Startup acquisitions in Asia: more than $12b spent; more than $2.6b in Southeast Asia

More than US$11.8 billion (disclosed) has been spent in Asia on acquisition of startups in the last 6 years. The Asian technological market is showing boundless potential, waiting to be unleashed in the coming years.

Of this US$11.8 billion, about a quarter of this sum came from Southeast Asia (SEA) countries, totaling up to US$2.6 billion (disclosed). SEA countries in this article would refer to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The other US$9.2 billion is derived from the rest of Asia, including countries like China, India, Japan and Korea.

This article will thus be segmented into these two areas for analysis purposes: SEA and the Rest of Asia.  

It might not be the first time you’re hearing this, and definitely not startling to say that Asia is the market to pay attention to now. And, SEA is probably one of the more interesting new and high-growth regions for potential tech investments. The figures in this article more than support this view.

South East Asia

Photo by MikeBehnken / CC BY

Photo by MikeBehnken CC BY

Given the fast pace of development in the SEA economy and technology infrastructure, it brings about great opportunities for the development and deployment of technology.

With more tech companies forming, coupled with acquirers realizing the huge potential that the SEA market has to offer, it has resulted in more merger and acquisitions taking place in the past 6 years.

At least US$2.6 billion was transacted in SEA from 2008 to 2014. This figure only accounts for about 40% of all merger and acquisitions (by count) that happened during this time frame, as 60% of acquisition amounts and details were undisclosed by the involved parties. This suggests that much of the value of past transactions in the SEA market has not even been accounted for.

Here is the compiled list of M&As that occurred in SEA: 

Table 1: List of M&As in SEA

No. Company Name Country of Acquiree Acquirer Country of Acquirer Year of Acquisition
1 Zopim Singapore Zendesk United States 2014
2 ERIIN Singapore Shopdeca Indonesia 2014
3 Indiescapes Singapore BeMyGuest Singapore 2014
4 SGE Singapore Tech in Asia Singapore 2013
5 EK Media Singapore SingPost Singapore 2013
6 ThoughtBuzz Singapore To The New India 2013
7 Viki Singapore Rakuten Japan 2013
8 YFind Technologies Singapore Ruckus Wireless United States 2013
9 Techsailor Singapore To The New India 2013
10 Travelmob Singapore HomeAway United States 2013
11 Asian Food Channel Singapore Scripps Networks Interactive United States 2013
12 DS3 Singapore Gemalto The Netherlands 2013
13 sgCarMart Singapore Singapore Press Holdings Singapore 2013
14 Catcha Digital Asia Singapore Opt Inc. Japan 2013
15 Gridblaze Singapore Undisclosed United States 2013
16 TMGamer (The Mobile Gamer) Singapore Singtel & Softbank Singapore & Japan 2012
17 HungryGoWhere Singapore Singtel Singapore 2012
18 Peekspy Singapore StubHub United States 2012
19 AdMax Network Singapore Komli Media India 2012
20 OrSiSo Singapore Singtel Singapore 2011
21 Singapore NTUC Link Singapore 2011
22 Aktiv Digital Singapore Komli Media India 2011
23 JobsCentral Group Singapore Career Builder United States 2011
24 Brandtology Singapore Media Monitors Australia 2011
25 Beeconomic Singapore Groupon United States 2010
26 TransferTo Singapore Ingenico France 2010
27 TenCube Singapore McAfee United States 2010
28 ShowNearby Singapore Global Yellow Pages Singapore 2010
29 ShareInvestor Singapore Singapore Press Holdings Singapore 2008
30 Soundbuzz Singapore Motorola United States 2008
31 IAH Games Singapore Gigamedia Taiwan 2010
YuuZoo Singapore 2013
32 Fisheye Analytics Singapore Kantar Media United Kingdom 2013
33 Webfluenz Singapore Mu Sigma India 2014
34 Fimela Network Indonesia KapanLagi Group Indonesia 2014
35 PriceArea Indonesia Yello Mobile Korea 2014
36 DapurMasak Indonesia Cookpad Japan 2014
37 Eevent Indonesia EnvisionPoint United States 2013
38 Ayopay Indonesia MOL AccessPortal Malaysia 2013
39 Bouncity Indonesia Qeon Indonesia 2012
40 Gamesaku Indonesia Apps Foundry Indonesia 2012
41 MakeMac Indonesia Apps Foundry Indonesia 2012
42 Indonesia Para Group Indonesia 2011
43 Indonesia IPGA Ltd Australia 2011
44 Indonesia IPGA Ltd Australia 2011
45 Disdus Indonesia Groupon United States 2011
46 Indonesia PropertyGuru Singapore 2011
47 Koprol Indonesia Yahoo! United States 2010
48 Dealkeren Indonesia Living Social United States 2011
49 Maxitech Indonesia Corous360 Singapore 2014
50 KasKus Indonesia Global Digital Prima (GDP) Venture Indonesia 2011
51 Tongue in Chic Malaysia PopDigital Malaysia 2013
52 Ocision Malaysia Star Publication Malaysia 2013
53 Malaysia Catcha Media Malaysia 2012
54 Integrated Methods Malaysia Ticket Monster Korea 2011
55 Groupsmore Malaysia Groupon United States 2011
56 Malaysia PropertyGuru Singapore 2011
57 Think Media Malaysia IPGA Ltd Australia 2010
58 Octazen Solutions Malaysia Facebook United States 2010
59 JomSocial Malaysia iJoomla United States 2013
60 JobStreet Malaysia Seek Australia 2014
61 Asian Room Service Malaysia Dealguru Singapore 2012
62 I Love Discounts Malaysia Dealmates Malaysia 2013
63 FlowersExpress Philippines Island Rose Philippines 2011
64 LoadCentral Philippines MOL AccessPortal Malaysia 2011
65 Chikka Philippines Smart Communications Philippines 2009
66 Philippines OLX United States 2014
67 Entertainment Gateway Philippines Globe Telecom Philippines 2008
68 Digiwave Solutions Philippines Premiere Entertainment Productions Philippines 2008
69 Airborne Access Corp Philippines Smart Communications Philippines 2008
70 Anino Games Philippines Pocket PlayLab Thailand 2014
71 Zest Interactive Thailand MOL Global Malaysia 2011
72 Ensogo Thailand Living Social United States 2011
73 Pagemodo Thailand Webs United States 2011
74 Thailand Rakuten Japan 2009
75 Glamybox Vietnam VanityTrove Singapore 2013
76 ISSC Technologies Corporation Taiwan Microchip Technology Inc. United States 2014
77 GlossyBox Taiwan VanityTrove Singapore 2013
78 Gogolook Taiwan Naver Korea 2013
79 ChinaVision Media Group Hong Kong Alibaba China 2012
80 Asia Tone Hong Kong Equinix United States 2012
81 MPayMe Hong Kong Powa Technologies United Kingdom 2014
82 Divide Hong Kong Google United States 2014
83 (AnD) Hong Kong Mig33 Singapore 2014
84 Lokaly Network Limited Hong Kong Dealised Australia 2011
85 Taxiwise Hong Kong Ikky Hong Kong 2014

