Data Vantage: Southeast Asia welcomes five new unicorns in 2021 + other SEA deal updates

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across Southeast Asia, the region has added five more tech unicorns, or privately held companies with a valuation of more than $1 billion, this year.

Malaysia-headquartered used car marketplace startup Carsome will become the region’s latest unicorn after completing a share-swap deal to take over a 19.9% stake in Australia-listed iCar from Catcha Group.

The deal, which was announced on Tuesday, will be followed by Carsome acquiring the remaining 80.1% shares in iCar for over $200 million.

Carsome is, of course, the second used-car marketplace in the region to reach the coveted unicorn status. Singapore’s Carro entered the unicorn club in June after completing a $360 million Series C round that was led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

Carro is receiving the Series C funding in tranches. The latest update to DealStreetAsia – DATA VANTAGE reveals that the company issued new shares to raise $228 million last week, with SoftBank now owning at least a 30% stake in the company.

Competing across multiple Southeast Asian markets, Carsome and Carro have benefitted from a booming appetite for used cars as household incomes shrunk during the pandemic.

Top shareholders of Carro

Source: DealStreetAsia – DATA VANTAGE

The advent of unicorns

Logistics company Flash Express had become Thailand’s first unicorn after completing Series D+ and E rounds worth a combined $150 million last month.

Meanwhile, a $2 billion funding in the first quarter of this year from a group of investors led by private equity firms Hillhouse Capital and Boyu Capital crowned Indonesia’s J&T Express as the most capitalised logistics startup in the region.

J&T is the preferred delivery partner of Southeast Asia’s e-commerce giant Shopee. However, it was the company’s expansion to China that largely helped it raise the mega funding round.

J&T’s Indonesian rival SiCepat Ekspres, which is said to have received an investment from Indonesia’s most popular online marketplace Tokopedia, is expected to become the next logistics company to enter the billion-dollar valuation club.

The story of unicorn creation in Southeast Asia goes beyond opportunistic growth due to the pandemic or the growing adoption of e-commerce. The success of Singapore’s PatSnap is a testament to the deep technology innovation in the region.

PatSnap, which became a unicorn in March, provides data and AI-powered analytics tools to identify intellectual property rights across the globe. The company serves over 10,000 corporate customers that include Xiaomi Corp, Dyson and drone maker SZ DJI Technology.

Southeast Asia’s unicorns: A timeline

Note: Sea and Razer are now listed in the US and Hong Kong, respectively. They are, therefore, no longer classified as unicorns.

Other snippets from DATA VANTAGE

Earlier this week, alternative protein startup Next Gen Foods announced it had secured $20 million in an extended seed funding round. Our data shows the company has received $18 million of the said funding as of last week. The latest funding places Next Gen among Southeast Asia’s tech centaurs with a $177 million valuation.

Indian merchant commerce platform Pine Labs issued new shares to raise $31.8 million last week. The company has raised $187.7 million so far this year, taking its total equity funding to date to over $500 million, according to our database.

Fintech-as-a-service solution provider AND Global secured $7 million in new paid-up capital last week, bringing its total equity funding to $20.8 million, our database shows. The new capital is part of a $15.3 million Series A funding round led by Marubeni Corporation and SBI Holdings.

Telemedicine platform MyDoc has secured $2.9 million in fresh capital so far this year. The COVID-19 health protocols accelerated the adoption of telemedicine apps throughout Asia, a trend that is likely to outlast the pandemic, according to Bain & Company.

Jakarta-based collaborative data engineering and analytics platform Bonza has raised $2.6 million this year, according to company filings. Founded by former Traveloka employees Elsa Chandra and Philip Thomas in 2020, the company aims to reach profitability in its first year of operations. The company announced the completion of its seed round backed by East Ventures in May.


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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.