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Vynn Capital snags investment from Malaysia’s MAVCAP for its maiden Southeast Asia fund

Vynn Capital snags investment from Malaysia’s MAVCAP for its maiden Southeast Asia fund

Vynn Capital, a new entrant to Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem, is gearing up to close its maiden fund after it landed an undisclosed sum from Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd (MAVCAP) as one of its anchor LPs.

Founded by former Gobi Ventures VC Victor Chua and Singaporean investor Darren Chua (no relation) one year ago, Kuala Lumpur-based Vynn is targeting a $40 million fund for Southeast Asia. The firm has already made four investments and, on the LP side, gone after traditional businesses and Southeast Asia’s family corporations. Landing MAVCAP — which is Malaysia’s largest investor has backed VC funds including Gobi — is a major coup for a debut fund.

“The investment from MAVCAP is a very good validation for Vynn Capital,” said Victor Chua, who is Malaysian. “Personally, having been active in the local and regional ecosystem, I’ve benefited from the growth trajectory of the ecosystem and am now able to launch a new fund that is addressing the need of the traditional businesses to be innovative.”

“The thesis of the fund is Southeast Asia, but through our investment we are focused on how it will be invested in Malaysian deals,” MAVCAP’s Shahril Anas told TechCrunch in an interview. “We have some carry and expect returns that we can invest into local entrepreneurs in Malaysia, we are also keen to look at how other countries’ economies interact with startups.”

Anas said the approach is to be very hands-off, MAVCAP has various other fund investments, but he reiterated that there may be specific data or insight that the organization looks to glean.

Southeast Asia is emerging from the shadows of China and India to become a target market for startups and, by extension, the investors who write the checks to finance them.

Beyond a cumulative population of over 600 million people, the region’s ‘digital economy’ is tipped to grow to $240 billion by 2025 from $31 million in 2015, according to a report from Google and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek.

Some of the other investors vying for a slice of the opportunity include new funds from Openspace Ventures ($135 million), Indonesia-focused Intudo ($50 million), Qualgro ($100 million) and Golden Gate Ventures ($100 million) and Sequoia India ($695 million).

Vynn Capital snags investment from Malaysia’s MAVCAP for its maiden Southeast Asia fund
Source: TechCrunch

JD.com’s drones take flight to Japan in partnership with Rakuten

JD.com’s drones take flight to Japan in partnership with Rakuten

JD.com’s drones take flight to Japan in partnership with Rakuten

Chinese e-commerce company JD.com is taking its drone delivery system to Japan.

Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant, just announced a partnership with JD that will see its drones and unmanned vehicles become a part of Rakuten’s own unmanned delivery service efforts.

JD has been operating drones in its native China for a number of years, and it has wider expansion plans having recently gained a regional-level operating license. Its other human-less tech includes self-operating trucks, automated warehouses and unmanned stores, and it recently picked Indonesia for its first overseas drone pilot.

Rakuten has been offering drone delivery in Japan since 2016 and unmanned vehicle trials since 2018. It said that working with JD — which claims to have racked up 400,000 minutes of delivery flight time — will “accelerate the development and commercialization” of its human-free last mile delivery efforts.

JD.com’s drones take flight to Japan in partnership with Rakuten
Source: TechCrunch

German insurance giant Allianz increases its VC fund to $1.1 billion

German insurance giant Allianz increases its VC fund to .1 billion

Allianz X, the venture capital arm attached to German insurance giant Allianz, has increased the size of its fund to €1 billion, around $1.1 billion, according to an announcement made today. The fund was initially €430 million, or around $490 million, when it launched in 2016.

This new injection comes directly from parent Allianz SE, the 124-year-old insurer which did €130 billion ($150 billion) in revenue last year, and it makes Allianz X one of the largest active startup investment vehicles in Europe. While it is anchored in Europe, the fund’s investment thesis and focus is very much a global one.

It has made 15 deals to date with a focus on growth-stage investments in startups such as emerging market-focused microinsurance company BIMA, Southeast Asian ride-hailing unicorn Go-Jek, U.S-based capital marketplace C2FO and European challenger bank N26.

Allianz X, which initially began as an in-house incubation venture, is now looking to go after more of the same with its enlargened kitty but it also plans to get to work with its existing portfolio of companies.

