Africa’s Jumo raises $52M led by Goldman to bring its fintech services to Asia

Asia’s fintech scene is poised to get a little larger after Jumo, a company that offers loans to the unbanked in Africa, revealed plans to expand into the continent. To get the ball rolling, Jumo has opened an office in Singapore to lead the way and landed a massive $52 million investment led by banking giant Goldman Sachs to fuel the growth. The new round takes Jumo to $90 million raised from investors. While Goldman is the lead — and standout name — the round also saw participation from existing backers that include Proparco — which is attached to the French Development Agency — Finnfund, Vostok Emerging Finance, Gemcorp Capital, and LeapFrog Investments. Jumo launched in 2014 and it specializes in social impact financial products. That means loans and saving options for those who sit outside of the existing banking system, and particularly small businesses. To date, it claims to have
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Indian patient-doctor platform DocPrime gets $50M for city expansion

Less than three months after it raised $200 million led by SoftBank’s mighty Vision Fund, Indian digital insurance startup PolicyBazaar beefed up its new healthcare business through a $50 million capital injection. DocPrime, which lets visitors book consultations with doctors or schedule a range of medical tests, launched in August. Already, it claims to host 14,000 doctors and 5,000 diagnostic labs on its platform serving Delhi-NCR — the ‘capital region’ that surrounds the city. With this investment — which is provided by PolicyBazaar — DocPrime will begin an expansion next month that is expected to take it into major cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. That’s part of a wider goal to reach 100 cities across India and grow the network to 150,000 doctors and 20,000 labs. DocPrime is up against established competitors, however. Practo has raised $230 million from investors including China’s Tencent and it claims to work with
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OnePlus is developing its own smart TV

Smartphone upstart OnePlus’s upcoming 6T flagship promises to bring changes — it’ll see it ditch the headphone jack and sport an in-screen fingerprint reader — but first there’s something else. OnePlus is developing its first smart TV. CEO Pete Lau revealed the details today, explaining that the device will mark the five-year-old company’s next step to “building a connected human experience.” “For most of us, there are four major environments we experience each day: the home, the workplace, the commute, and being on-the-move. The home – perhaps the most important environment experience – is just starting to enjoy the benefits of intelligent connectivity,” he wrote on the company’s website. “We want to bring the home environment to the next level of intelligent connectivity. To do this, we are building a new product of OnePlus’ premium flagship design, image quality and audio experience to more seamlessly connect the home,”
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Go-Jek plans to raise $2B more for Southeast Asia ride-hailing battle

Indonesia’s Go-Jek is planning to raise $2 billion from investors to fuel its ride-hailing battle with Grab in Southeast Asia. Go-Jek raised $1.5 billion earlier this year from investors that include Chinese trio Tencent, Meituan and JD.com, as well as Google, Allianz and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek. Now it is planning to raise a further $2 billion, two sources with knowledge of details told TechCrunch, as it seeks to expand on numerous fronts. Those plans include both extending the scope of its services in Indonesia — where beyond rides it offers services on demand and financial products — and moving into new markets. The company recently went live in Vietnam, its first expansion, and it has plans to enter Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore this year. Bloomberg first reported the fundraising plans, although a source told TechCrunch that the deal is far from being done. Existing
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Mobile social network Path, once a challenger to Facebook, is closing down

It’s that time again, folks, time to say goodbye to a social media service from days past. Following the shuttering of Klout earlier this year, now Path, the one-time rival to Facebook, is closing its doors, according to an announcement made today. The eight-year-old service will close down in one month — October 18 — but it will be removed from the App Store and Google Play on October 1. Any remaining users have until October 18 to download a copy of their data, which can be done here.

Path was founded by former Facebook product manager Dave

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Golden Gate Ventures closes new $100M fund for Southeast Asia

Singapore’s Golden Gate Ventures has announced the close of its newest (and third) fund for Southeast Asia at a total of $100 million. The fund hit a first close in the summer, as TechCrunch reported at the time, and now it has reached full capacity. Seven-year-old Golden Gate said its LPs include existing backers Singapore sovereign fund Temasek, Korea’s Hanwha, Naver — the owner of messaging app Line — and EE Capital. Investors backing the firm for the first time through this fund include Mistletoe — the fund from Taizo Son, brother of SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son — Mitsui Fudosan, IDO Investments, CTBC Group, Korea Venture Investment Corporation (KVIC), and Ion Pacific. Golden Gate was founded by former Silicon Valley-based trio Vinnie Lauria, Jeffrey Paine and Paul Bragiel . It has investments across five markets in Southeast Asia — with a particular focus on Indonesia and Singapore — and that portfolio includes Singapore’s
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Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio makes bumpy start following $1B IPO

Nio, the Tesla -wannabe electric vehicle firm from China, enjoyed a mix start to life as a public company after it raised $1 billion through a listing on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The firm went public at $6.26just one cent above the bottom of its pricing range — meaning that it raised a little over $1 billion. That’s some way down on its original goal of $1.8 billion, per an initial filing in August, and for a while it looked like even that price was optimistic. Early trading saw Nio’s stock fall as low as $5.84 before a wave of optimism took it to $6.81. The stock closed its first day at $6.60, up 12 percent overall, to give Nio a total market cap of $7.1 billion. Nio sells in China only, although its tech and design teams
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Indonesian fintech startup Moka raises $24M led by Sequoia India

