Here’s what you should know today.

1. Didi Chuxing, the Uber of China, confirms $5.5B raise for global and AI push

The company confirmed fundraising rumors today; it has raised a fresh $5.5 billion to continue global expansion and to invest deeper into emerging areas like artificial intelligence to bring more advanced systems to its transportation service.

The company didn’t close valuation but sources very close to the company confirm to us that it is over $50 billion, with new investors Silver Lake Kraftwerk joining previous investors.

Didi has also launched a lab in Silicon Valley.

As a global technology leader, DiDi is striving to advance the transformation of transportation and automotive industries through active internationalization plans.

What’s interesting also to contemplate is whether DiDi will finally be expanding its footprint outside of China. To date, the company has done so only in the form of partnerships, intended to make for a more seamless experience to travellers as they go outside their home market but want to continue to use the same app and payment system as before.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Silicon Valley innovation builder Singularity U launches Singapore chapter

Technology and innovation builder Singularity University (SU) officially launched its Singapore chapter this week.

Silicon Valley-based SU is described as a community of thinkers and innovators that apply “exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.” It’s a lofty mission statement.

One of the areas of focus will be better ways to deliver healthcare tools and services to people in Asia, says Lee Chon Cheng, a member of the Singapore chapter’s leadership team. That’s why SU Singapore collaborated with global medical technology company BD for this challenge.

The global outlook is key to SU’s mission to solve world problems.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: Banks are loosening up internally so they can work with startups

As banks and financial technology startups collaborate more closely, banks are beginning to pull apart the image of their institutions as segmented bureaucratic machines that can’t innovate quickly.

With public confidence in them in the U.S. below 50 percent across the political spectrum, banks have a branding problem — one that gets even more problematic when they have to work with those outside the industry.

Wells Fargo is one of the banks that has taken active interest in facilitating dialogues with startups. While most most major banks have accelerator programs, Wells Fargo said one of the focuses of its startup program is helping banks understand startup culture and vice versa.

Read more about how banks in the US are re-branding themselves here.


Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Amazon blows past earnings expectations

The company shattered earnings expectations, reporting $1.48 per share, when Wall Street was expecting $1.12. Net income stood at $724 million.

Shares quickly soared 5% in initial after-hours trading.

India is a big part of the success, it seems as CEO Jeff Bezos spoke about their optimism in India, a large market opportunity for growth.

“Our India team is moving fast and delivering for customers and sellers. The team has increased Prime selection by 75% since launching the program nine months ago, increased fulfillment capacity for sellers by 26% already this year and announced 18 Indian Original TV series.”

AWS, the cloud service platform, saw substantial growth, accounting for $3.7 billion for the quarter. This compares to $2.6 billion in the same period last year, or up 43%. Growth is slowing, however. The same category saw 64% growth the year before.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Why luxury remains far out of reach for Amazon and Walmart

Although many brands and retailers worry about the continued rise of Amazon and Walmart — which are currently the two largest ecommerce platforms in the U.S. — those within the luxury space believe their sector, at least, is safe.

“Nothing about the way they do business and nothing about the way their business is set up is appropriate for a luxury brand,” said Charlie Cole, vice president at Tumi.

“When you think about their completely egalitarian and no-barriers-to-entry model for their marketplaces — which is what’s served them so well as far, as expansion goes — it’s remarkably anathema to a luxury business.”

What do you think?

Read the rest of the story here.


3. As Facebook grows, brands say it’s gotten more complicated to work with

With 5 million advertisers, Facebook is as important to advertisers as ever. But as the platform’s grown, so have brands’ complaints about it — and demands for more control.

 A major marketer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Facebook is still very involved with it, sending reps to provide creative help. It the same time, the platform has become more confusing to work with as it has expanded, and often pushes its own agenda.

It’s a common theme across marketers of all sizes, and it echoes the concerns among publishers, who worry that Facebook has gotten too much control over the distribution of news. Marketers, too, seem to finally be waking up to the outsized control it wields in the ad industry.

Almost every company says it’s the most important platform out there. But they’re also demanding more control.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Private equity investor KKR tops up third Asia fund, nearing $7b target

KKR is a private equity investor with stakes in various sectors, including tech. It became widely known in Southeast Asia’s tech scene when it participated in Go-Jek’s $550 million round last year.

A US private pension provider, the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF), says it’s putting at least $275 million into a new fund by global investment firm KKR, called KKR Asia Fund III.

Parts of the US$7 billion pot could flow into the further funding of Go-Jek, which is said to be in the process of raising another $1 billion to fend off competitors Grab and Uber. The fresh investments into KKR’s fund could mean very positive things for tech companies in Southeast Asia.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. TransferWise sets up Singapore office to serve as Asia-Pacific HQ

Online money transfer startup TransferWise announced today it is setting up its Asia-Pacific hub in Singapore.

This gives Transferwise a central location in Asia-Pacific, allowing it to reach more customers in the region.

TransferWise allows its customers to send and receive money across borders for a fraction of the charges imposed on bank transfers. To do that, it uses a peer-to-peer system that matches users according to the currencies they want to send and receive.

The service has been available in Singapore for some time but due to regulations, users had to verify their identity by contacting TransferWise and doing it manually. Now, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has approved online verification for the startup.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: China’s internet giants go global

Western companies usually prefer to focus on a few core areas, whereas Chinese internet firms typically try to do everything from cloud computing to digital payments.

When this works, as with Tencent’s wildly successful app, WeChat, the results can be impressive.

