A few months have passed since OLX invested into Singapore-born c2c marketplace app, Carousell, expected integration is already happening.

This week, OLX Philippines was to merge with Carousell’s Philippine operations – in what was branded as a match made in heaven. Apparently, OLX Philippines had predominantly male users, while its counterpart (Carousell) had mostly females.

For the uninitiated, OLX, controlled by Naspers, runs in over 35 countries – a giant in its own. It may not be a “sexy”, as its websites are bare as bones. However, as a business, it makes money.

Turning point

On the other hand, Carousell has been a darling of many VCs since its founding in 2012. However, it has struggled to monetize or expand outside its core market of Singapore. This could just be a matter of timing – in many less sophisticated markets, people use C2C marketplaces to buy (cost-effective) new stuff rather than trade second-hand items.

Interesting, Carousell actually gained a decent foothold in the Philippines. We believe a number of reasons are at play: first, many of the regional e-commerce giants have been overlooking the Philippines (Manila is the farthest capital city from Singapore after all); second, consumers in the Philippines love trendy, internationally-cool stuff (just look at how big the market for sneakers and mountain bikes there).

OLX’s new life?

Back to the merger – could this spell the next move for OLX in the region? Carousell is, after all, a finished product that is tested at least in the tech-savvy market of Singapore. As mobile internet infrastructure matures in OLX’s core markets across the globe, it does need to reinvent itself to avoid being disrupted by new, spanking competitors.

In the regional markets, while the recent investment (from OLX) may not take Carousell all the way, to beat out incumbents like Lazada and Shopee (in Southeast Asia) – OLX’s access to other emerging markets may prove to be an interesting strategy for the company.

This will help create (sufficient) breathing space in the process for Carousell. Heck, it might even evolve into the next Ebay!

Indeed, with all the shopping for brand new things on Lazada and Shopee, there’s got to be a place to sell it (with a time lag), no?

Time will tell.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].


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He has worn many hats in the past - selling advertising space, banking services, and even trading stocks. In 2013, longing for a change of scenery, he joined Rocket Internet’s (now Alibaba’s) Lazada as a online marketer in Bangkok, where he experienced first hand life in a startup. He never looked back since - landing lead roles at Rocket’s EasyTaxi (Singapore), Rocket’s MEIG (Dubai), and Bamilo (Tehran). After that, he launched (and ran) the Thai venture for one of Singapore’s biggest cross-border ecommerce. Last year, Chong put his expertise to work, helping an SGX-listed company relocate to and run operations in Thailand. Nowadays, he’s just chilling by the countryside.