Grab raises $750 million to take on Uber in Southeast Asia

Commuters wait for a train next to Grab transport booking service app advertisements at a train station in Singapore February 10, 2016.REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Commuters wait for a train next to Grab transport booking service app advertisements at a train station in Singapore February 10, 2016.REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Grab, the biggest rival to ride-sharing service Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] in Southeast Asia, has raised $750 million in a funding round, turning up the heat on the U.S. firm now seeking to expand in the region after exiting China.

The successful cash-injection just a month after Indonesian peer Go-Jek raised $550 million highlights the intensifying competition in the region, as Uber shifts its focus following a deal to sell its China operations into Didi Chuxing.

Four-year-old Grab said it planned to expand its services in Southeast Asia through the funding round, which was led by Japan’s SoftBank Group (9984.T) with new and existing investors.

The region has become a key battleground for ride-hailing firms thanks to a burgeoning middle class as well as a youthful, internet-savvy demographic.

Since leaving China in August, Uber is even more focused on Southeast Asia, doubling down on resources, staffing and technology deployed there, a source familiar with Uber’s plans has said.

Specifically, the company is refocusing more than 150 engineers to work on its Southeast Asian operations and hiring more engineers in India, the source said. It was also working on making sure its maps fit the region.

The latest funding values Grab at over $3 billion, a source familiar with the matter said.

It increases its total capital position to over $1 billion, the company said without naming other investors in the round. A Grab representative told Reuters institutional investors from the United States and China took part.

Uber had no comment on Grab’s fund-raising.

BUFFERING

Grab says it has 95 percent market share in third-party taxi-hailing services, while its private-car business has more than half of the Southeast Asian market.

In addition to expanded ride-hailing services, Grab said it planned to invest in mobile payments capabilities in a region with low banking and credit card penetration and limited cashless payment options.

“Grab is using this funding to try to diversify because the ride-hailing industry, in terms of profitability, is still a big question. Grab need to hedge risks and diversify,” said Rushabh Doshi, an analyst with researcher Canalys.

Source: Reuters

Huawei replaces Xiaomi at top of Chinese smartphone market

The most recent numbers out of analyst firm IDC show a major shakeup in the Chinese smartphone market for Q2. During an especially rough quarter, local handset maker Xiaomi’s shipment dipped significantly from 17.1 to 10.5 million year over year, according to the firm.

The 38 percent drop was enough to knock the company down to the fourth position, as Huawei took over the top spot with 19.1 million units moved, comprising 17.2 percent of the country’s massive market share. Huawei was followed closely by fellow domestic manufacturers OPPO and Vivo, at 18 and 14.7 million units, respectively.

For its part, Xiaomi has disputed IDC’s numbers, pointing to higher estimates from other prominent research firms, though all noted numbers significantly below Q2 2015’s 17 million.

The highest spot by a non-domestic company on IDC’s list was secured by Apple, which rounded out the top five with 8.6 million shipments, also down fairly significantly (31.7 percent) from 12.6 the year prior.

Source: TechCrunch

Indonesia will be Asia’s next biggest e-commerce market

Indonesia, Jakarta, View of city during sunset

Indonesia, Jakarta, View of city during sunset


Indonesia presents much opportunity for e-commerce among other emerging Asian economies, with current projections putting this archipelago nation’s e-market at $130 billion by 2020 (coming third behind China and India). With an estimated annual growth rate of 50 percent and strong mobile-first initiatives, retailers have a unique opportunity in Indonesia to focus on developing truly mobile platforms to help facilitate e-market growth, particularly in the consumer packaged goods (CPGs) sector.

Indonesia’s current e-commerce market is similar to China’s online marketplace beginnings, with a large pool of entrepreneurial sellers providing goods purchased based largely on social media recommendations. Similarly, e-commerce in Indonesia also mimics the early U.S. e-market, which was flooded with customers wary to trust online payments and retailers. Indonesia is truly unique in that it has the potential to create a hybrid of the widest opportunities from America and China’s e-commerce economies, propelling the Indonesian online marketplace onto the global stage.

