This article was originally published in Chinese on Momentum Works’s WeChat platform, translated into English by MW colleagues. 

As tech unicorns from Southeast Asia are rushing for IPO, Sea Group’s share price has risen as much as 75%, pushing the company’s market cap really close to the $200 billion target we predicted for the end of this year.

On 8 September US time, Sea Group filed prospectus to the SEC to issue 11 million more shares, and raise another $2.5 billion senior convertible notes. At the closing price on that day, the whole fundraising exercise should generate proceeds of US$6.3 billion.

Sea mentioned in the filings that the money will be used for “business expansion and other general corporate purposes, including potential strategic investments and acquisitions”.

From Shopee’s moves over the last couple of months, this fundraising seems to be ammunition for its global ambitions.

A global internet company 

From Brazil, Shopee has subsequently entered Mexico, and markets such as Chile and Colombia. In Argentina it started recruiting people as well. The whole Latin America assault is underway.

Since the second half of the year, Shopee has released branding videos supporting SMEs and covid-19 responses in Indonesia and Vietnam. At the same time, it is expanding to Europe through Poland, and trying out in the tough market of India.

It is quite obvious that Shopee’s ambition is global.

We think it actually stands a good chance. For example, Latin America has larger ecommerce potential compared to Southeast Asia, yet the competition there is not as fierce.

Europe is a lucrative market, many parts of which have been the battleground of Amazon, AliExpress and local companies. India is tough from a policy and political point of view, but its population is huge.

Shopee’s strategy, its success in Southeast Asia and its prospects in Latin America, are quite clear in our opinion. We have discussed about these in great detail in our Blooming ecommerce in Indonesia report series, as well as the “Who is Shopee” report which we issued in English, Portuguese, and Spanish for friends in latin America.

You can obtain these reports from our Insights and Reports page.

Will it succeed?

As for Shopee’s global expansion, people hold different view points. Some still believe that Sea should simply sell Shopee as it loses money, with low average order value. (They have mistaken an ecommerce platform with a retailer). Some others are lost in all the market data which have nothing to do with how the sector will evolve.

We feel that all these are not important. The only important factor here is: whether Shopee is able to build an effective organisational and execution structure in each market.

Ultimately, compared to Alibaba and Amazon, which grew out of a large single market, Shopee has been facing multi market fragmentation and complexity from the beginning.

The capacity of the core management, the organisational and development capability in each market, as well as the local management’s power and execution capabilities are the key success factors.

In other words: Organisation, People and Leadership.

Many of our Chinese friends in Southeast Asia and Latin America are telling us: companies such as TikTok, Shopee, J&T Express and Lalamove have Chinese genes but grew up as international companies from the beginning.

These companies are doing much better at managing local teams and attracting good local talent in each market, especially compared to Chinese giants such as Alibaba and Tencent.

Whether Shopee can continue to prove this point, the next half year 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 hello@mworks.asia.