Week in Review: SEA ecosystem shrugs off MOL’s delisting

  • Investor optimism unmuted despite recent flat and down rounds
  • Middle East investor gets in on SEA funding action as well

Week in Review: SEA ecosystem shrugs off MOL’s delistingIT should have been a significant event, generating a lot of buzz: The impending delisting of MOL Global Inc from Nasdaq.
But the startup ecosystem in South-East Asia has shrugged it off and is powering ahead. And if further proof was needed, it is the Series B raised by regional logistics startup Ninja Logistics (Ninja Van), based out of Singapore.
What’s significant about the Ninja Van funding is that in a muted climate of lower valuations, down and flat rounds of fundraising, it raised 11x funding of US$30 million versus the US$2.5 million it raised in March 2015.
Even more interesting is that the round will officially conclude at the end of this month, meaning that the MOL Global news did not give Ninja Van’s investors cold feet or cause them to hesitate.
The large increase in its valuation at a time of muted valuations in South-East Asia is instructive as I think that is the key: Being able to build out a regional presence in at least three or four countries to then be able to command an up-round in your subsequent funding.
What’s interesting about the Ninja Van investment is that the round was led by a Middle East private equity fund.
And no, I am not going to scream, “The Arabs are coming!” But that’s only because this is the 28th investment in the region by the Dubai-based Abraaj Group, though I am betting this is its first significant startup deal.
Meanwhile, Chinese investments into the startup ecosystem here will not just come from their large Internet companies, but also entrepreneurs who have cashed out from their earlier ventures in the mainland and now want to get in early on the bubbling South-East Asian scene.
I just spoke to a China-based venture capitalist firm which has launched a US$80-million fund for South-East Asia, and the money was raised from Chinese entrepreneurs.
That’s good news for startups and their existing investors in the region. A new wave of money is coming into South-East Asia at a time when valuations are becoming more realistic.
To me, that means that entrepreneurs will not be burdened by the unrealistic expectations they have to deal with when they raise at lofty valuations.
Indeed, this seems to be one of the factors that led to MOL’s eventual demise, at least as a listed stock. A Singapore-based venture capitalist told Digital News Asia that as a company, MOL’s business has potential to grow. It was just a case of being “a good company but bad stock,” he shared.
Have a restful weekend and productive week ahead.
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Previous Instalments:
Week in Review: The Chinese are coming
Week in Review: Of GMV and e-commerce startups

Week in Review: Malaysia’s Khazanah shows its risk appetite
Week in Review: More money to power tech in SEA
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