A huge home market has not stopped the trio from fighting bloody turf wars among each other. The outcome to this battle is rapidly becoming clear. Tencent and Alibaba are surging ahead; a series of own goals has left Baidu far behind.

 Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you need to know today.

1. PayPal shares up 7% after better-than-expected earnings

PayPal, the payments company, posted first-quarter earnings results after the bell on Wednesday. After surpassing analyst estimates with an adjusted 44 cents per share, compared to the 41 cents that many were predicting.

PayPal also announced a $5 billion share repurchase program

PayPal says they added 6 million new accounts in the quarter, bringing the total to 203 million active users.Total payments volume for the company was $99 billion, in line with analyst expectations. This is up 23% from last year or 25%.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Line and Kakao among the top non-gaming apps that are making serious money

The share of revenue for non-game apps in app stores worldwide rose marginally from 15 percent in 2015 to 16 percent last year.

 Chat apps Line and Kakao – from Japan and South Korea respectively – topped the revenue list on Google Play. Tinder – the leader in dating apps from the US – came in third.
Apart from new ways of monetization, revenue growth for apps will come from the continuing rise in smartphone users from 2.6 billion currently to 3.6 billion in 2020.
More than a quarter of the next billion smartphone users will be from India, which overtook the US last year to be next only to China in number of users.
Read the rest of the story here.


3. Amazon’s newest product wants to judge your outfit

“Alexa, do these jeans make my butt look big?”

The release has been met with mixed responses.

No one really asked for this product, and fashion is one of the most unpredictable human behaviors on earth. Providing a fashion service is different to growing a fashion apparel business inside Amazon.

Smart home products are disrupting the home security market, and there is growing demand for products like smart locks and security cameras. The overall security solutions market is expected to grow to over $370 billion by 2022.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Startup hubs are linking Singapore and Indonesia

Tenants of the network of co-working spaces EV Hive, based in Indonesia, now also have access to the facilities of Singapore’s startup space BASH, and vice versa.

But the partnership is about more than just sharing co-working spaces.

BASH, which is managed by Singapore’s SGInnovate, a relatively new Singaporean government initiative, can turn into an avenue for Indonesian entrepreneurs to connect with talent and funding. Members of BASH, in turn, can use EV Hive as landing pad to the archipelago.

Singapore and Indonesia need each other, but despite efforts to reach deeper economic integration across the region through the ASEAN economic community (AEC), there have been few tangible results.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. CarPal raises $2.75m funding to help businesses deliver packages

The startup has announced raising a US$2.75 million round led by undisclosed private equity investors. Existing backer RB Investments has doubled down.

CarPal has two products. One, it offers small businesses the ability to deliver packages to their customers. These businesses can book a delivery either through CarPal’s apps or by integrating its API into their own websites.

CarPal then connects them to its pool of 10,000 freelance couriers in Singapore. Two, it offers CarPal Fleet, a software for companies to manage their own delivery fleets and optimize delivery routes.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Brands are testing shoppable ads on Instagram story

Brands posting ephemeral content on Snapchat and Instagram Stories can now expect to not just drive engagement but also sales.

Brands including Birchbox, Dr. Brandt Skincare, GoPro, Beautyblender and SheaMoisture are testing a new shoppable video layer offered by video company MikMak that lets users purchase branded products on Instagram Stories and Snap Ads with a single URL called MikMak Attach.

The new feature allows brands to turn social video views into direct sales, without users ever having to leave Instagram or Snapchat.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Hong Kong-based Lynk raises $4m Series A round

Hong Kong-based Lynk is an online service that connects enterprise users to experts in a variety of fields.

Lynk operates on a software-as-a-service model, where business customers pay the company for access to its pool of mentors.

Lynk claims to have over 35,000 experts across 70 countries and a “growing number of industries.” They include C-level executives, scientists, engineers, independent consultants, and specialist advisers.

Lynk will use the funding to expand its market coverage and continue developing its tech. It will also hire more people across its various territories – at the moment the company has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Mumbai. The startup is also looking to enter the Chinese market.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Jack Ma predicts decade of pain ahead

“In the next 30 years, the world’s pain will be much greater than its happiness,” Ma told a Chinese entrepreneurial conference over the weekend. “Social conflicts over the next 30 years will hugely impact every industry.”

Ma has lately become a mix of futurist, business seer, and conference-circuit speaker. Last year, in a letter to Alibaba shareholders, Ma imagined the difficult future for old businesses.

“Throughout history, technological disruptions have followed similar trajectories: 20 years of technological disruption followed by 30 years of further rapid change as new technologies are applied throughout society

The somersault changes the Internet brings will create millions of jobs, as Alibaba has, Ma told the entrepreneur conference this weekend, but only if changes are made to the world’s education systems.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Rocket Internet narrows losses, boosts sales at key startups

Rocket Internet increased sales and shrank losses at some of its biggest startups, bringing the company closer to a target of having three of its main investments break even by the end of this year.

Adjusted losses before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization narrowed at businesses including HelloFresh, Global Fashion Group and Dafiti, Rocket said Tuesday.

Overall, Rocket reported a loss of 741.5 million euros for 2016, weighed down by impairment charges and deconsolidation of subsidiaries.

Investors have long hoped for initial public offerings by Rocket’s startups so they can recoup their investment. One candidate is Delivery Hero, a food-delivery company about 37% owned by Rocket. Delivery Hero said yesterday it is considering an IPO after reporting a 79% increase in full-year.

Rocket expects to start five to eight companies this year after launching and incubating 8 last year in industries including logistics, said Oliver Samwer, Rocket Internet founder.

Read the rest of the story here.