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TOP 10 MOST ADMIRABLE COMPANIES THAT HAVE ACHIEVED UNICORN STATUS IN ASIA
When you see the word ‘unicorn,’ the first thing that comes to mind would probably be the beatific horned beast of a many mystical stories. The very term is synonymous with this image of something left to be desired, but unicorns do exist—in the business world at least.
In this context, a unicorn is a privately held start-up company valued at over $1 billion. Coined by venture capitalist Aileen Lee in 2013, it’s used to represent the statistical rarity of successful ventures, and, as of February 2021, there are more than 500 unicorns around the world, and we have our fair share of them right here in Asia.
In this issue, Top 10 of Asia takes a look at its list of the most admirable companies, (presented in no particular order) that have risen to impeccable acclaim and achieved unicorn status to become heavy-headed players in their respective economies and internationally.
Bukalapak is an Indonesian-based technology unicorn established in 2010 by technology entrepreneur and then CEO Achmad Zaky, with a focus on helping to create a fair economy for all. Through their online and offline commerce platforms, they aim to provide everyone with options and opportunities to get more out of life. Serving more than 6.5 million online sellers, 7 million Mitra Bukalapak and 100 million users, they have also completed their services, with a B2B e-procurement line named Buka Pengadaan Indonesia (BPI) in 2019.
In 2020, Rachmat Kaimuddin was appointed as the new CEO by Bukalapak founders. Under Rachmat’s leadership, Bukalapak has proven the resilience of its business model that has been able to create social-economic impacts among the people. Last year, Bukalapak recorded an 80% increase in EBITDA and 4 million growth in a number of sellers and Mitra, representing its solid business performance and its existence as a digital platform that gives solutions to people’s needs.
Grab Holdings Inc., commonly known as Grab, is a Singaporean multinational ride-hailing company founded by Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling with operations in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan. In addition to transportation, the company offers food delivery and digital payments services via a mobile app. It is Southeast Asia’s first “decacorn,” a start-up valued at over US$10 billion).
The idea to create a taxi-booking mobile app came to Anthony while he was still attending Harvard Business School after seeing similar ideas being pioneered in the US. Aiming to provide safer taxi-riding experiences, he launched the ‘MyTeksi’ app in Malaysia with fellow Harvard graduate Tan Hooi Ling in 2012. In 2014, Grab moved its company headquarters from Malaysia to Singapore. The app has gone through a few name changes since its creation, from ‘MyTeksi’ to ‘GrabTaxi’ and then finally settling on ‘Grab’ in 2016.
Founded in 2012, Lazada Group is Southeast Asia’s leading eCommerce platform with a presence in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Founded by Maximilian Bittner, with the backing of Rocket Internet, the platform was started with the intention of establishing the Amazon.com business model in Southeast Asia. Since 2016, they became the regional flagship of the Alibaba Group, and are backed by Alibaba’s best-in-class technology infrastructure.
In 2018, LazMall was launched as Southeast Asia’s biggest virtual mall connecting shoppers to over 18,000 leading international and local brands. LazMall serves as a platform for brands and sellers to directly engage and create a customised experience for their customers.
Oyo Rooms, also known as Oyo Hotels & Homes, is an Indian hospitality chain of leased and franchised hotels, homes and living spaces that initially consisted of mainly budget hotels when first starting out. Founded in 2013 by Indian billionaire, entrepreneur and recipient of the Business World Young Entrepreneur Award, Ritesh Agarwal, OYO came to be when Ritesh was travelling across India at the age of 17. Having stayed in more than 100 bed and breakfasts, guest houses, and hotels, he came to realize that there was a massive undersupply of affordable and good-quality hotels in the unbranded budget hotel category. In a short time, OYO became one of the fastest-growing and second-largest hotel chains in the world.
Indonesian e-commerce technology company, Tokopedia, specializes in democratizing commerce through technology. Co-founded by William Tanuwijaya, CEO, and Leontinus Alpha Edison, Director, in 2009, it is an Indonesian unicorn along with ride-hailing company Gojek, travel service firm Traveloka and e-commerce company Bukalapak. Headquartered in Jakarta, Tokopedia has been a force that pioneers digital transformation in Indonesia, building an ecosystem where anyone can start and discover anything by empowering millions of merchants and users across diverse marketplaces, logistics, payments and financial technology businesses.
SEA Limited Group
SEA is the leading consumer internet company in Southeast Asia and Taiwan that has developed an integrated platform consisting of digital entertainment, electronic commerce, and digital financial services. Founder Forrest Li has served as the group’s Chairman and CEO since its inception in 2009. Headquartered in Singapore, the company operates three businesses: Garena, Shopee and SeaMoney.
Garena, the company’s digital entertainment business, is a global game developer and publisher with a presence in Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Latin America providing access to mobile and personal computer online games. Shopee provides users with a shopping environment that is supported by integrated payment, logistics, fulfilment, and other value-added services. SeaMoney is a digital financial services provider that offers e-wallet services, payment processing, credit-related digital financial offerings, and other financial products.
Traveloka is an Indonesian unicorn company and leading online travel company that provides a wide range of travel needs, airline ticketing and hotel booking services online throughout Southeast Asia and Australia. It recently expanded to provide lifestyle products and services, such as attraction tickets, activities, car rental, and restaurant vouchers.
Co-founded by Derianto Kusuma, Albert Zhang and acting CEO Ferry Unardi, the company has established partnerships with more than 100 domestic and international airlines, serving more than 200,000 routes worldwide. It also has the largest direct accommodation inventory, varying from hotels, apartments, guest houses, homestays, to villas and resorts.
Razer Inc., is a Singaporean-American multinational technology company popular for designing, building and selling the world’s largest gamer-focused ecosystem of hardware, software and services. Founded by Min-Liang Tan, the Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director, and Robert Krakoff in 2005, Razer is dual-headquartered in Irvine and Singapore and is recognized as the leading brand for gamers in the USA, Europe and China.
Razer began as a subsidiary of Kärna LLC, developing and marketing a high-end computer gaming mouse targeted to computer gamers but ceased operations due to financial issues. Tan and Krakoff procured the rights to the brand following a large investment from Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing and Singaporean holding company Temasek Holdings, creating the current iteration of Razer we all know.
In January 2021, Razer launched a range of high-grade masks designed to allow lip-reading and seeing facial cues when people talk, with LED lights to illuminate the wearer’s face in dark environments as part of the company’s initiative, Project Hazel, to encourage more people to wear masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Founded in 2010 by Joel Bar-El and Dror Feldheim, Trax is a Singaporean technology unicorn company and world leader in computer vision solutions for retail with offices throughout the Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. Their unique technology uses a combination of image recognition, deep learning and data science to turn shelf images captured with mobile devices, fixed cameras or robots into real-time actionable insights. Customers use the company’s computer vision technology to collect, measure, and analyse what’s happening on physical store shelves.
As of Feburary 2021, Justin Beha is the acting Chief Executive Officer, joining in 2018 after Trax’s acquisition of the company he founded, Quri, with Joel Bar-El and Dror Feldheim appointed as Executive Chairman and President respectively.
Established in in 2008, Zomato is an Indian online restaurant guide and food delivery platform co-founded by Pankaj Chaddah and Deepinder Goyal that achieved unicorn status in 2015 with a billion-dollar valuation which has since doubled. Zomato provides information, menus and user-reviews of restaurants as well as food delivery options from partner restaurants in select cities, connecting over 55 million users to restaurants in 24 countries across the world. Zomato was founded under ‘Foodiebay’, and was renamed in 2010 as Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd.