Asia

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China’s Kunlun completes full buyout of Grindr

 Nearly two years to the day of its majority investment in Grindr, China-based tech firm Kunlun Group has fully acquired the gay dating app. Grindr is among the, if not the, world’s most popular LBQT dating app with a claimed 3.3 million daily users. Kunlun, which is best known for games but is part of a consortium that acquired Opera’s browser business, bought 60 percent of the… Read More

Mumbrella, a media startup focused on APAC’s marketing industry, gets acquired

 Inside baseball klaxon: media writing about media story incoming:: Mumbrella, the Australia-based media company, has been sold by its founders to U.S./APAC events company Diversified Communications.
Mumbrella operates media and marketing industry-focused websites for Australia and Asia, an events business and a database service called The Source. It has 33 staff across four offices. The… Read More

Uber rival Ola buys Foodpanda India to get into food deliveries

 Ola, the Uber rival in India, is entering the food delivery space after it announced a deal to acquire Foodpanda’s India business from its parent company DeliveryHero. The deal will see Ola scoop up the Foodpanda India business with DeliveryHero taking an undisclosed amount of Ola stock in exchange. Undisclosed all-stock deals are usually indicative of a willingness to sell, and we… Read More

Horizons Ventures backs AI startup Fano Labs in first Hong Kong investment

 Horizons Ventures, the VC firm founded by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing, has made a rare early-stage investment after it backed AI startup Fano Labs.
Horizons has invested in the likes of Facebook, Razer, Slack, Improbable, Spotify and more, and now it is putting undisclosed money into Fano Labs, which recently graduated AI accelerator program Zeroth. This deal also marks the… Read More

Go-Jek buys three startups to advance its mobile payment business

 Go-Jek, the company leading Uber and Grab in Southeast Asia’s largest market, has bagged a hattrick of deals to advance its mobile payment strategy. Indonesia-based Go-Jek revealed it has acquired offline payment firm Kartuku, payment gateway Midtrans and payment and lending network Mapan for undisclosed sums. The company started out in 2015 offering a ride-hailing service for… Read More

China’s CCTV surveillance network took just 7 minutes to capture BBC reporter

 It took Chinese authorities just seven minutes to locate and apprehend BBC reporter John Sudworth using its powerful network of CCTV camera and facial recognition technology. This wasn’t a case of a member of the media being forcibly removed from the country. The chase was a stunt set up to illustrate just how powerful and effective the Chinese government’s surveillance system… Read More

Techstars is launching its first accelerator program in Asia in partnership with Rakuten

 Techstars is bringing its global accelerator program to Asia for the first time in partnership with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten and its chat app Viber. The companies will run a three-month program in Singapore starting in July, according to a joint announcement made today. The focus will be on social messaging and, in particular, technologies and startups that align with Viber, the… Read More

India’s Vahdam Teas raises $1.4M to bring fresher tea to your door faster

 Vahdam Teas, an e-commerce that’s focused on selling the freshest brews on the planet, has closed a Series A funding round worth $1.4 million to grow its business.
The funding was led by new backers Fireside Venture, Mumbai Angels, Singapore Angel Network and undisclosed existing investors. The two-year-old company previously raised a $500,000 seed round from angels in January of this… Read More

Uber’s Indian rival Ola begins offering a bicycle-sharing service

 Ola, the company battling Uber in India, has turned to pedal power after it introduced a bike-sharing service. China’s Didi Chuxing and Grab in Southeast Asia have invested in bike-sharing companies, which offered dock-less bikes that users can pick up across a city and leave anywhere they want when they’re done, and now Ola — which recently raised $1.1 billion in fresh… Read More

China’s Baidu just announced the strangest smart speakers

 Chinese internet Baidu is widely-credited for being one of the first to dive deep into artificial intelligence, hiring Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng (who has since departed) to lead its efforts back in 2014. Surprisingly, then, it has taken the company until today to release its own smart home products. But, far from another identikit contender, they stand out for being quite unlike… Read More

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AWS isn’t exiting China, but Amazon did sell physical assets to comply with Chinese law

aws logo Amazon has denied reports that it is withdrawing its AWS business from China, but the firm did admit that it has been forced to sell some physical assets to its local partner. The U.S. firm appeared to have exited the country after The Wall Street Journal and Reuters reported that Beijing Sinnet, the partner that operates AWS China, had notified investors of its acquisition of the… Read More

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Uber’s new Asia chief wants to work with governments and taxi firms not against them

 New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been vocal in pledging to reform Uber’s toxic culture to take the business to the next level — and ultimately an IPO — but, over in Asia, another recent arrival is presiding over a revamped approach which includes turning those who were once enemies into friends. Brooks Entwistle, a former Chairman of Goldman Sachs Southeast Asia, joined… Read More

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Alibaba smashes its Single’s Day record once again as sales cross $25 billion

 Alibaba has set another Single’s Day record after the e-commerce giant sold over $25 billion of product on the Chinese biggest online shopping date. The full number comes in at 163.8 billion RMB, that’s roughly $25.4 billion, in GMV — that’s “gross merchandise volume” which is used to measure a dollar value for all sales on a platform. In Alibaba’s… Read More

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Some poor guy had to sit between Trump and South Korea’s president for a ‘casual’ meal

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Oh man, imagine having to be this guy.

On Tuesday, U.S. president Donald Trump stopped by military base Camp Humphreys for lunch, during his official visit to South Korea.

For some reason, they sat one single soldier between Trump and South Korean president, Moon Jae-in. So that guy sat awkwardly while Trump and Moon talked across him.

"Why me?"

“Why me?”

Image: weibo

A video clip of the incident has been picked up on South Korean TV, highlighting the poor guy’s stunned expression as he sat between the two world leaders, apparently too terrified to eat. Read more…

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Indonesia wanted to block WhatsApp because people are sending ‘obscene GIFs’

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WhatsApp appears to be the latest social media platform to run afoul of Indonesia’s censorship rules.

The populous Southeast Asian nation on Monday vowed to block WhatsApp within 48 hours, if it did not ensure that “obscene” GIFs were removed from the platform.

Indonesia later dropped its threat after Tenor, WhatsApp’s third party GIF provider, appeared to have fixed the issue.

“We see now that they have done what we asked. Therefore we won’t block them,” the director general from Indonesia’s communication and informatics ministry, Semuel Pangerapan told Reuters on Tuesday. Read more…

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Kaodim raises $7M for its home services platform in Southeast Asia

 There’s more funding for Southeast Asia’s growing local services space after Kaodim, a Malaysia-based startup that operates in four countries in the region, raised $7 million.
Founded three years ago, Kaodim is a service for booking for hiring a range of services that include cleaning, moving, gas delivery, appliance care, and even photography.
The round was led by Square Peg… Read More

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Grab, the Uber rival in Southeast Asia, is now officially also a digital payments company

 Grab is best known for rivaling Uber in Southeast Asia, but today the company took a major step into becoming a fintech player, too.
That’s because the ride-sharing firm, which recently raised $2 billion from SoftBank and China’s Didi Chuxing, rolled out support for its GrabPay service among third-party merchants for the first time today.
Grab is present in seven markets across… Read More

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Southeast Asian e-commerce startup Carousell closes $70-$80M Series C round

 Singapore-based startup Carousell is in the money this week after it closed a Series C round of between $70-$80 million, two sources with knowledge of the deal told TechCrunch. Started by three graduates from the National University of Singapore in 2012, Carousell operates a mobile-first listings service for second-hand goods and services in Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Prior to this… Read More

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Zilingo raises $18M for its fashion e-commerce service in Southeast Asia

 Southeast Asia-based fashion marketplace Zilingo has closed an $18 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital India and Burda Principal Investments. Zilingo was founded less than two years ago by ex Sequoia analyst Ankiti Bose (CEO) and former Yahoo engineer Dhruv Kapoor (CTO). The basic vision is to help Southeast Asia’s thriving independent fashion sellers and… Read More

