Today’s top tech news, May 14: Funding galore and The Great Room opens new co-working space | Digital Asia
Digital Asia News Update
Singaporean automobile marketplace Carro raises US$60 million — [Tech News]
Carro announced today the completion of a US$60 million Series B round led by SoftBank Ventures, Insignia Ventures Partners and B Capital Group.
The company’s core product allows people to buy and sell used cars online but it also has a finance arm called Genie that helps people get loans for their purchases. Carro has facilitated US$250 million worth of car transactions on its platform and US$100 million of loans via Genie.
The recent funding round brings the total amount raised by Carro to US$75 million.
Singapore co-working brand The Great Room opens third location along Orchard Road – [Press Release]
The Great Room, an upscale co-working brand in Singapore, has opened its third location in the city with today’s launch in the Ngee Ann City office/shopping building. Situated along Orchard Road, the office is 15,000 square feet and is on the 22nd floor — which should provide expansive views of the area.
The interior was created by Michael Fiebrich Design, a firm that has done the interior design for hotels like the Four Seasons, Marina Bay Sands and the Regent.
“Many global consumer brands, design and fashion groups have their offices in the Orchard Road precinct. This is the perfect location for us to take some design risks — after all, we expect our members here to be fiercely glamorous and bold,” said The Great Room CEO Jaelle Ang.
The company is expected to open spaces in Bangkok and Hong Kong in the near future.
Trump pushes US commerce department to reverse ZTE ban — [Twitter]
After the Chinese technology company ZTE announced last week that it had to shut down major operations after a 7-year ban from the United States, President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that he is working to reverse the decision.
President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
He followed that up with another tweet that suggested the China-US trade history has been one-sided in favor of Beijing.
The ban on ZTE has essentially put the company out of business and created a rift between the US and China as they work through a possible trade war as well as negotiations with North Korea, a Chinese ally.
Liu He, a top economic advisor and member of the politburo, is expected to visit Washington this week, but there are some thoughts that could boycott because of the ZTE ban.
Carousell finalises US$85 million Series C – [Tech News]
The Singaporean P2P marketplace announced the close of a US$85 million Series C led by Rakuten Ventures and EDBI.
The money will be used to accelerate the company’s focus on artificial intelligence as well as strengthening its foothold in other markets and expanding its categories.
The company has been heavily focussed on its ‘smart selling’ features which it hopes will allow people to point their phone at a given item and almost instantly bring up information like category and ideal selling price.
Didi Chuxing gets green light to test driverless vehicles in California — [Financial Times]
Chinese car-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is expected to begin trials for self-driving vehicles in California, according to The Financial Times.
The startup will have some catching up to do, but after a pedestrian was killed in Arizona, Uber has suspended its self-driving programme.
According to the article, 53 companies have received permission to test the technology in California creating a highly competitive and saturated market. Didi has been testing the technology in China, but also faces stiff competition from Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba.
For ride-hailing startups like Uber or Didi, driverless vehicles would represent a transformative opportunity to improve efficiency. However, the technology is a very long way from becoming relevant to the industry.
Singapore startup VersaFleet raises US$2.1M to expand to Malaysia and Indonesia – [Tech News]
Versafleet, a SaaS transport management solution that automates modern supply chains, announced today it has raised US$2.1 million from Prestellar Ventures and some angel investors. The company will use the funds to expand into Malaysia and Indonesia as well as improving its artificial intelligence capabilities.
The SaaS company automates logistics with route optimization, electronic proof-of-delivery, notifications and job status updates.
“With this new injection of funds and the additional expertise from our investors, we aim to double the size of our team and serve beyond 5,000 drivers worldwide,” said Shamir Rahim, the company’s CEO.