Thai online media platform Ookbee bags funding from Tencent, Sumitomo

Photo by Daniel Cañibano on Unsplash

Bangkok-headquartered digital media startup Ookbee has raised an undisclosed amount of funding via convertible bonds from Tencent Holdings and Sumitomo Corporation Equity Asia as it looks to expand across Southeast Asia.

Ookbee will use the funding to acquire new users across its existing platforms, expand its business across the region, improve its AI recommendation engine, and develop new products, CEO Natavudh Pungcharoenpong said in a statement.

Founded in 2012 by Moo Natavudh, Ookbee operates e-book stores as well as user-generated content platforms across Southeast Asia. With a presence in Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia, it claims to have over 11 million monthly active users and 3 billion monthly page views.

Ookbee plans to expand to Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries. Its storytelling and social platform, Joylada, is already well-established in Indonesia, with more than 1 million registered users.

In 2017, WeChat’s parent company Tencent Holdings had forged a joint venture with Ookbee called Ookbee U (OBU) to focus on user-generated content, investing $19 million into the Thai startup in the process.

In 2019, Tencent’s ebooks business China Literature announced it was acquiring a 20% stake in OBU for $10.5 million via its wholly-owned subsidiary Cloundary, according to a Hong Kong exchange filing.

Beacon VC, the venture capital arm of Thai bank Kasikornbank Plc, had in 2018 announced an undisclosed investment in Ookbee.

With one of the highest internet penetrations among ASEAN countries and the lowest cost of high-speed internet, Thailand is an attractive market for digital content consumption. According to DataReportal, the country had 48.59 million internet users as of January 2021, up 7.5% from the previous year. Meanwhile, internet penetration in Thailand stood at 69.5% in January.

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.