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Chatbot startup founder sees Southeast Asia potential despite slow start worldwide

 Chatbots may have underwhelmed thus far, but the impact of the technology still has bags of potential in international markets where mobile messaging has been mainstream for years. That’s the view of one startup that’s working to bring the benefit of bots to the mainstream in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country and the largest economy in the growing region… Read More

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China has banned ICOs

 It is looking like a new era is coming for ICOs, at least those in China for now. In the U.S., the SEC has issued official warnings around the risks of ICOs, also known as token sales, but the Chinese government looks set to beat it to implementing regulation around the rapidly growing fundraising option. A notice from a committee led by China’s central bank [link in Chinese] today… Read More

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Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank backs cloud accounting startup in first deal for $30M fund

 Thailand’s banks have stepped up to chase the startup dream over the past year. Following on from SCB’s Digital Ventures, which has backed blockchain startup Ripple among others, Kasikorn Bank (KBank) has made the first investment from its $30 million fund — a $1.15 million round for Bangkok-based FlowAccount. KBank announced its Beacon fund this summer. It has made… Read More

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Samsung heir handed 5-year jail sentence for bribery

 Samsung vice chairman and the company’s heir apparent Jay Y. Lee is headed to jail after a court in Korean ruled that he is guilty of bribery, embezzlement, capital flight and perjury charges. Lee, who has been earmarked as the future leader of the company, was handed a five-year jail sentence, although he is expected to appeal the decision. He took a board seat at Samsung last year in… Read More

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Alibaba, Tencent, Didi and other tech firms pour $12B into mobile operator China Unicom

 China is about to take net neutrality to the next level after a group of influential tech companies that includes Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Didi Chuxing and JD.com agreed to invest nearly $12 billion into state-run mobile operator China Unicom.
China Unicom is the country’s second largest operator with 269 million mobile customers, which makes it one of the largest in the world. The… Read More

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Uber suspends its service in the Philippines following ban over unregistered drivers

 Uber has suspended its services in Philippines after the national regulator banned it from operating for one month. The country’s Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ordered a cease and desist against the U.S. ride-hailing firm on Monday over its apparent flouting of a ban on new drivers. The company initially lodged an appeal and continued with its service,… Read More

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China’s top social networks face investigation for hosting porn and illicit content

 China continues to crack down on online media after the government announced that it is investigating three of the country’s most influential social networks for hosting illicit content. The Office for Cyberspace Administration is looking into content on chat app WeChat, micro-blogging platform Weibo and web forum Baidu Tieba, each of which stands accused of failing to stamp out… Read More

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Uber knowingly leased recalled vehicles to its drivers in Singapore

 Uber is in the spotlight for shady operations once again after a report revealed that the U.S. ride-hailing giant knowingly leased cars that were subject to a recall to drivers in Singapore. A Wall Street Journal report exposed the events which took place in 2016 and centered around the Honda Vezel, one of a number of vehicles that Uber purchased and then made available for drivers to lease… Read More

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Xiaomi secures $1B loan to expand its international presence and offline retail footprint

 Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has secured a $1 billion loan in order to develop its international focus and build out its offline sales presence. The company revealed today that it has secured a three-year syndicated loan agreement from 18 banks across Europe, Middle East, India, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley served as joint global coordinator, with Bank… Read More

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Samsung posts record quarterly profit despite scandals

 Despite being slammed by scandals, Samsung just recorded a record quarter of business with a net profit of $9.9 billion for Q2 2017. The Korea firm has been rocked by the recall of the Galaxy Note 7 and the prosecution of de facto leader Jay Y. Lee on bribery charges, but that didn’t stop it from pulling in revenue of $54.8 billion during the three-month period. That revenue figure rose… Read More

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Kakao is putting speech recognition tech into cars from Hyundai and Kia

 Less than a month after announcing plans to spin out its transportation and mobility business, Korean tech firm Kakao has inked deals to put hands-free systems inside cars from Korea’s second largest automotive firm Hyundai and its Kia affiliate.
Kakao is best known for operating Korea’s top messaging app, Kakao Talk, which is installed on over 95 percent of the country’s… Read More

