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India’s Ola spins out a dedicated EV business — and it just raised $56M from investors

Posted by on Mar 1, 2019 in Ankit Jain, Asia, Automotive, Bhavish Aggarwal, carsharing, Co-founder, Collaborative Consumption, Companies, didi, Didi Chuxing, DST Global, electric vehicle, Flipkart, funding, Fundings & Exits, head, India, ola cabs, Sachin Bansal, Sequoia, Softbank, SoftBank Group, Steadview Capital, temasek, Tencent, tiger global, transport, Uber, United States | 0 comments

Ola, Uber’s key rival in India, is doubling down on electric vehicles after it span out a dedicated business, which has pulled in $56 million in early funding.

The unit is named Ola Electric Mobility and it is described as being an independent business that’s backed by Ola. TechCrunch understands Ola provided founding capital, and it has now been joined by a series of investors who have pumped Rs. 400 crore ($56 million) into Ola Electric. Notably, those backers include Tiger Global and Matrix India — two firms that were early investors in Ola itself.

While automotive companies and ride-hailing services in the U.S. are focused on bringing autonomous vehicles to the streets, India — like other parts of Asia — is more challenging thanks to diverse geographies, more sparse mapping and other factors. In India, companies have instead flocked to electric. The government had previously voiced its intention to make 30 percent of vehicles electric by 2030, but it has not formally introduced a policy to guide that initiative.

Ola has taken steps to electrify its fleet — it pledged last year to add 10,000 electric rickshaws to its fleet and has conducted other pilots with the goal of offering one million EVs by 2022 — but the challenge is such that it has spun out Ola Electric to go deeper into EVs.

That means that Ola Electric won’t just be concerned with vehicles, it has a far wider remit.

The new company has pledged to focus on areas that include charging solutions, EV batteries, and developing viable infrastructure that allows commercial EVs to operate at scale, according to an announcement. In other words, the challenge of developing electric vehicles goes beyond being a ‘ride-hailing problem’ and that is why Ola Electric has been formed and is being capitalized independently of Ola.

An electric rickshaw from Ola

Its leadership is also wholly separate.

Ola Electric is led by Ola executives Anand Shah and Ankit Jain — who led Ola’s connected car platform strategy — and the team includes former executives from carmakers such as BMW.

Already, it said it has partnered with “several” OEMs and battery makers and it “intends to work closely with the automotive industry to create seamless solutions for electric vehicle operations.” Indeed, that connected car play — Ola Play — likely already gives it warm leads to chase.

“At Ola Electric, our mission is to enable sustainable mobility for everyone. India can leapfrog problems of pollution and energy security by moving to electric mobility, create millions of new jobs and economic opportunity, and lead the world,” Ola CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal said in a statement.

“The first problem to solve in electric mobility is charging: users need a dependable, convenient, and affordable replacement for the petrol pump. By making electric easy for commercial vehicles that deliver a disproportionate share of kilometers traveled, we can jumpstart the electric vehicle revolution,” added Anand Shah, whose job title is listed as head of Ola Electric Mobility.

The new business spinout comes as Ola continues to raise new capital from investors.

Last month, Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal invested $92 million into the ongoing Series J round that is likely to exceed $1 billion and would value Ola at around $6 billion. Existing backer Steadview Capital earlier committed $75 million but there’s plenty more in development.

A filing — first noted by paper.vc — shows that India’s Competition Commission approved a request for a Temasek-affiliated investment vehicle’s proposed acquisition of seven percent of Ola. In addition, SoftBank offered a term sheet for a prospective $1 billion investment last month, TechCrunch understands from an industry source.

Ola is backed by the likes of SoftBank, Tencent, Sequoia India, Matrix, DST Global and Didi Chuxing. It has raised some $3.5 billion to date, according to data from Crunchbase.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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First China, now Starbucks gets an ambitious VC-funded rival in Indonesia

Posted by on Feb 1, 2019 in alibaba, alibaba group, android, Apps, army, Asia, carsharing, China, Companies, East Ventures, economy, funding, Fundings & Exits, go-jek, Google, grab, Indonesia, Insignia Ventures Partners, internet access, Jakarta, JD.com, managing partner, mcdonalds, online food ordering, online marketplaces, Pizza Hut, Singapore, Southeast Asia, starbucks, temasek, Tencent, United States, WeWork | 0 comments

Asia’s venture capital-backed startups are gunning for Starbucks .

