#Asia Rocket Internet is like a post-MBA school: Jon Russell

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Rocket Internet has dominated the news in 2016. TechCrunch’s Jon Russell sits down to analyse the company and its position in Southeast Asia

Analyse Asia is a weekly podcast hosted by Bernard Leong and features guests from across Asia’s vibrant tech community. e27 will republish the series covering a range of companies, topics and news analysis. To follow Bernard, and Analyse Asia, check him out on Twitter and Facebook.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • Jon Russell (@jonrussell, LinkedInweekly newsletter on Asia Tech (highly recommended),Personal Site), Reporter at TechCrunch
    • Upcoming gig in  TechCrunch Disrupt NY [0:46]
  • Wither Rocket Internet [1:10]
    • Alibaba’s $1B investment to Lazada: What happened? Rumors circulating before the news broke out as well. [1:43]
    • Spiralling losses show Lazada desperately needed Alibaba Investment [3:45]
    • Lazada’s gross merchandise value is US$1 billion. [5:05]
    • What’s the impact to ecommerce in the Southeast Asia market? [5:39]
    • Is Alibaba buying instead of building its way to Southeast Asia? by Josh Horwitz from Quartz. [6:34]
    • Who has benefitted from the Alibaba investment? Rocket Internet, their early investors or the employees involved in the companies? [7:19]
    • How did Lazada driving up so much revenue and yet not able to control the losses? [8:20]
    • Zalora, Rocket Internet’s unprofitable Asian fashion portal, is selling off business units [9:50]
      • How has Zalora performed so far within the Rocket Internet portfolio? Note that it has been part of Global Fashion Group (GFG), a consolidation by Rocket Internet for 5 emerging market brands: Dafiti (Latin Amercia), Jabong (India), Lamoda (Russia & CIS), Namshi (Middle East) and Zalora. Its valuation dropped from US$3.5B to US$1.1B with US$340M investment.
      • As part of the consolidation, how does Rocket Internet view the Zalora investment? What does the company set out to do? [10:05]
      • Recently, Zalora lost some senior executives, Harry Markl & Avni Pundir, who are they and why did that happen? [13:39]
      • Given Alibaba’s investment in Lazada, why did Rocket sell the business units in Thailand and Vietnam? (Ref: Retail giant Central Group is buying Zalora’s businesses in Thailand & Vietnam) [14:31]
    • Given Rocket Internet’s rapid selling off or divestments of assets at the moment, particularly in food delivery (foodpanda) and ecommerce (Zalora), does that give us some hints on the financing environment in general (revisiting the winter is coming narrative)? [16:22]
    • A lot of people talked about Rocket Internet’s execution capability, but in the past few years  (Ref: Christoph Gerber’s Analysis on Rocket Internet), they seem to be throwing the money at the problem. Is it because of their hiring practices? Or because their turnover is so large that the whole institution lacks institutional memory? [18:51]
    • Given what is happening with the global markets, has Rocket Internet’s promise failed? [19:52]
    • What are the other things that they are doing, for example, Zenrooms to Brazil? [20:50]
    • As we observe Rocket Internet’s rise and fall in the past few years, what is the near and far impact to the startup ecosystems across the world? [21:20]
    • Will Rocket Internet exist in a few years time? [23:51]
    • Silicon Valley does not want to buy Rocket Internet’s companies, for example, hear Brian Chesky’s explanation of culture as a reason (in Sam Altman’s “How to start a startup” course) on why Airbnb did not buy from the Samwer Brothers. [25:00]
    • What are the interesting news for Southeast Asia lately? [26:13]

Editor’s Note: We received a note that Christoph Gerber has not worked with Rocket Internet as mentioned with the podcast. His analysis is based on the people who he knew worked in Rocket Internet from Berlin. Our apologies with the error. 

Photo courtesy of Rocket Internet.

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