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Stripe adds support for Alipay and WeChat Pay, China’s top digital payment services

 Payment enabler Stripe just announced two significant tie-ins that could help its pool of merchants make money from consumers in China. U.S. firm Stripe said today that it has agreed to global deals with Alipay and WeChat Pay, two digital services that dominate consumer spending in China. Alipay, which is managed by Alibaba affiliate firm Ant Financial, counts over 500 million users, while… Read More

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Game studio Mighty Bear rises from the ashes of King’s former Singapore office

 Office closures don’t just mean unemployment and uncertainty, they can lead to new opportunities. That’s the case for Mighty Bear Games, a Singapore-based games studio that grew out of the closure of King.com’s local office. As part of streamlining following its $5.9 billion acquisition by Activision, King.com shut down the Singapore office it picked up when it bought Non… Read More

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Indian messaging app Hike may launch live-streaming following recent acquisition

 Hike, the billion-dollar messaging app chasing WhatsApp in India, may be preparing to enter the live-streaming space following a recent acquisition. The company, which is backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent, has acquired India-based live-streaming app Pulse and at least two of its founding team, according to a report from Inc42. Hike declined to respond to our request for comment but,… Read More

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Samsung will reportedly revive the Galaxy Note 7 with a Korea-only ‘Fandom Edition’

 Samsung is reportedly gearing to revive the Galaxy Note 7, its disastrous 2016 smartphone that was recalled after battery problems caused units to catch fire, with the limited release of a new model. The company hinted a few months ago that it planned to make such a move, but now we have more details. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Note 7 FE (that stands for ‘Fandom… Read More

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Crunch Report | Apple Rolls Out Early Version Of Its Safe Driving Feature

Crunch Report June 22 Today’s Stories  Do Not Disturb While Driving feature rolls out in Apple’s newest iOS 11 beta Sean Parker has left Spotify’s board; Padmasree Warrior, Thomas Staggs join in lead up to IPO Trump might kill next month’s new startup visa before it takes effect Facebook is testing a feature to prevent profile pictures being abused by other users Tantan, China’s… Read More

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Hike beats WhatsApp to launching messenger app payments in India

 India-focused mobile messaging service Hike landed funding from Tencent last year, and today it took a major step to emulating the Chinese firm’s WeChat app with the introduction of mobile payments. The launch of Hike Pay not only shows an ambition to build a messaging platform, it also means Hike has beaten WhatsApp, the chat app that dominates India, to the punch. Facebook-owned… Read More

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Japan passes law legalizing Airbnb and other sharing economy rentals

 There’s good news for Airbnb in Japan where the government has approved legislation that legalizes its service, and others like it, in the country. The law, which was passed by Japan’s upper house on Friday, will allow home-owners to let out their property to paying guests for up to 180 days per year. They are subject to registering with local authorities who, in turn, have license… Read More

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LG launches a mobile payment service in Korea

 LG announced plans for its own mobile payment service way back in November 2015, and today it finally went official with the launch.
The LG Pay service is initially limited to the G6, LG’s flagship smartphone, via a software update, but it is only available in Korea. There is launch support for cards from Shinhan Bank, KB, BC and Lotte, and LG plans to cover all of Korea’s card… Read More

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Xiaomi’s second bezel-less Mi Max smartphone claims a two-day battery

 Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi made a big splash when it announced the the Mi Max, its much-heralded device with a near bezel-less display, last year — now we have a follow-up phone. The Mi Max 2, unveiled today at an event in Beijing, will be available in China from June 1 priced upwards from RMB 1699, that’s around $247. Xiaomi claims it sold over three million of the… Read More

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China’s bike rental startups are learning a lot about how people spend their free time

 Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on TechNode, an editorial partner of TechCrunch based in China. China’s bike rental startups have hogged the startup limelight and investor dollars this year. The trend has been impossible to ignore, both on the ground and in reporting. Ofo became the industry’s first unicorn, while Mobike has pulled in over $300 million in… Read More