In China, the U.S. coffee giant is being pushed by Luckin Coffee, a $2.2 billion challenger surfing China’s on-demand wave, and on the real estate side, where WeWork China has just unveiled an on-demand product that could tempt people who go to Starbucks to kill time or work.

That trend is picking up in Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest country and Southeast Asia’s largest economy, where an on-demand challenger named Fore Coffee has fuelled up for a fight after it raised $8.5 million.

Fore was started in August 2018 when associates at East Ventures, a prolific early-stage investor in Indonesia, decided to test how robust the country’s new digital infrastructure can be. That means it taps into unicorn companies like Grab, Go-Jek and Traveloka and their army of scooter-based delivery people to get a hot brew out to customers. Incidentally, the name ‘Fore’ comes from ‘forest’ — “we aim to grow fast, strong, tall and bring life to our surrounding” — rather than in front of… or a shout heard on the golf course.

The company has adopted a similar hybrid approach to Luckin, and Starbucks thanks to its alliance with Alibaba. Fore operates 15 outlets in Jakarta, which range from ‘grab and go’ kiosks for workers in a hurry, to shops with space to sit and delivery-only locations, Fore co-founder Elisa Suteja told TechCrunch. On the digital side, it offers its own app (delivery is handled via Go-Jek’s Go-Send service) and is available via Go-Jek and Grab’s apps.

So far, Fore has jumped to 100,000 deliveries per month and its app is top of the F&B category for iOS and Android in Indonesia — ahead of Starbucks, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut .

It’s early times for the venture — which is not a touch on Starbuck’s $85 billion business; it does break out figures for Indonesia — but it is a sign of where consumption is moving to Indonesia, which has become a coveted beachhead for global companies, and especially Chinese, moving into Southeast Asia. Chinese trio Tencent, Alibaba and JD.com and Singapore’s Grab are among the outsiders who have each spent hundreds of millions to build or invest in services that tap growing internet access among Indonesia’s population of over 260 million.

There’s a lot at stake. A recent Google-Temasek report forecast that Indonesia alone will account for over 40 percent of Southeast Asia’s digital economy by 2025, which is predicted to triple to reach $240 billion.

As one founder recently told TechCrunch anonymously: “There is no such thing as winning Southeast Asia but losing Indonesia. The number one priority for any Southeast Asian business must be to win Indonesia.”

Forecasts from a recent Google-Temasek report suggest that Indonesia is the key market in Southeast Asia

This new money comes from East Ventures — which incubated the project — SMDV, Pavilion Capital, Agaeti Venture Capital and Insignia Ventures Partners with participation from undisclosed angel backers. The plan is to continue to invest in growing the business.

“Fore is our model for ‘super-SME’ — SME done right in leveraging technology and digital ecosystem,” Willson Cuaca, a managing partner at East Ventures, said in a statement.

There’s clearly a long way to go before Fore reaches the size of Luckin, which has said it lost 850 million yuan, or $124 million, inside the first nine months in 2018.

The Chinese coffee challenger recently declared that money is no object for its strategy to dethrone Starbucks. The U.S. firm is currently the largest player in China’s coffee market, with 3,300 stores as of last May and a goal of topping 6,000 outlets by 2022, but Luckin said it will more than double its locations to more than 4,500 by the end of this year.

