Kencko chugs down $3.4M to help you get more fruit and vegetables in your diet


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Kencko, a company that wants to help people eat more fruit and vegetables in their daily life, is entering feast mode after it announced a $3.4 million seed round for growth and product development.

We profiled the company last year, but — for those who missed it — Kencko develops plant-based products that help people eat healthy without having to suffer the pain of horrible tasting food or other extreme eating. That’s to say that its fruit drinks, the company’s first product, include the pulp and vitamins absent in pressed juice but come in a convenient sachet that has been flash-frozen and slow-dried to retain all the goodness. The company says that each packet, which is 20g and mixes with water, contains two of the five-a-day recommendation for fruit and vegetable servings.

Right now, Kencko — which means health in Japanese — is selling the fruit drink

kencko box20

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Spotify Lite for Android gets an official launch in 36 countries


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Spotify’s Lite app is now official. The app has been in beta since last year, and now Spotify is officially releasing it in 36 countries worldwide.

The app is designed to work on patchy or weak internet connections and, at just 10MB, it is small enough to cater to lower-end devices that have limited storage or older phones. Spotify Lite is limited to Android devices running version 4.3 or newer, and it is open to both paying and non-paying users. For those worried about maxing out their data plan, the app comes with an optional limit that can tell you when you are close to hitting that buffer.

Spotify claims that 90 percent of the features of the main app are available in Lite, in particular areas around multiple — including video and cover artist — are omitted as they are not critical to the core experience.

A

spotify

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Uber CTO says competing with Didi is ‘very healthy’ despite their complicated relationship


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Competing with a company that counts you as an investor is hardly conventional — some might call it strange — but for Uber it’s a situation that is not only normal but essential.

That’s according to the ride-hailing giant’s CTO, Thuan Pham, who talked about the complicated rivalry Uber has with China’s Didi Chuxing, which counts each other as investors. Uber famously exited China in 2016 — it has since left Southeast Asia and merged with a rival in Russia, too — and part of that deal saw it take nearly six percent of the Chinese company’s business while Didi got equity in Uber. Yet, years later, the two compete in the growing Latin America market, where Didi is making aggressive moves, and also in Australia.

“If you don’t have competition then you can become complacent because there’s no competition to challenge,” Pham said during an interview at

uber 2

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Waresix hauls in $14.5M to advance its push to digitize logitics in Indonesia


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Waresix​, one of a handful of startups aiming to modernize logistics in Indonesia — the world’s fourth most populous country — has pulled in $14.5 million to grow its 18-month-old business.

This new investment, Waresix’s Series A, is led by EV Growth — the growth-stage fund co-run by East Ventures — with participation from SMDV — the investment arm of Indonesia corporation Sinar Mas — and Singapore’s Jungle Ventures . The startup previously raised $1.6 million last year from East Ventures, SMDV and Monk’s Hill Ventures. It closed a seed round in early 2018.

Waresix is aiming to digitize logistics, the business of moving goods from A to B, which it believes is worth a total of $240 billion in Indonesia.

A large part of that is down to the country’s geography. The archipelago officially has over 17,000, but there are five main ones. That necessitates a lot

Waresix trucks

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PayU, Naspers’ global fintech firm, enters Southeast Asia with acquisition of Red Dot Payment


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PayU, the Naspers owned fintech firm that specializes in emerging markets, is broadening its global reach into Southeast Asia after it announced a deal to buy a majority stake in Singapore-based Red Dot Payment.

Naspers is best known for its payments and fintech business in markets like India, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe, but now it will enter Southeast Asia, a market with over 600 million consumers and rapidly rising internet access.

PayU plans to tap that potential through Red Dot, an eight-year-old startup founded by finance veterans which offers services that include a payment gateway, e-commerce storefronts and online invoicing across Southeast Asia. PayU said it has acquired “a majority stake” in the business. It did not specify the exact size but it did disclose that the deal values Red Dot at $65 million.