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Media Prima buys Rev Asia for $24M to create Malaysia’s largest digital media platform

 The U.S. isn’t the only market where media companies are consolidating to offer an advertising platform to rival Facebook and Google.
While AOL (which owns TechCrunch) is in the process of acquiring Yahoo, over in Malaysia a similar consolidation was announced this week — although not quite on the scale of AOL-Yahoo (Oath?!) and its $4.48 billion price tag. Media Prima, a… Read More

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Ride-hailing giant Didi finally offers an English language option for foreigners in China

 There’s good news for foreigners living in, or visiting, China after Didi Chuxing — the local ride-sharing leader — added support for English language and overseas credit cards to its service for the first time.
Didi, which processes more 20 million rides a day across its various services, has always been a tricky one for non-Mandarin speakers and visitors. Personally… Read More

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Nutonomy teams up with Peugeot-maker Groupe PSA for self-driving car tests in Singapore

 Nutonomy, the self-driving car startup that span out of MIT in 2013, has inked a deal that will see it work with Peugeot-maker Groupe PSA to test autonomous vehicles in Singapore. Nutonomy is more than familiar with Singapore: it has a relationship with local Uber rival Grab and the Singapore Economic Development Board was an investor in its recent $16 million fundraising. This new tie-in… Read More

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UberEATS starts serving in India, its fourth Asian market

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Uber had announced in January that it was bringing its food delivery service to India, its fastest-growing market in the world. And finally, it’s here. 

UberEATS has rolled out in Mumbai and will soon be taken to five other Indian cities.

India becomes UberEATS’ fourth Asian market, after it launched in Singapore last May, followed by Tokyo (Japan) and Bangkok (Thailand).

Interestingly, Uber’s local rival Ola had started a similar service, Ola Cafe, in 2015 and shut it down a year later after reportedly failing to expand its network of restaurants.   Read more…

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Airwallex raises $13M led by Tencent to bring its cross-border payment service to Europe

 Australia-based cross-border payments startup Airwallex has closed a $13 million Series A round to expand its reach across Asia Pacific and into Europe. The deal was led by Chinese internet giant Tencent — marking its first investment in an Australian startup — with participation from Sequoia China, Mastercard and other undisclosed investors. Airwallex was founded last year… Read More

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Monit’s smart diaper sensor lets parents avoid the sniff test

 New parents are faced with many conundrums and one of the most nerve-wracking is how to check a diaper without waking a sleeping baby. Korean startup Monit’s new Bluetooth sensor wants to make sniff tests a thing of the past by alerting parents as soon as their baby’s diaper is soiled. Later on, the sensor can be turned into a portable air quality and temperature monitor, extending… Read More

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Netflix is playing down the significance of its first major distribution deal in China

 Netflix has played down the significance of its first major licensing deal in China, news of which was announced this week. The company’s share price surged nearly six percent after it announced that it had agreed to a distribution deal with iQiyi, one of China’s largest video portals which was started by internet giant Baidu. The news was first revealed at the APOS 2017 event… Read More

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'We Bare Bears' is a kids' show tackling modern millennial anxieties

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Popular Cartoon Network show We Bare Bears is the story of three bears living a modern human life in San Francisco. 

But at its heart, it’s also a parable about the charms and perils of an increasingly connected society.

The show’s creator, Daniel Chong, said he tries to pick modern references for the show, to reflect his audiences. “We do like to make fun of trends, but we have to be very careful that they’re not things that we know are going to go away quickly,” he said, during a visit to Singapore.

His three protagonists, Grizzly, Panda, and Ice Bear always seem to be chasing internet fame, and the script works in trendy references, often to hilarious effect: Read more…

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Netflix rival iFlix reveals its first original content series for emerging markets

 Fresh from raising $90 million from investors in March, iFlix, a Netflix-like service for emerging markets, has announced its first slate of original content. The Malaysia-headquartered business claims five million registered users across 10 countries — it recently branched out into Africa and the Middle East — for its service which costs around $3 per month. Beyond cheaper… Read More

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