Chinese food-delivery startup Ele.me is said to be the subject of a massive US$9.5 billion bid from tech giant Alibaba, while eBay is making a US$700 million offer for Singaporean ecommerce firm Qoo10’s Japan unit. In other news, Danke Apartment, Planys Technologies, and Qwikwire announced funding.
EBay closing in on US$700 million deal for Qoo10’s Japan business (Singapore/Japan). The US online auctions site is said to a step away from buying the Japan assets of Qoo10, the ecommerce platform operated by Singaporean firm Giosis. The deal would reportedly see eBay give up its stake in Giosis. The US company is an investor in Giosis alongside the likes of Singapore Press Holdings, Saban Capital Group, UVM 2 Venture Investments, Brookside Capital, and Oak Investment Partners. The acquisition would further boost eBay’s position in Asia, following its US$1.2 billion purchase of Korean e-tailer Gmarket in 2009. (Bloomberg)
Logistics and delivery
Alibaba rumored to snap up food-delivery firm Ele.me in US$9.5 billion mega-deal (China). The tech giant has reportedly agreed to wholly acquire Ele.me as it ups the ante against on-demand services platform Meituan-Dianping. Alibaba and its Ant Financial affiliate are already Ele.me’s biggest shareholders. (China Money Network)
Amazon turns 3PL (Australia). The US ecommerce giant wants to help solve a problem that has plagued Australian businesses for as long as their country has existed: transporting goods across the vast, inhospitable expanses between its major population centers. The company’s Fulfillment By Amazon service will effectively take on the role that third-party logistics providers (3PLs) play in its other markets, shipping items sold by vendors on its platform. Amazon Marketplace launched in Australia three months ago. (Reuters)
Travel and hospitality
Danke Apartment raises US$100 million (China). The apartment rentals portal will use the funds to expand to first-tier Chinese cities and step up its building maintenance and cleaning services, among other plans. CMC Capital and Banyan Capital co-led the series B round, with Bertelsmann Asia Investments, Vision Plus Capital, Youjin Capital, and Joy Capital joining in. (China Money Network)
Airbnb hosts plead guilty to offering unauthorized short-term rentals (Singapore). Two Singaporeans on trial for offering unauthorized short-term rentals through Airbnb have pleaded guilty in court. The two men were charged for letting four condo units for less than six months without relevant permissions and face a fine of up to US$152,000 per offense. These are the first cases to be brought under the city-state’s rules on short-term property letting that were introduced last year. (Reuters)
Trilyo secures US$250,000 investment (India). The startup, which develops AI-driven voice and chat platforms for the hospitality industry, will use the funds to scale its operations in India and Southeast Asia. Startup Buddy led the round, with participation from Pulse Venture Capital and Amit Manocha, among others. (Trilyo)
Gobee Bike pulls out of Paris (Hong Kong/France). The Hong Kong bike-sharing firm said it ended its service in the French capital because a large number of its vehicles sustained damage and went missing. “The mass destruction of our fleet has become the new entertainment of underaged individuals,” Gobee explained in a statement, adding that more than 1,000 bikes had been stolen with almost 3,400 damaged nationwide. The company had previously wrapped up its service in the French cities of Lille and Reims, and the Belgian capital Brussels. Chinese dockless bike services Mobike and Ofo also operate in Paris, along with Singapore’s oBike. (The Guardian)
Planys Technologies nets US$2.16 million in series A funding (India). Incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Planys is an original equipment manufacturer specializing in underwater robotics technologies, including remotely operated submersible vehicles. Oil & Natural Gas Corporation and MEMG Family Office co-led the round, with Pratithi Trust and Keiretsu Forum among the other investors. Planys will use the capital to expand its robot fleet, fund product development, and scale up its operations. (Planys Technologies)
Qwikwire books fresh funding (The Philippines). The startup, which provides cross-border billing and invoicing systems for business users, secured an undisclosed amount of funding from local firm First Asia Venture Capital, incubator Cerebro Labs, and several US and Japan-based investors. It will use the capital for overseas expansion. Qwikwire previously raised US$460,000 from 500 Startups, JFDI, and Manila Angel Investors Network. (e27)
Investors, incubators, and accelerators
JD unveils Bluzelle as first entrant for new AI and blockchain accelerator (China). Singapore-based decentralized data storage provider Bluzelle is the first startup to join JD’s new AI Catapult Accelerator. Bluzelle raised US$1.5 million in series A funding from Global Brain, LUN Partners Capital, and True Global Ventures in August last year, as well as US$19.5 million in an ICO last month. Ecommerce giant JD said the accelerator is intended to “unlock the transformative power of AI and blockchain startups for the new age of supply chain management, cost-effectiveness and consumer satisfaction.” It also announced a partnership with UK blockchain startup Nuggets to collaborate on secure cryptocurrency payments. (JD)
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