News from around the world – August 06

A compilation of important news related to startups from around the world:

1.Telstra Ventures signs Telkom Indonesia for startup investment in Asia  
Telstra’s venture capital arm Telstra Ventures has announced signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Telkom Indonesia’s corporate venture arm PT Metra Digital Investama for the purposes of collaborating on startup investment opportunities in South East Asia.Investing in startups and technology companies has created new revenue streams for the telecommunications provider, said Cynthia Whelan, group executive of International and New Businesses at Telstra — particularly in the growing Asian region.Over the past five years, Telstra Ventures has invested over AU$200 million in more than 30 different technology companies, giving us access to new revenue streams and cutting-edge technology we can use in-house and provide to our customers,” Whelan said.

2.Disrupt Asia Part One: The startups we saw 
Disrupt Asia. Organized by ICTA, this was a massive celebration of the entrepreneurship and the Sri Lankan startup ecosystem. The conference lasted only one day, but it was brilliantly organized with so many amazing sessions. In fact, there’s so many that we can’t write about Disrupt Asia in a single article. And so we decided to break up our story of Disrupt Asia into different parts.To start off this series, we thought of looking at the different startups that were at Disrupt Asia. After all, the stars of a startup conference are the startups in attendance. Approximately 35 startups had stalls and made their pitch to the many attendees at Disrupt Asia. Sadly, we couldn’t speak to all of them with everything going on at Disrupt Asia. But somehow we were able to speak to most of them. Here’s all the startups we saw at Disrupt Asia and what they had to offer.Thrively is a SASS platform from Calcey. It’s meant for project based workflow management tool for agencies and consultancy to help them easily manage all activities related to clients. It comes with a mini-CRM, a high-level project management tool and accounting tools.

3.Indonesian startup Go-Jek lands US$550mil funding
Indonesian mobile on-demand startup Go-Jek has raised US$550 million funding from a consortium of global investment firms, following an undisclosed amount it raised in October, 2015. The consortium consists of KKR, Warburg Pincus, Farallon Capital and Capital Group Private Markets, as well as existing shareholders and other international investors.Go-Jek’s previous investors include Sequoia India, Northstar Group, DST Global, NSI Ventures, Rakuten Ventures, and Formation Group, the startup said in a statement. It said the growth capital injection will help enhance the scale and quality of its mobile on-demand platform and application services.These include motorcycle and car ride-hailing, online food delivery, instant courier deliveries, lifestyle services, as well as its e-wallet.

4.MaGIC’s Asean accelerator ends on a high note 
The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) recently held one of its largest demo days at its campus in Cyberjaya, where over 40 startups pitched their products and business ideas at about 300 investors, partners and other stakeholders. The demo day on Aug 4 marked the official conclusion of the MaGIC Accelerator Programme (MAP), which the agency claims is the largest accelerator programme in South-East Asia.“Our experience organising the first cohort was invaluable as it was the first time we ran an accelerator programme,” said MaGIC executive director of entrepreneurship development Johnathan Lee. “However, we had the conviction and believed strongly in what we do and that it would yield results. “Running an accelerator programme with 50 startups certainly has its challenges, as each is unique. We spent a lot of our time understanding them and helping them overcome their challenges,” he added. Lee said that the startups from the first cohort have managed to raise RM20 million (US$4.9 million) over the last six months, and he expects the startups from the second batch to perform similarly, adding that some even managed to land investments during their tenure with the programme.

5.Navigating the startup ecosystem: PwC Singapore launches Venture Hub
PwC Singapore’s Venture Hub will be based in the city state and headed by Patrick Yeo. According to Yeo, the consulting and accounting firm identified the need for change in the “conventional model of how professional services firms provided advice” to the various stakeholders involved in the venture ecosystem in order to meet all needs “with speed, agility and efficiency”. He also assured that this new model will give stakeholders more flexibility in seeking advice in areas ranging from business strategy to regulatory compliance. This initiative will also give more innovative ways for stakeholders to collaborate rather than submitting to fixed costs common among traditional services firms.

