1. Ant Financial and Tencent receives license to operate digital wallets in Hong Kong

This is considered a big and significant step in the two internet giants’ overseas expansion beyond their bases in China. Read the rest of the story here.


2. Amazon launches new platform for car lovers, Vehicles

Vehicles is an extension of Automotive, Amazon’s marketplace for buying actual cars parts like tires or air filters. Similarly, Vehicles is an offshoot of Amazon Garage, which lets you store information about cars you already own. Read the rest of the story here.

3. Google: Indonesia will dominate Southeast Asian ecommerce

The US search giant and Singapore’s tech investment vehicle Temasek presented new, Indonesia-specific material (but not much from the report they released in May). Find the data here

4. Catcha Group is making big bets in online classifieds 

Another Catcha enterprise, Frontier Digital Ventures (FDV), is quietly making moves. Most recently, it raised an oversubscribed $23 million round on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Read the rest of the story here.


5. WhatsApp to share its user data with parent company, Facebook

Facebook-owned messaging giant WhatsApp has announced a big change to its privacy policy which, once a user accepts its new T&Cs, will see it start to share some user data with its parent company. Read the rest of the story here


6. Uber is making a big leap towards autonomous vehicles

In addition to its headline-grabbing tie-up with Volvo to develop a new base for driverless cars, Uber has also bought the technology start-up Otto. Read the rest of the story here.


7. Snapdeal is losing its place in India’s ecommerce landscape

Once the second biggest after Flipkart in India’s ecommerce race, it lost that place to Amazon gradually, and is now broadly considered a distant third in the running. Read the rest of the story here.

A quick search of ‘ShopClues’ yesterday would have pointed the ecommerce firm as a potential acquisition target for Alibaba. News outlets such as Tech in Asia and Times of India have reported on the rumors of the Chinese ecommerce giant acquiring India’s newest unicorn.

Will Alibaba enter India? The story so far

Alibaba indeed has its eyes on India, but it will not enter through buying a stake in ShopClues, or its rival, Flipkart, contrary to the rumors of late.

According to Tech in Asia, a company spokesperson denied the rumors in an email.

We are not currently preparing any investment into ShopClues or Flipkart. India is an important emerging market with a great potential and we are committed to developing this market for the long term.

Alibaba Group views India as a ‘natural progression’ of its strategy to expand globally. No further comment was provided regarding the ecommrce giant’s future plans for India.

Earlier this year, Alibaba Group President J Michael Evans has acknowledged that the company has been ‘exploring ecommerce opportunities’ in the country, but again, no details were given.

According to Tech in Asia, the Chinese company’s entry into India is inevitable, and it has already held talks with various possible partners, according to multiple sources from the media site.

What is ShopClues?

ShopClues is India’s top online marketplace that sells mobile phones, laptops, home appliances, fashion, home products. The company was founded in California’s Silicon Valley in 2011.

Alibaba ShopClues

Alibaba rumored to be entering India through acquisition of online marketplace ShopClues. Source:

What would this mean for India’s ecommerce landscape?

Local media has been buzzing with news of a possible stake purchase in India’s leading ecommerce company, Flipkart. However, that rumor has too been shut down.

India’s ecommerce landscape is peppered with local players such as Flipkart and Snapdeal, and of course, Amazon. The global giant has been making strong pushes in the country, most recently launching Amazon Prime for Indian shoppers and setting up six new fulfillment centers across the country in July.

India is currently in a two-way race between home leader Flipkart and Amazon, with Snapdeal coming in third place. According to Tech in Asia, the top five ecommerce companies in India hold about 80% of the market, with Flipkart owning 50% of the market share. It seems that India’s ecomemrce landscape is heading towards a new level of growth, with only the big players making strides and battling each other.

If, and when Alibaba does make a play for India, it will put the ecommerce company directly head to head with Amazon. But as of now, more speculations of possible buyouts and acquisitions will indeed run rampant.

Versions of this appeared in Tech in Asia on August 18, read the full versions here and here.

The Flipkart deal to acquire Jabong was completed in only three days, reports Tech In Asia.

The race was on because Jabong was in the late stages of talks with Flipkart arch-rival Snapdeal.

Flipkart moved quickly to steal Jabong from Snapdeal, who desperately wanted to gain market share in the fashion ecommerce segment.

“Generally, a deal of this size takes three to six months from due diligence to closure. Wrapping it up in 72 hours was a challenge,” comments Vinay Joy, Associate partner at Khaitan & Co.

In the case of Flipkart and Jabong, Vinay and his team understood the risks and proceeded with documentation on all levels. It’s possible that the Jabong team was already in the process to provide the due diligence documents to other parties interested in buying it.

An agreement can be worked upon and signed within three days but a legal and financial due diligence of a company already mixed in controversies is not possible within that time frame.

Jabong murky history

Jabong’s prime backer was Rocket Internet. The stake was later sold to Global Fashion Group, in which the latter owns a stake, along with lead investor Kinnevik AB. Rocket Internet was unhappy with the fact that GoJavas, a logistics company incubated inside Jabong and now a separate company valued more than Jabong, has no shareholding in it.  This eventually led to an audit at Jabong.

We have a high bar when it comes to governance, regulations and compliance. Unless a company can clear that bar, we have issues. – Kunal Bahl, CEO of Snapdeal.

Out of all the mergers this year, the acquisition of Jabong is probably the most controversial, and far from being smooth. Flipkart’s lawyer will be conducting post-due diligence even after the deal is inked.

A version of this appeared in Tech In Asia on July 28. Read the full version here.