By comparison, Indonesia’s coffee battle is only just getting started.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Moglix raises $23M to digitize India’s manufacturing supply chain

Posted by on Dec 18, 2018 in Accel Partners, Amazon, Asia, chairman, E-Commerce, eCommerce, Flipkart, funding, Fundings & Exits, IFC, India, innoven capital, jungle ventures, Moglix, online payments, ratan tata, SaaS, series C, Singapore, temasek, Walmart, World Bank | 0 comments

We hear a lot about India’s e-commerce battle between Walmart, which bought Flipkart for $17 billion, and Amazon. But over in the B2B space, Moglix — an e-commerce service for buying manufacturing products that’s been making strides — today it announced a $23 million Series C round ahead of a bigger round and impending global expansion.

This new round was led by some impressive names that Moglix counts as existing investors: Accel Partners, Jungle Ventures and World Bank-affiliated IFC. Other returning backers that partook include Venture Highway, ex-Twitter VP Shailesh Rao and InnoVen Capital, a venture debt fund affiliated with Singapore’s Temasek. The startup also counts Ratan Tata — the former chairman of manufacturing giant Tata Sons — Singapore’s SeedPlus and Rocketship on its cap table.

Founded in 2015 by former Googler Rahul Garg, Moglix connects manufacturing OEMs and their resellers with business buyers. Garg told TechCrunch last year that it is named after the main character in The Jungle Book series in order to “bring global standards to the Indian manufacturing sector.” The country accounts for 90 percent of its transactions, but the startup is also focused on global opportunities.

“The entire B2B commerce industry in India will move to a transactional model,” Garg told us in an interview this week. He sees a key role in bringing about the same impact Amazon had on consumer e-commerce.

“We think there’s an opportunity to start from a blank sheet and rewrite how B2B transactions should be done in the country,” he added. “The entire supply chain has been pretty much offline and fragmented.”

In a little over three years, Moglix has raced to its Series C round with rapid expansion that has seen it grow to 10 centers in India with a retail base that covers over 5,000 suppliers and supplying SMEs.

Yet, despite that, Garg has kept things lean as the company has raised just $41 million across those rounds, including a $12 million Series B last year, with under 500 staff. However, Moglix is laying the foundations for what he expects will be a much larger fundraising round next year that will see the company go after international opportunities.

“This [new] round is about doubling, tripling, down on India but also establishing a seed in a couple of countries we are looking at,” Garg said.

Moglix aims to make the B2B online buying experience as intuitive and user-friendly as e-commerce sites are for consumers

Adding further color, he explained that Moglix will expand its Saas procurement service, which helps digitize B2B purchasing, to 100 markets worldwide as part of its global vision. While that service does have tie-ins with the Moglix platform, it also allows any customer to bring their existing sales channels into a digital environment, therein preparing them to get their needs online, ideally with Moglix. That service is currently available in eight countries, Garg confirmed.

Beyond making connections on the buying side, Moglix also works with major OEM brands and their key resellers. The basic pitch is the benefits of digital commerce data — detailed information on what your target customers buy or browser — as well as the strength of Moglix’s distribution system, tighter fraud prevention and that aforementioned digital revolution.

“Brands have started to realize [that digital] will be a very important channel and that they need to use both [online and offline] for crafting their distribution,” explained Garg.

Indeed, a much-cited SPO India report forecasts that B2B in India is currently a $300 billion a year market that is poised to reach $700 billion by 2020. Garg estimates that his company has a 0.5 percent market share within its manufacturing niche. Over the coming five years, he said he believes that it can reach double-digit percent.

While it may not be as sexy as consumer commerce, stronger unit economics — thanks to a large part to different buying dynamics of business customers, who are less swayed by discounts — make the space something to keep an eye on as India’s digital development continues. Already, Garg paid credit to GST — the move to digitize taxation — as a key development that has aided his company.

“GST enabled good trust and accelerated everything by 2/3X,” he said.