6.The Enterprise Goes High-Tech (And VCs Like It)
Oracle may have grabbed headlines with its $9.3 billion takeover of NetSuite earlier this week, but another technology giant is also making big moves in its investment game. Intel Corporation’s VC arm, Intel Capital, made not one but two of the largest venture capital investments this week, both of which landed at startups using high-tech Software-as-a-Service solutions for the enterprise. The SaaS segment scored the highest volume of venture capital, but investors across Asia were particularly active, with half of the investments coming from this region, including a whopping $125 million private equity investment in an Indian logistics firm. Singapore’s Funding Societies, which positions itself as a “peer-to-business” lending marketplace, announced a $7.45 million funding round led by Sequoia India on Thursday (Aug. 4). According to the startup, the funding makes for Southeast Asia’s largest-ever investment in a venture capital company.

7.Five Charlotte startups to be featured at CED Tech Venture Conference
The Council for Entrepreneurial Development announced five startups from Charlotte will be featured at its Tech Venture Conference next month.In total, 90 startups from around the state will participate in the conference for three categories: showcase, lightning round and demo. The conference will be held Sept. 13 and 14 in Raleigh, and the organization expects 800 people to attend. The Charlotte companies selected are Payzer, Passport, 2ULaundry, Looqsie and PodKeeper. Joan Siefert Rose, CED president and CEO, said the annual conference provides a platform to spotlight North Carolina startups in front of an audience of investors and tech visionaries from across the country. Fourteen companies will present on the main stage of the conference, including two companies from the Queen City — Payzer, a mobile and cloud-based payment tool for the service industry, and Passport, which creates mobile parking-payment solutions.

8.Tech Sector Pushes for Fewer Crowdfunding Restrictions 
Tech companies are pressuring Congress to ease crowdfunding restrictions in a four-year-old law aimed at reviving U.S. entrepreneurship. The sector was among the biggest champions of 2012’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a broad bill designed to meet startups’ increased need for capital. Among its provisions was a crowdfunding initiative, rolled out in May 2016, that cleared the way for the launching of online crowdfunding portals such as Wefunder Portal LLC, SI Portal LLC operating as SeedInvest and Republic, where small investors can browse curated listings of startups and invest to become shareholders in those companies. But while many in the tech community saw equity crowdfunding as a solution to declining instances of seed funding from angel investors and venture capitalists, the law — under which the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission took four years to write rules — has not kept pace with fast-growing startups that demand big cash infusions in early stages.New legislation, the “Fix Crowdfunding Act” (H.R. 4855), which the House passed last month, aims to ease restrictions on the funding vehicle to allow tech companies to bring in more money from small investors.

9.How do you succeed at a startup? 6 Chicago tech leaders weigh in
In an industry that’s all about solving problems in innovative ways, success rarely comes from following any single recipe. But the people and companies who are succeeding are clearly doing something right. To try and get a handle on what the “secret sauce” is, we decided to ask some of Chicago’s growing tech companies what they think it takes to succeed in tech today. They had great advice to offer both for individuals and young companies looking to make their mark. The serial entrepreneur behind ventures like Viewpoints and FireStarter Fund, PowerReviews CEO Matt Moog knows a thing or two about what it takes to make your way in the tech industry. To him, succeeding is all about teamwork and going above and beyond expectations. “In order to be successful at a tech company, an individual must be committed to three things: learning, communicating and collaborating. It’s key to be an active listener, ask good questions, and make connections to the big picture,” said Moog.

