Bernard Leong on Internet Trends and Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia


This post is a part of our coverage of Startups in Asia (Singapore), Penn Olson’s first tech conference. Our full coverage of the event can be found here, for our RSS feed, click here.

Bernard Leong

Bernard Leong

Presentation by co-founder and CTO of Chalkboard, and also of SGentrepreneurs, and TWIA. You can follow Bernard on Twitter @bleongcw. Powerpoint deck embedded below.

#15:13: There are a few things missing in the SEA ecosystem, namely the talent to scale companies, and a lack of business operators of VCs (he points to East Venture’s Batara Eto as an example).

#15:10: Indonesia is the next big market, and Japanese VCs are the first ones there. Bernard looks at a few cool companies from Indonesia like Biztip.

#15:07: MOL acquired Friendster three years ago for about $39.5 million. But from selling the patents to Facebook and becoming a distributor for Facebook credits, they made about $160 million.

#15:05: Points to Viki as an interesting company, which was actually founded in the US and came to Asia. One interesting feature of the site is crowdsourced translation. Bernard also cites Mig33 as another great example of a company doing interesting work in Southeast Asia, and succeeding.

#15:03: Groupon’s strategy was to come into Asia and to pick up the 4th/5th competitor in the group buy space. He notes that the Samwer brother are are now doing business in the region and are very good at this kind of play.

#15:01: The Southeast Asia VC industry is primitaive and non-existent, says Bernard, as it lacks exits in the range of $100 million. The players are not very large in this space.

#14:58: Bernard drills down to Singapore as a key center for three things: finance, IT, and media. Local offices for global tech companies like Amazon, RIM, Lenovo, Apple, HTC, Microsoft, Google, etc.

#14:52: Facebook penetration is impressive in Southeast Asia. Brunei has 58.4% penetration, Singapore, 56.1; Malaysia 42%.

#14:49: Bernard compares mobile and internet penetration across Asian countries. Points to places like Indonesia and the Philippines as emerging markets where users use Facebook and Twitter, but don’t really consider this to be “internet” since they access it via a ‘dumb phone’ or feature phone. Similarly, BBM is like this.

#14:47: Southeast Asian market is very fragmented. The region is highly populated, with about 613 million people, which comes in behind China and India (and Bernard also says, Facebook). Total mobile subscribers are about 550 million. Total internet subscribers are about 139 million.

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