Here’s what you should know.

1. Southeast Asia startup funding at record high in 2016

But it’s mainly because of GO-JEK  and GRAB.

Total funding in the region hit US$2.6 billion, up over 60 percent from the previous year’s US$1.6 billion.

Country breakdown: Singapore and Indonesia continued to figure prominently on investors’ radar, accounting for $1.4 billion and $967 million of the investments, respectively. Malaysia was next with $84.8 million, followed by Thailand at $79.3 million, Vietnam at $60.9 million and finally the Philippines at $14.6 million.

Read the rest of the story here.


2.  Vietnamese startup Leflair raises funding

500 Startups-backed ecommerce startup founded by ex Lazada colleagues, Leflair has bagged a $1 million pre-series A investment from a group of investors led by Hong Kong-based Caldera Pacific Ventures.

Leflair’s approach and focus on brands allows it to grow at a fast pace with reasonable marketing expenditures and without compromising on the quality of the products or customer service, and to work on its long-term vision. Based in Ho Chi Minh, LeFlair has around 80 employees and currently operates its own production studio, warehouse and fulfillment centre, where orders are shipped across the country.

Why is the company attractive? Vietnam is a high growth and underserved country, while the platform can eventually be expanded to the neighboring countries adding scalability to the model

Read the rest of the story here.

3. The cold war between Wal-Mart and Amazon continues

This is a battle that just keeps on going. Wal-Mart has shaken up its in-house digital team and has begun to cut prices in order to compete with Amazon.

The changes are meant to make Wal-Mart more “customer-centric,” Jet founder Marc Lore, who is now chief executive officer of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce operation, said in a memo.

Read the rest of the story here

2016 has been somewhat of a definitive year for ecommerce in Southeast Asia. With the region poised to experience an ecommerce golden age, trends and predictions that will shape ecommerce in 2017 have been identified and there is no denying that the year will most likely bring significant milestones to the region’s development.

2016 certainly set things in motion: acquisitions, closures and entries were this year’s key themes. As the year draws to a close, we present the top 5 stories and briefs covered on eIQ that have made an impact on the development of ecommerce in Southeast Asia.

1. Battle of the giants

The first foray in a series of moves that would eventually complete Jack Ma’s trojan horse for Southeast Asia. In April, Alibaba made a $1 billion acquisition of Rocket Internet’s Lazada, effectively injecting much needed investment into the cash strapped marketplace, and hereby making an effective entry into the region.

This was followed by an announcement in November that Alibaba’s Ant Financial has invested in Thailand’s Ascend Money.

Amazon finally announced its entry into Singapore Q1 of 2017. Although a much covered angle in the media, these three stories have defined the majority of Southeast Asia ecommerce in 2016.


2. Indonesia’s Go-Jek, Singapore’s Garena & Grab are unicorns

After raising $550 million, Go-Jek is now valued at $1.3 billion, claiming unicorn status.

Singapore’s Garena has also maintained its status as Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup with additional funding that came through in September.

Grab also raised $600 million in funding making it another unicorn in the region.


3. Google and Temasek’s e-conomy SEA 2016 report

Arguably the most referenced report this year. Google and Temasek’s analysis of Southeast Asia’s ecommerce landscape has appeared in a string of interviews as references for research arguments and have shined a spotlight into the region’s developing landscape. Access the full report on eIQ’s reports section here.


4. LINE debuted as 2016’s largest technology IPO

The dual listing in New York and Japan occurred in July this year. The Japanese messaging app spiked 30% in market debut after opening at $42 per share in what appears to be the biggest tech IPO of this year.

The company is owned by Naver, a South Korean Internet company, who offered 22 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange and 13 million on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

But it hasn’t been all good news for Cony & Brown as news came out in October that the messaging app is struggling to acquire new users, barely moving beyond its 220 million monthly active user base.


5.  Goodbyes: Ensogo, Rakuten & Foodpanda

In June, Ensogo announced the closureof all business units in Southeast Asia. Following its shift from a daily deals website in 2013 to a mobile marketplace in 2015, the company was struggling to thrive in an increasingly competitive market.

Rakuten also announced the closing of its Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia marketplaces in February and sold back Rakuten Thailand to original founder, Pawoot Pongvitayapanu. The company did not give a reason for the closures, but announced that the moves are in line with a new roadmap.

In December, Rocket Internet declared that it was selling online food delivery startup Foodpanda to rival, Delivery Hero for $150 million. This announcement came after a string of rumors regarding the service provider’s performance.

The series of chain reactions that occurred have shaped Southeast Asia’s potential ecommerce boom. If these developments were anything to go by, we should be seeing all the puzzle pieces being placed together within 2017. For now, it’s a wrap for 2016!


Indonesia’s most popular ride-hailing app Go-Jek is in negotiations with two of the world’s largest investment firms, KKR and Warburg Pincus, to raise funds totaling $400 million. This financing round will see Go-Jek’s valuation increase to an estimated $1.2 billion, making it the biggest startup to date in Indonesia, as well as the largest fund-raising round in Southeast Asia. 

According to Wall Street Journal, Private equity major Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) is set to be part of this round, and may invest $100 million in the region for a minority stake in the Indonesian startup. Industry executive said the bulk of the remaining amount for this financing round is slated to come from Warburg Pincus.

The market buzzed about the company’s latest funding for the last two weeks, but Go-Jek remained silent on the issue. KKR’s investment in Go-Jek is likely to come from its $6 billion pan-Asian fund, which it closed in 2013. This would be the first time for both KKR and Warburg to invest in the ridesharing market, which until now was dominated by venture capital firms. 

Since the app is launched in 2015, Go-Jek is now estimated to have more than 200,000 drivers operating in 10 cities.

It offers more than just motorcycle taxis, and has been expanding services to on-demand groceries, cleaning, door-to-door masseuses, and couriers among others.

Go-Jek has been facing stiffer competition from Singapore-based transportation service app Grab, a regional transport service major which has also been intensively expanding its services and network, via partnerships with local companies. This week, Grab signed an agreement with Indonesia’s Lippo Group to develop an e-money payments platform. The partnership is an extension of a strategic deal signed between the two companies in March this year.

Go-Jek generates revenue from a commission charged for fares; a common model across most ride-hailing service providers. In addition, they often offer drivers cash incentives to maintain low fares and retain them on their platform. However, such subsidies have also driven up customer acquisition costs and expenditures, with many transport services seeking to reduce the subsidies paid out. Grab’s CEO, Anthony Tan, has already reported that its services in some cities are seeing profitability.

A version of this appeared in Deal Street Asia on July 27. Read the full article here.