10.Startups Seek to Challenge Craigslist in Online Classifieds
An arms race is heating up to replace Craigslist, the dominant force in online classifieds the past two decades.Startup companies OfferUp and Letgo are surging in popularity among people looking to buy and sell everything from used clothes to used cars through their smartphones. And deep-pocketed investors are paying up for stakes in them even though they don’t charge for their services today. OfferUp is set to raise $120 million in funding led by private-equity firm Warburg Pincus, say people familiar with the matter. The Bellevue, Wash., company’s valuation would stretch to roughly $1.2 billion from about $70 million just two years ago. The people familiar with the fundraising caution the deal isn’t final and could still fall apart. Rival Letgo has burst on the scene with $100 million in new financing and an extensive TV ad campaign. Letgo’s prominent backer, South African media giant Naspers Ltd. , owns other classifieds sites around the world.Facebook Inc., meanwhile, is testing its own local classifieds service supported by ample cash and a social network with 226 million users in the U.S. and Canada.

11.Here’s why such few Canadian tech companies received 2016 Randstad awards for HR
Tech enjoys a reputation as an employee-friendly sector – so why did this year’s Randstad Awards give the impression that such few Canadians want to work in it? To be clear, both Canadian Solar and IBM, honoured in May by Netherlands-based human resources consulting firm Randstad Holding NV as the two most attractive Canadian companies to work for, are in the tech industry. But few of the other top 20 were: Telus, Bell, and Rogers all made the list, but not Google, which was declared the top employer in Switzerland and India; not Microsoft, which came in second in the U.S. (behind Disney); not Apple, which came in second in Italy; not Samsung, which came in third in Poland; and not Facebook. (Though it should be noted that even the three most attractive Canadian companies barely managed to exceed a 50 per cent attractiveness rating.) Nor was tech among the top sectors to work for in Canada: the four most popular, in terms of both awareness and attractiveness, were finance, food trade, motor vehicles, and transportation, according to the 2016 Canadian award results.

12.Tech and beer: Congressman samples local startup life
Now in its fourth year, the day pairs elected officials with startups in the communities they represent. For Issa, who helps run the national event, it’s not so much an opportunity to visit young companies, which he claims to do frequently, but a means of nudging his colleagues to be more involved in their own local startup communities. Perhaps more importantly, Startup Day is designed to give the little guys a seat at the table with folks who often have legislative control over economic matters that can make or break their fledgling companies. “Being with startups is something that has value,” said Issa, who represents California’s 49th District. “And if every member of Congress visited at least one startup, once a year, we would come with common knowledge that would allow us to do legislation better.” Issa practiced what he preached when visiting with three San Diego startups on Thursday. Each stop was themed around a topic related to government’s help or hindrance of businesses.

13.Meet the Firm That’s Betting Against the Startup Bubble  
The firm’s founder, Alexander Campbell, spent the financial crisis on the prop desk at Lehman Brothers. Later, as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Thrive Capital, he learned about venture capital. He saw plenty of parallels between the VC world and the over-leveraged investment banks of the mid-2000s: lots of structure, illiquidity, people protecting themselves with random clauses and documents that are difficult to unravel, “viscious, nasty” debt, and a general lack of transparency in the market. “I saw a lot of early investors, founders and employees getting subordinated, not really understanding that if your company takes $400 million on a $1.5 billion post-money valuation, it means you just got pushed 100 spots back in the cafeteria line,” Campbell says. What’s worse, he saw lots of founders and startup employees take the tiny amount of liquidity they had and plow it into another illiquid asset—San Francisco real estate.

14.China’s tech trailblazers
Google left. Facebook is blocked. Amazon is struggling to make headway. And if further proof were needed that China’s tech market is a world apart, this week seemed to provide conclusive evidence. Uber, a ride-hailing service that is the world’s most valuable startup, decided to sell its local unit to Didi Chuxing, a Chinese rival (see article). Its China dream, like those of so many before, is dead.For many, the lessons of this latest capitulation are clear. China is a sort of technological Galapagos island, a distinct and isolated environment in which local firms flourish. Chinese firms are protected from external competition by government regulation and the Great Firewall. And that protection means that they need not innovate but can thrive by copying business models developed in the West. In short, China is closed, its firms are cosseted and their talent is for mimicry.




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