Ooredoo, Rocket Internet to fund Asian e-commerce start-ups

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rocketGerman incubator Rocket Internet announced that it is partnering with Ooredoo, the main telecom operator in Qatar (formerly known as QTel), in a new joint venture called Asia Internet Holding to build and fund e-commerce start-ups, especially those focused on mobile services.

The pair are not yet revealing how much money they are investing, but for a similar project, Africa Internet Holding, also formed in partnership with carriers, the portfolio is $410 million.

Asia Internet Holding says it will focus on 15 markets in the region, with the emphasis on emerging economies. They include Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia – in other words, mostly places where e-commerce is still growing fast, and in some cases, like Myanmar, practically nonexistent. The types of businesses that they say they will develop will span the whole continuum of commerce, from online and mobile retailers and marketplaces, through to payment services.

The pair expects to announce their first new ventures in the second quarter of 2014. But in the meantime, it’s also going to invest further in several of Rocket Internet’s existing investments in the region, including Daraz.pk, Lamudi.com, Carmudi.com, Kaymu.com, Pricepanda.com and EasyTaxi.com.

Rocket Internet has built its business by spreading its bets across a range of commerce-related start-ups in markets where the ventures can pick up traction quickly amidst fairly light competition. But that description no longer applies to many of Rocket’s original markets, such as countries in Europe, which have been saturated by US and other local competitors.

For Ooredoo, as for many carriers these days, the name of the game is to diversify away from basic telco services – or at least built out operations that can better capitalise on those capital assets, and in particular mobile.

“eCommerce is part of Ooredoo’s strategy to invest in new businesses that provide growth opportunities and develop new revenue streams,” the company notes in its statement on the new joint venture.

“Increasing disposable income and internet penetration are key drivers for eCommerce growth in Asia and Ooredoo and Rocket are keen to benefit from this trend,” it added. Mobile will be key to this: among Ooredoo’s holdings are Indosat, a 60-million customer carrier in Indonesia, which is the second-largest online market after China in Asia.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

German incubator Rocket Internet announced that it is partnering with Ooredoo, the main telecom operator in Qatar (formerly known as QTel), in a new joint venture called Asia Internet Holding to build and fund e-commerce start-ups, especially those focused on mobile services.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

rocketGerman incubator Rocket Internet announced that it is partnering with Ooredoo, the main telecom operator in Qatar (formerly known as QTel), in a new joint venture called Asia Internet Holding to build and fund e-commerce start-ups, especially those focused on mobile services.

The pair are not yet revealing how much money they are investing, but for a similar project, Africa Internet Holding, also formed in partnership with carriers, the portfolio is $410 million.

Asia Internet Holding says it will focus on 15 markets in the region, with the emphasis on emerging economies. They include Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia – in other words, mostly places where e-commerce is still growing fast, and in some cases, like Myanmar, practically nonexistent. The types of businesses that they say they will develop will span the whole continuum of commerce, from online and mobile retailers and marketplaces, through to payment services.

The pair expects to announce their first new ventures in the second quarter of 2014. But in the meantime, it’s also going to invest further in several of Rocket Internet’s existing investments in the region, including Daraz.pk, Lamudi.com, Carmudi.com, Kaymu.com, Pricepanda.com and EasyTaxi.com.

Rocket Internet has built its business by spreading its bets across a range of commerce-related start-ups in markets where the ventures can pick up traction quickly amidst fairly light competition. But that description no longer applies to many of Rocket’s original markets, such as countries in Europe, which have been saturated by US and other local competitors.

For Ooredoo, as for many carriers these days, the name of the game is to diversify away from basic telco services – or at least built out operations that can better capitalise on those capital assets, and in particular mobile.

“eCommerce is part of Ooredoo’s strategy to invest in new businesses that provide growth opportunities and develop new revenue streams,” the company notes in its statement on the new joint venture.

“Increasing disposable income and internet penetration are key drivers for eCommerce growth in Asia and Ooredoo and Rocket are keen to benefit from this trend,” it added. Mobile will be key to this: among Ooredoo’s holdings are Indosat, a 60-million customer carrier in Indonesia, which is the second-largest online market after China in Asia.

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