It isn’t clear exactly how much Red Dot had raised from investors overall —

Laurent Le Moal 2017

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Stranger Things 3 is now available on Netflix


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July 4 is American Independence Day, but it also marks the arrival of Stranger Things season three — a release that might just be the most-anticipated in the history of Netflix.

Season three dropped at 12:01 PDT which means, dear reader, that it is now online and ready for your viewing pleasure.

The series has been an enormous hit for Netflix. Beyond a litany of awards, it has proven to be a smash with Netflix subscribers. More than 15 million watched the season 2 opener within three days of its release, while every episode of the second season had racked up more than four million views within that early window.

Netflix has gone to town promoting season three — with teasers in popular Roblox and Fortnite and an international promotion campaign — so you can expect that the numbers will be even higher this time around. The only question

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Sony announces a new $185M fund to invest in tech startups


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Sony is doubling down on the world of startup investment. The Japanese tech giant announced a new fund that is aiming to raise 20 billion JPY (around $185 million) to invest in companies within “key high-growth industries.”

While Sony launched a fund in 2016, this new vehicle — which is called Innovation Growth Fund — has been set up with others. Firstly, it is being run jointly with Daiwa Capital Holdings — the VC arm of investment bank Daiwa Securities — and early LPs confirmed include Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Osaka Shoko Shinkin Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company Limited. Sony isn’t saying how much has been raised so far, but it isn’t the full target yet.

The previous fund made over 40 investments, Sony said, and now IGF is taking over with the goal of writing bigger checks than Sony typically manage by itself and paying closer

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Kyash, a would-be challenger bank in Japan, raises $14M


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The new era of tech-enabled banks is coming, even in regulation-heavy Japan. Kyash, a fintech company with visions on becoming Japan’s first challenger bank, said today it has raised $14 million to continue its expansion.

To be clear, Kyash isn’t a bank. Yet. But it is currently applying for a host of licenses in Japan that could allow it to offer banking-style features including checking accounts, ATM withdrawals and money remittance. Right now, it is a payment app that offers a connected Visa card in the style of Monzo, N26, Revolut (which has a Japan license) and others of that ilk.

The startup was founded in 2015 in Shinichi Takatori, a former banker and management consultant who saw the potential to merge tech and finance.

“I really noticed that information and communication has become ubiquitous but money itself hasn’t changed for a long time,” Takatori told TechCrunch in an

appcard

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Sweet Escape, a platform for booking photographers, raises $6M


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Sweet Escape, a startup founded in Indonesia that helps connect photographers with customers, is all smiles today after it announced a $6 million Series A round.

The company — which was profiled by TechCrunch last year — said that the investment was led by Singapore-based funds Openspace Ventures and Jungle Ventures with participation from Burda Principal
Investments. Existing investors, which include Beenext, SkyStar Capital, and GDP Venture, also took part. The startup previously raised $1 million in seed funding.

Founded in 2017 by David Soong and Emile Etienne — whose previous startup was recently acquired by Indonesian travel unicorn Traveloka — Sweet Escape was initially aimed at helping travelers to connect with photographers to take great holiday photos, and get them back quickly. Now, however, that mission has broadened and the company is billing itself as a platform to reach and book photographers.

“A photographer for every need, anywhere in

escapist jakarta s1 118
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Nexon takes control of emerging game studio Embark via a $96M investment


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Six months ago Korean games giant Nexon seemed headed for a management change, but now it seems very much back to business as usual. Days after founder Kim Jung-ju was reported to have called off selling his near-50 percent share in the firm, Nexon has snapped up a controlling stake in seven-month-old game developer Embark for $96 million.

Sweden-based Embark was founded by former EA executive Patrick Söderlund last year. Nexon was its sole early investor, having paid a reported $41 million for around one-third of the business. Today, Nexon said it had agreed to double its ownership to reach a total of 66 percent. The Korean firm revealed it is paying $96 million for the deal.

Nexon isn’t a stranger to M&A but this is an uncharacteristically early move. That’s likely down to the company’s high regard for Söderlund — who already sits on the Nexon board —

embark

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Huawei can buy from US suppliers again — but things will never be the same


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U.S. President Donald Trump has handed Huawei a lifeline after he said that U.S. companies are permitted to sell goods to the embattled Chinese tech firm following more than a month of uncertainty.

