Grab is replacing UberEats with its own service, while Carousell is definitely getting more than just money from one of its newest investors.
Delivery and logistics
GrabFood launches after lights out at UberEats (Malaysia/Singapore). The ride-hailing firm’s food-delivery service is now available in the two countries, following Grab’s acquistion of Uber’s Southeast Asia operations – including UberEats – earlier this year. Grab said that most of GrabFood’s delivery driver-partners have been migrated over from UberEats, while several Uber employees are on the GrabFood engineering team. The service is expected to launch in Vietnam and the Philippines before the end of June. (Tech in Asia)
Meituan-Dianping opens offline store (China). Ella Supermarket, the fresh groceries delivery brand of Meituan, has opened its first official brick-and-mortar shop. Located in Beijing, Ella offers fresh groceries, dining, ecommerce, and quick delivery “to serve fast-paced city lives,” according to the on-demand services company. Rival Alibaba offers a similar concept in Hema, a physical store that offers 30-minute delivery to customers within a 3 km radius. (TechNode)
Ola to become Ola Group (India). The ride-hailing firm will reorganize into a group company structure in an effort to boost its valuation and improve management of its different business areas. Ola will set up a holding company that will own its core ride-hailing business, the Foodpanda food-delivery unit it acquired last year, its new electric vehicles organization, and the companies it is establishing abroad as it expands into overseas markets. These businesses are expected to have their own heads who will run them independently. (Livemint)
Uber reports US$2.5 billion first-quarter profit following Grab deal (Southeast Asia). The US ride-hailing company notched up US$2.5 billion profit on revenue of US$2.6 billion during the first three months of 2018. The profit is mostly accounted for by US$2.9 billion in savings, attributable to Uber’s sale of its Southeast Asian and Russian ride-hailing businesses to Grab and Yandex, respectively. Prior to the Grab merger, analysts had regularly asserted that Uber would have to shed loss-making units in emerging markets in order to turn a profit and lay the groundwork for an IPO in the future. (Recode)
Meanwhile, the US firm appointed India lead Amit Jain to head up its rump Asia-Pacific operation. Previously in charge of Uber’s businesses in South Asia, Jain will now be the company’s general manager responsible for that region in addition to Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and Taiwan. (Livemint)
Traveloka launches car rental, other features (Indonesia). The online travel and hospitality unicorn is now offering car rental through its platform, in partnership with over 100 rental providers. The service – which is initially available in 11 of Indonesia’s major cities – gives customers several options, such as short-term 12-hour rental, driver hire, and an all-inclusive package that covers gasoline, parking, road tolls, and the driver’s meals and accommodation. Traveloka recently unveiled other new features like bus ticketing, restaurant booking, and micro-lending through its PayLater service. (e27)
Jollychic enters the unicorn club (China). The Hangzhou-based ecommerce startup has raised hundreds of millions of US dollars in a series C round that values it at US$1 billion. Sequoia Capital led the round, with Legend Capital also participating. Jollychic says it has over 35 million registered users and claims its gross merchandise volume has tripled in size for five consecutive years. (China Money Network)
Carousell getting DBS help to build payments engine (Singapore). The online classifieds startup will work with the bank to build and implement CarouPay, the digital payments app announced earlier this month. DBS was named as a new investor in Carousell when the startup revealed its US$85 million series C fundraise back in early May. (The Business Times)
Acko gets Amazon backing (India). The Mumbai-based online insurance startup has raised US$12 million in a funding round led by US ecommerce giant Amazon. Other investors to take part in the round included angel Ashish Dhawan and the family office of Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy. Acko uses behavior analysis to offer a range of personalized general and automotive insurance products. (VCCircle)
“Sugar daddy” dating app may have run fallen afoul of censor (China). US-based app SeekingArrangement – which provides an online dating service targeted at women seeking rich men – has apparently been removed from app stores in the country. The app had seen a spike in popularity of late, hitting top spot last week and even outperforming the likes of WeChat and Weibo. Chinese regulators have become increasingly strict in recent months, with several short-video sharing apps getting reprimanded for spreading “inappropriate” content. Men wishing to upload their profiles to SeekingArrangement must earn at least US$47,350 per year and possess minimum net assets of about US$94,000. (TechNode)
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
Conference organizers in hot water after “Chairman Mao” makes an appearance (China). The organizers of Boao Blockchain Forum for Asia, held in Hainan this week, may have broken laws that prohibit the use of images, calligraphy, and other representations of former national leaders to promote commercial products or activities. An actor dressed as Mao Zedong – the first paramount leader of post-revolution China – appeared on stage and delivered a short address in his idiosyncratic Hunanese accent. “I sincerely wish this conference great success… and I want to thank you in the name of Mao Zedong,” the apparently resurrected chairman is reported to have said. The incident has met with both ridicule and derision among Chinese netizens. (China Money Network)
See: Previous Asia tech news roundups
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