There might yet be further boons as the Indian government chases its strategy of becoming a global manufacturing hub.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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TNB Aura closes $22.7M fund to bring PE-style investing to Southeast Asia’s startups

Posted by on Dec 13, 2018 in Artificial Intelligence, Asia, Australia, Business, economy, entrepreneurship, Finance, funding, Fundings & Exits, golden gate ventures, Google, Indonesia, jungle ventures, manufacturing, money, Monk's Hill Ventures, openspace ventures, Philippines, Private Equity, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Startup company, TC, temasek, Thailand, TradeGecko, United States, Venture Capital, vietnam | 0 comments

TNB Aura, a recent arrival to Southeast Asia’s VC scene, announced today that it has closed a maiden fund at SG$31.1million, or around US$22.65 million, to bring a more private equity-like approach to investing in startups in the region.

The fund was launched in 2016 and it is a joint effort between Australia-based venture fund Aura and Singapore’s TNB Ventures, which has a history of corporate innovation work. It reached a final close today, having hit an early close in January. It is a part of the Enterprise Singapore ‘Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering’ scheme which, as you’d expect, means there is a focus on hardware, IO, AI and other future-looking tech like ‘industry 4.0.’

The fund is targeting Series A and B deals and it has the firepower to do 15-20 deals over likely the next two to three years, co-founder and managing partner Vicknesh R Pillay told TechCrunch in an interview. There’s around $500,000-$4 million per company, with the ideal scenario being an initial $1 million check with more saved for follow-on rounds. Already it has backed four companies including TradeGecko, which raised $10 million in a round that saw TNB Aura invest alongside Aura, and AI marketing platform Ematic.

The fund has a team of 10, including six partners and an operating staff of four. It pitches itself a little differently to most other VCs in the region given that manufacturing and engineering bent. That, Pillay said, means it is focused on “hardware plus software” startups.

“We are very strong fundamentals guys,” Pillay added. We ask what is the valuation and decide what we can get from a deal. It’s almost like PE-style investing in the VC world.”

A selection of the TNB Aura team [left to right]: Samuel Chong (investment manager), Calvin Ng, Vicknesh R Pillay, Charles Wong (partners), Liu Zhihao (investment manager)

Another differentiator, Pillay believes, is the firm’s history in the corporate innovation space. That leads it to be pretty well suited to working in the B2B and enterprise spaces thanks to its existing networks, he said.

“We particularly like B2B saas companies and we believe we can assist them through of our innovation platforms,” Pillay explained.

Outside of Singapore — which is a heavy focus thanks to the relationship with Enterprise Singapore — TNB Aura is focused on Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, four of the largest markets that form a large chunk of Southeast Asia’s cumulative 650 million population. With an internet population of over 330 million — higher than the entire U.S. population — the region is set to grow strongly as internet access increases. A recent report from Google and Temasek tipped the region’s digital economy will triple to reach $240 billion by 20205.

The report also found that VC funding in Southeast Asia is developing at a fast clip. Excluding unicorns, which distort the data somewhat, startups raised $2.6 billion in the first half of this year, beating the $2.4 billion tally for the whole of 2017.

There are plenty of other Series A-B funds in the region, including Jungle Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, Openspace Ventures, Monks Hill Ventures, Qualgro and more.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Google report: Southeast Asia’s digital economy to triple to $240 billion by 2025

Posted by on Nov 19, 2018 in Asia, E-Commerce, go-jek, Google, grab, Indonesia, internet economy, online media, Singapore, Southeast Asia, temasek, Thailand, Uber, vietnam | 0 comments

It may sit in the shade of China and India, but tech has real growth potential in Southeast Asia. Home to a cumulative 650 million people, the region’s digital economy is forecast to triple in size and reach $240 billion over the next seven years, according to Google’s third “e-Conomy SEA” report.

The annual study, which is authored by Google and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek and is arguably the most comprehensive research program for tech in Southeast Asia, has raised its estimation for the size of the digital economy in 2025 from an initial $200 billion after seeing the region reach “an inflection point.”

Southeast Asia has 350 million internet users across its six largest countries — that’s more than the entire U.S. population — and the latest data suggests its internet economy will reach $72 billion this year, up from $50 billion last year and $19.1 billion in 2015.

