Start Singapore

(Clockwise from bottom right) Mr Gary Chin, Dr Luan Huanbo, Mr Roger Yuen and Professor Chua Tat Seng, the co-founders of 6Estates.
(Clockwise from bottom right) Mr Gary Chin, Dr Luan Huanbo, Mr Roger Yuen and Professor Chua Tat Seng, the co-founders of 6Estates. PHOTO: 6ESTATES

GrabTaxi raises $492m in largest round of funding

Taxi mobile app start-up GrabTaxi has picked up a hefty new fare.

It raised its largest funding round of over US$350 million (S$492 million) from China's sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp (CIC), United States investment firm Coatue Management and China's taxi hailing app Didi Kuaidi, along with support from existing shareholders.

This brings GrabTaxi's total funding to about US$700 million, making it one of the best funded start-ups in South-east Asia. The fresh funds will be used for technology development and business expansion.

A Wall Street Journal report earlier this week said the new fund-raising effort values GrabTaxi at between US$1.6 billion and US$1.8 billion.

Co-founder Anthony Tan said in a media statement that Didi's investment will allow the two firms to collaborate and learn from each other's experience.

Didi president Jean Liu said the collaboration with GrabTaxi will enhance both companies' business.

"Anthony and the team have achieved incredible growth so far, and we look forward to helping continue that momentum".

The funds will be used for technology development as well as to diversify GrabTaxi's offering beyond taxis to include private cars and motorbikes.

Its new services are GrabCar, a private hire vehicle service available in all countries where GrabTaxi is available, and GrabBike. The latter is a motorbike taxi booking service currently available in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.

GrabTaxi is a rival to United States-based taxi app Uber, which also works here. Last month Uber raised US$1 billion, valuing the company at US$50 billion.

Philippine telco unit buys local start-up

The e-commerce start-up Voyager Innovations, the digital innovations unit of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, and its mobile phone and Internet unit Smart Communications have acquired local e-commerce start-up Paywhere for an undisclosed sum.

Industry sources said the acquisition involved about US$5 million (S$ 7 million).

The deal is in line with Voyager's goal of building a digital commerce business in the Philippines and other emerging markets, said a media statement yesterday.

Founded in 2010, Paywhere developed TackThis, enabling entrepreneurs and businesses to set up their own online stores in just a few steps.

Data analytics start-up spun off from NUS

6Estates, a big data analytics software start-up, has been spun off from the National University of Singapore to help businesses get better sales and marketing insights.

Set up last year, the start-up was based at the NUS-Tsinghua Extreme Search Centre (NExT). Its co-founders are experienced researchers Mr Gary Chin, Dr Luan Huanbo, Professor Chua Tat Seng and Mr Roger Yuen.

6Estates has raised about $1 million in seed funding from co-founders, angels and Spring Singapore, said a media release from NUS earlier this week.

It is now looking to raise another round for business expansion.

The start-up's technology gives it the ability to transform huge volumes and varieties of data into insights automatically. It works in both English and Chinese - a big asset for global businesses keen to understand the China market, as well as Chinese businesses competing in global markets.

Mr Chin, chief executive of 6Estates, said in the media release that companies which have true knowledge of their customers will lead the market.

With consumers posting their likes and dislikes and other comments online, 6Estates can make sense of all the information and help businesses use it to improve their marketing campaigns, customer engagement and other initiatives.

Lending portal gets $1 million funding

Lending platform Capital Match has raised $1 million for product development and marketing activities.

Innosight Ventures led this round, which also included previous investors Crystal Horse Investments and CE-Tech Invest.

Capital Match was founded last year to provide small and medium-sized enterprises with a platform where they can crowdsource working capital from investors who are looking for attractive rates of return.

A media release said the platform enables investors to view loan requests along with professional credit assessments of each loan.

Investors select the loans in which they want to participate. Capital Match also provides end-to-end services including payment processing, debt collection and reporting.

Grace Chng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'StartSingapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe