They might be mythical beasts that exist only in fairytales, but for those in the startup and venture capital scene, unicorns are something very real.
Unicorns exist and are the much-coveted status for startups and investors, as a symbol of having reached or surpassed the US$1 billion valuation mark.
In fact, based on CB Insights, there are currently over 300 unicorns around the world, roughly half of which are based in the United States.
Then again, the spotlight is gradually moving into Asia, with many placing their bets in the region of Southeast Asia for its huge potential and market.
In fact, there are already several unicorns that have succeeded. Here’s a full list of unicorns in Southeast Asia and the industries they are tackling.
Backers: Tencent Holdings, Cathay Financial Holding, GDP Venture
The first-ever ASEAN startup to IPO in the United States, ecommerce and gaming tech giant SEA has successfully raised US$884 million with its listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2017. The internet company officially entered the unicorn club in 2016 through its US$550 million fundraisings that involved Cathay Financial Holding, placing its valuation at US$3.75 billion. At the time of its IPO, SEA was valued at US$4.9 billion.
Backers: Horizons Ventures, Accel, IDG Capital
Founded in Singapore and relocated to San Francisco, Razer is a popular name among gamers in Southeast Asia. It is the first company to create computer gear for gamers and has conquered 30 percent of the video game mouse and keyboard business on a global scale since 2015. The company went IPO in Hong Kong in 2017 with a valuation of US$4.4 billion.
Backers: Broad Peak Investment, Investec, Warburg Pincus, Boyu Capital
A newly minted unicorn, Singapore startup Trax is in midst of finalizing a deal to raise US$100 million at a pre-money valuation of about US$1.1 billion. The startup serves the retail industry with its image recognition technology being used by global consumer packaged goods companies including Coca-Cola and Nestle to track their products on retail shelves.
Backers: Microsoft, Hyundai Motor Company, Beacon Venture Capital
Founded in 2012, Grab is an all-in-one transportation service providing a platform that is present in nearly every ASEAN country, covering over 500 cities and towns across eight countries.
Having recently raised US$300 million from Invesco as part of its ongoing Series H funding led by Toyota, Grab recent investments values the company at about US$14 billion, according to a report by CNN.
The startup’s founder, Malaysian-Chinese Anthony Tan who is also Go-Jek’s founder Havard MBA classmate, is going head-to-head with Go-Jek by spending about US$700 million to expand its market share in Indonesia by 2020.
Backers: Tesco, Temasek Holdings, JPMorgan Chase, Rocket Internet
Since its inception in 2012, Lazada has been a major player of online shopping and selling in Southeast Asia. The ecommerce company serves in six countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. In June 2018, Alibaba Group announced that it will invest almost another US$1 billion in the online retailer, bringing its valuation up to US$3.15 billion.
Founded in 2007, PatSnap provides a platform that is used by more than 10,000 customers in over 50 countries around the world to access market, technology, and competitive intelligence as well as patent insights needed to take products from ideation to commercialization. The startup counts customer like Spotify, Tesla, Paypal and many more big names as its customers.
Backers: Google, Tencent Holdings, Temasek Holdings
Starting out as a motorcycle ride-hailing app in 2015, Go-Jek is one of the most reported startups in Southeast Asia with its aggressive acquisition activity to build its super app and becoming a full-on demand service platform.
The platform currently offers services including logistics, ticket booking, cleaning service, digital payments, and even barber services. Go-Jek currently operates across 50 cities in Indonesia while also in the process of expanding to other nations in Southeast Asia.
Backers: East Ventures, Sequoia Capital, JD.com
Founded by Ferry Unardi, Traveloka is Southeast Asia’s biggest go-to platform for various traveling needs.
It offers an online platform that allows users to make bookings of services provided by hotels, airlines, train and other transportation operators, events promoters, tourist attraction operators, travel agencies, telecommunication operators, and/or other service providers.
Traveloka was officially a unicorn in 2017 after DealStreetAsia reported a deal that values the startup at around US$2 billion, according to an executive familiar with the company.
Backers: Alibaba Group, East Ventures, SoftBank Ventures Asia
Launched in Jarkata in 2009, Tokopedia is Indonesia’s largest online marketplace. The platform became the country’s most valuable startup after raising US$1 billion from existing investors including Softbank and receiving a valuation of US$7 billion.
Backers: Ant Finacial, 500 Startups, Emtek Group, Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund
Founded by Achmad Zacky, Muhammad Fajrin Rasyid, and Nugroho Herushyono in 2010, Bukalapak is the fourth startup in Indonesia to have received its unicorn status after Go-Jek, Traveloka, and Tokopedia. The ecommerce business is an online marketplace that is currently home to more than 50 million users, processing 2 million transactions a day.
Founded by design and real estate developer Robbie Antonio, Revolution Precrafted is a collection of limited edition, pre-crafted properties, varying from homes to pavilions.
