It appears that Rocket Internet’s Asian operations, Asia Pacific Internet Group (APACIG), has decided to shut its doors.
As of this evening, many people are let go at different ventures, including Zen Rooms.
APACIG is (or maybe was) a joint venture between Rocket Internet & Qatar’s Ooredoo Group. Established in 2015, APACIG was aiming to fully leverage the emerging internet opportunities in the region.
For those who are not familiar with Rocket’s internal structure, bigger ventures like Foodpanda, Zalora and Lazada did not form part of the regional setup.
This news follows the shutdown of Lyke, a Rocket-backed ecommerce discovery startup that had been operating in Indonesia for more than 2 years.
Not many marketplace opportunities left
As many of Momentum Works’ key people are Rocket veterans, we believe this shutdown, if proven to be true, is long due.
There are not many opportunities left in the region to build big marketplaces the Rocket way, and the competition has seriously caught up, with significant funding and support from strong local forces.
And Rocket’s strength was only in building marketplaces – it does not have the gene, or organisational flexibility, or patience to build other, more localised internet business models.
A strong footprint
We understand that Rocket tried to fire sell some of the ventures before shutdown, with no success.
While Zalora is still operating in a few countries, Foodpanda has been bundled into Delivery Hero for IPO in Germany, and Lazada was sold to Alibaba Group.
Bigger Rocket ventures, especially those active between 2012 and 2015, left a deep mark in the region’s ecosystem.
Many key Rocket executives went to start or run the region’s biggest internet companies, including GoJek and Shopee.
Now we think for many of the business models, Rocket came in too early, doing all the hard work and letting others ride on it; while for some others, it came in too late (including many of the APACIG businesses).
Either way, the whole region should acknowledge its enormous contribution to the ecosystem, regardless of all the hard feelings that were generated along the way.