Indian food delivery startup Swiggy raises $210M at a $1.3B valuation

India’s food delivery race is hotting up after Swiggy, one of the startups vying for pole position, landed $210 million in new capital for expansion and joined the billion-dollar startup unicorn club. The investment is led by existing backer Naspers, the media conglomerate famous for an early bet on Tencent in China, and new investor DST Global. Others taking part in the round include returning investor China’s Meituan Dianping and (another new investor) Coatue Management. The deal takes Swiggy’s valuation past the $1 billion mark for the first, with sources close to the company confirming that the deal values the company at around $1.3 billion. That’s perhaps not a tonne of surprise around today’s announcement since it has been rumored in Indian press for some time, with Economic Times first reporting on it in April. This Series G investment comes just months after Naspers and Meituan Dianping invested $100
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Singapore-based game studio Mighty Bear raises $2.5M ahead of debut release

Mighty Bear, a game studio startup that grew out of King.com’s former office in Singapore, has landed new funding as it readies its debut title for smartphones. The startup was founded by four former King.com staffers — Simon Davis, Fadzuli Said, Benjamin Chevalier and Saurabh Shukul — after the gaming giant closed its Singapore office — inherited via the acquisition of Non Stop Games — following its $5.9 billion acquisition by Activision. Today, Mighty Bear’s team of 18 counts experience working with Ubisoft, EA, Lucasarts, Disney, Gameloft and others. The startup previously raised $775,000 in a pre-seed round in early 2017, and this time around it has pulled in a seven-figure USD investment. The deal is officially undisclosed, but a source with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch it is worth around $2.5 million. The deal was led by U.S.-based Skycatcher, New York hedge fund banker Eric Mindich’s Everblue
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India’s budget hotel network unicorn OYO expands into China

The tech world sees plenty of Chinese companies move into India — including the likes of Alibaba and Xiaomi — but few expand the other way. OYO Rooms, the billion-dollar Indian startup that pioneered budget hotel networks, is looking to buck the trend, however, after it launched operations in China. Today the company officially announced its arrival in China, where it says it covers 11,000 (exclusive) rooms across 26 cities, including Hangzhou, Xian, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Xiamen and Kunming. That selection includes a combination of franchises and managed hotels. OYO is initially launching its ‘hotels’ product, and it isn’t saying whether others — which include ‘rooms’ and ‘townhouses’ — will also expand to China. Interestingly, an OYO representative confirmed that this expansion wasn’t conducted in partnership with China Lodgings, the Nasdaq-listed hotel firm that invested $10 million in the startup last year. OYO said China Lodgings is assisting with
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Korean crypto exchange Bithumb says it lost over $30M following a hack

Just weeks after Korean crypto exchange Coinrail lost $40 million through an alleged hack, another in the crypto-mad country — Bithumb — has claimed hackers made off with over $30 million in cryptocurrency. Coinrail may be one of Korea’s smaller exchanges, but Bithumb is far larger. The exchange is one of the world’s top ten ranked based on trading of Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash, and top for newly-launched EOS, according to data from Coinmarketcap.com. In a now-deleted tweet, Bithumb said today that 35 billion won of tokens — around $31 million — were snatched. It didn’t provide details of the attack, but it did say it will cover any losses for its users. The company has temporarily frozen deposits and trading while it is in the process of “changing our wallet system” following the incident. Days prior to the hack, Bithumb said on Twitter that it was “transferring all
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Peek raises $23M and inks partnership with Google in push to digitize travel activities

Peek, a U.S. startup aiming to digitize the travel activities industry, has pulled a $23 million Series B round of financing and uncorked a partnership with Google that will help increase its visibility. Founded in 2012 by Ruzwana Bashir (CEO) and Oskar Bruening (CTO), the San Francisco-based startup describes itself as “OpenTable for the activities market” in that it aims to make booking activities as seamless and straightforward as a restaurant or even a flight. Peek raised $10 million two years ago, and this new round is led by Cathay Innovation with participation from existing backers that include ex-Yelp COO Geoff Donaker, Kayak founder Paul English, I2BF and Manta Ray. Peek has plenty of well-known angel backers, including Pete Flint — founder of Trulia and NFX — former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. This new round takes it to $40 million from investors to date. In addition to the money,
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Xiaomi postpones plan to sell shares in China alongside Hong Kong IPO