Online travel accounts for the majority of that revenue ($30 billion) ahead of e-commerce ($23 billion), online media ($11 billion) and ride-hailing ($8 billion), and that rough breakdown is likely to be maintained up until 2025, according to the report.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest country by population, is forecast to hit $100 billion by 2025, head of Thailand ($43 billion) and Vietnam ($33 billion) with strong growth forecast across the board. Indonesia and Vietnam, in particular, have seen their respective digital economies more than triple since 2015, according to the data.

This year’s Google-Temasek report includes more detail on ride-hailing, which has become a particularly fascinating space in Southeast Asia since Grab acquired Uber’s local business earlier this year. Grab and its close rival Go-Jek, which is expanding from its base in Indonesia, have seen the market grow considerably, according to the report. Daily ride-hailing users in 2018 are up to eight million from 1.5 million in 2015, with monthly users growing to 35 million from eight million during the same time period.

Growth in revenue is actually coming faster for food delivery services over core transportation services, which is a good sign for Grab and Go-Jek since the two businesses have aggressively expanded into additional on-demand services. Singapore, while the smallest of Southeast Asia’s six largest economies with a population of 5.5 million, has an outsized share of the region’s ride-hailing market — and that’s forecast to continue to 2025.

Speaking of outsized, the report sheds some light on how the region’s largest companies utterly dominate its funding landscape. Billion-dollar companies in Southeast Asia sucked up $16 billion of the $24 billion invested in the region of the last four years, with Grab alone responsible for $6 billion of that figure.

Every edition of the report has stressed that the growth forecasts are contingent on requisite levels of funding boosting the Southeast Asian startup ecosystem as a whole, so the fact that most capital is going to a few very big players is a concern. However, the report does show that there has been progress from the rest of the field, with non-unicorn funding jumping nearly forecast annually during the first half of 2018 — which raised more than the whole of 2017.

“More than 2,000 internet economy companies in the region have secured investments, with companies valued less than $1 billion able to raise collectively almost $7 billion in the last three years. Among them, the most dynamic segment was that of companies valued between $10 million and $100 million. The bedrock of the internet economy, these companies have raised $1.4 billion in the first half of 2018, already eclipsing the $1.0 billion they received in all of 2017,” the report states.

You can read the full findings here.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Rent the Runway inks $200 million credit facility with Temasek

Posted by on Aug 2, 2018 in Apps, eCommerce, funding, Rent the Runway, Startups, TC, temasek | 0 comments

Rent the Runway today announced that it has partnered with Temasek for a $200 million credit facility.

Founded in 2009, Rent the Runway lets users rent items of clothing for special events or occasions, bringing runway styles to folks without the cash to purchase the clothing outright.

Rent the Runway started out by letting users rent their wares for about 10 percent of the item’s price. But in 2017, RTR introduced a subscription model, giving users unlimited rentals for $89/month.

The model has already been proven by other businesses. RTR started giving users access to fashion in the same way that Netflix gives users access to video, Spotify gives access to music, or even the way ClassPass gives users access to studio fitness classes.

Since the subscription launch, RTR’s subscription business is up 150 percent year over year, and represents 50 percent of the company’s overall revenue.

According to the release, RTR will use the new funds to continue growing its subscription business, expand operations, and refinance its existing debt facility. As part of the deal, Temasek has received an observer seat on the board of directors.

In response to the question around why Rent The Runway chose a credit facility over traditional VC investment, CFO Scarlett O’Sullivan had this to say via email:

We are very pleased that the company has demonstrated the kind of business model, growth prospects and financial discipline that make it possible to access a credit facility of this size with an equity-minded long-term partner like Temasek – they have a proven track record of supporting disruptive high-growth companies.

