While Uber has hit its toughest regulatory road block yet in Seoul, last-mile delivery service Naldo pushes forward with its plan to upend South Korea’s logistics industry. The company last week received an undisclosed series A round from Softbank Ventures Korea and Qualcomm Ventures. Tech in Asia soon after caught up with founder Ludolf Ebner to get the lowdown on his startup.
More and more money is pouring into funds specifically for Asia-based startups. Today San Diego-based mobile chip manufacturer Qualcomm announced it has established a US$150 million fund for startups based in China (hat-tip The Next Web). Despite being best known as a maker of chips and telecom equipment Qualcomm is no stranger to startup investments. In China, its been actively funding young companies for ten years, and currently boasts companies like phonemaker Xiaomi, mobile app makers Dolphin Browser, and Uber-esque limo-on-demand app Yongche among its roster of investments.
India’s ecommerce poster-boy Flipkart has raised over US$1 billion. According to The Economic Times, Flipkart will make the official announcement next week. Half of the fresh funds are expected to come from existing investors: Tiger Global, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s DST, and Accel Partners. This is not only the biggest ever funding round by an Indian e-commerce company, but comes close to global taxi services company Uber’s US$1.2 billion round last month.
Ecommerce titan Alibaba took a 28 percent stake in Autonavi nearly a year ago. And then in February this year the firm proposed a full buy-out of Autonavi for a premium of US$21 per share. (UPDATE on July 16: Autonavi shareholders today voted in favor of the deal. The merger will be finalized later this month and then Autonavi will delist from NASDAQ). Today Autonavi confirmed it has accepted the deal for that acquisition price, pending the approval of shareholders. Autonavi closed trading yesterday at $20 per share. For shareholders it’s a large premium over the $16.54 value per share when it was first proposed in February.
Corporate venture funds have been in vogue in Japan for the past few years, but accelerators and incubators remain a rarer breed. KDDI, typically known as one of Japan’s top telecommunication providers, has chosen the path less traveled and established both a venture fund (which is renewed yesterday for US$50 million) and an accelerator.
KDDI (TYO: 9433) revealed a flurry of investment plans today. First, the telecommunications firm announced the KDDI Open Innovations Fund (operated by Global Brain) deposited US$8 million into four American startups. Education firm Edmodo, digital media publishing platform Issuu, seat upgrade app Pogoseat, and TechCrunch competitor VentureBeat all received funding but individual terms were not disclosed. KDDI noted that a key reason for investing in these companies is their collective potential for trying to enter the Japanese market.
Fujitsu is injecting 200 billion yen (US$1.97 billion) over the next two years to expand its Fujitsu Cloud portfolio in infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, software-as-a-service, and cloud integration service, in hope to boost its cloud sales to 350 billion yen (US$3.45 billion). Cameron McNaught, Fujitsu executive vice president of solutions and global delivery, said the investment will help bring business innovation, social innovation, and strengthen the company’s global delivery capabilities.
Cloudian, a California-based company with a major presence in Japan, announced a US$24 million financing round today. The firm received funds from existing investors like Intel Capital as well as newcomers Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) and Fidelity Growth Partners Japan. The funding is earmarked for powering Cloudian’s global sales and marketing. Japan sales are already very healthy – seven of the 16 top clients listed on the company’s website are Japanese corporations.
Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba’s premiere mutual fund savings product Yuebao turned one year old this week, and announced it now holds RMB 574 billion (US$92 billion) in assets. That makes it the fourth-largest money market fund in the world, according to the company’s official blog. That’s pretty impressive, but those assets are growing at a much slower clip now than they were in the first quarter of this year. This is due to a variety of reasons.
SINGAPORE: Taiwan semiconductor firm MediaTek on Tuesday (July 1) unveiled plans to invest another S$250 million in Singapore by 2020 in a sign of continued confidence in the city-state’s electronics industry. Economic Development Board (EDB) Chairman Leo Yip said MediaTek’s expansion – along with investments announced by firms such as Realtek and International Rectifier earlier this year – showed that Singapore’s semiconductor industry remained globally competitive.
