5 min readAug 30, 2021

Edition #92, 15 July 2021 | View in browser


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across Southeast Asia, the region has added five more tech unicorns, or privately held companies with a valuation of more than $1 billion, this year.

Malaysia-headquartered used car marketplace startup Carsome will become the region’s latest unicorn after completing a share-swap deal to take over a 19.9% stake in Australia-listed iCar from Catcha Group.

The deal, which was announced on Tuesday, will be followed by Carsome acquiring the remaining 80.1% shares in iCar for over $200 million.

Carsome is, of course, the second used-car marketplace in the region to reach the coveted unicorn status. Singapore’s Carro entered the unicorn club in June after completing a $360 million Series C round that was led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

Carro is receiving the Series C funding in tranches. According to DealStreetAsia — DATA VANTAGE, the automotive marketplace issued new shares to raise $228 million last week, with SoftBank now owning at least a 30% stake in the company.

Competing across multiple Southeast Asian markets, Carsome and Carro have benefitted from a booming appetite for used cars as household incomes shrunk during the pandemic.

Top shareholders of Carro


The advent of unicorns

Logistics company Flash Express became Thailand’s first unicorn last month after completing Series D+ and E rounds worth a combined $150 million.

Meanwhile, a $2 billion funding in the first quarter of this year from a group of investors led by private equity firms Hillhouse Capital and Boyu Capital crowned Indonesia’s J&T Express as the most capitalised logistics startup in the region.

J&T is the preferred delivery partner of Southeast Asia’s e-commerce giant Shopee. However, it was the company’s expansion to China that largely helped it raise the mega funding round.

J&T’s Indonesian rival SiCepat Ekspres, which is said to have received an investment from Indonesia’s most popular online marketplace Tokopedia, is expected to become the next logistics company to enter the billion-dollar valuation club.

The story of unicorn creation in Southeast Asia goes beyond opportunistic growth due to the pandemic or the growing adoption of e-commerce. The success of Singapore’s PatSnap is a testament to the deep technology innovation in the region.

PatSnap, which became a unicorn in March, provides data and AI-powered analytics tools to identify intellectual property rights across the globe. The company serves over 10,000 corporate customers that include Xiaomi Corp, Dyson and drone maker SZ DJI Technology.

Southeast Asia’s unicorns: A timeline

Note: Sea and Razer are now listed in the US and Hong Kong, respectively. They are, therefore, no longer classified as unicorns.

Other snippets from DATA VANTAGE

Earlier this week, alternative protein startup Next Gen Foods announced it had secured $20 million in an extended seed funding round. Our data shows the company has received $18 million of the said funding as of last week. The latest funding places Next Gen among Southeast Asia’s tech centaurs with a $177 million valuation.

Indian merchant commerce platform Pine Labs issued new shares to raise $31.8 million last week. The company has raised $187.7 million so far this year, taking its total equity funding to date to over $500 million, according to our database.

Fintech-as-a-service solution provider AND Global secured $7 million in new paid-up capital last week, bringing its total equity funding to $20.8 million. The new capital is part of a $15.3 million Series A funding round led by Marubeni Corporation and SBI Holdings.

Telemedicine platform MyDoc has secured $2.9 million in fresh capital so far this year. The COVID-19 health protocols accelerated the adoption of telemedicine apps throughout Asia, a trend that is likely to outlast the pandemic, according to Bain & Company.

Jakarta-based collaborative data engineering and analytics platform Bonza has raised $2.6 million this year, according to company filings. Founded by former Traveloka employees Elsa Chandra and Philip Thomas in 2020, the company aims to reach profitability in its first year of operations. The company announced the completion of its seed round backed by East Ventures in May.

[Webinar] Is VC funding for women founders getting any better?

Startups led by women founders remain severely underfunded compared to those started by their male counterparts, accounting for a mere 16.4% of the $8.6 billion in fundraising by startups across the region, according to a DealStreetAsia — DATA VANTAGE report.

Join our webinar on July 29 at 10:00 am, featuring GCash’s Martha Sazon; CXA Group’s Rosaline Chow-Koo; and TheAsianParent’s Roshni Mahtani as they address the reasons for this gap and provide actionable insights based on their own experiences. On registering, you will receive a free copy of our ‘Women in Startups: Southeast Asia Edition’ report for 2021, which gives a statistical overview of the lacuna in funding for startups helmed by women.

Register Now

[New Report] Unicorn Report: Grab
In this report, we take a holistic look at superapp Grab — its shareholders, business verticals, valuation, GMV estimates, revenue projections, and competition — as it works towards a Nasdaq listing later this year. We also examine the future of its shared mobility vertical in a post-pandemic world.

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