We were specifically looking for debt for three key reasons:

1 – This facility gives us the ability to access more financing – we can draw capital as we need to, giving us flexibility to grow our subscription business more quickly

2 – We improved the terms of our prior facility which we refinanced with a portion of these funds — and debt for us is a lower cost option to finance the business

3 – It is less dilutive to our existing shareholders – we believe there will be significant value creation over the next several years as we continue to change consume behavior and help women put their closet in the cloud

Before this latest deal, Rent the Runway had raised more than $200 million in funding from investors such as Bain Capital, KPCB, Highland Capital, TCV, and more.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Golden Gate Ventures hits first close on new $100M fund for Southeast Asia

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in Asia, Business, Carousell, carro, chairman, Co-founder, E-Commerce, economy, Eduardo Saverin, Facebook, Finance, funding, Fundings & Exits, go-jek, golden gate ventures, jeffrey paine, jungle ventures, Masayoshi Son, nsi ventures, Priceline, Singapore, Softbank, South Korea, Southeast Asia, temasek, Tokopedia, traveloka, vinnie lauria | 0 comments

One of the fascinating things about watching an emerging startup ecosystem is that it isn’t just companies that are scaling, the very VC firms that feed them are growing themselves, too. That’s perhaps best embodied by Golden Gate Ventures, a Singapore-based firm founded by three Silicon Valley entrepreneurs in 2011 which is about to close a huge new fund for Southeast Asia.

Golden Gate started out with a small seed investment fund before raising a second worth $60 million in 2015. Now it is in the closes stages of finalizing a new $100 million fund, which has completed a first close of over $65 million in commitments, a source with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch.

A filing lodged with the SEC in June first showed the firm’s intent to raise $100 million. The source told TechCrunch that a number of LPs from Golden Gate’s previous funds have already signed up, including Naver, while Mistletoe, the firm run by SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son’s brother Taizo, is among the new backers joining.

Golden Gate’s existing LP base also includes Singapore sovereign fund Temasek, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, and South Korea’s Hanwha.

A full close for the fund is expected before the end of the year.

The firm has made over 40 investments to date and its portfolio includes mobile classifieds service Carousell, automotive sales startup Carro, real estate site 99.co, and payment gateway Omise. TechCrunch understands that the firm’s investment thesis will remain the same with this new fund. When it raised its second fund, founding partner Vinnie Lauria told us that Golden Gate had found its match at early-stage investing and it will remain lean and nimble like the companies it backs.

One significant change internally, however, sees Justin Hall promoted to partner at the fund. He joins Lauria, fellow founding partner Jeffrey Paine, and Michael Lints at partner level.

Hall first joined Golden Gate in 2012 as an intern while still a student, before signing on full-time in 2013. His rise through the ranks exemplifies the growth and development within Southeast Asia’s startup scene over that period — it isn’t just limited to startups themselves.

The Golden Gate Ventures team circa 2016 — it has since added new members

With the advent of unicorns such as ride-sharing firms Grab and Go-Jek, travel startup Traveloka, and e-commerce companies like Tokopedia, Southeast Asia has begun to show potential for homegrown tech companies in a market that includes over 650 million consumers and more than 300 million internet users. The emergence of these companies has spiked investor interest, which provides the capital that is the lifeblood for VCs and their funds.

Golden Gate is the only one raising big. Openspace, formerly NSI Ventures, is raising $125 million for its second fund, Jungle Ventures is said to be planning a $150 million fund, and Singapore’s Golden Equator and Korea Investment Partners have a joint $88 million fund, while Temasek-linked Vertex closed a record $210 million fund last year.

Growth potential is leading the charge but at the same time funds are beginning to focus on realizing returns for LPs through exits, which is challenging since there have been few acquisitions of meaningful size or public listings out of Southeast Asia so far. But, for smaller funds, the results are already promising.

Data from Prequin, which tracks investment money worldwide, shows that Golden Gate’s first fund has already returned a multiple of over 4X, while its second is at 1.3 despite a final close in 2016.

Beyond any secondary sales — it is not uncommon for early-stage backers to sell a minority portion of equity as more investment capital pours in — Golden Gate’s exits have included the sale of Redmart to Lazada (although not a blockbuster), Priceline’s acquisition of Woomoo, Line’s acquisition of Temanjalan and the sale of Mapan (formerly Ruma) to Go-Jek.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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ClassPass is headed to Asia via an imminent launch in Singapore

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in Apps, Asia, classpass, Singapore, temasek | 0 comments

U.S fitness startup ClassPass is headed to Asia after it announced plans to go live in Singapore, its first city in the continent.

