Ecosystem Roundup: Next step for Air Asia super-app ambition, and Play Ventures closes new gaming fund


Grab set for US listing through merger with Altimeter SPAC at US$35bn valuation; The listing will see Grab raising US$2.5bn through a private investment in public equity deal; About US$1.2bn will be funded by Altimeter; The deal could take as soon as this week. More here

SoftBank co-leads US$640mn in pre-IPO Series E of Singapore retail-tech unicorn Trax; Its retail cloud platform combines computer vision with IoT hardware to provide companies with granular visibility of changing store conditions; With hubs in the US, Singapore, Israel, Trax serves customers in over 90 countries. More here

AirAsia to raise US$300mn for digital unit to fuel super-app ambition; As per a Bloomberg report, it is in discussions with at least one advisor for its digital unit’s first financing round; In March, founder and CEO Tony Fernandes estimated that AirAsia’s super app would record a turnover of US$250mn this year; Recently, the airline said it’s looking to enter the ride-hailing business. More here

Play Ventures closes US$135mn fund targeting gaming startups; Launched in 2018, Play Ventures portfolio consists of 24 early-stage gaming startups across over 10 different countries; Its investees include Vietnam’s Gamejam and Singapore’s Potato Play. More here

Line operator Naver invests US$150mn in Indonesia’s Emtek; The investment is aimed at jointly finding new growth opportunities in SEA with its regional partners; Emtek owns and operates several internet properties, including DANA and Bukalapak; Naver has been aggressively investing in promising startups and businesses in SEA, where the online business growth potential is greater than in other regions. More here

MatchMove’s talks with VCs to raise US$50mn fall through; As per a DealStreetAsia, this follows the S’pore fintech firm’s failure to secure digital banking licence from MAS; MatchMove had forged consortium to apply for a digital bank licence to bolster its existing banking-as-a-service portfolio. More here

Indonesia’s B2B commerce startup Sinbad set to close in on US$15-20mn funding; As per a DealStreetAsia report, MDI Ventures and Genesia Ventures are understood to be backing the startup’s latest round; Sinbad provides a platform for retailers and merchants to place orders directly with principal manufacturers and product distributors. More here

Hyperganic brings 3D printing software to Singapore with a US$7.8mn funding; The company shared this decision was driven by Singapore’s investment in deeptech, specifically in AI, robotics and industrial 3D printing; Germany-based Hyperganic uses computer algorithms to create digital renderings of complex parts such as rocket engines. More here

SIRCLO acquires Eduardo Saverin-backed Indonesian parenting platform Orami; The deal states that Orami will operate as an independent entity that is integrated within SIRCLO’s line of services; Orami CEO Ferry Tenka and President Hendrawan Kartika will take on the roles of SIRCLO’s CMO and CFO, respectively. More here

SEA’s VC landscape will soon get more specialised, says ADB Ventures; There is now a rapidly growing pool of young entrepreneurial talent, some of who are moving into sectors that can have a significant impact; The impact VC firm is launching a US$100mn+ debt fund targeting tech startups that are slightly further along the commercialisation lifecycle. More here

Flash Coffee raises US$15mn to take on the likes of Kopi Kenangan in SEA; Investors include White Star Capital, Delivery Hero-backed DX Ventures, GFC; The tech-enabled coffee chain now operates in 50 locations across Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, with majority of its stores already achieving profitability. More here

‘Microinsurance will play a pivotal role in accelerating financial inclusion in SEA’: Raunak Mehta of Igloo; Insurtechs have to overcome the distribution challenge and identify, develop and grow more avenues for insurance products to be made available to consumers. More here

Singapore startup Glints snags US$22.5mn Series C; Investors include PERSOL Holdings (lead), Monk’s Hill, Wavemaker Partners; Glints is an online platform for career development and recruitment in SEA; The funds will be used to develop new features and expand its presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan. More here

Singapore-based Circus Social secures US$1mn led by Inflection Point Ventures; The startup allows companies to track competitors, benchmark performance, analyse sentiment and predict trends using AI and Machine Learning; It has clients across multiple industries in over 15 countries in Asia Pacific, including Fortune 500 firms. More here

SEED Ventures’s new fund VDF1 can pay interest-free loan of up to US$38K to startups ‘within 5 days’; Although it won’t be taking any interest from startups, the shareholders will be incentivised with small amounts of equity; VDF1 is receiving interest mostly from F&B companies. More here

Singapore’s fintech Friz raises pre-seed funding from YC, 500 Durians, others; The startup is focused on providing financial services for freelancers; The capital raised will be used for the expansion of its engineering and marketing teams, as well as to expand into markets such as the Philippines and Thailand. More here

Twitter said to have held acquisition talks with Clubhouse on potential US$4bn deal; Twitter, however, has its own product very similar to Clubhouse — Spaces; Clubhouse, meanwhile, just launched the first of its monetisation efforts, Clubhouse Payments, which lets users send direct payments to other creators on the platform, provided that person has enabled receipt of said payments. More here

EY survey: SEA region to generate most M&A opportunities; Driving this acquisition appetite are concerns about tariffs and trade flows, strengthening of technology, talent and new capabilities, and growth into adjacent business sectors or activities; Top investment destinations (cross-border and domestic) among SEA corporates were India, Singapore, Japan, Thailand and China. More here

8 Indian startups join unicorn club this year; Startups that have turned unicorns in 2021 include infra tech provider Infra.Market; health-tech provider InnovAcer; non-bank lender Five Star Business Finance; e-pharmacy API Holdings; social commerce startup Meesho; and fintech companies Digit Insurance, Groww and Cred. More here

Cloud technology is on a rise in SEA; The cloud computing market is expected to reach US$40.32bn by 2025, according to IDC; Startups now no longer compete regionally or locally, but on a global scale and cloud technology offers cost-effective, adaptable, and easy access alternative to the present and future needs of the organisation. More here

Singapore to pump extra US$51mn into Tourism Development Fund (TDF); Initiatives supported by the TDF include the Experience Step-Up Fund; the Kickstart Fund to test innovative lifestyle concepts; and the Training Industry Professionals in Tourism grant, which covers part of the cost of sending employees for tourism-related skills upgrading. More here

How will digital banking benefit Malaysians?; The biggest impact here will be seen in financial inclusion, especially for Malaysia’s underserved and unserved population; Digital banking may also provide better accessibility to those in rural areas who can benefit from similar financial products, as they won’t have to access physical bank branches that are commonly located in urban areas. More here

Image Credit: Play Ventures

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