While Americas and Europe have seen innumerable examples of new age, digital disruptors coming up, re-imagining the ways of doing business and making it big in their local and international markets. The APAC region is also keeping pace. In this post I shall refer to 12 such companies which have natively grown in APAC and rode the digital wave quite well, leaving the rest of the world in awe.
1. Alibaba – Founded by the famous entrepreneur Jack Ma in 1999. Alibaba was first known as an operator of eCommerce platforms, however they shifted and started referring themselves as a data company. Some of their major e-commerce platforms include Tmall (business-to-consumer [B2C]) and Taobao (consumer-to-consumer [C2C]). Tmall is the dominant retail eCommerce platform in China*. Alibaba is investing into publishing media, cab booking, hotel booking , food delivery, financial technology, gaming, online video and integrating online and offline retail. Alibaba is also investing in artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), connected cars and other emerging technologies. Alibaba’s affiliate Ant Financial (Alipay) has promoted mobile payments in China. With consumer data generated by Alibaba properties, Ant Financial has also launched several innovative financial products, including Sesame Credit (an online credit system).
*China – China blocks many of the internet based global giants like – Google, Facebook and others to compete in their local markets. This has given rise to a native ecosystem of internet based companies there.
2. Baidu – Founded in 2000, Baidu is a leading search engine in China (77.3% of search engine referrals in China in 2017 came from Baidu). Baidu has announced plans to develop and apply AI technology throughout its core search business, as well as in new initiatives in autonomous driving, voice recognition and the internet of things (IoT). In 2010 Baidu founded iQiyi, a video streaming service. Baidu’s vision is to reinvent human computer interface – where people can use conversational language to interact with all devices, which will learn how to understand human language and intentions. Another successful service – Baidu Wallet is a digital payment service which boasts roughly 100 million registered users.
3. Tencent – Tencent is quite popular for WeChat, its all-in-one mobile messaging app. Via in-app payment service WeChat Pay, users can pay for utilities, taxi rides and groceries, and send peer-to-peer (P2P) payments. Tencent’s other holdings include a large portfolio of digital services including social, gaming, online literature, music and video on demand. Much of Tencent and WeChat’s innovation is based upon the insight that mobile will become a lifestyle, and almost every aspect of our daily lives will have a digital element that can be improved through mobile technology. Drawn into fierce battle with Alibaba and other tech competitors over e-commerce, financial technology and entertainment, the next round of investments Tencent is jostling in are – Artificial Intelligence based devices and self driving cars.
4. Didi Chuxing – Founded in 2012 Didi Chuxing is a Beijing based tech company that offers a variety of ride/travel services to consumers and corporate clients. Didi is already promoting the use of electric vehicles and is developing its own autonomous driving technology. The next strategic goals Didi is looking at are – To offer its services globally, launch an online bike-sharing platform and set up a food delivery service—along the lines of Uber Eats and UberRush.
5. Toutiao – Founded in 2012 Toutiao (Parent company ByteDance) is an AI-powered mobile news platform. It also boasts social apps for sharing short videos. ByteDance has also invested in India-based news aggregator Dailyhunt and live streaming app Live.me.
6. Flipkart – Founded in 2007 as an online bookstore, Flipkart expanded its online retail offerrings to a wide range of product categories ranging from consumer electronics, fashion, lifestyle and grocery products. As of 2017, Flipkart held a 39.5% market share of India’s e-commerce industry. In May 2018, U.S.-based retail chain Walmart announced its intent to acquire a 77% controlling stake in Flipkart for $16 billion USD, subject to regulatory approval. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
7. Paytm – Paytm started in 2010 as a prepaid mobile recharge website, and evolved into India’s largest digital payments platform. It’s the consumer brand of mobile internet company One97 Communications. It is Alibaba-, Ant Financial- and SoftBank- backed firm, and has reached a valuation of more than $10 billion. Their flagship Paytm Wallet achieved 280 million registered users in December 2017. In November 2017, Paytm Payments Bank was launched (Payments banks, as per Reserve Bank of India definitions, are banks that can accept deposits, but not issue loans or credit cards). Paytm also competes with online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart through Paytm Mall.
8. Ola – Ola, operated under the banner of ANI Technologies Private Limited headquartered in India, offers app based on-demand ride/travel services to consumers. Ola operates in 110 cities with more than 800,000 vehicles and other transport options, including bikes, auto-rickshaws and electric cars. SoftBank is a common investor in OLA as well as Uber – Casting an impression that how big is the consumer market of India, so that there is enough space for both OLA and Unber to grow. Ola acquired Foodpanda and forayed into food delivery business.
9. Line – Founded in 2000, Line Corporation is a Japanese subsidiary of the South Korean internet search giant Naver Corporation. The company’s business is mainly associated with the development of mobile applications and Internet services. Line’s popularity is strong in four APAC countries— Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand, where Line is used to chat, send messages, book hotels, reserve flights, read the news etc. Line continues to announce new projects, including a cryptocurrency, a workplace chat app and a virtual assistant, Clova, that is similar to Amazon’s Alexa.
10. Kakao – Founded in 2010 Kakao Corp is a tech conglomerate in South Korea. Its products include KakaoTalk, the country’s most widely used chat app (with 98.9% app users penetration in South Korea!!), and a search engine, Daum. The company also has businesses and investments in news aggregation, banking, gaming and navigation. Other popular products/services include KakaoPay (Mobile wallet), KakaoBank: Internet-only bank with 3.8 million users,
KakaoMobility: Transportation services that include KakaoT (formerly KakaoTaxi) and KakaoNavi.
11. Lazada – Lazada Group is a Southeast Asian e-commerce company founded by German based Rocket Internet in 2012, and owned by Alibaba Group. As of 2014, Lazada Group operated sites in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. With the goal of growing quickly to take advantage of a limited ecommerce presence in the region – Lazada boasts leadesrhip in monthly visitors than any other B2C ecommerce site in five of its six markets in Southeast Asia (it’s No. 2 in Singapore).
12. Sea – Sea, known as Garena until mid-2017, is a tech conglomerate headquartered in Singapore that runs three internet businesses – gaming, payments and eCommerce. Three of its popular products/services include – Garena (entertainment platform for mobile and PC online games), Shopee (eCommerce platform that sells from multiple product categories) and AirPay (digital financial services platform and electronic wallet)