Week in Review: More moolah for SEA startups, and Digerati50 2.0 is up!

  • Golden Gate Ventures’ US$60m fund shows strong investor appetite for risk
  • Angel investor Douglas Khoo made his money in China, but won’t go there again

Week in Review: More moolah for SEA startups, and Digerati50 2.0 is up!WHILE Digital News Asia (DNA) covers the entire tech ecosystem in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, it is obvious that startup-related news generates the most interest and buzz.
 
That interest and buzz just got dialled up a few notches with the news that Golden Gate Ventures, a Singapore-headquartered Silicon Valley venture fund, has raised US$60 million for its latest early-stage startup fund.
 
The fact that the fund was oversubscribed by US$10 million, at a time of a slowdown in economic activity, shows that investors are still eager to make future bets on startups disrupting traditional industries or leveraging on mobile to create new value.
 
Mobile is a huge theme for Golden Gate Ventures founding partner Vinnie Lauria, who feels that the platform is so “fundamentally important” in South-East Asia that “to ignore it is to put a hard ceiling on potential growth.”
 
With accelerating smartphone usage, it would be a mistake to ignore the importance of mobile, he says.
 
You can check out the article for more, but Vinnie’s observation that Vietnam was being under-rated by investors struck me.
 
His rationale for this: “I think it’s just more complicated to do business in Vietnam – from sourcing deals to working within the legal and financial regulations, to even navigating the country itself.”
 
The point just highlights how important it is for governments to ensure their policies and regulations are as transparent and as free of red tape as they can make them.
 
Speaking of being transparent, I think you will greatly enjoy our conversation with Douglas Khoo, who arguably has had the largest exit of any South-East Asian in China. In 2011, Baidu bought his travel startup Qunar.com for US$306 million (RM1.25 billion). Khoo was one of three founders.
 
A much sought after angel investor now, the Malaysian has currently invested in eight startups, including a remote-controlled vibrator company (we unfortunately did not get his rationale for making this investment).
 
Khoo is also giving back to Malaysia, and Penang specifically, through The Coding Shophouse that he cofounded which offers hands-on coding classes.
 
Interestingly, while he made a tidy exit for himself in China, he says he would not launch another startup there as he feels, even with his track record, it would be 10 times harder!
 
One reason for this is the large number of returning Chinese armed with Ivy League education, experience and knowhow built from their exposure and experience in the United States and the Silicon Valley.
 
The other reason is that competition is just that much greater today. “It is a lot more competitive these days because anyone who has an idea can be an entrepreneur – whether they become successful or not is a separate question,” he says.
 
That may be true, but with the likes of seasoned veterans like Khoo out there willing to share their experience, and with yet more money available thanks to Golden Gate Ventures, I suspect many entrepreneurs will fancy their chances of creating a strong team and product around their big idea. So, good luck with yours!
 
And you can read about some of these entrepreneurs from Malaysia in the second volume of our Digerati50. This is DNA’s sole print publication (can I say we are an O2O media company?), which we produce once in two years.
 
We highlight mostly entrepreneurs and a handful of policy-makers whom we feel will help shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy over the next few years.
 
The current 2016-2017 edition came out in February, and we are now making the digital version available for download thanks to the sponsorship of Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Malaysia’s dominant fixed-line operator that is, coincidentally, about to launch a mobile service as well.
 
We are using a proprietary e-reader platform built by the startup of one of our Digerati50, Faiz Al-Shahab, a former hot-headed engineer turned level-headed entrepreneur!
 
But you can read his story, along with our other Digerati50, after you download the copy, or choose to read it off the cloud. Digerati50 is supported for download on the iOS, Android and Windows 8.1 and 10 platforms for phone and desktop, and online using the Chrome browser.
 
To do so, just go to the top of our homepage, and choose your download options (see below). Registration is required when you want to download your copy, and there is a really well-made video from TM that plays automatically for the first time you open your Digerati50. Enjoy!
 

Week in Review: More moolah for SEA startups, and Digerati50 2.0 is up!

 
Have a restful weekend and a productive week after.
 
Editor’s Picks:
 
Golden Gate Ventures secures US$60mil for Fund II
 
From entrepreneur to angel: Douglas Khoo’s journey
 
Singapore’s Internet cutoff (and the resounding silence from the industry)
 
Is LinkedIn doomed to be a Microsoft turkey?
 
Malaysia to announce spectrum fee details in four weeks
 
HK’s OpenPort wants to fix Indonesia’s archaic logistics sector
 
Kakitangan.com offers a one-stop HR platform for SMEs
 
 
Previous Instalments:
 
Week in Review: Should the CEO be a chief pivoting officer?
 
Week in Review: Adapting to the digital reality
 
Week in Review: Satya woos geeks in SEA

 
Week in Review: Singapore gets it about digital disruption
 
Week in Review: SMEs are digital laggards, but with good reason
 
 
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