Acquirers’ Profiles by Country (SEA)

Through the data gathered, it can be deduced that each country has varying acquisition strategies and/or profiles. This information is further broken down in the Table 2 below, for easier reference. 

Table 2: Acquirer's Profile

No. Country Number of Acquirers Total Disclosed Transaction Amount (USD) Remarks
1 United States 23 $728,950,000
2 Japan 4 $200,600,000
3 Singapore 17 $84,750,000
4 Indonesia 7 $60,000,000
5 India 5 N/A All acquisition amounts are undisclosed.
6 Philippines 5 $9,310,000 All deals made within own country
7 Malaysia 7 $5,930,000
8 Australia 6 $527,520,000
9 Korea 3 $17,600,000
10 United Kingdom 2 $75,000,000
11 The Netherlands 1 $7,200,000
12 France 1 $38,000,000
13 Thailand 1 N/A All acquisition amounts are undisclosed
14 China 1 $804,000,000
15 Hong Kong 1 N/A All acquisition amounts are undisclosed
16 Taiwan 1 $27,000,000

United States acquired the most number of companies and amassed the greatest quantity of capital in SEA, followed by Japan. Australia had the third highest amount of dollars on transaction, but the bulk of this capital came from the JobStreet acquisition (which is in the process of closing).

Singapore had the second highest number of acquisitions, and it is the biggest acquirer from SEA. As the Singapore economy is one of the more developed economies in SEA, Singapore companies have a greater economic capability to handle more M&As, and are also sufficiently advanced in the use of technology to value the startups they acquire. However, the total acquisition amount was significantly lower than that of United States, Japan, and Australia. Singapore preferred to diversify their choice of acquirees, much like the analogy of placing eggs in several baskets rather than all in one.

Another interesting find was that acquirers from Philippines preferred to invest locally. All acquisitions by Filippino companies were made within their own country, as this would help to improve their domestic economy.

Other Western countries like France, The Netherlands and United Kingdom are making a foray into the SEA market.

Acquirees in SEA

There were a total of 85 companies in SEA which were acquired from 2008 to 2014.  Table 3 shows the profiling of all acquirees in SEA.

Table 3: Acquiree Profiling

Country Number of Acquirees Total Disclosed Acquisition Amount
Singapore 32 $523,550,000
Indonesia 17 $62,670,000
Malaysia 12 $531,380,000
Philippines 8 $9,310,000
Hong Kong 7 $1,109,500,000
Taiwan 3 $346,100,000
Thailand 4 Undisclosed
Vietnam 1 Undisclosed

Almost 40% of all the M&As in SEA happened in Singapore. The country has been focused on encouraging entrepreneurship and innovative thinking in recent years. This is all done in a bid to make further progress as a nation and ensure a strong foothold in the technology sector. As such, the number of tech startups have been on the rise in recent years.