“Since shifting our strategy, we have built a great portfolio in which many companies have already developed successful partnerships with Allianz’s business units. We are very excited about raising our investment budget to €1 billion and will use the funds entrusted to us to both strengthen our portfolio and build strong, global platforms that create new businesses for Allianz,” Dr. Nazim Cetin, CEO of Allianz X, said in a statement.

Beyond potentially supplying more capital to its existing investors — it isn’t clear whether Allianz X is a part of the new financing round that Go-Jek is raising, for example — the fund is keen to identify areas where its business units can add value both for the portfolio startups and the Allianz business itself. And, with a network of offices that spans more than 70 countries, there’s plenty of scope for collaboration.

In Indonesia, for example, Allianz has worked with Go-Jek to offer insurance to the ride-hailing company’s drivers that is payable at an affordable daily rate. That, both of them claim, has helped give many families health insurance for the first time whilst of course growing the Allianz Indonesia business by tapping into Go-Jek’s driver base which, the company says, covers “millions” of Indonesians. That’s one part of Go-Jek’s fintech strategy, which includes relationships with some 28 financial institutions to provide access to financial services and other products.

Indeed, Allianz X said it has developed dedicated operational capabilities to replicate that type of collaboration across its portfolio.

“Our work with portfolio companies is focused on developing mutually beneficial strategic partnerships between the portfolio company and one or more Allianz operating entities and global business lines. Each investment has a dedicated team at Allianz X that assists the company with joint corporate development initiatives and implements them alongside the Allianz business unit,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

German insurance giant Allianz increases its VC fund to .1 billion
Source: TechCrunch

Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal invests $92M in Ola

Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal invests M in Ola

The money is starting to flow from India’s largest startup exit. Ola has added a major name to its ongoing financing round after it confirmed that Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal has invested 650 crore INR (around $92 million) into the Indian ride-hailing business.

The deal rumored in January when Paper.vc, an intelligence service that sifts through company filings in India, noticed that Bansal had committed to investing 150 crore. Today, eight-year-old Ola not only confirmed the pairing, but it revealed that the actual size of Bansal’s investment is significantly higher. It represents his most prominent and largest investment to date, and his first major deal since he left Flipkart following its sale to Walmart for $16 billion last year.

An Ola spokesperson confirmed that Bansal will not take an advisory role nor will he be involved in operations.

The investment is part of an ongoing Series J round of financing that is likely to exceed $1 billion and would value Ola, which competes fiercely with Uber in India, at around $6 billion. Bansal’s commitment comes a month after existing investor Steadview Capital put $75 million towards the round.

Here’s what Bansal — who started Flipkart with co-founder Binny Bansal in 2007 — had to say on the deal:

Ola is one of India’s most promising consumer businesses, that is creating deep impact and lasting value for the ecosystem. On one hand, they have emerged as a global force in the mobility space and on the other, they continue to build deeper for various needs of a billion Indians through their platform, becoming a trusted household name today.

I have known Bhavish as an entrepreneur and as a friend over these years and I have great respect for what he and the team at Ola have built in just 8 years! I am personally thrilled to be part of the Ola journey and I look forward to contributing to their success.

Aggarwal, Ola’s CEO, in turn, lauded Bansal as “an icon of entrepreneurship.”

“His investment is a huge encouragement for all of us at Ola and our mission to serve a billion people,” he said in a statement. “I personally look forward to learning from Sachin’s journey, his mentorship and guidance, as we look to build one of the most impactful global businesses out of India.”

Ola is locked in a dog fight with Uber, which has made India its highest priority market outside of the U.S. Uber started slowly in India, but it is pushing hard in the country having opened a dedicated local R&D center and hired a country management team that operates outside of the rest of its Asia Pacific business.

To battle its U.S. rival, Ola has expanded nationwide to cover over 100 cities and towns. It has also expanded beyond just cars, developed its own mobile money service, invested in other startups and pushed other strategies to appeal to local customers.

Flipkart’s exit money may be moving back into the ecosystem, but the company is running without the two men who founded it. Sachin Bansal left around the time of the deal while Binny Bansal (the two are not related) resigned following an incident of “serious personal misconduct” just months after the Walmart acquisition was finalized.

Binny has set up a fund — expect to see more Walmart capital flowing back into Indian startups — but his newest project is a venture aimed at helping India’s most promising founders to scale their businesses.

Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal invests M in Ola
Source: TechCrunch