Here are DealStreetAsia’s most-read stories of 2019

As we wrap up yet another year full of deals and scoops, we want to thank you for choosing DealStreetAsia as your preferred source of news. We hope that you will continue to be with us in the new year as we expand our coverage to bring you more insights, data and analysis.

Here is a look at the stories that proved to be the most popular with our readers this year.

We’re benchmarking ourselves against the NFL, not UFC: Chatri, ONE Championship

Our most-read story in 2019 was an interview with Chatri Sityodtong, the CEO, founder and chairman of sports media firm ONE Championship, on the global ambitions of the Sequoia Capital-backed firm, which has been on an expansion spree in the US.


Kalanick’s fund makes SE Asia debut, joins Kargo’s $7.6m Sequoia-led round

In March, Indonesia-based logistics startup Kargo Technologies announced a $7.6-million seed funding round led by Sequoia Capital India and joined by Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick’s 10100 Fund.

The announcement came a few hours after we reported that Kalanick had picked a stealth Indonesian logistics startup co-founded by former Uber Indonesia country manager Tiger Fang for his first Southeast Asia investment.


PE firm Navis Capital acquires Malaysian durian company Hernan

Following its acquisition of the durian exporter for an undisclosed amount, Navis plans to invest up to 400 million ringgit ($95.36 million) to support Hernan Corporation’s expansion plan. The PE firm said it will assist Hernan in growing its capacity to produce durian paste, puree and finished products such as ice cream, chocolate and confectionaries.

Navis pointed to the fast-growing demand for durians in China as well as overseas Chinese communities around the world as one of the factors behind its investment decision.


Indonesian super app Gojek to shut down majority of its lifestyle services

Being a super app is not easy. Indonesia’s Gojek in December announced it will shut down a majority of services offered by its standalone lifestyle app GoLife. The decision was taken following a review of the sluggish performance of five services, which contributed only 10 per cent of total orders on the GoLife platform.

The services to be discontinued include GoDaily (daily needs order and delivery), GoLaundry (laundry service), GoFix (home appliance repair service) and GoGlam (beauty).

These missteps aside, there still remain many takers for the super app model. Fellow Indonesian travel tech unicorn Traveloka has already expanded into lifestyle services such as massage and beauty services. It is also eyeing a larger financial services play.


SG’s Honestbee said to look for buyers as cash pile runs dry

In April, Singapore-based online grocery and food delivery service Honestbee was reported to have held talks to sell part or all of its operations to make its way out of a cash crunch. Grab was one of those approached by the beleaguered startup but dropped out of the discussions soon after. The ride-hailing company already holds a stake in Honestbee’s competitor HappyFresh.

Honestbee was eventually granted a four-month debt moratorium by the Singapore High Court. The startup has until 31 January 2020 to work on a recapitalisation and restructuring plan, which may involve converting debt into equity and potentially spinning off select parts of its business.


Gojek’s Vietnam CEO steps down, to take on advisory role

In March, Gojek announced that the CEO and chief growth officer of its Vietnam affiliate, Go-Viet, had stepped down from their positions to take on new advisory roles. Hours ahead of the announcement, we had reported that Go-Viet CEO Duc Nguyen had resigned from his role.

Go-Viet in April appointed former Facebook Vietnam country director Christy Le as its general manager. However, she was not to last too long at the firm either. Go-Viet in September announced Le was set to leave the firm in October.


Indonesian coffee startup Kopi Kenangan grabs $20m funding from Sequoia India

The month of June saw Indonesian grab-and-go coffee chain Kopi Kenangan announce a $20 million Series A funding round led by Sequoia India, confirming a previous report by DealStreetAsia.

More recently, the startup announced it had bagged unspecified funding from several investors in an extension to its Series A round. Investors to back the latest financing include Arrive, a unit of rapper and producer Jay-Z’s firm Roc Nation, Serena Williams-backed Serena Ventures, basketball player Caris LeVert, and Sweetgreen CEO and co-founder Jonathan Neman.


Vietnam’s VNPAY could raise up to $300m from SoftBank Vision Fund, GIC

In July, we brought you the scoop on SoftBank Vision Fund and Singapore’s GIC Pte seeking to invest up to $300 million in Vietnamese payments startup VNPAY. Two days later, the chairman of VNLIFE, the parent company of VNPAY, confirmed that his firm had raised funding from the Vision Fund and the Singapore sovereign wealth fund. He declined to comment on the quantum of funding received.


Indonesia’s Protelindo, Telkom Group in talks to buy Indosat Ooredoo’s tower assets

In yet another scoop we got right, we reported in August that Indonesia’s Protelindo and state-owned Telkom Group had expressed interest in acquiring telecom tower assets from Indosat Ooredoo, the Indonesian unit of Qatar’s Ooredoo Group.

Indosat Ooredoo announced in October it had inked a $452 million sale and leaseback deal for 3,100 telecom tower assets with two local companies, Dayamitra Telekomunikasi (Mitratel, owned by Telkom Group) and PT Profesional Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Protelindo).


Gojek snags investment from Mitsubishi for ongoing Series F round

Ride-hailing unicorn Gojek in July announced an unspecified investment from Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance as part of an ongoing Series F funding round.

The startup had in March announced raising $100 million from Indonesian conglomerate Astra International, which brought its Series F round to its first close. Although the company did not reveal details, it is learnt to have then raised over $1 billion at a nearly $10-billion valuation from investors including Google, JD.com and Tencent.

The company’s co-CEO Andre Soelistyo recently said the Indonesian firm plans to close its Series F round in January 2020.


Grab’s Series H round tops $3b with latest investment from Tokyo Century

In January, Japanese financial services company Tokyo Century announced an unspecified investment in Grab, nudging the ride-hailer’s Series H round total past $3 billion.

The Singapore-headquartered firm increased that largesse by bagging a whopping $1.46 billion from SoftBank Vision Fund in March, $300 million from US-based investment manager Invesco in June and an undisclosed sum from consumer credit giant Experian in July.


Is Lazada losing ground? Advantage Tokopedia, Shopee in Indonesia?

In this analysis in February, we looked at Lazada’s performance at a time when the company was undergoing significant senior management shifts. Lucy Peng had recently departed the firm to make way for corporate turnaround expert Pierre Poignant.

More recently, we reported that e-commerce unicorn Bukalapak had held talks with Lazada for a merger in Indonesia. However, both parties had failed to make headway in discussions, leading Bukalapak to raise an undisclosed sum from South Korea’s Shinhan Group in early October.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.