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi has shelved a plan to sell shares in China in conjunction with its imminent Hong Kong IPO. The company will instead go public in Hong Kong first and consider the potential for a Chinese offering at a later date. The change in strategy was confirmed in a message posted to Xiaomi’s Weibo account without specific explanation. Reuters reported that the move was down to a dispute over valuation. Xiaomi declined to comment further when asked by TechCrunch. The news is a blow to China, which is reportedly scouting out promising tech companies with a viewing to issuing China depositary receipts (CDRs) on Chinese stock exchanges. Recent laws paved the way to allow CDRs, which is tipped to create a trillion-dollar wealth-generation opportunity. Certainly, snagging Xiaomi would have given the initiative a flying start, but other companies including Baidu are said to be the subject of aggressive courtship
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Toss, Korea’s top payment app, raises $40M from Sequoia China and Singapore’s GIC

The largest payment app in South Korea, Toss, has pulled in $40 million in fresh investment from Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and Sequoia China. The deal for Viva Republica, Toss’s parent company, comes just over a year after it raised $48 million from payment giant PayPal and others. There’s no valuation for this newest round, but we do know that it is a ‘bridge’ intended to bring new investors in and help accelerate the business for a large raise further down the line. (It is also the first Korean investment for both GIC and Sequoia China.) Not that the business seems to need much more impetus for acceleration, growth is already strong. Viva Republica says that Toss’s registered user base has doubled over the past year to each eight million consumers, while it claims the app is processing $10 billion in transaction volume per month. The company forecasts
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Razer leads $3.3M investment in Australia’s Esports Mogul

Razer, the gaming hardware company that went public in Hong Kong last year, is resuming its investment strategy after it led a $3.3 million deal for Australia-based Esports Mogul. Esports Mogul is, as the name suggests, focused on e-sports. The company operates a platform for organizing e-sports competitions — called Mogul Arena — and a gaming news website. The firm is focused on Asia and Latin America and it went public in Australia via a reverse listing that raised it $7 million. The new money will go towards developing Mogul Arena for mobile, and funding user acquisition and monetization pushes, Esports Mogul said. Razer already works with Esports Mogul, and now this deal will increase the collaboration which will focus on integrating Razer’s payment system, which itself was created by the recent acquisition of MOL, according to both companies. Others in the round include Singapore’s Cloud Alliance, which develops
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Google makes $550M strategic investment in Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com

Google has been increasing its presence in China in recent times, and today it has continued that push by agreeing to a strategic partnership with e-commerce firm JD.com which will see Google purchase $550 million of shares in the Chinese firm. Google has made investments in China, released products there and opened up offices that include an AI hub, but now it is working with JD.com largely outside of China. In a joint release, the companies said they would “collaborate on a range of strategic initiatives, including joint development of retail solutions” in Europe, the U.S. and Southeast Asia. The goal here is to merge JD.com’s experience and technology in supply chain and logistics — in China, it has opened warehouses that use robots rather than workers — with Google’s customer reach, data and marketing to produce new kinds of online retail. Initially, that will see
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AT&T completes its acquisition of Time Warner

AT&T has sealed the deal to buy Time Warner in a major piece of media and technology consolidation. The deal — which is $85.4 billion and a total of $108 billion with debt — was first announced in October 2016 and, having passed a court approval earlier this week, it was completed on Thursday. That’s a long cycle to complete a transaction, but this is a complicated one that sees AT&T take control of Time Warner, as well as HBO, Warner Brother’s film studio and its Turner channels. That’s likely to create a complicated web of conflicts, as both media distribution and content creation come together under the same parent. “The content and creative talent at Warner Bros., HBO and Turner are first-rate. Combine all that with AT&T’s strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience,” Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of
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China’s Didi Chuxing continues its international expansion with Australia launch