The company sells prefabricated homes created and designed by dozens of internationally known architects and designers including Zaha Hadid, David Salle, Tom Dixon, Marcel Wanders, and Lenny Kravitz.
The startup is reported to have passed the US$1 billion valuations in November 2017 and became the first unicorn from the Philippines.
Backers: CyberAgent Capital, Tencent Holdings, IDG Ventures Vietnam
Founded in 2004, VNG is Vietnam’s first ever unicorn startup which specializes in online gaming and ecommerce for the local market. In 2016, the startup reached a US$1 billion valuation after an undisclosed funding round led by CyberAgent Ventures and IDG Ventures.
These are the Southeast Asian unicorns! Which of these unicorns do you think will be the next to IPO? Leave a comment down below.
Singapore’s patent analytic platform, PatSnap has raised a US$300 million Series E round that cements its status as the newest unicorn in Southeast Asia, a title earned when a startup reaches US$1 billion in valuation.
This round of investment was led by new investors SoftBank Vision Fund II and Tencent Investment, with participation by CPE Industrial Fund and Vertex Growth. Meanwhile, existing investors who also joined included Sequoia China, Shun Wei Capital, and Vertex Ventures.
Using the fresh funds, Patsnap will mainly invest in talent acquisition and expanding its sales presence. Specifically, the startup will look into exploring the Japanese market through collaborating with SoftBank Japan. Additionally, this will also support PatSnap’s plans to work with local clients and hire local talents for its teams.
The capital will also be used to advance its innovation intelligence platform, accelerate product development, and acquire additional domain expertise in the industry sectors where its technology is used by R&D and IP teams.
Founded in 2007, PatSnap which is short for “patents in a snap” is a query platform designed for innovation intelligence whereby inventors and researchers can search and get insights into the various innovations being developed around the world.
The startup’s intelligence platform uses natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), computer vision, and other artificial intelligence (AI) technology to provide its users access to market, technology, and competitive intelligence as well as patent insights which is needed to take their products from ideation to commercialization.
The startup’s client portfolio consists of innovation teams at many of the world’s global brands, universities, and research institutions such as Dyson, Spotify, SZ DJI Technology, Tesla, Paypal, Oxford University Innovation, General Electric, and Dow Chemical.
Users of Patsnap’s software can just type in keywords or phrases like for example, “electric cars” and get information on companies, technologies, and inventors in the space.
Jeffrey Tiong, the Founder and CEO of Patsnap said, “The company’s mission is to empower innovators to make the world a better place, My vision is that one day, every R&D engineer can use our tool to help them to innovate better.”
Currently, PatSnap claims to have over 10,000 customers around the world and is supported by over 700 employees working from the company’s Asian headquarters in Singapore, European headquarters in London, and North American headquarters in Toronto.
The startup makes money by charging a subscription fee that is typically between $20,000 to $30,000 annually and some startups are even paying as much as US$500,000.
The startup is currently benefitting from a surge in R&D spending, with the United States and China seeking an edge in technology and science amid heightened trade tensions between the countries.
“The U.S.-China trade war is essentially about technology and a lot of companies want to know where to invest,” explained Jeffrey. “We spent more than 10 years collecting patent data from 140 countries and use AI to provide insights.”
According to the startup’s press release statement, Patsnap has enabled its customers to significantly increase accelerate time to insight when dealing with unstructured data by an estimated 12x, leading to an estimated 3x increase in successful product launches in 2020.
“We believe AI is radically changing industries, and PatSnap is a technology leader using AI to enable companies to innovate faster-using IP data and R&D analytics,” said Eren Chen, the Management Partners of SoftBank Investment Advisors.
“We are pleased to partner with Jeffrey and the PatSnap team to support their mission of helping innovators make faster, more informed decisions through connected innovation intelligence.”
PPRO, a leading global provider of payments infrastructure announced that it has raised an additional US$90 million from Eldrige and JPMorgan through a secondary transaction.
This will bring its total fundraising this quarter to US$270 million and the startup will also gain an edge with Eldrige and JPMorgan as their backers.
Eldrige is a private equity firm that has strong networks, having investments in multiple sectors including real estate, entertainment, insurance, and most notably in the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the fintech sector, the VC firm has made investments in startups including PayActiv, Truebill, Stash, and crypto wallet Blockchain.com.
Meanwhile, JPMorgan will help to promote PPRO’s services to the merchants that sign up with the bank, especially in Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.
PPRO currently has offices in Singapore and China, but with the funding, the company plans to expand its operations in the Asia Pacific, starting with Japan and India as both are big markets and countries where internal companies will need help navigating.
PPRO’s chief executive officer Simon Black when asked by DealStreetAsia did not reveal what is the share of the Asia Pacific revenue of its entire business.
Instead, he commented that PPRO will likely hire around 100 in the region in the next two years to fill the positions in product management, engineering, and technical operations. In total, the company currently has 350 employees globally.