Read more: TechCrunch

Food startup Deliveroo raises $275M


Deliveroo, a popular on-demand restaurant food delivery startup in Europe, has raised another $275 million in funding, a Series E investment that we have heard from sources values the company at around $1 billion. This latest round is led by new investor, Bridgepoint, previous investors DST Global and General Catalyst, and also had participation from existing investor Greenoaks Capital.

Deliveroo says the investment will go into growing its service in both new and existing markets, where it’s now live in 84 cities. It’s also going to keep investing in its new initiatives. These include a new B2B remote kitchen service, RooBox, which gives restaurants access to delivery-only kitchens in key locations. Other new services have included an expansion into alcohol delivery.

Deliveroo, which is not confirming its valuation, has now raised $475 million to date.

This latest funding comes at a time when the startup is facing a lot of heat from others who are also targeting the higher, foodie end of the prepared food market (typical Deliveroo restaurants include artisanal pizza and burger joints, trendy Middle Eastern delis, and hipster donut bakeries).

Rivals include Uber, which has stormed into Europe with UberEATS, as well as others like Delivery Hero and Just Eat, and now, it seems, Amazon too (whose own food delivery project in Europe is currently codenamed “Hot Wheels”).

The intense competition in the market has led to a distinctly sink-or-swim climate, with other hopefuls like Take Eat Easy closing down last week after failing to raise money.

Sky News reported news of Deliveroo’s round earlier today, and we have confirmed the details with Deliveroo directly.

“After seeing strong growth in the markets we launched in November, our new focus is to drive further innovation in food delivery,” founder and CEO Will Shu said in a statement. “In particular, I’m excited about exploring completely new ways to solve the hardest problems restaurants face when offering delivery. RooBox is the first illustration of this approach, and innovations like these are at the heart of our mission. We’re proud and honoured to have the support of Bridgepoint, DST Global and General Catalyst in this endeavour.”

We had been hearing about Deliveroo’s attempts to raise this round for months now, and our information came with several other interesting details.

For one, we were told that this round has been taking some time to close — nine months, by one person’s estimate — as the size and terms have fluctuated.

Also, multiple sources allege the company had hired Morgan Stanley either to help arrange financing for this deal, or potentially to find a buyer for the company. Among those that were approached as potential buyers or partners: Uber, Delivery Hero, Amazon, Just Eat and Takeaway.com.

To be clear, Deliveroo denies conversations about partnerships or acquisitions and says that the round was oversubscribed.

Deliveroo, meanwhile, has been growing. It says that since its last round of funding ($100 million in November 2015), it has grown 400 percent and “reached profitability in a number of its established markets,” which would include London. It has also added 29 new cities and 9,000 new restaurant partners to its footprint in the last eight months.

And if we’re in a sink-or-swim climate at the moment, for now competitors are just happy to see Deliveroo seal the deal, since rising tides will help lift all (remaining) boats. “It’s good news that they managed to finally close,” another food delivery founder told me. “I think everyone was nervous it would be one of Europe’s largest failures… It would have affected the whole industry.”

Notably, Uber opted to partner up and sell off its operation in China to arch rival Didi Chuxing after it proved too costly to compete against it. Whether that might be a precedent for other geographies and categories beyond basic transport remains to be seen.

For now, there has been a lot of competition between Deliveroo and UberEATS in markets like London, not just to secure restaurants for delivery and to find loyal customers, but also to pick up drivers to complete orders.

Anecdotally, drivers we’ve interviewed who have made the leap to Uber from Deliveroo tell us the pay is better — meaning Uber’s competing by sacrificing margin to gain market share.

Confusingly (or serendipitously?), the green-lettered black delivery boxes for UberEATS and Deliveroo look nearly identical.