Indonesia’s Moka, a startup that helps SMEs and retailers manage payment and other business operations, has pulled in a $24 million Series B round for growth. The investment is led by Sequoia India and Southeast Asia — which recently announced a new $695 million fund — with participation from new backers SoftBank Ventures Korea, EDBI — the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board — and EV Growth, the later stage fund from Moka seed investor East Ventures. Existing investors Mandiri Capital, Convergence and Fenox also put into the round. The deal takes Moka to $27.9 million raised to date, according to data from Crunchbase. Moka was started four years ago primarily as a point-of-sale (POS) terminal with some basic business functionality. Today, it claims to work with 12,500 retailers in Indonesia and its services include sales reports, inventory management, table management, loyalty programs, and more. Its primary areas of
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Alibaba’s Ant Financial denies stealing from Equifax

Ant Financial has denied claims that it covertly raided Equifax the U.S. credit firm that was hit by a hack last year — to grab information, including code, confidential data and documents to help recruit staff for its own credit scoring service. The Alibaba affiliate, which is valued at over $100 billion, launched Sesame Credit in China in 2015, and a report this week from The Wall Street Journal suggests that it leaned heavily on Equifax to do so. Ant Financial hired China-born Canadian David Zou from Equifax and the Journal claims that Zou looked up employee information to gauge potential hires and squirreled away confidential documents via his personal email account. Ant was said to have offered Chinese staff at Equifax lucrative raises — reportedly tripling their salaries — with a focus on those who “provided instructions on specific Equifax information… if they jumped ship.”
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ICOs are increasingly just for venture capitalists

The rollercoaster-get-rich ICOs of 2017 are over — crypto companies are waking up to the idea that VC investors aren’t so bad after all. Companies used initial coin offerings (ICOs) to raise some $5.5 billion in cryptocurrency-based funding last year. As an emerging investment system with no regulation, nearly anyone was allowed in. The knock-on effect was that many who rode the wave made huge profits, often into the millions of U.S. dollars, as a 10X return seemed to become the minimum standard among those getting crypto-rich. The trend went into overdrive in 2018, when the price of Bitcoin hit a peak of nearly $20,000 and Ethereum notched $1,200. ICO funding hit $6.3 billion in only the first three months of the year, as noted by Coindesk, but, fast forward six months and a new trend has emerged. Public ICOs, which allow anyone to invest, are
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Chinese Tesla rival Nio trims IPO target: now aims to raise up to $1.5B

The U.S. IPO window may be wide open for Chinese tech firms, but electric vehicle maker Nio has conservatively cut the target for its NYSE listing to $1.5 billion after it released a price range for its shares. The company plans to sell 184 million shares between $6.25-$8.25. That range would yield a total raise of $1.518 billion, which is down from the initial target of $1.8 billion from the firm’s first filing in August. The range is, of course, subject to change and it doesn’t include income from the green shoe option — which allows underwriters to take an additional allocation of shares — but nevertheless, it is a notable development. Nio also revealed in its newest filing that its existing investors have committed to investing $250 million into the IPO which, at the middle of the range, would account for 22 percent of
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Alibaba goes big on Russia with joint venture focused on gaming, shopping and more

Alibaba is doubling down on Russia after the Chinese e-commerce giant launched a joint venture with one of the country’s leading internet companies. Russia is said to have over 70 million internet users, around half of its population, with countless more attracted from Russian-speaking neighboring countries. The numbers are projected to rise as, like in many parts of the world, the growth of smartphones brings more people online. Now Alibaba is moving in to ensure it is well placed to take advantage. Mail.ru, the Russia firm that offers a range of internet services including social media, email and food delivery to 100 million registered users, has teamed up with Alibaba to launch AliExpress Russia, a JV that they hope will function as a “one-stop destination” for communication, social media, shopping and games. Mail.ru backer MegaFon, a telecom firm, and the country’s sovereign wealth fund RDIF (Russian Direct Investment Fund)
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Chipmaker Renesas goes deeper into autonomous vehicles with $6.7B acquisition

Japan-based semiconductor firm Renesas — one of the world’s largest supplier of chips for the automotive industry — is scooping up U.S. chip company IDT in a $6.7 billion deal that increases its focus on self-driving technology. Renesas produces microprocessor and circuits that power devices, and automotive is its core focus. It is second only to NXP on supply, and more than half of its revenue comes from automotive. IDT, meanwhile, includes power management and memory among its products, which focus on wireless networks and the converting and storing of data. Those are two areas that are increasingly important with the growth of connected devices and particularly vehicles which demand high levels of data streaming and interaction. The acquisition of IDT — which is being made a 29.5 percent on its share price — is set to expand Renesas’ expertise on autonomous vehicles. The firm said it would also broaden its business into
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Jack Ma says he isn’t about to retire from Alibaba but is planning a gradual succession