However, Hong Kong had the highest ratio of transaction capital to number of acquirees in the country. This means that the average acquisition amount for Hong Kong was the highest amongst all the other countries, at about $185 million.

Increasing Growth of M&As in SEA

There is an increasing trend in the number of acquisitions happening in SEA, as can be seen in Table 3.0 below. Although there was a dip in growth from 2011 to 2012, this could be attributed to the fact that there were a higher proportion of undisclosed transaction details. However so, there is still an overall increase in M&As in the region from 2008 to 2014. 

Table 4: Acquisitions by Year

Year Number of Acquisitions Total Disclosed Acquisition Amount (USD)
2008 5 $54,960,000
2009 2 All undisclosed
2010 8 $104,450,000
2011 21 $62,070,000
2012 11 $1,046,970,000
2013 21 $356,660,000
First half of 2014 16 $960,750,000

In 2008, only 5 acquisitions took place in SEA. But by 2013, this number multiplied by more than four times and increased to 21 within that year itself. There has also been an immense jump in the amount of capital that has gone into these M&As, from $54,960,000 in 2008 to $1,046,970,000 in 2012. The charts below show a clear upward trend in M&As in SEA. 

As the SEA countries continue to develop and grow, the IP creation scene in SEA has made advancements. Technological capabilities have not gone unnoticed, as the occurrences of M&As have been increasing over the years. For example, Google recently acquired Divide, whose engineering team is based in Kowloon (Hong Kong) for the company’s technology.

Rest of Asia: Outside of SEA

Photo by MDalmud/ CC BY

Photo by MDalmudCC BY

Acquisitions outside SEA reached a high, amounting to more than US$9.2 billion. Similarly, most of the acquisition amounts were undisclosed so the total dollars on transaction is actually much higher than the reported amount. Table 5 below summarizes the numerical findings. 

Table 5: Acquisitions made in the Rest of Asia

Country Number of Acquirees Acquisition Amount
China 10 $5,795,000,000
Japan 14 $342,373,372
Korea 6 $323,889,100
India 15 $901,000,000
Australia 16 $1,391,250,000

China had the largest amount of capital pumped into their economy, with at least $7 billion worth of acquisition amounts. With 10 acquirees originating from China, the average net worth of a China acquiree is close to US$600 million. This shows that the scale of these China companies are of extreme magnitude.

More than $1 billion of dollars on transaction was recorded for Australia, which shows that the tech startup community in Australia is growing and developing as well.

India’s startup industry is also on a steady rise with greater innovation taking place within the country. With 15 acquisitions on hand, it closed almost a billion US dollars.

Moving on, we shall now analyse the buying trends of acquirers, segregated by their country of origin. The table below breaks down the profile of acquirers in the Rest of Asia. 

Table 6: Acquirers in Rest of Asia

Country Number of Acquirers Acquisition Amount
China 8 $6,109,000,000
Japan 15 $725,659,372
United States 19 $1,441,889,100
Korea 1 Undisclosed
Singapore 2 $1,714,000
India 6 $476,000,000

China not only possessed acquirees of huge scales, it was also large acquirers of businesses, willing to pump in huge amounts of money to buy out a company. On average, they would fork out about US$750 million per acquirer in a transaction. With the sheer size of China’s market, it is no surprise that there are so many big players in the country.

Japan and India preferred to commit to domestic deals, with majority of acquirers buying out local firms.


It is not alarming that most companies offer an acquisition because they are planning on expanding their clientele base, or to break into a new market. What’s interesting is their choice of the market; this anchors in the thought that there is a deep belief that the Asian market is thriving, and will continue to do so in the future. This is not a new finding, but it is fascinating to see past predictions take shape in the past 6 years.

In conclusion, the information gathered speaks bounds and affirms the following stand—Asia is an up and coming rising force in the technological world today; and there is a huge upside in the Southeast Asian market waiting to be exploited.



1. Cheryl Ho was an intern at Monk's Hill Ventures from May through July 2014.

2. All transaction amounts discussed are disclosed amounts. About 40% of the transactions do not have disclosed amounts, which means the aggregate numbers are probably larger than reported in this report.

3. Please keep sending us information on deals that we missed, and we will continue to keep an updated list on our site.


The sources of this research are mainly public information on the Internet, including (but not limited to) articles from the following websites: 

beSuccessBloombergBusiness SpectatorCNETe27DailysocialMarketwatchNext Up AsiaReutersSmart CompanyStartup SmartTechCrunch, Tech in AsiaTechnodeTelegraphThe BridgeThe Edge SingaporeTNWYour Story


Photo by Cherylleong CC BY