By Jill Shen and Susan Cunningham
13 April 2021
When Mi Jiayi was shopping for a car in Hangzhou in early 2020, there was no question in his mind it would be a Tesla. For the 30-year-old legal advisor with a local investment conglomerate, it would be the first car he ever owned.
His respect for Tesla CEO Elon Musk was one factor in the appeal of the brand. On test drives, he was attracted by the design and some of Tesla’s fancy technological features. “The vehicles look so gorgeous compared with some other cars in similar price ranges,” he recalled. “Also, its Autopilot system is good at detecting vehicles and pedestrians on the road,” Mi said (our translation).
Specifically, he was hoping to buy a Long Range Model 3, which was expected to become available sometime in 2020. The car boasted a driving range 50% longer than the Standard Range Plus model. In other words, it could be driven 223 more kilometers (139 miles) without a recharge.
At first, he had no interest in the standard-range version, which had been available for order in China since October 2019. But when he repeatedly asked about the long-range Model 3’s launch date at a local showroom, the sales staff told him it wouldn’t hit the market at least until the end of the year, Mi told TechNode. The sales staff finally convinced Mi and he placed his order in early March 2020, signing up for delivery in May. He was surprised when the vehicle was delivered on March 31, nearly two months earlier than expected. MORE
By Susan Cunningham
January 2, 2021
The most important theme of 2020 wasn’t the emergence of a technological innovation. Rather, it was how the pandemic supercharged certain existing trends in China while revealing cracks in the firmament we should have seen long before. At least, that’s what some thoughtful members of the TechNode community said in a remarkable display of consensus.
We asked them to reflect on the tech year in the time of coronavirus, and point to what we can anticipate in the year ahead.
They say that fast growth is likely over (and that’s a good thing). They say that many, many ordinary Chinese people lost their blind faith in giant tech (welcome as well). And governmental authorities began making firm strides toward regulation.
Whether pertaining to monopolies, fintech, or protection of personal data, long overdue regulations are now coming, our experts say, but what form they take will surely be a major source of worry, relief, and dispute in 2021. Will authorities, for example, regulate community group buying to protect vulnerable small enterprises?
Perhaps most significant of all, it turns out that tech trade wars were just beginning back in 2019. MORE
By Susan Cunningham
The Star (Malaysia)
27 March 2019
When ride-sharing company Grab agreed to buy Uber’s South-East Asian assets a year ago, it seemed that its hardest and longest fought competition was finally over – at least in its seven markets that weren’t Indonesia.
In its home base of Singapore, Grab especially had a wide open field, having raised US$4.64bil (RM18.9bil) in funding from the likes of SoftBank and DiDi Chuxing.
Its chief competitors were those taxi drivers who didn’t use the Grab app. The hailing apps from well-funded foreigners – German-Brazilian Easy Taxi and Britain’s Hailo and Karhoo – had been driven out by 2016.
Yet instead of surging with an influx of Uber’s former passengers, the number of “Daily Active Users” of the main Grab app in Singapore plunged after Uber withdrew from the city-state in May.
The number of such users fell from almost 171,000 on June 1, 2018 to 135,576 by Dec 1, 2018, according to analytics firm SimilarWeb’s data on Android phone users. That’s a loss of almost 40,000 Daily Active Users over the six-month period. MORE
Postscript: I should have mentioned in the story that the Android operating system had about 75% of the Singapore smartphone/tablet market during most of 2018. In Indonesia, Android had about 92% of the market.
[Originally published on Forbes.com in 2015]
With the soft launch last month of Priceza websites in Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore, Thailand’s number one shopping price comparison portal now has a presence in five countries with a total of 540 million residents. Priceza Thailand debuted in January 2010 and Priceza Indonesia in May 2013. Next market in 2015: Vietnam. If all grows as planned, the six sites will attract nearly 400 million annual visitors in 2019.
Back in 2009, when three former Chulalongkorn University classmates were dreaming up website ideas, “we were looking for a scalable model. From day one, we knew wanted to be in other countries too,” says Priceza CEO Thanawat (Wai) Malabuppha.
It’s complicated, though. The competitive landscape in each country is different. That isn’t just a reflection of per capita income and internet penetration but also of payment systems and the sheer number of e-commerce websites. MORE
By Susan Cunningham
This story appears in the March 2018 issue of Forbes Asia as “Up for Grabs”
When Grab closed a $2.5 billion fundraising round in January, the valuation of the ride-hailing company not only rose north of $6 billion, according to Pitchbook. It also lifted cofounder Anthony Tan onto the list of Malaysia’s 50 richest. He debuts with an estimated net worth of $300 million. Led by SoftBank and Didi Chuxing, the investment was Southeast Asia’s biggest single venture-capital fundraising round ever. Other investors include Hyundai Motor and Toyota Tsusho.
Tan, 36, the startup’s chief executive, could have enjoyed a cushy ride with his family’s auto-sales business, run by his father, Tan Heng Chew, and two uncles. (Heng Chew and his brothers made the list the last five years before falling off this year.) But six years ago he teamed up with a Harvard Business School classmate, Tan Hooi Ling (no relation), to launch a taxi-hailing application in their home city of Kuala Lumpur. They first called it MyTeksi.
Myanmar and Cambodia
With eight investment rounds under its belt, Grab has branched out into services for private cars, motorcycle taxis, carpooling and goods delivery while making an ever increasing investment in mobile-software research and development. It offers transportation services in 168 cities in eight Southeast Asian countries, having added Cambodia and Myanmar in 2017. Continue reading