KrAsia Daily: Uber Set to Invest Aggressively in SE Asia

Plus, Amazon plans to open as many as six more cashier-less stores this year. Toutiao has reportedly acquired augmented reality-based selfie app Faceu for USD300 million.

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KrAsia Daily: Uber Set to Invest Aggressively in SE Asia

Editor’s note:

Last month, people familiar with the matter told KrASIA that Grab, the Southeast Asia ride-hailer, has been in talks with Uber to acquire the latter’s Southeast Asian operations as the company moves to tighten its grip on the rapidly growing shared transportation sector in the region.

After SoftBank’s stake purchase in Uber, the Japanese conglomerate said it wants Ubers to focus on key markets including the US, Europe, Latin America and Australia. 

Kr-ASIA Daily is a five-minute read to brief you everything you need to know to start your day. We only choose the latest tech & startup news that is worth your time, with a focus on Southeast Asia and China.

Southeast Asia:

Image credit to 123rf.com.cn

SE Asia: Uber Technologies’s chief executive pledged to continue investing aggressively in Southeast Asia even though the U.S. ride-hailing firm expects to lose money in the fast-growing market due to costly battles with rivals such as Grab. (Reuters)

Singapore: City-state-based solar power solutions startup SolarHome has announced it has US$1.2 million in convertible note offering. The investors who participated include Beenext, Former chairman of Singapore Airlines, Singapore Telecom, and DBS Bank Koh Boon Hwee, X Capital Ventures, and other investors. (e27)

Singapore & Malaysia: Fatfish Internet Group-backed Cloudaron, a Singapore-based IT solutions company listed in Malaysia, is acquiring Realtors8 Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of ASX-listed 8common Limited that owns and operates Saas provider Ubertor, for S$4.23 million ($3.2 million). (Deal Street Asia)

Singapore: The German Accelerator programme announces its debut in Singapore with three startups in its first batch, which is set to begin in March. The startups are: tiramizoo, a last-mile logistics startup based in Munich, Werthstein, a digital asset manager and iNDTact, a company sells sensor systems in the field of IoT. (e27)

Indonesia: The Indonesian government is set to give income tax incentive for venture capital firms investing in tech startups. According to CNN Indonesia, Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani said that the incentive package is the first ever to be given to venture capital. The step is taken in order to boost investment into digital economy and e-commerce, especially among small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). (e27)

Indonesia: Indonesia will become the first Asian country to sell “green” bonds internationally as it looks to tap into growing investor interest in climate-friendly investments. Indonesia on Thursday launched a five-year green Sukuk bond – which means the deal will conform to Islamic finance norms as well. While no exact target for the amount it expects to raise has been set, termsheets seen by Reuters suggest at least $300 million. (Deal Street Asia)

Vietnam: Vietnamese private equity firm Vietnam Investment Group (VI Group) has invested in Kid Plaza, becoming a minority shareholder in the mother-and-baby segment focussed retailer. (Deal Street Asia)

China:

Logo of Jinri Toutiao.

Toutiao, China’s largest news aggregator, has reportedly acquired augmented reality-based selfie app Faceu for USD300 million, according to Chinese tech news media 36Kr. The acquisition comes as the algorithm-driven news recommendation app keeps diversifying its service offerings through acquisitions at home and abroad. (KrASIA)

Chinese electric car-sharing service Mango Chuxing (芒果出行) recently announced raising tens of millions RMB in a pre-A round from China’s Wenxin Group as local new energy vehicle-sharing market burgeons in China’s push to bring more environment-friendly automobiles to the road. (KrASIA)

Mobike rolled out a new credit scoring system which charges more fares from users with bad credit history. (Tech.Sina)

China’s top ride-hailing company Didi is in talks with a second-hand vehicle platform Renrenche.com to buy over one million vehicles from the platform in the next 3 years, in a bid to trim costs. (finance.ce.cn)

Taiwanese travel-experience e-commerce platform KKday announced that it has raised a US$10.5 million Series B funding round led by Japanese travel giant H.I.S. (e27)

A Hong Kong court has liquidated Le Corporation Ltd., a unit of the debt-ridden Chinese tech group LeEco located in the special administrative region, following a petition filed late last year. (Yicai Global)

World:

Image credit to Amazon.

Amazon plans to open as many as six more cashier-less stores this year, according to a report. The e-commerce giant is considering locations in Los Angeles and hometown Seattle. (Bloomberg)

Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., posted a photo on Twitter of him and Toyota Motor Corp.  “Having fun with Akio-San and Tomoyama-San @ToyotaMotorCorp HQ,” he wrote. “Great discussions about growing our #autonomous partnership and lessons 4 me in building a great culture. And yep, those are Ichiro’s bats.”  (Bloomberg)

At a company event on Thursday, Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief executive officer, outlined a roadmap designed to make his service more mainstream. The efforts include highlighting hotels on the website, a loyalty program, and the ability to match guests with accommodations that fit their budgets and tastes. (Bloomberg)

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a customer payload plus its own broadband demonstration satellites in the company’s first mission since millions tuned in earlier this month for its Falcon Heavy debut. (Bloomberg)

South Korea’s Skelter Labs, which was founded in 2015 by the former head of tech at Google Korea, announced today that it has raised KRW 10 billion ($9.3 million). Korean internet and messaging giant Kakao is a major backer, investing in the round via both its “KakaoBrain” AI unit and its K-Cube VC firm, both of which are existing investors. (Tech Crunch)

HP Inc., the world’s largest personal-computer maker, topped analysts’ revenue estimates with strong computer and printer sales during the holiday shopping quarter, maintaining its momentum even as the industry stagnates. (Bloomberg)

The Finnish company behind the Angry Birds game, Rovio Entertainment Oyj lost half its market value in Helsinki, the most since its initial public offering in September and leaving it worth just over $500 million. Investors dumped the stock after executives predicted 2018 sales and profit will come in far below previous estimates. (Bloomberg)

Snap’s Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel is poised to become one of the highest-paid U.S. executives for 2017, thanks to a $636.6 million stock grant he got when his company went public. (Bloomberg)

Apple, seeking to bolster its wearables business, is working on upgrades to its wireless AirPods headphones, according to people familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg)

Loup Ventures: Apple Pay has an estimated 38M active users in the US and 127M globally, up from 62M a year ago, equating to around 16% of global iPhones. (Techmeme)

Intel Corp did not inform U.S. cyber security officials of the so-called Meltdown and Spectre chip security flaws until they leaked to the public, six months after Alphabet Inc notified the chipmaker of the problems, according to letters sent by tech companies to lawmakers on Thursday. (Reuters)