A look at today’s Asia news.
Media and entertainment
M17 scraps IPO, raises US$35 million from private investors (Singapore, Taiwan). M17 Entertainment’s beleaguered IPO is not going forward after all. The social entertainment group, which was born out of the merger of Taiwan’s 17 Media and Singapore’s Paktor, was hoping to raise US$115 in an initial public offering on NYSE. It later scaled down to US$60 million after it failed to reach the target. Concerns were raised about its slow user growth and its ability to scale. The company will remain private after raising US$35 million in private funding from existing investors like Infinity Venture Partners, Majuven, and Convergence Ventures. (TechCrunch)
Patent intelligence startup snaps up US$38 million series D from Sequoia and Xiaomi founder (Singapore). PatSnap, a Singapore- and London-based startup that provides patent and research services, has raised US$38 million in a series D round lead by Sequoia and Shunwei Capital, a fund by Xiaomi boss Lei Jun. Investment firm Qualgro also participated. PatSnap will use the funding to open new offices and to expand its range of products, which includes software for research and development. The startup opened a research and development center in Singapore last year. (TechCrunch)
WeWork looking to raise funding at US$35 billion valuation, according to SoftBank exec (US). SoftBank executive Rajeev Misra said during an event in London that co-working dynamo WeWork is raising more funding at a valuation of US$35 billion. WeWork has raised over US$8 billion in external funding to date, with SoftBank putting in US$4.4 billion. It also raised US$702 million through debt financing. The company is currently opening multiple locations in Singapore and Indonesia. (Bloomberg)
Grab in talks with Didi Chuxing to explore self-driving car future (Singapore, China). Southeast Asian ride-hailer Grab is exploring partnership opportunities in self-driving car tech with its Chinese counterpart and investor Didi Chuxing, according to Grab president Ming Maa. Grab has previously run pilots in autonomous driving with Singapore-US firm Nutonomy. Toyota, which yesterday announced a US$1 billion investment in Grab, has its own self-driving car aspirations. (KrAsia)
Ofo claims to reach US$15 million for its B2B business (China). Bike-sharer Ofo claims to have achieved more than US$15 million in revenue for its B2B business, which allows clients to place their ads on its bicycles. The company launched the service in May as a way to bring in some extra revenue amidst tough competition in the bike-sharing space, and claims it has already been profitable. However, some cities in China like Shanghai and Beijing have banned ads on bikes. (Technode)
AI marketing startup nabs seed funding to expand in Southeast Asia (Singapore). Affable uses artificial intelligence to help brands discover social media influencers and manage social media marketing campaigns. It raised seed funding of US$747,000 from Decacorn Capital and SGInnovate through the Startup SG government initiative. Affable is an alum of startup builder Entrepreneur First’s second Singapore cohort, and EF participated in the round along with angel network Bansea. (e27)
Drone analytics startup secures US$10 million in series A round joined by Sequoia China (Australia). A startup specializing in drone analytics for construction sites, Propeller Aero has raised US$10 million for its series A round. The round was led by Blackbird Ventures and joined by new investor Sequoia China. Existing investors like Accel and Costanoa Ventures also participated. The startup, which recently opened a US office, will use the funding to staff up and expand to new markets. (e27)
Zomato to sprinkle US$15 million on ‘shadow kitchen’ online platform (India). Indian restaurant search and discovery firm Zomato has pledged to invest US$15 million in Loyal Hospitality, a platform that helps restaurants expand operations without having to build their own kitchen facilities through its “shadow kitchen” concept. Zomato will shut down its own similar “cloud kitchen” offering. So far, a tranche of US$5 million has been paid out to Loyal Hospitality. (Inc42)
Sequoia-backed interior design startup nets US$3.5 million to grab more customers (India). Interior design startup HomeLane raised US$3.5 million from Brand Capital, the investment arm of media firm Bennett, Coleman and Co. The startup will use the funding to expand its business and attract more customers. It has raised a total of US$68 million to date from investors like Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital. (DealStreetAsia)
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
JD.com plans to issue asset-backed securities on the blockchain (China). Chinese ecommerce giant JD.com wants to use blockchain technology to issue asset-backed securities. The tech will be used in JD Finance’s IOU product that provides credit and installments services. JD previously announced it would launch a blockchain-as-a-service platform, as well as use the tech to track meat supply. (CoinTelegraph)
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