Staff picks: 5 top news stories this week on Tech in Asia


NOTW - Asia tech news this week

Huge blip in Southeast Asia this week, as a favorite local startup in Singapore gets acquired and a Thai ebookstore gets funded, putting its valuation at US$70 million. Meanwhile, Xiaomi continues its march into Southeast Asia, Bitcoin takes a blow in the Middle Kingdom, and a stunning Google Street View image reminds the world of what happened in Taiwan.

Saiyai’s pick: Thai bookstore Ookbee gets $7 million funding to continue Southeast Asia expansion

A year ago, if someone told me a Thai startup was worth $70 million, I wouldn’t believe it. Ookbee really does inspire other startup in Thailand, building itself from scratch and now is one of the biggest ebookstores in Southeast Asia. Congratulations Ookbee team!

Daniel’s, Terence’s, Gwen’s, Minghao’s and Vanessa’s pick: Zendesk acquires Singapore startup Zopim for $30M, plans to raise $150M in IPO

Daniel: A true rag to riches story, as the founders went from earning a meagre $410 a month over two years to cashing out in the millions. Certainly well-deserved. Huge congratulations to the Zopim team!

Terence: There’s no debate here. While the exit is small in absolute terms, it’s huge for Singapore because Zopim arose from a time when the startup ecosystem was nascent. That makes them pioneers. Also, these are local boys. It’s one small step towards our first billion dollar exit.

Gwen: This is an easy pick. This piece of news is significant because it shows the international footprint of a Southeast Asian company, and especially because Zopim is a B2B company – a rarity in this current landscape of consumer-focused apps and products.

Minghao: Congrats to this very hardworking, focused and fun Singapore team.

Vanessa: Really proud of this team – they work hard and play hard. Congratulations!

Josh’s pick: Check out this guerrilla Google Street View of protesters occupying Taiwan’s parliament

Imagine your domestic legislative body packed with young students and littered with fluorescent posters, bottled beverages, take-out containers, and acoustic guitars – that’s what Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan has looked like for about three weeks. While students have since exited the premises, thanks to this photo sphere, the scene inside the island’s parliament will be preserved for the whole world to see.

Steven and Phoebe’s pick: Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra lays out international expansion roadmap: first stop Malaysia

Steven: After venturing out of mainland China into Hong Kong, Taiwan, and more recently Singapore, it’s inevitable that Xiaomi has the rest of Southeast and East Asia on its radar. Now we have a clear idea of where it’s heading – and which continent will be next.

Phoebe: There’s so much buzz about Xiaomi in China. Now that it’s continuously expanding in the neighboring countries, how its new markets will embrace this smartphone brand is something to watch out for.

Paul’s pick: China’s banks give deadline for bitcoin exchanges to close their trading accounts

It looks like the rumors were true. Workarounds still exist in the form of vouchers and prepaid cards, but even if China’s current Bitcoiners forge ahead, the prospect of growing a vast Bitcoin ecosystem seems dead-on-arrival.

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