Preferred Infrastructure (Preferred) is storming Japan’s big data landscape. The thirty-strong company was founded by graduate students, overcame Japan’s own busted tech bubble, and now sells its natural language processing software-as-a-service to some of the country’s top firms. The list is media-heavy, with the Asahi Shimbun, Nikkei Business, and NHK (the national public broadcaster) leading the pack. However, Preferred’s services are varied enough to also entice the likes of NTT, Japan’s largest telco.
As Alibaba prepares for its IPO and Tencent aggressively pushes its WeChat messenger all over the world, it’s easy for folks in the west to forget that there’s another Asian internet giant gunning for a broader global presence – Japan’s Rakuten. Founded in 1997, the Tokyo-based firm earned a name for itself domestically with Rakuten Ichiba, a marketplace that sells virtual store space for vendors looking to reach online customers. Rakuten Ichiba’s success helped it gain the reputation as “Japan’s Amazon,” the firm quickly proved to be about more than ecommerce – it successfully branched into the banking, securities, and travel industries. It even created a juggernaut baseball team in northern Japan.
Thanks to the rise of social networks and smartphones, business cards don’t quite hold the same cachet that they used to. In Western markets, some people refuse to carry more than one card to networking events (lest they appear desperate), while others proclaim that the age of the business card is flat-out over. For professionals across Asia, however, the humble business card remains a vital tool for introductions and a jumping-off point for future networking.
Moi Corporation, the Tokyo-based startup behind Twitcasting, today announced a US$5 million series A funding round that will be used to increase the live-streaming platform’s presence outside of Japan. The investment was led by Indonesia’s Sinar Mas, marking the first time that a non-Japanese VC has invested in the company. Seed investor East Ventures1 also contributed.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Terry Gou (郭台銘), the chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (鴻海精密), the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, said yesterday that the company will expand its investment effort in Taiwan starting in July. With the iPhone 6 expected to be rolled out in fall, investors are upbeat about Apple contract manufacturer Hon Hai’s performance down the road, which was reflected in Hon Hai’s record-high share price yesterday.
The investment arm of global networking products major Cisco Monday announced a $40 million (Rs.241 crore) fund for early-stage firms (start-ups) in India which are focused on products and technologies relevant to the country and other emerging markets. “The funds will also be made in firms which work on cost-optimised designs, industry vertical solutions and applications on cloud computing,” the Indian subsidiary of the US global telecom products firm said in a statement here.
KDDI, Japan’s third largest carrier by subscriber base behind Docomo and SoftBank, is betting on the success of news curation app Gunosy. The telco announced a 1.2 billion yen (US$11.8 million) funding round today – after already providing US$12 million in March to fund a Gunosy television advertisement campaign. According to The Bridge, Jafco and B Dash Ventures joined KDDI for the latest investment.
Chinese telecom operator China Mobile announced that the company plans to acquire a 18% stake in True, one of the three major telecom carriers in Thailand, for about CNY5.5 billion. On the completion of the transaction, the two parties will implement cooperation in various sectors, including technology and network construction, procurement sharing, and market development. However, since the deal involves state-owned asset and listed company, it is still subject to the approval of regulatory authorities in Thailand.
Japanese telco Softbank (TYO:9984) will invest over $20 million in startups in the Philippines with the creation of a new fund, Tech in Asia has learned. The Softbank venture fund in the Philippines is set up with the help of its regional partner, IP Ventures (IPVI). SoftBank China and India’s Bodhi Fund invested in IPVI in 2011. It will be led by IPVI’s CEO Enrique Gonzalez and also Softbank’s very own Kabir Misra, Katsumasa Niki, Teddy Himler, and Yen Theng Tan.
Social Recruiting, a Tokyo-based startup that claims to be Japan’s number one social recruiting service, received more than US$2 million in series A funding from domestic VC Global Brain. Exact details about the investment were undisclosed, but Social Recruiting CEO Hirofumi Kasuga confirmed with Tech in Asia that the figure was more than US$2 million but less than US$5 million.