It’s been a pretty dismal past month for Huawei since the American government added it and 70 of its affiliates to an “entity list” which forbids U.S. companies from doing business with it. The ramifications of the move were huge across Huawei’s networking and consumer devices businesses. A range of chip companies reportedly forced to sever ties while Google, which provides Android for Huawei devices, also froze its relationship. Speaking this month.

All told, Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei said recently that the ban would cost the Chinese tech firm — the world’s third-larger seller of smartphones — some $30 billion in lost revenue of the next two years.

Now, however,

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Grab raises more money — again


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Southeast Asia’s highest-capitalized startup is sitting on even more money from investors today after ride-hailing Grab announced it has raised $300 million from Invesco.

The deal takes Singapore-based Grab $7.5 billion raised to date. The money is part of its ongoing — feels-like-everlasting — Series H round which was started last June via a $1 billion capital injection from Toyota.

The round swelled to $4.5 billion thanks to contributions from a range of partners throughout 2018 and early 2019, then Grab said in April that it would add a further $2 billion to reach a $6.5 billion close before this year is out. This investment from Invesco is the first piece of that newest tranche to be announced, but there’s plenty happening under the surface, including a potential investment from PayPal, Ant Financial and others in a spinout of Grab’s financial services.

Grab declined to comment

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Warburg Pincus announces new $4.25 billion fund for China and Southeast Asia


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Warburg Pincus, the private equity fund with over $60 billion under management, is doubling down on Asia after it announced a $4.25 billion fund dedicated to China and Southeast Asia.

The firm has been present in China for 25 years, and it has invested over $11 billion in a portfolio of over 120 startups that includes the likes of Alibaba’s Ant Financial and listed companies NIO (a Tesla rival), ZTO Express (a courier firm)among others. The new fund will work in tandem with the firm’s $14.8 billion global growth fund which was finalized at the end of last year.

What’s particularly interesting about the new fund is that it has expanded to include Southeast Asia, where internet adoption is rapidly expanding among 600 million consumers, for the first time. It is the successor to Warburg Pincus’ previous $2.2 billion ‘China’ fund and, with the addition of Southeast

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Splyt wants to connect the world’s ride-hailing apps for easy international roaming


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The vision of a universal global ride-hailing service is over. Uber’s decision to exit markets like China, Southeast Asia and Russia coupled with the failure of its rivals to develop a proposed roaming system, means that global travelers must install multiple apps if they are to take advantage of on-demand taxis. That’s unless a little-known startup can turn a bold plan into reality.

In the world of ride-hailing and its billion-dollar investment checks, an $8 million capital raise may not be a big deal but it does represent a coming-out for Splyt, a UK-based startup that is aiming to help make global ride-hailing roaming a reality — and not just within ride-hailing apps.

The four-year-old company announced this week that it closed an $8 million Series A round from a range of undisclosed (and existing) family offices and angel investors. In addition, the round included participation from Southeast

Splyt Team

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Indonesia’s Kopi Kenangan raises a sweet $20M to expand its coffee business


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Kopi Kenangan, a startup that wants to make quality, fresh coffee affordable to Indonesian consumers, has raised $20 million as it begins to consider overseas expansion in Southeast Asia.

The round comes courtesy of Sequoia India and Southeast Asia, via the $695 million investment fund it closed last year. Kopi Kenangan previously raised $8 million from Alpha JWC Ventures.

Started in 2017 by Edward Tirtanata and James Prananto, the company aims to bridge the gap between cheap street vendor coffee and drinks priced at the higher end of the spectrum from international chains such as Starbucks — the ‘sweet spot,’ you might say. That delta is a major reason why Indonesia, which is the world’s fourth-largest coffee exporter, has Southeast Asia’s lowest coffee consumption per person, Tirtanata argued.

