#Asia How a funding news turns sour for this Indonesian startup


On Thursday, Baca was reported to secure at least US$20 million from Bertelsmann Asia Investment (BAI), Crystal Stream, and CC Zhuang

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Indonesian news aggregator app Baca announced on Thursday that it has secured at least US$20 million of Series B from Bertelsmann Asia Investment (BAI), Crystal Stream, and CC Zhuang.

The startup’s parent company —Hong Kong-based News in Palm– also has operations in several countries including Brazil, where it recently launched under the name of Central das Noticias in March.

However, the supposedly happy news take on a sharp turn when an opinion piece came out in DailySocial about the startup’s advertising strategy. The piece heavily criticised Baca’s use of sexually explicit images and headline to lure potential readers into opening the app, including images suggesting a female rape victim being tied up and beaten.

“Our hope is that the abundance of fund can be used to fund for a better, more appropriate digital marketing technique, that goes beyond ‘sex sells’,” wrote the piece.

The Netizens also jumped to Twitter to voice their opinion on the startup, questioning whether the funding is ‘well-deserved’ for the company.

Also Read: GoGo, read news, and get free talk time and Internet data

Indonesia’s own version of Startup L. Jackson Startupwati even ran a poll, asking her followers to answer whether “Baca deserves that US$20 million investment, considering how Kaskus used to ‘accidentally’ post ‘similar contents’.” By today, 86 per cent of respondents answered “do not deserve.”

“There is a category of startups with so-so product quality, but it has strong political lobbying skills. There is also one which never got any funding, but very close to govt,” Twitter user Randi Eka Yonida (@randiekayonida) wrote.

Startupwati herself took on a rather neutral stance by stating that there is indeed market for those sexually explicit content in Indonesia.

Also Read: This is how Indonesians read news online: On their smartphones on Sundays

The controversy peaked on Saturday when Twitter user Eunike (@euniceapril) claimed that she was unable to access the Baca app on the Google Play Store, where it is supposed to be available.

e27 was able to confirm that it is no longer available on the platform, despite the company’s claim that it has secured more than one million active daily users in Indonesia.

We have reached out to Baca for comments.

More on this story as it develops.

The post How a funding news turns sour for this Indonesian startup appeared first on e27.

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