Deliveroo says that since its Series D, it has added 6,500 new riders to its network.

Source: TechCrunch

‘Nougat’ – New version of Android crowned

Newest sweet treat: Google shared the event in a Twitter message tagged #AndroidNougat and containing a looped snippet of video of the undraping of an Android statue standing atop giant nougat and nut bars. — Google

Newest sweet treat: Google shared the event in a Twitter message tagged #AndroidNougat and containing a looped snippet of video of the undraping of an Android statue standing atop giant nougat and nut bars. — Google

SAN FRANCISCO: Google’s newest mobile operating system will be called Nougat, continuing a tradition of naming Android software after sweet treats, the tech giant said.

Google had invited people to send in suggestions at its annual developers conference in May, and revealed the winning Android name at a playful ceremony at its campus in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View.

Nutella was thought to be a favourite, but Nougat won the day.

Google shared the event in a Twitter message tagged #AndroidNougat and containing a looped snippet of video of the undraping of an Android statue standing atop giant nougat and nut bars.

The technology giant has been letting developers work with the new mobile operating system, which is expected to be released later this year.

Alphabet-owned Google’s Android operating software is a computing phenomenon that powers the vast majority of smartphones sold across the world.

There were 1.16 billion smartphones shipped in 2015 that are powered by Android, according to research group Gartner. That accounted for 82% of the market, dwarfing the 225.85 million for Apple’s iOS.

Cupcake, the first version of the operating software to carry the name of an enticing desert, was released in 2009.

It was followed by Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, Lollipop and current-generation Marshmallow. — AFP

Source: The Star Online

Apple invests $1B in China’s largest taxi app

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Apple made the bombshell announcement today that it has invested $1 billion in China’s top ride hailing app. Didi Chuxing (formerly called Didi Kuaidi) is often described in U.S. media as Uber’s Chinese rival, but it already dominates the market by far. The company claims it fulfilled one billion rides last year and holds 87 percent of the country’s private ride-hailing market.

In an interview with Reuters, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “We are making the investment for a number of strategic reasons, including a chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market. Of course, we believe it will deliver a strong return for our invested capital as well.”

Didi Chuxing told Reuters that this is its single largest round of funding so far. It claims to currently complete more than 11 million rides a day and have over 14 million drivers on its platform. The company’s other major investors include Tencent and Alibaba, two of China’s largest Internet companies, and SoftBank.

According to a WSJ report from February, the company was then in the process of finalizing a round for $1 billion at a valuation of $20 billion. A Didi Chuxing representative said Apple’s investment is part of the same round, but declined to confirm the valuation. TechCrunch has also emailed Apple for more information.

In a press release, Didi Chuxing founder and CEO Cheng Wei said, “The endorsement from Apple is an enormous encouragement and inspiration for our four-year-old company. DiDi will work hard with our drivers, riders and global partners, to make available to every citizen flexible and reliable mobility choices, and help cities solve transportation, environmental and employment challenges.”

China is on its way to becoming Apple’s biggest iPhone market, but the company has faced a few recent setbacks there. After years of giving it a relatively free rein for a U.S. tech company, the Chinese government ordered the closure of iBooks Store and iTunes and Movies just six months after the services launched in China.

Furthermore, while Apple’s sales in China are still growing, it’s at a much slower rate than before as the Chinese economy becomes sluggish and the smartphone market in general faces less demand. Concerns about Apple’s reliance on China prompted activist shareholder Carl Icahn to sell his entire stake in the company earlier this year.

Investing in Didi Chuxing allows Apple to grab a foothold in the Chinese tech market that reaches beyond iPhones—and also gives it a new platform for its other technology. For example, if Didi Chuxing uses CarPlay, that gives Apple another outlet to sell software services in China beside the iPhone, as well as valuable data to tailor apps and maps for Chinese users. Didi Chuxing is also a major potential customer once Apple’s self-driving car comes to fruition.

Source: TechCrunch