Amazon has launched its prime membership program in India, reports Tech in Asia.

This is considered a well calculated move following a series of steps to solve the delivery conundrum in what is a very disorganized market. There is a 60 day trial period for Amazon Prime, twice of the one month trial period offered in other countries. The introductory annual subscription fee is set at $7.40.

Membership benefits include fast and free delivery in 100 cities, and early access to deals. Amazon has also announced Prime Video, giving members access to movies and TV shows, will be coming soon to India.

Amazon Prime’s delivery holds the key to winning the ecommerce battle against local rivals Flipkart and Snapdeal.

Amazon Prime’s guaranteed one day delivery will become an every day experience instead of an occasional indulgence, and with no minimum purchases. Prime will provide unlimited convenience.

For sellers, Fulfillment by Amazon is now an even more powerful opportunity to rapidly grow their business.

Steps taken to preparing for Prime

It invested heavily in warehouses across India as Amazon recognizes the difficulties of a centralized system which it uses in other countries. The localization of warehouses has not only helped in reducing the cost and time for deliveries, it has also encouraged sellers to use the ‘Fulfillment by Amazon” option. There’s even a facility for picking up goods from the vendor.

Amazon Prime came in once the infrastructure could provide support.

When Amazon came to India three years ago, it had to restrict itself to a marketplace model, rather than an inventory-based ecommerce. The reason for this is because India has restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI) in B2C ecommerce. By acting as a marketplace, Amazon ostensibly just connects third party sellers with buyers, with fulfillment services as an additional offering.

The government’s FDI restrictions were meant to protect the millions of small shopkeepers in India. However, Amazon is partnering with the local shops to ease its delivery hassles. This is especially a game-changer in tier-2 and tier-3 towns and rural India.

Amazon Prime’s entry into India shares a similar timeline with local competitor Flipkart’s acquisition of Rocket Internet’s Jabong.

A version of this appeared in Tech In Asia on July 27. Read the full version here.

Myntra, owned by Indian ecommerce marketplace Flipkart, today announced its buyout of Jabong, the third largest online fashion retailer in the country, reports Tech In Asia. The acquisition was made for $70 million in cash.

The deal is expected to be completed in the third quarter. Once a big player in India’s online retailing industry, Jabong has fallen on hard times in the past year amid poor sales and management shake-ups.

Jabong was in talks with Amazon to sell the business for prices between $700 million to $1 billion until early 2015 as Rocket Internet was planning to exit Jabong since 2014.

The valuation talks hovered over a billion dollars, then fell to about $700 million between October 2014 and January 2015. However, Amazon did not agree on the pricing and Jabong was out of reach for Snapdeal or Flipkart at that price.

Jabong’s valuation fell drastically within the last 18 months and paved way for smaller competitors such as Flipkart to enter the talks. 

A new CEO took charge, with a main purpose of cleaning up the company and making the company presentable for a sale.

Jabong has one of the best sourcing systems, catalogs, and loyal customer bases, especially among female buyers. The buyout will also give a boost to profitability of Flipkart, as the fashion category is the most profitable of all ecommerce segments, with gross margins as high as 80%.

China’s Alibaba is sniffing around looking for an opportunity. And despite the denial – one rumor that won’t go away is Amazon making a decisive strike to become top-dog by buying Flipkart.

A version of this appeared in Tech In Asia and BBC on July 26. Read the full version here and here.



Jabong,Rocket Internet’s Zalora for India, may be up for a merger, reports The Economic Times. The Indian fashion marketplace is allegedly in talks with competitors such Alibaba Group, Future Group and Flipkart owned Myntra, however the Jabong CEO, Sanjeev Mohanty, refused to comment.

Jabong was reportedly worth $1 billion in 2014. Now the fashion e-tailer’s valuation is barely worth $100 million. 

This is the second time that rumors of a Jabong acquisition made the news. In the same article, The Economic Times reported that Amazon was in talks to acquire the company for $1 billion in attempt to counter local player Flipkart’s acquisition of Myntra in 2014. However, the company’s current valuation is a fraction of that, approximately at $100 million. Although vastly different in numbers, the drop in valuation is reflective of Zalora Thailand and Vietnam’s modest acquisition by Central Group, for what was said to be $10 million for each country.

As commented by Quartz, 2014 was Jabong’s peak year, as the company was among the top two online fashion retailers in India, sharing the winning spot with Myntra. Since then, Jabong has struggled to regain its steam.

Myntra leaped ahead with funding from Flipkart, whilst Jabong struggled to attract funds to further fuel its business, making it harder to stay in the race with the other marketplace giant.

This news follows a string of M&As in India, as the ecommerce landscape in the country gets overcrowded with competing players. In a weakening investment environment, M&As have been increasingly common, especially in ecommerce.

Rocket Internet Jabong's possible merger

Ecommerce is leading the way in India’s M&As. Source: Quartz

In the last three months, online fashion retailer Voonik acquired four startups. Craftsvilla, an online store for ethnic product, acquired four.

[The M&A trend] will continue because the big players are now scouting for companies that compliment their offerings or add new segments. Rishabh Lawania, Founder of Xeler8

Due to the current tight investment landscape in India , small startups are struggling to raise funds like they have done in the past, which means they have to be more open to acquisitions. The money is beginning  to run dry in Southeast Asia as well as there are less and less Series B and above investment rounds happening.

If the speculation regarding Jabong is true, it will be the third Rocket Internet backed company to get acquired within the past month, after Lazada, Zalora and as Daraz & Kaymu recently announced a merger.

A version of this appeared in The Economic Times on July 4. Read the full article here.