SGEntrepreneurs cofounder and editor to join Tech in Asia team, cofounders bought out
Sign of a maturing ecosystem, says industry pundit Hugh Mason
SINGAPORE-based Tech in Asia, which on Aug 28 announced it had secured Series B funding, has acquired SGEntrepreneurs (SGE) for an undisclosed sum.
SGE, which covers technology and entrepreneurship in South-East Asia, was founded in 2005 by Gwendolyn Regina Tan, Bernard Leong and Lai Wei Chang in 2005. Tan, also the editor-in-chief, and SGE editor Terence Lee will join the Tech in Asia team.
SGE’s editorial archives will also be migrated to the Tech in Asia site, the latter said in a statement.
“We had many small coffee chats with Gwen [Tan] and her team which slowly led to today’s acquisition,” Tech in Asia founder Willis Wee (pic) said in a press statement.
“We admire SGE’s spirit of producing quality content with a very small team. Both Gwen and Terence [Lee] will certainly fit well in our company culture and we’re looking forward to working with them,” he added.
SGE’s Tan also expressed admiration for Tech in Asia’s output and speed of growth. “We are looking forward to working more closely with our new team to produce the best English-language reporting and conference on Asia’s tech sector,” she said.
In an email response to Digital News Asia (DNA), Wee said that Lee would join Tech in Asia as editor, while Tan will lead business development activities across Asia. It is a full acquisition, he added, so cofounders Leong and Lai have been bought out.
SGE also has a pool of nine contributing writers and ‘scouts.’ When asked what would happen to them, Wee said they would be “more than welcome to contribute to Tech in Asia.”
Hugh Mason, chief executive officer of The Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI.Asia) and a keen observer of the regional startup scene, described the news as a sign of a rapidly maturing ecosystem.
“This is great news … and excellent for all the founders of both publications who have worked so hard to help the ecosystem here grow,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) in an email.
When asked if he expected more such digital media plays in the region, Mason noted that “the fact that Singapore had three significant local tech blogs on an island that takes just 40 minutes to cross in a taxi was an indication of the enthusiasm for startups locally.
“It was also unsustainable in the long term. The fact that two of those blogs have got funded and we're now seeing some M&As (mergers and acquisitions) feels like a demonstration that the online media sector is growing up.
“It's very natural and healthy that publications get founded, funded and acquired, just like every other class of business,” he added.
In February, another Singapore-based media outfit e27 announced that it had secured a S$760,000 (US$614,000) round of funding with B Dash Ventures and regional investors Pinehurst Advisors (Taiwan), Ardent Capital (Thailand), Dan Neary (Singapore) as well as angel investors to fund its regional expansion plans.
All three outfits – Tech in Asia, SGE and e27 – have supplemented their editorial activities with events management, organising conferences, meetups and hackathons of various degrees and types. Which begs the question: Is this the only way that digital media outlets can survive?
“Media has been turned on its head since Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in 1992,” said Mason (pic), also a cofounder at JFDI.Asia. “Twenty years on, everybody from the biggest media giants down is trying to work out how to make it pay.”
“I started off in media as a TV producer, so I can say that a few things haven't changed: We all want stories to help us make sense of a complicated world and we all need places where ‘communities of mind’ come together.
“That's what these blogs offer and the other stuff they do, like events, is a very natural extension,” he added.
As to how to make a modern media business pay off, Mason quipped, “If I had a magic answer to that, I'd be a rich man!”
“What I can say is that thinkers, like Singapore’s Sangeet Paul Choudray, are bringing together some fascinating insights around the new business models of ‘platforms’ (http://platformed.info/).
“Like blogs do today, it’s easy to remember that businesses like credit cards, now hugely profitable, once seemed like witchcraft. I have a hunch that in 10 years' time we’ll all look back and say ‘Doh! So that's how you do it ...’,” he added.
SGE’s Tan was previously a partner at early-stage technology investment firm Thymos Capital, and has had two exits, one of which was iHipo. She is also an investor in Padlet, a Y-Combinator startup. In her bio on the SGE site, it is stated that she also sits on the Board of Advisors for the Singapore Innovation & Productivity Institute.
SGE was founded with the goal of giving a voice to startups in Singapore, and has gone on to organising meetups and hackathons.
Tech in Asia was founded in March 2011 for readers interested in Asia-focused tech news. It also organises Startup Asia, a biannual two-day conference that features prominent venture investors and successful startups.
Its upcoming Startup Asia conference is scheduled for Nov 21-22 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Past conferences have attracted industry leaders such as Marissa Mayer, the current CEO of Yahoo!, and Kakao co-CEO Sirgoo Lee.
The media startup also hosts Tech in Asia Meetups, a monthly series of grassroots sessions held in various Asian cities to foster relationships and create partnership opportunities among founders and investors.
In late August, Tech in Asia said it had secured an undisclosed investment from Fenox Venture Capital, a Silicon Valley-based venture investor focused on providing early and strategic funding to technology companies in North America and Asia.
Fenox led the Series B financing round and was joined by existing investors East Ventures and Simile Venture Partners.
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