Reports of Jack Ma’s impending retirement are greatly exaggerated, it seems. Ma, the co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, has pushed back on claims that he is on the cusp of leaving the $420 billion Chinese e-commerce firm. The New York Times first reported that the entrepreneur plans to announce that he will leave the firm to pursue philanthropy in education, a topic he is passionate about — Ma is a former teacher. But that news was quickly rebutted after Ma gave an interview to the South China Morning Postthe media company that Alibaba bought in 2016 — in which he explained that he plans to gradually phase himself out of the company through a succession plan. When reached for comment, Alibaba pointed TechCrunch to the SCMP report which claims Ma’s strategy will “provide [leadership] transition plans over a significant period of time.” In order words, Ma isn’t abruptly leaving
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Coinbase plots to become the New York Stock Exchange of crypto securities

The future of Coinbase looks something like the New York Stock Exchange. That’s according a vision laid out by CEO Brian Amstrong who was interviewed on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco today. Coinbase is known for being the most popular exchange for converting fiat currency into crypto — most of the largest traded exchanges are crypto-to-crypto — but he foresees a future in which it plays host to a growing number of cryptocurrencies as it becomes standard for companies to create their own token, which runs alongside equity as an alternative investment system. “It makes sense that any company out there who has a cap table… should have their own token. Every open source project, every charity, potentially every fund or these new types of decentralized organizations [and] apps, they’re all going to have their own tokens,” Armstrong said. “We want to be the bridge all over the world where
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Popbase helps YouTube stars build closer relationships with their fans

Entertainment has changed. New platforms led by YouTube have emerged to change the dynamic of broadcast media — once dominated by the rigid programming of TV — while the internet has enabled new media stars to engage with their audiences in new, high-touch ways. Developments like live streaming, social media and more have made the stars of today more relatable and more easily reachable than those of yesteryear. The easiest example to grasp is arguably the Kardashian family. They dominate the media, have accrued millions of fans on social networks and have branched into retail, fashion, production and more. Their relationship with fans is 24/7 and, regardless of how you feel about the family, their popularity is a clear indicator of this new always-on connection between public figures and their fans. A new startup is seizing on an opportunity to help up-and-coming online entertainers take a leaf out of that
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GreyOrange raises $140M to develop fully-automated robotics for warehouses

GreyOrange, a Singapore-headquartered firm that develops robots for warehouses, has pulled in a $140 million Series C funding round as it targets more expansion and growth. The company was started in 2011. Today it has five regional offices across the world — covering India, Singapore, Japan, Germany, and the U.S. — three R&D centers and more than 60 ‘installations’ of its tech with retail customers worldwide. Right now, GreyOrange’s two main products are a robot ‘butler’ that moves heavy shelves and installations around warehouses and a robotic ‘sorter’ belt that organizes packages, but the vision is to build something more holistic. “In three to four years we want to be the first in the world to achieve the goal of operating a fully-autonomous warehouse,” founders Samay Kohli and Akash Gupta told TechCrunch in an interview. That’s a huge goal, and it puts the company in competition with established firms like Amazon-owned
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Southeast Asia’s Fave raises $20M and adds mystery strategic investor from China

So you thought group-buying was dead?! Not in Southeast Asia where Fave, a company that aims to connect local merchants with customers using discount sales, has closed a $20 million Series B round as it explores expansion opportunities. The startup began as fitness subscription service KFit, but it pivoted group-buying and coupons after it acquired Groupon’s businesses in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. KFit continues to run, but the Groupon deal saw Fave CEO Joel Neoh return to the e-commerce space — Neoh previously started Malaysia-based GroupsMore which Groupon acquired within months of launch. He then went on to lead Groupon’s operations in Asia before leaving to start KFit in 2015. Fellow KFit/Fave co-founder Yeoh Chen Chow also spent time with Groupon as its regional operations director in APAC. Groupon said that its new round was led by existing backers Sequoia India, SIG Asia Investment and Ventura Capital, although Neoh told
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Facebook is opening its first data center in Asia

Facebook is opening its first data center in Asia. The company announced today that it is planning an 11-story building in Singapore that will help its services run faster and more efficiently. The development will cost SG$1.4 billion, or around US$1 billion, the company confirmed. The social networking firm said that it anticipates that the building will be powered 100 percent by renewable energy. It said also that it will utilize a new ‘StatePoint Liquid Cooling’ system technology, which the firm claims minimizes the consumption of water and power. Facebook said that the project will create hundreds of jobs and “form part of our growing presence in Singapore and across Asia.”

A render of what Facebook anticipates that its data center in Singapore will look like

Asia Pacific accounts for 894 million monthly users, that’s 40 percent of the total user base and it makes it the highest
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Here’s what happens to your heart rate when you testify to the Senate

Most of us won’t ever have to present to U.S. parliament, and that’s probably for the best. It might be more advisable to hit the gym if you want to give your heart a good work out, as opposed to having to answer politicians who ask why your company is enabling foreign entities to influence domestic elections.