesh. “Today we have signed MoU (memorandum of understanding) with Madhya Pradesh government to set up an analog semiconductor wafer fabrication plant with an investment of about $ 1 billion (over Rs 6,000 crore),” Cricket Semiconductor Chief Executive Officer Lou Hutter told PTI.
BENGALURU: Google is setting up its growth capital arm in India to double down on startup investing as it turns bullish on fast-growing local emerging companies that have drawn attention from big investors across the world. Google Capital will hire a team and invest in growth-stage companies in India, a market in which investors ranging from Japanese communications group SoftBank to Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba have recently made big bets. “It made a lot of sense to focus a lot of attention here now,” David Lawee, partner at Google Capital told ETin an exclusive interview.
India’s homegrown news reader app NewsHunt has secured INR 2.5 billion (US$40.5 million) in a series C funding round led by New York-based hedge fund Falcon Edge Capital. Existing investors Matrix Partners India, Sequoia Capital India, and Omidyar Network also participated in this round of funding, reports NextBigWhat. Newshunt raised US$16 million in a Series B round of funding led by Sequoia Capital last year.
AnyPerk, the startup making it easier for companies to shower their employees with fun extras, just grabbed US$8.5 million in series A funding, according to TechCrunch. The company last raised money in June 2014, to the tune of a US$4.5 million seed round. DCM Ventures and Digital Garage funded this round, joining Andreessen Horowitz and SV Angel as backers of the company.
Over the weekend Alibaba announced it will launch an HK$1 billion (about US$128 million) not-for-profit foundation to support Hong Kong startups. The organization, which will be known as the Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation, will be Alibaba’s first entrepreneur-support initiative exclusively for Hong Kong, according to the company.
Although it’s a given in most nations that foreign investments are crucial to support startup growth, it may not be as obvious to the entrepreneurs residing in emerging market nations like Indonesia. Tokopedia CEO William Tanuwijaya claims it’s common for him to hear netizens mock his company because it has accepted foreign investment time and time again. Is it wrong to grow your Indonesian tech company using cash from foreign companies?
Alibaba has invested US$10 million in California-based game company Ouya, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ouya originally created an open-source, Android-compatible game console that struggled to sell after a high-profile Kickstarter campaign in 2012. Ultimately, the company pivoted from hardware into primarily selling its library of games on streaming video devices.
Alibaba is reportedly investing US$10 million into microconsole maker Ouya after the latter had a rather unfavorable 2014 and showed no signs of large growth in this year. Ouya was a highly successful Kickstarter that raised US$8 million in 2012 with the promise of a microconsole running games on Android. The end results were a bit less exciting, to say the least, with the console receiving poor reviews and faring badly against Sony and Microsoft.
The Export Processing Zone Administration (EPZA) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has has approved applications from Hoya Marketing, Madhatter Technology, and Edispay Solutions, to invest and station at the Kaohsiung Software Park (KSP). The total investment amounts to around NT$25.6 million (US$819,761).
Last summer, KDDI launched a new US$50 million fund. Today, two more startups received funding from the Open Innovation Fund, with the announcement coming at the Japanese telco’s seventh demo day. Terms for the deals were not disclosed. Mist Technologies makes a clever browser plugin that allows browsers in a similar geographical location that are streaming the same content to share it amongst themselves. This means that slow upload times for popular content can be avoided.