Four-year-old ClassPass allows its users to book fitness classes and packages across a multitude of gyms. The company claims to work with more than 10,000 fitness partners across over 50 cities globally. That’s mostly in the U.S. but it has also forayed into Canada, the UK and Australia and now it is seeking out additional growth opportunities.

The move into Asia has been expected for some time after ClassPass hired a head of international in May. The company told TechCrunch at the time that it would soon arrive in three countries in Asia and Singapore, which has many similarities to the West in terms of economics and culture, is a logical pick as the starting point. Added to that, the country’s sovereign fund, Temasek, led ClassPass’s $70 million Series C funding round last year so you could say that is an extra factor.

The identity of the other two cities remains unclear at this point, but you’d imagine that Hong Kong will be one of them.

ClassPass hasn’t given a specific date for its launch other than it will come to Singapore “in the lead-up to National Day” — that’s August 9. In the meantime, it has opened up a Singapore waitlist which can be found here.

The U.S. startup was the first to pioneer the fitness subscription model but it already has competition in Singapore and other parts of Asia. Singapore’s own GuavaPass operates in 12 countries across Asia and the Middle East, having previously raised $5 million, while another rival called KFit is present in four cities in Southeast Asia.

Actually, the case of KFit shows that fitness subscription is challenging in Asia. KFit raised more than $15 million from investors and scaled to over a dozen cities before it pivoted its business to Groupon-like group deals in a strategy that included the actual purchase of Groupon businesses in Southeast Asia.

The KFit business still operates but it has been scaled back significantly in response to a tough business landscape. ClassPass itself has experienced similar setbacks — including price hikes and a management reshuffle — while it is said to have seen its valuation decline for that Series C round.

With all those factors in mind, it’ll be interesting to see how ClassPass fairs when it does touch down in Asia. 


Source: The Tech Crunch

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IT and tech firm UST Global raises $250M from Temasek at a valuation of over $1B

Posted by on Jun 27, 2018 in Asia, Fundings & Exits, Singapore, Southeast Asia, temasek | 1 comment

UST Global is a multinational digital and tech services firm, but it is not your average unicorn.

The U.S.-based firm was founded in 1999, it has “significant” revenues and is profitable. But nonetheless, it has joined the $1 billion-valuation club courtesy of a $250 million investment from Temasek, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.

The business may be close to 20 years old, but its name is perhaps not well known in startup circles, but it has achieved the kind of scale that few unicorns have. It claims 17,000 staff across 35 offices worldwide while its client base includes more than 50 Fortune 500 companies covering industries like banking, media, telecom, healthcare, shipping and more. Its broad range of services include digital customer engagement, mapping, data analytics, AI, cloud consulting, product engineering, automation, and cybersecurity solutions, but its philosophy is “fewer clients, more attention”.

At that size and scale, why take investment at all?

UST Global chairman Paras Chandaria

“We feel we’re one of the leaders in the space we’re in, [but] this is an opportunity to catapult to another level,” UST Global chairman Paras Chandaria told TechCrunch. “We said: ‘Let’s raise some additional capital and have a war chest we can use to make a few acquisitions that can enhance our current capabilities and geographic strengthening.’”

Chandaria, whose family are the main shareholders of the business, said that UST Global also identified a cultural and values business with Temasek, which he believes will be able to open doors in Asia and beyond.

“We’ve traditionally been very strong in the U.S. and are growing in Europe, India and Southeast Asia. We felt it is the right time to expand in Southeast Asia and Temasek can definitely help us to do that. But as we got to know Temasek and its portfolio, we realized it isn’t about Southeast Asia — actually they’ll give us access beyond the geographies that we originally expected,” he added.

Beyond the business value from its new investor, Chandaria said that the deal — and the $1 billion-plus valuation — will give UST Global further validation.

