Here’s a wrap of the day’s news.
You may have heard this one before, but apparently Grab is close to acquiring Uber’s Southeast Asian business (Southeast Asia). Sure, it isn’t the first time this rumor has surfaced. But this time, anonymous sources are saying a deal could be done within the next two weeks. As previously reported, an agreement would likely see Grab take over most or all of Uber’s ride-hailing business in the region in exchange for a hefty stake in the Singapore-based company – potentially up to 20 percent, according to the sources. Exiting the tough Southeast Asia market would help stem huge losses at Uber as it preps itself for an IPO next year. (Bloomberg)
Meanwhile, Uber’s co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick is making a return to the startup world (Asia Pacific). This time, the sometimes controversial Kalanick will be on the investment side – he’s launching his own VC firm named 10100. “The overarching theme will be about large-scale job creation, with investments in real estate, commerce, and emerging innovation in China and India,” wrote Kalanick in a blog post. “Our non-profit efforts will initially focus on education and the future of cities.” (Business Insider)
Singapore’s ride-hailing sector could face more stringent regulation in the future (Singapore). The country’s government is considering the introduction of a licensing framework for the industry that would give it a “broader range of regulatory levers” to protect the interests of both passengers and drivers. Whether Uber will still be around to actually obtain such a license is another matter… (The Straits Times)
Elsewhere, there was a favorable development for Grab in its anti-competition suit in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). A local court suspended the case that taxi firm Vinasun had brought against Grab, due to Vinasun’s failure to submit evidence supporting its claims before a court-set deadline. Proceedings might resume at a later date, but Grab said it believes it has “a very strong case” and its “operations in Vietnam have always been compliant with current rules and regulations.” (Grab)
Crypto values plummet after Binance hack revealed (China). The Chinese startup, which operates the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange, was subjected to a hack in which token prices appeared to rapidly inflate, causing a market panic leading to price declines. Major cryptocoins including bitcoin, ether, and litecoin saw lost nearly 10 percent of their value over the course of the day. (China Money Network)
Japanese regulators sanction seven crypto-exchanges (Japan). The country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) suspended Bitstation and FSHO from doing business for one month. It also ordered five others, including Coincheck – which was subject to a US$530 million theft in January – to improve internal controls. The FSA became the world’s first regulatory body to create a register of officially approved cryptocurrency exchanges in September last year. (The Financial Times)
Pepperfry nets US$38.4 million from US backer State Street Global Advisors (India). The online furniture retailer said it will invest the funds into enhancing its offline presence and logistics network. This will include supply chain expansion, technology development, and opening new physical stores. (Livemint)
Carsome raises US$19 million for regional growth (Malaysia). The used-car trading platform secured the funding in a series B round led by Burda Principal Investments. Gobi Partners, InnoVen Capital, and Lumia Capital also participated. Carsome co-founder and CEO Eric Cheng told Tech in Asia that the new funds would be deployed to hire new talent and expand regionally, with a focus on Indonesia and Thailand. (Tech in Asia)
Media and entertainment
Tencent pumps US$630 million into gaming firm Douyu (China). The game live-streaming platform has also entered into a strategic agreement with the tech giant which will see the two collaborate on game development and livestreaming. (Technode)
Picture Time Digiplex reels in US$3.85 million in pre-series A funding (India). The startup operates low-cost, mobile cinema facilities, tapping in to the shortage of screens in India’s more remote – but no less movie-mad – areas. Picture Time Digiplex said it would use the money to build 100 of its mobile units by March next year. The investment came from a group of high-net-worth individuals led by Ajay Relan, founder and chairman of private equity firm CX Partners. (VCCircle)
Robotics and drones
Pre-series A boost for Aarav Unmanned Systems (AUS) (India). The dronemaker received the undisclosed funding from 500 Startups, BellWether Advisors, and GrowX Ventures, as well as existing investors including StartupXseed, 3ONE4 Capital, and others. AUS said it will invest the funds in R&D and business development activities. (Inc42)
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