IMJ Fenox, a new venture capital firm focusing on Southeast Asia, Japan, and the United States, has been jointly set up by IMJ Corporation, a web and mobile company in Japan, and Fenox VC, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.
The new fund will invest in mobile, internet, and software companies in Southeast Asia, Japan, and the United States. It is headquartered in Singapore, and has branch offices in Jakarta and Tokyo. Read more
My friend Jon Russell from The Next Web has recently penned that there are four issues challenging Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem: risk aversion, fear of failure, lack of big firm presence and immature ecosystem.
To his credit, he has spotted some inherent weaknesses of a diverse market fragmented not just by geography but also business culture. In a similar reflection, Michael Smith Jr from Spuul focused on the lack of enough big firms.
While there is a lot of hurrah with the arrival of 500 Startups to the region, there are several trends that might deter the growth of the ecosystem — the purpose of this article is to open a discussion on what these might be. Read more
Seed-funded startups often believe in the fallacy of quickly ramping up their hiring to scale the company.
This thinking is prevalent because the investor expects you to grow the company with a business model that is expected to work right away. In all honesty, startups at the seed stage have not figured out how to do that yet.
In the book “The Startup Owner’s Manual” by Steve Blank & Bob Dorf, a startup is defined as a temporary organization in search of a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model. Even if you have raised money to assemble a team and build a product, you should not go on a spending binge with the hope that the product will bring you customers.
The typical mentality is to “hire fast, fire fast”. But having learnt from my past experiences, I now prefer to hire slow and fire fast. Read more
Updated: 17th January 2012
Image: Silicon Straits
After running Neoteny Labs as Principal and making 24 investments since May 2010, James Chan has announced on his blog the rebranding of his early-stage venture fund. It’s now called Silicon Straits, reflecting the narrow bodies of water that flow through much of Southeast Asia.
The change affects Neoteny Labs Pte Ltd, the Singapore-registered entity that was part of the National Research Foundation’s Technology Incubation Scheme (TIS), a government startup co-funding initiative. Neoteny Labs will continue to exist as an offshore Limited Partnership.
James unveiled the new development not long after Neoteny participated in a USD500K seed round in Burpple, a Singapore-based startup that has created a mobile food journal and discovery app. While Joi Ito, the General Partner of the fund, will continue to maintain its existing portfolio with James, he will be focused primarily in his new appointment as the director of the MIT Media Lab. Read more
After raising USD40M from Kinnevik and tens of millions from JP Morgan, Lazada has done it again, announcing yesterday a USD26M investment from Summit Partners. The funds will be used for developing growth initiatives and expanding its product offering.
Lazada, which is Rocket Internet’s version of Amazon, claims to be the largest online department store in Southeast Asia. It operates in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
“We seek to invest in companies that build long-term value, and Lazada has shown dynamic growth in a short period of time,” said Scott Collins, a managing director and head of Summit Partners London.
On 21 November, Lazada launched a new fashion marketplace platform in Malaysia that caters to offline retailers that want online distribution and marketing services but desire control over logistics and operations. It plans to rollout this platform in all its markets and expand the number of retailers on it. Read more
Singapore’s YOOSE, a hyper-local mobile ad network, has today announced a sales partnership with Komli Mobile, a division of Komli Media.
The partnership, which will take effect in Southeast Asia and India, will give Komli Mobile the ability to offer location-based mobile ads to its clients, through YOOSE’s network of mobile apps and websites. Komli Mobile will have a reach of 1.44B mobile ad impressions in Southeast Asia alone. Read more
GMO Venture Partners, the VC subsidiary of Japan’s GMO Internet Group, has launched a one billion yen (USD12M) venture fund to invest in opportunities in Southeast Asia, reported TechinAsia.
The newest fund, GMO VP III, focuses on advertising, ecommerce, payment processing, and smartphone services in Southeast Asia. It has already made its first investment, an undisclosed amount in Coda Payments, a Singapore-headquartered startup that deals with micropayments in the region.
GMO is exploring the region because it sees similarities between the current market state and Japan in the early 2000s. It will continue to invest concurrently in Japan and China.
There’s been a wave of Japanese money entering the region as investors see growth opportunities beyond the moribund Japanese economy.
GREE Ventures, for example, has invested in a Series B round in PriceArea, an Indonesian price comparison site. DeNA too has some activity in Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam, while CyberAgent Ventures has been investing in Vietnamese and Indonesian startups.
Following a high-profile investment by JP Morgan earlier this year, the Samwer Brother’s Amazon clone Lazada has secured another substantial round of funding, reported TechCrunch. This time, the investor is Kinnevik, a Swedish investment firm which owns a 25 percent stake in Rocket Internet. This latest round is worth USD40M.
Lazada is shaping up to be a leading player in Southeast Asia’s e-commerce scene. Launched in March 2012, Lazada now operates in Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. It currently sells items in the books, consumer electronics, household goods, toys and sports equipment categories.
What’s unclear at this point is how well the company is doing in each of these countries, since Rocket Internet is predictably tight-lipped about it.
Regardless, Lazada has a huge war chest to play with. Combined with the JP Morgan investment – said to be worth between USD50M and USD100M — the company’s total funds received overshadows any amount that e-commerce startups in Southeast Asia can muster. Read more
The stakes are high in the mobile messaging arena in Asia, with the traditional SMS industry on the wane and apps like Whatsapp and Skype becoming default chatting tools among smartphone users. Now, TicToc has tossed its hat into the ring. It recently begun expanding regionally, launching TicToc Plus, its internationalized version, in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia in October. It is now available in 133 countries.
The app is relatively well-known in South Korea, but a virtual unknown everywhere else. Made by MADsmart, the company was acquired by SK Planet, a subsidiary of SK Telecom, South Korea’s most dominant telco. While it has gotten 17 million downloads, TicToc is facing intense competition from KakaoTalk, now possibly the second most dominant Asia-made instant messenger after WeChat.
“TicToc has more than 2 million active users and it used to be bigger than that though but as the dominance of Kakao Talk gets stronger, they are expelling other competitors in the local market,” said Choi Ji-Hyun, senior manager of global business development at SK Planet. Read more
Despite persistent rumors that Rocket Internet’s Zalora is struggling to gain firm footing in Asia, the fashion online retailer has announced today that JP Morgan Asset Management is investing in the company.
The investment, rumored to be in the “significant double digit millions”, covers Zalora’s presence in five Southeast Asian countries (Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam) as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan. The fresh injection of funds comes just 8 months after Zalora’s launch. Read more