Entrepreneur

USD550 Mil Of Funding In Hand, Garena Ventures To Conquer SEA As Sea

If you haven’t heard of the gaming company Garena before, you’ve probably heard of multiplayer games like League of Legends and FIFA, operated by them.

The Garena name is known among the online gaming circles, especially those who take an interest in e-sports tournaments. But under the radar, the ever-evolving company backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. is also the parent company of names like Shopee and AirPay.

This was part of the reasoning that led to the unicorn Garena’s rebranding into what will now be known as Sea. The name draws inspiration from, as you might expect, their operating region of Southeast Asia, and also the very ocean that connects us, which symbolises their motto of “connect the dots”.

“Garena is a brand that is beloved across our game ecosystem, our Shopee brand has become synonymous with e-commerce in our region, and AirPay is quickly becoming a leader in digital financial services,” said Sea Founder, Chairman, and Group CEO Forrest Li. “We cherish these three brands, and are now embracing an overall identity for our entire company.”

Sea’s new identity reminds me of a move made by our very own homegrown company Fave. Before the rebranding, they were known as KFIT, focusing on, as the name implies, fitness-related activities.

But with the acquisition of Groupon, it made sense that the company would want a name that encompasses more than just one narrow side of the overall business, even if it was the name that started it all.

In Conjunction With USD550 Million In Investments

Garena founder and CEO Forrest Li (right) and group president Nick Nash (Image Credit: The Straits Times)

The newly minted Sea announced yesterday in a press release that their name comes in conjunction with their success in raising USD550 million new round in investment in a recent bid. Already known as the most valuable startup in Southeast Asia, the company was previously spotted for USD170 million in March 2016 from Khazanah Nasional Berhad, a Malaysian government investing arm, though as of right now, the after-valuation of the company is yet to be seen.

Most of that sweet moolah will be going into growing their e-commerce brand Shopee and expanding the e-commerce site in key markets like Indonesia.

Recently, Indonesia has grown to be one of Shopee’s biggest markets, contributing to 40% out of Shopee’s entire business. Overall, Shopee has enjoyed a speedy growth over the many nations that they’re in, having grown twice its size in the past nine months and now has an annualised gross merchandise value exceeding USD3.0 billion.

Founded by chairman Forrest Li in 2009, the company is making a strong stand southside after Alibaba acquired Lazada last year. Meanwhile, there has been talks around China’s JD.com investing in Indonesia’s Tokopedia, exactly smack dab where Sea plans to make its Shopee mark. The competition in Southeast Asia’s e-commerce is now heating up even more because of Sea’s new addition, which can only spell more choices for the consumers.

And to top off their e-commerce bid, Sea also announced the appointment of three senior advisers. Based on their past experiences and roles, you can probably take a guess at where the vision of the company lies.

They’re appointing former Foreign Minister George Yeo of Singapore, Professor Mari Pegastu who served in Indonesia as ministers for both trade and tourism, and Pandu Sjahrir, who joined Sea as the Chairman (President Commissioner) of its Indonesia operations in 2017. The company’s Indonesian e-commerce bid might prove to be an interesting watch in the industry over the years.

 

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