“We could have continued just doing what we are doing [but it will] help us in the public eye to validate our business model and the initiatives that we are undertaking,” he said. “Our valuation is based on real revenue and cash generation [and] it strengthens our credentials and position. [Plus] whenever we look to acquire a business we have the possibility of co-investment from Temasek.”

“We think we can be multiples of the validation we’re at now if we’re able to act quickly and correctly,” he added.

The UST campus in Trivandrum, India, is the firm’s largest office

Adding an investor like Temasek, which has close to $200 billion under management, does raise questions over a potential exit. Chandaria is quick to play that down, but he did admit that the company does have an interest in going public in the future.

“We want to be IPO ready [and] having a partner like Temasek helps us on that journey if we were going to take it [but] for the next couple of years looking to continue organic growth and acquisitions,” he told TechCrunch.

Areas for acquisition might include AI, machine learning, analysis, cloud, UI and UX, and cyber security among others, according to Chandaria, who said also that acquisition strategy may be driven by strengthening its business in geographies like Europe and Asia, too.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Alibaba’s Ant Financial fintech affiliate raises $14 billion to continue its global expansion

Posted by on Jun 8, 2018 in alibaba, alibaba group, Ant Financial, Asia, Bangladesh, China, E-Commerce, Finance, funding, Fundings & Exits, general atlantic, India, Indonesia, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, korea, malaysia, moneygram, pakistan, Philippines, silver lake, temasek, Thailand, United States, warburg pincus | 0 comments

Ant Financial, the financial services affiliate connected to Alibaba which operates the Alipay mobile payment service, has confirmed that it has closed a Series C funding round that totals an enormous $14 billion.

The rumors have been flying about this huge financing deal for the past month or so, with multiple publications reporting that Ant — which has been strongly linked with an IPO — was in the market to raise at least $9 billion at a valuation of upwards of $100 billion. That turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg here.

The money comes via a tranche of U.S. dollar financing and Chinese RMB from local investors. Those names include Singapore-based sovereign funds GIC and Temasek, Malaysian sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Warburg Pincus, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Silver Lake and General Atlantic.

Ant said that the money will go towards extending its global expansion (and deepening its presence in non-China markets it has already entered), developing technology and hiring.

“We are pleased to welcome these investors as partners, who share our vision and mission, to embark on our journey to further promote inclusive finance globally and bring equal opportunities to the world. We are proud of, and inspired by, the transformation we have affected in the lives of ordinary people and small businesses over the past 14 years,” Ant Financial CEO and executive chairman Eric Jing said in a statement.

Alibaba itself doesn’t invest in Ant, which it span off shortly before its mega-IPO in the U.S. in 2014, but the company did recently take up an option to own 33 percent of Ant’s shares.

Ant has long been tipped to go public. Back in 2016 when it raised a then blockbuster $4.5 billionlittle did we know it would pull in many multiples more — the company has been reportedly considering a public listing, but it instead opted to raise new capital at a valuation of $60 billion.

It looks like the same again, but with higher stakes. This new Series C round pushes that valuation up to $100 billion, according to Bloomberg. (Ant didn’t comment on its valuation.) So what has Ant done over the past two years to justify that jump?

It has long been a key fintech company in China, where it claims to serve offer 500 million consumers and offers Alipay, digital banking and investment services, but it has begun to replicate that business overseas in recent years. In particular, it has made investments and set up joint-ventures and new businesses in a slew of Asian countries that include India, Thailand, Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The company was, however, unsuccessful in its effort to buy MoneyGram after the U.S. government blocked the $1.2 billion deal.

On the business-side, Ant is said to have posted a $1.4 billion profit over the last year, suggesting it is more than ready to make the leap to being a public firm.

Despite that U.S. deal setback, Ant said today that its global footprint extends to 870 million consumers. I’d take that with a pinch of salt at this point since its business outside of China is in its early stages, but there seems little doubt that it is on the road to replicating its scale in its homeland in many parts of Asia. Raising this huge round only solidifies those plans by providing the kind of capital infusion that tops most of the world’s IPOs in one fell swoop.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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