Asia Digest: Shorooq backs 360VUZ; Amartha CEO steps down

Abu Dhabi-based early-stage venture capital firm Shorooq Partners has led a $5.8-million Series A investment in 360VUZ, a US-based immersive virtual mobile app. In a separate development, Andi Taufan Garuda Putra, CEO at Indonesian P2P lending firm Amartha, has stepped down from his role as the government’s special staff.

Shorooq Partners leads $5.8m funding in 360VUZ

Abu Dhabi-based early-stage venture capital firm Shorooq Partners has led a $5.8-million Series A investment in 360VUZ, a US-based immersive virtual mobile app.

Other investors participating in the round include KBW Ventures, 500 Startups, Media Visions, Vision Ventures and Hala Ventures, among others.

360VUZ said in a statement that the funding will be used to develop its immersive video technology and facilitate its global expansion plans across Asia, Europe and the US.

The startup also plans to offer additional proprietary technologies on top of its latest patent related to augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual control and advertising solutions.

360VUZ claims to be present in more than 15 countries.

“By forging strong partnerships with telcos, the company has been able to rapidly scale into pivotal markets. Even during these difficult times of COVID-19, 360VUZ has continued to prove its value as an entertainment provider with massive growth in user engagement,” said Shane Shin, founding partner at Shorooq Partners.

The Series A round has brought 360VUZ’s total funding amount to $7 million. The company’s previous backers include Al Touq Group, DTEC Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures and the Al Rashid family angel investors.

Amartha CEO resigns from govt role

Andi Taufan Garuda Putra, CEO at Indonesian P2P lending firm Amartha, has stepped down from his role as the government’s special staff following the controversy of the potential conflict of interest on his company’s involvement in the government’s project.

Putra, who submitted his resignation letter on April 17, said his decision to quit as special staff to President Joko Widodo comes in as he wants to dedicate himself to the economic development, especially for the micro and small businesses.

Putra was in a hot seat after his letter dated April 1 went viral. In the letter, he asked district heads in the archipelago to support the coronavirus relief project launched by Amartha, his own firm.

Experts publicly criticized him, saying that he is overstepping the role of ministries, public officials, and also his role as special staff.

Putra’s resignation came days after Ruangguru CEO Adamas Belva Syah Devara stepped down from his special staff role, following a similar conflict of interest. Putra was one of the seven millennials appointed as the expert special staff to the president in November.

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.