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KrASIA Weekly: What to watch out for in 2019?

Written by Robin Moh Published on   3 mins read

There may remain pockets of opportunities in this bear market.

Hi there, it’s Robin.

As we come slightly pass midway into the month of January this year, let’s recall how 2018 really began for the Chinese tech community.

After Tencent, it was Alibaba. By the end of January 2018, both giants became part of the exclusive US$500 billion market cap club. Essentially, China’s economy started off on a high note last year.

Fast forward to today, about a year later, many things have happened. Tencent saw its shares on a steep decline thereafter and is now undergoing a major restructure. Didi Chuxing continues to face increasing scrutiny following two gruesome murders. Both Xiaomi and Meituan-Dianping saw their share plummeting since their public debut last year.

Two Chinese startups, however, managed to buck the trend.

  • ByteDance – a 6-year-old Chinese startup – did not falter. It went on to become the world’s most valuable startup at a valuation of US$75 billion. The firm, who has a history of pitting itself against Tencent, launched a new video-based social messaging app this week. ByteDance believes that with 5G, video-based messaging is poised to become the new way of communication, especially for the younger generation, and this app is designed just for that.
  • The Beijing-based Luckin Coffee is another example. Hailed as a Starbucks competitor, it has a phenomenal 2018, winning market share in China swiftly via a massive cash-burning strategy. By splashing money to offer huge subsidies and quick expansion of brick-and-mortar stores, the firm claims to be well on its way to open yet another 2,500 stores by 2019 to overtake Starbucks to become China’s largest coffee chain.

Evidently, in the midst of China’s ‘harsh winter’ for the tech community, perhaps, there remain pockets of opportunities for entrepreneurs for 2019. The standstill in China’s gaming industry, for instance, has ended; licenses for new video games are now going to be approved in batches.

Moreover, it would be interesting to see to what extent will the major restructurings of Meituan-Dianping, Didi Chuxing, Tencent, and Alibaba propel these firms to greater heights.

Over here in Southeast Asia, the tech scene is beginning to show signs of brewing intensities.

Grab, for one, has been on a massive funding spree and is now seeking an appeal with a Vietnamese court ruling. Archrival Go-Jek is now into its third market – Singapore; the Indonesian firm also went on to forge a partnership with Filipino fintech startup coins.ph this week.

It’s also important to highlight that Vietnam – a country similar to China in that both are ruled by communist party – is emerging and is well positioned to become the digital startup hub for the ASEAN region.

Vietnam is preparing its next tide of future talents. Unlike Singapore, Computer Science is taught right from elementary schools in Vietnam and this might give the country that comparative advantage when it comes to the shortage of skilled workers that some might be lamenting about.

Read on to find out more interesting stories from last week, and feel free to tip us if you have news clue or you just want to talk with us, email us at [email protected] and we are looking forward to hearing from you.

Here are some stories you shouldn’t miss.


Southeast Asia

Grab appeals Vietnamese court ruling

Previously unregulated, on-demand motorcycles soon to face new rules in Indonesia

Vietnamese premium e-commerce firm Leflair bags US$7m in Series B

Grab forays into SEA’s digital insurance space as part of superapp goal

Bukalapak raises new round to accelerate platform innovation

Deciphering Indonesia’s e-commerce tax polemic

Go-Pay arrives in the Philippines through a partnership with fintech startup coins.ph

Vietnamese fintech startup Momo bags US$100m from Warburg Pincus


China’s ByteDance launches video chat app Duoshan to take on Tencent’s WeChat

Right after break-up with Faraday Future, China Evergrande grabs Swedish EV maker

Meituan targets China’s lucrative gaming market as loss-reducing solution

Chinese unicorn Luckin Coffee eyes Hong Kong IPO

Huawei founder hints slower growth in 2019 for global market woe

WeChat’s new candy to lure corporate clients: customized “red envelopes”

JD.com is revolutionizing health services in founder’s hometown

ByteDance hits 2018 sales target, but only barely

Xiaomi to buy back 6 million shares as investors flee



Alibaba & Tencent, game on

The Muslim travel market is growing, but where are its unicorns?

No longer under the radar, Vietnam’s emergence as a startup hub

You Technologies Group co-founder Caecilia Chu: Currency conversion fees can be eliminated


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