Kopi Kenangan is also unashamedly local. Rather than lattes, mochas or flat whites, its top-selling drink is ‘Es Kopi Kenangan Mantan,’ a

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Carrefour sale shifts the balance of power in China’s new retail battle


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Hot on the heels of Amazon’s decision to shutter its local marketplace, Carrefour — another global commerce giant — is switching up its approach to China, and shifting the balance of power between the country’s tech giants.

Carrefour, which is Europe’s largest retailer, sold a majority 80% stake in its China-based business to Chinese retailer Suning, according to an announcement made this weekend. The deal is worth €620 million — that’s RMB 4.8 billion or $705 million — and it is set to close by the end of this year.

Beyond a retail story, the news also has a strong tech angle given the convoluted relationships of the parties that are involved, and it’s a reminder of the power that Chinese tech giants have grown to command.

Ties to Alibaba

Suning has had close links to Alibaba. The e-commerce giant owns a 20% stake in Suning courtesy of

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Xiaomi’s new Mi CC brand will develop ‘trendy’ smartphones for young people


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Huawei may be on the ropes as it battles sanctions from the U.S. government, but fellow Chinese smartphone rival Xiaomi is in expansion mode with the launch of a new brand that’s aimed at winning friends (and sales) among the young and fashionable.

“Mi CC” is the newest brand from Xiaomi. Unveiled on Friday, the phone-maker said it stands for “camera+camera” in reference to its dual-camera feature, but that apparently also segues into “a variety of meanings including chic, cool, colorful and creative.”

The end goal of that marketing bumf is a target customer that Xiaomi describes as “the global young generation.”

Essentially, what Xiaomi is doing here is breaking out a dedicated set of phones for those who care more about aesthetics than performance. To date, the company has built its brand on developing phones that are as good — well, nearly as good — as

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Indonesia’s EV Hive raises $13.5M and expands into co-living and new retail


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WeWork’s battle to win co-working in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, is intensifying after one of the U.S. firm’s key rival announced a slew of announcements to double down on its business.

EV Hive, an Indonesia-based co-working startup, said today that it has raised $13.5 million and expanded into new verticals. The company is putting off plans to foray into new countries in order to prioritize growth opportunities at home.

The four-year-old company, which started out as a project for seed stage VC firm East Ventures, has rebranded to CoHive as part of the strategy to diversify its business. That’ll see it add new services for living spaces (CoLiving) and retailers (CoRetail), in addition to its core co-working and events businesses.

“We’re the number one player in the market and our goal now is to use the capital and offer more services and products,” Jason Lee,

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GuestReady raises $6M to help hosts on Airbnb and other services manage their property


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GuestReady, a three-year-old service that lets shared-economy hosts manage their business on Airbnb and other rental sites, has announced a $6 million Series A round.

The investment was led by existing backer Impulse VC — the Russian fund that is backed by billionaire Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich — and new addition VentureSouq from Dubai. Other past backers also took part, including Boost Heroes, Aria Group and 808 Tech Ventures. GuestReady raised $3 million in 2017 and this round takes it to nearly $10 million from investors to date.

GuestReady’s property management platform helps owners manage the intricacies of operating a shared-economy house, such as cleaning, laundry, and check-in and out services. It claims to cover over 2,000 properties across six countries: the UK, France, Portugal, UAE, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Airbnb is the obvious platform to work with, but a sizeable volume of business comes from Expedia’s HomeAway business

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Alibaba proposes share split ahead of reported $20B Hong Kong IPO


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Alibaba is being heavily linked with a public listing in Hong Kong, which could reportedly happen in Q3 and raise up to $20 billion. The firm is keeping quiet on those rumors, but it did let slip a major hint after it announced plans for a stock split.

Filings uploaded today (but originally released Friday) announced a proposal for a one-to-eight stock split.

Shareholders are invited to vote on the offer ahead of the company’s annual general meeting on July 15. The initiative has already been approved by Alibaba’s board, which is recommending that shareholders follow suit.

The particularly interesting part of the filing is where Alibaba explains the reasons behind the stock split.

“The Board of Directors is proposing the Share Subdivision to increase the flexibility for the Company in future capital market activities. Among other reasons, the one-to-eight share subdivision will increase the number of shares available

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