When you think of Asia’s tech industry, you’re likely envisioning that it’s fuelled largely by Silicon Valley or Chinese money – but that’s not the case.
It’s actually Japan that’s turbocharging tech growth across the region – particularly in Southeast Asia.
That’s the assessment of my colleague David Corbin, giving the opening keynote today at Tech in Asia Tokyo 2017. Digging through figures from our database, he sees both Japanese venture capital firms and major corporations as playing a hugely influential – and fast growing – role in Southeast Asia’s burgeoning tech scene.
Here’s the big picture of Southeast Asia’s growth:
While China has a significant influence on Asian tech (involved in 27 percent of 2016 deals), it’s not the number one force on the continent.
Number one is actually Japan, with a finger in 32 percent of deals.
It shows Japan is not as “insular” as some people think. “That’s not the whole story,” points out Corbin.
But wait! Isn’t that all just ebullient billionaire Masayoshi Son and his Softbank empire?
While Softbank out-invested the top 10 Japanese VC firms in 2014 and 2015, that wasn’t the case in 2016, despite Son setting up a blockbuster US$100 billion war chest.
By the end of last year, a Japanese company had overtaken all the VCs as the top startup investor – that was Honda, thanks to its involvement in a fresh injection into Uber arch-rival Grab.
It’s also worth noting that the average funding round with a Japanese investor involved is higher than overall average.
Indeed, with Japan linked inextricably to many Southeast Asian tech giants – Go-Jek, Grab, Tokopedia, Sea, to name but four – it’s already clear that the island nation is building a lot of bridges with its neighbors to the south.
Watch: The wild world of Masayoshi Son
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