Data Vantage: DeFi startups, ShopUp and a dozen others secure capital before year-end

Dozens of companies with Singapore-registered entities filed fundraising updates last week as 2021 came to an end.

One of them was Vietnam-headquartered Sky Mavis, the producer of play-to-earn game Axie Infinity. It received $25 million last week from US-based venture capital firm Paradigm, which focuses on investments in decentralised finance (DeFi) startups.

The investment was part of Sky Mavis’s $152 million Series B round announced in October, which valued the company at more than $3 billion. The Vietnamese firm is one of the fastest Southeast Asian companies to achieve unicorn billing.

Top shareholders in Sky Mavis

Source: DATA VANTAGE

Axie Infinity became a global hit last year as cryptocurrency adoption hit mainstream. The monster pet game saw its daily active users grow from just 20,000 in March to more than 2.5 million in December. Its non-fungible tokens (NFTs) also became the most traded collection ever with $4 billion in historical trading volume.

In another deal in the DeFi space, Chai Pay, the Singapore unit of South Korean fintech firm CHAI, issued new shares worth $4.2 million last week to Intervest Growth Secondary Fund and Hashed Ventures. The financing was part of a $45 million round announced by its parent company in December. The two investors also bought additional preference shares in secondary transactions.

The Singapore entity has now received $32.6 million as part of the round.

A DeFinitive year

As the global crypto craze hit the region, homegrown DeFi startups raised close to $1 billion in equity funding in 2021, our data shows. The funding represents a jump of more than six times over 2020 and indicates a critical milestone in the adoption of cryptocurrencies and financial infrastructure built on blockchain technology.

Total equity funding into startups in the DeFi ecosystem since 2014

Source: DATA VANTAGE

Cryptocurrency exchanges have never seen it better. While funding dipped at the start of the pandemic in 2020, startups reversed the trend in 2021 as deal count more than doubled and deal value grew 13 times.

Two startups in this category, Singapore-based Matrixport and Thailand-based Bitkub, surpassed $1 billion in valuation last year. We expect at least three more crypto exchange unicorns to emerge in 2022.

Led by Sky Mavis, the GameFi category recorded 17 deals in 2021 with more than $240 million in total funding, a big departure from just one deal in 2020.

Access DealStreetAsia’s The State of Decentralised Finance in Southeast Asia 2021 report to get industry insights and access actionable funding data.

Other updates from DATA VANTAGE

Bangladesh’s business-to-business (B2B) commerce startup ShopUp has closed a $34 million Series B extension round. The financing comprises $19.69 million in primary investment and the balance in secondaries. The tranche was backed by new investor Tiger Global Management, according to DATA VANTAGE.

Health Management International, a regional healthcare provider with a presence in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, issued new shares to controlling shareholder PanAsia Health.

PanAsia, which is indirectly controlled by private equity firm EQT, had joined HMI in a successful privatisation bid for the hospital operator in 2019.

Singapore-based biotech firm Agrimax secured $6 million from Agri Biosciences Investment VI last week. The company produces fertilisers and biostimulants to increase crop yields for food and bioenergy.

Malaysian investment management firm Kenangan Investors Berhad, on behalf of its clients, has invested $3.7 million in Singapore-based wealthtech firm AutoWealth.

Online marketplace technology provider Arcadier secured $3.6 million from a group of investors last week. The equity investment was made at $46.5 apiece, a big bump from its Series A price of $18.3 per share in 2018. Arcadier has received $9.5 million in paid-up capital to date.

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.