Analyse Asia Podcast: All About Rocket Internet With Jon Russell

3 min read

Jon Russell from TechCrunch joined us to discuss Rocket Internet’s $1 billion USD exit to Alibaba and its impact to e-commerce and funding cycles in Southeast Asia. We dissected the implications from the Lazada exit and the continuing movement of Rocket Internet spinning off their other assets such as Zalora and Foodpanda within the region. We also discussed the next stages for startup ecosystems affected by Rocket Internet over the past few years. Last but not least, we discussed the future of Rocket Internet and revisited the “winter is coming” narrative in Asia.

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Analyse Asia with Bernard Leong is a weekly podcast dedicated to the pulse of technology, business & media in Asia. They interview thought leaders and leading industry players and gain their insights to how we perceive and understand the market. Analyse Asia is a content partner of TechNode.

TechNode does not endorse any commentary made in the program.

Notes:

  • Jon Russell, Reporter at TechCrunch
    • Upcoming gig in TechCrunch Disrupt NY [0:46]
  • Wither Rocket Internet [1:10]
    • Alibaba’s $1B investment to Lazada: What happened? We discussed the rumors circulating before the news broke out as well. [1:43]
    • Spiraling losses show Lazada desperately needed Alibaba Investment [3:45]
    • Lazada’s gross merchandise value is US$1B. [5:05]
    • What’s the impact to e-commerce in the Southeast Asia market? [5:39]
    • Is Alibaba buying instead of building its way to Southeast Asia? [6:34]
    • Who has benefited from the Alibaba investment? Rocket Internet, their early investors or the employees involved in them? [7:19]
    • How did Lazada drive up so much revenue without 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 America), Jabong (India), Lamoda (Russia & CIS), Namshi (Middle East) and Zalora. Their  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 is it actually 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? [14:31]
    • Given Rocket Internet’s rapid selling off or divestments of assets at the moment, particularly in food delivery (Foodpanda) and e-commerce (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, they seem to be throwing the money at the problem. Is it the way how they have hired or their turnover is so large that the whole institution lack 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.