Didi Chuxing, China’s dominant ride-hailing company, is continuing its international expansion after it announced plans to launch in Australia this month. The company — which bought Uber’s China business in 2016 — said it will begin serving customers in Melbourne from June 25 following a month-long trial period in Geelong, a neighboring city that’s 75km away. The business will be run by a Didi subsidiary in Australia and it plans to offer “a series of welcome packages to both drivers and riders” — aka discounts and promotions, no doubt. It began signing up drivers on June 1, the company added. The Australia launch will again put Didi in direct competition with Uber, but that is becoming increasingly common, and also Ola which counts Didi as an investor — more on that below. This move follows forays into Taiwan, Mexico and Brazil this year as Didi has finally expanded beyond its China-based
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China’s Didi Chuxing continues its international expansion with Australia launch

Didi Chuxing, China’s dominant ride-hailing company, is continuing its international expansion after it announced plans to launch in Australia this month. The company — which bought Uber’s China business in 2016 — said it will begin serving customers in Melbourne from June 25 following a month-long trial period in Geelong, a neighboring city that’s 75km away. The business will be run by a Didi subsidiary in Australia and it plans to offer “a series of welcome packages to both drivers and riders” — aka discounts and promotions, no doubt. It began signing up drivers on June 1, the company added. The Australia launch will again put Didi in direct competition with Uber, but that is becoming increasingly common, and also Ola which counts Didi as an investor — more on that below. This move follows forays into Taiwan, Mexico and Brazil this year as Didi has finally expanded beyond its China-based
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After botched IPO, Asian streaming startup M17 gets a $35M lifeline from investors

Asian tech company M17, which operates a live-streaming platform and data app business, has confirmed that it has canceled its proposed U.S. public listing and raised private funding to keep its business alive. The Taiwan-based company dramatically halted its NYSE listing last Friday despite pricing its IPO, and now it has clarified the situation. Well, sort of. In an announcement, the company said it had run into “settlement issues” related the listing which is why it was called off. That’s fairly vague, but a little more color came from founder (and rapper) Jeffrey Huang, who lashed out at investment banks Citigroup and Deutsche Bank in a Facebook post (below), as noted by Bloomberg. A spokesperson representing the company declined to comment further.

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IP platform PatSnap picks up $38M from Sequoia and Xiaomi founder’s fund

PatSnap, a Euro-Asian company that offers a patent and R&D platform and services, has pulled in a $38 million Series D funding round led by existing investors Sequoia and Shunwei Capital, the investment firm founded by Xiaomi co-founder and CEO Lei Jun. Southeast Asia’s Qualgro also took part. All three backed the company in 2016 when it led an undisclosed Series C round. While PatSnap didn’t give a figure for that previous round, it is saying this time around that it has raised over $100 million to date. Doing some quick via math via figures on Crunchbase suggests that the Series C was something in the region of $50 million. PatSnap was founded in 2007 and it is based out of the UK and Singapore, with locations in China and the U.S.. The company started out as essentially a directory for IP, helping companies — and particularly enterprises — pull in data
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Samsung launches new fund for early-stage AI investments

Samsung is diving deeper into artificial intelligence after it announced a new fund focused on AI technologies and startups. The Korean firm’s ‘Samsung NEXT Q Fund’ is targeted at seed and Series A deals for startups that are “solving AI problems, as well as those using AI to solve computer science problems.” In particular, the announcement revealing the new fund mentioned areas that include learning in simulation, scene understanding, problem learning programs and human computer interaction. The fund itself doesn’t have a dedicated kitty, it instead invests from Samsung’s $150 million U.S. Next Fund, which was announced last year and is focused on early-stage companies in emerging tech verticals. The Q fund has already cut checks, though. To date it has backed a number of companies, one of which is Covariant.AI — a startup that teaches skills to robots. “For the past ten years, we’ve watched
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Truecaller makes first acquisition to build out payment and financial services in India