Previously, the platform has raised US$180 million in January from investors including Sprints Capital Eurazeo Growth, and Wellington Management, which has bolstered its position as the latest fintech-as-a-service startup to unicorn status.
In the latest round, JPMorgan and Eldrige have acquired shares from existing shareholders.
“Alternative payments adoption is increasing rapidly across the globe. We are proud to become a strategic investor in PPRO as they work on their next phase of growth,” said Sanjay Saraf, JPMorgan’s integrated payments group’s global head.
PPRO’s core product is a set of APIs that supports cross-border payment processing and currency conversions. Online merchants and e-commerce companies can integrate it into their check-outs to accept payments in whatever local methods and currencies consumers prefer.
This helps companies remove the messy and complex integration themselves and directly facilitate transactions that allow consumers to pay in their preferred method.
The service would be helpful to let’s say UK-based businesses which may only be familiar with payments through credit cards or their local apps to enter a different market that accepts a separate set of payments.
For its business model, the startup makes money by both taking a cut of each transaction and charging a subscription fee for users.
To date, the startup claims to have processed more than US$11 billion for its customers in 2020, which includes companies such as Mollie, Paypal, and Worldpay.
This latest round of financing points out how active e-commerce has become, a trend fueled not in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also through how global financial services companies are looking for ways to remain relevant in every market, tapping into more innovations to help consumers make payments.
National Grid Corp., a high voltage electricity network operator in the Philippines commonly known as NGCP, is reportedly planning its initial public offering (IPO).
The electric company is looking to raise between US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion from the offering and has selected Bank of America Corp., UBS Group AG, and JP Morgan Chase & Co.to work for the first time share sale.
Moving forward, the company also may be adding other banks to help with the listing.
If successful, this would pave the way for one of the biggest listings in the country’s history and put the valuation of the company at US$8 billion to US$10 billion from the share sale.
As a matter of fact, at US$1.5 billion, NGCP’s IPO will also become the biggest ever in the Southeast Asian nation, passing the US$1.3 billion Monde Nissin Corp.
However, deliberations are still ongoing and details of the offering such as target size and timing to list on Q4 2021 could still be revised.
The IPO plan comes after the country’s energy regulatory commission denied NGCP’s request to further extend the deadline for the share sale.
Previously, under a law signed in 2008 that granted NGCP the franchising license, the network operator is required to make a public offering of at least 20% of its outstanding capital within 10 years from the start of its operations.
Officially started in 2009, NGCP was to continue with its public offering especially after Senator Win Gatchalian urged the watchdog in October to issue an ultimatum asking the electric firm to comply with the requirement.
To date, the power network currently has over 21,000 kilometers of transmission lines, 20,000 transmission towers, and 140 substations. It counts Synergy Grid & Development Phils Inc. President Henry Sy Jr. and Prudential Guarantee & Assurance Inc. Chairman Robert Coyiuto Jr. as shareholders.
Chinese bike-sharing giant Hello TransTech has recently filed for an initial public offering on the United States stock exchange board, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Previously known as HelloBike, Hello TransTech is a bike-sharing startup that has survived China’s bike-sharing bubble back in 2018 where there were dozens of new bike-share startups that flooded the street with millions of brightly colored rental bicycles.
At its height, the industry has attracted billions of dollars in investment before going bust and creating huge piles of abandoned and broken bicycles in this famously photographed bicycle graveyard photo.
While rivals such as Mobike and Ofo have retired from the industry after incurring huge losses, Hello TransTech has expanded its business beyond bike rentals, now having transformed its business model into a one-stop transportation solution provider, offering everything from smart locks to artificial intelligence-enabled traffic planning and carpooling.
Founded in 2016, Hello TransTech gained traction quickly as the first bike-sharing operator to focus its business within China’s smaller cities.
Currently, the startup claims that it is the largest two-wheel transportation app in China, having over 400 million registered users in its dashboard and its bikes can be found in over 400 cities across China.
Around 70% of the platform’s user base is comprised of the internet-savvy segment born post-1980 and post-1990, though users in other age groups are rising, according to the report submitted by the company.
However, despite its success in extending the brand and intro various other services, in terms of bike-sharing, the startup still faces competition from larger rivals like Didi Chuxing Technology Co. and Meituan, which took over Mobike in 2018. More recently, these companies have been venturing into electric bicycles, a growing segment of the market.
To date, Hello TransTech’s valuation stands at US$5 billion, according to CB Insights, with its backer portfolio including Primavera Capital Group, Fosun International Ltd., and GGV Capital. Ant Financial is also a large investor in the company, having joined in four of the company’s seven funding rounds, which have raised a cumulative funding capital of US$1.8 billion.
The startup said it has yet to decide the size and valuation of the IPO and is gauging investor demand recently. Despite that, IFR reported in its filing submission that it was examining plans to raise as much as US$1 billion.
For this listing, Hello TransTech is working with China International Capital Corp., Credit Suisse Group AG, and Morgan Stanley for the listing.