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VCs aid SE Asia tech start-ups

Posted: 29 Mar 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:tech start-up? venture capital firm? Asian technology? investing? early-stage start-ups?

Chinese venture capital firm, Gobi Partners, has its eyes set in Southeast Asia, looking to invest at around three dozen start-ups with a new $14.5-million fund, targeting emerging technologies in the region. Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd., together with Gobi, announced the SuperSeed funds with $300 million in assets under management.

They will seek to invest in 25 to 35 early-stage start-ups across Southeast Asia over the next three years.

Gobi's interest in the region represents a broader appetite among investors who are seeking to capitalise on the region's rising incomes and mobile Internet boom. The number of venture-backed deals in Southeast Asia almost doubled to 71 in the fourth quarter of 2015, even as funding cooled across the globe, according to reports by KPMG and CB Insights.

SEA deals

Figure 1: Venture capital investments in the region were worth $1.04 billion in 2014, a rise from the $205 million spent in 2012. (Source: Prequin)

While the big names are just landing on Southeast Asian shores, the pioneers are upping the ante. Venture capital investments in the region were worth $1.04 billion in 2014, a more than fivefold increase from the $205 million spent in 2012, according to British market researcher Preqin.

IPTV region as the hottest market

Thomas Tsao, a managing partner at Gobi Partners, calls the hottest part of the region IPTV, for Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, a play on the acronym for Internet protocol television, or TV that's delivered via the Web.

Investors need to pay more attention to the four countries, which have more than 550 million people, Mr. Tsao said.

"These are four huge consumers markets, and we call them the IPTV market," Mr. Tsao said.

Gobi, which has backed 22 start-ups, divides the 10 nations in Southeast Asia into three groups: mature markets such as Singapore and Malaysia, IPTV and a frontier market that includes Myanmar.

Gobi began turning to Southeast Asia after noticing some of the Chinese start-ups in its portfolio, including photo application Camera360, were seeing a surge in the number of customers in the region.

"We were like, 'Wow, this is something we need to pay attention to,'" Mr. Tsao said.

The Gobi-Malaysia venture fund will focus on Internet and mobile technology start-ups in areas including big data, cloud computing, content and digital media, e-commerce, financial tech, Muslim innovation and online tourism, he said.

- Toni Urrutia,
??EE Times Asia





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