Sweden’s Truecaller started out life as a service that screens calls and messages to weed out spammers. In recent times the company has switched its focus to India, its largest market based on users, adding services that include payments to make it more useful. Now Truecaller is putting even more weight behind its India push after it announced its first acquisition, mobile payment service Chillr. The vision is to go deeper into mobile payments and associated services to turn Truecaller into a utility that goes beyond just handling messages and calls, particularly payments — a space that WhatsApp is preparing to enter in India. Truecaller doesn’t have WhatsApp -like scale — few companies can match 200 million active users in Indua, but it did recently disclose that it has 100 million daily active users worldwide, while India is its largest country with 150 million registered users. Truecaller has raised over $90
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Sea seeks $400M raise to develop its e-commerce and payment businesses

Southeast Asia-based internet firm Sea is raising $400 million through the sale of notes in what would be its first fundraising activity since it went public via in an October 2017 IPO that raised over $1 billion. The Singapore-based company, formerly known as Garena, said that the senior note offering will put toward general costs and business expansion. Long-time investor Tencent is expected to buy up $50 million of the notes on offer, and the offering itself could be extended by a further $60 million. Sea’s IPO was a landmark for Southeast Asia, where startup exits are few and far between, but the company hasn’t exactly set Wall Street on fire since making its public bow. Its share price is $16.40 at the time of writing, having debuted at $15. It has risen thanks to gains over the past month following its most recent earnings but initially the company
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Coinbase opens its crypto index fund to accredited U.S. investors

Fresh from revealing plans to add Ethereum Classic to its exchange, crypto giant Coinbase today announced that its cryptocurrency index fund — first revealed in Marchis open to investors in the U.S.. The company said in a blog post that it has see “overwhelming” interest from investors, and now it is reaching out to those who want to invest between $250,000 and $20 million. For now, the company said, participation is limited to the U.S. and those who are accredited investors. That’s a pretty big caveat since crypto, by default, is open to anyone — although many ICOs tread carefully in markets like the U.S. — but Coinbase is very specifically target institutional capital, having recently added services for Wall Street-like professional investors. The pitch is that it knows the market, its service covers the most stable assets and it won’t charge the kind of
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Southeast Asia’s Grab lands $1B from Toyota at a $10B valuation

Grab, the ride-hailing firm that acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia business earlier this year, is raising a new round of funding and it just announced that it will be led by Toyota, which is committing $1 billion in capital. The deal values Grab at $10 billion, a source close to the company told TechCrunch. In return for its capital, Toyota will also get a board seat and the opportunity to place an executive within Grab’s team. Grab said it plans to work with its new investor “to create a more efficient transport network that will ease traffic congestion in Southeast Asia’s megacities” and help its drivers increase their income. In particular, that will involve close collaboration with the Toyota Mobility Service Platform (MSPF), which is working on areas such as user-based insurance, new types of financial packages and predictive car maintenance. “Going forward, together with Grab, we will develop services that
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Vietnam’s new cyber security law draws concern for restricting free speech

Big tech firms including Google, Facebook and Twitter have expressed major concern after Vietnam’s government passed a law that promises to introduce tighter restrictions on free speech online. The new regulation passed this week strengthens the government’s position on censoring the internet, drawing Amnesty International to decry that it leaves “no safe place for people to speak freely” in Vietnam. Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) — a group that represents Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Line and others — furthered cautioned that it would harm the development of the country’s digital economy. Among the broad points, the new cyber security law forbids internet users from organizing with, or training, others for anti-state purposes, spreading false information, and undermining the nation state’s achievements or solidarity, according to reports. “This decision has potentially devastating consequences for freedom of expression in Vietnam. In the country’s deeply repressive climate, the online space was a relative refuge
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