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.

APACIG portfolio

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.

the heyday

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.

Some of the Rocket veterans

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.

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 hello@mworks.asia.

 

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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.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Betteridge’s law of headlines is one name for an adage that states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”

  2. I’ve worked with a number of companies from APACIG and they had a very high staff turnover, very young senior staff – perhaps without the patience, experience and resilience required to establish new businesses. Plenty of funding though – I’m surprised they are giving up on an entire region.

  3. ‘There are not many opportunities left in the region to build big marketplaces the Rocket way’ – I think this is B.S. There’s plenty of opportunities. Just that RI screws up the execution every time.

    I have been following RI’s activity in Sri Lanka. Their marketplaces are sub-par and stand no chance in terms of fulfillment compared to their respective competitors. IF you think you can come in with a handsome marketing budget and you can win the market over, then you are completely wrong. Everjobs closed down recently. Daraz had pathetic e-commerce fulfillment. The true test of a marketplace is the amount of value it creates for its users. RI clearly failed to do this is at least in Sri Lanka.

  4. Of all the RI businesses in Sri Lanka or even South Asia for that matter, Daraz seems to be the only one getting it right from a true ecommerce marketplace sense. Long way to go, but they seem to be here to stay.

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