Our worst faring predictions since 2017

Since 2017, Momentum Works has been making annual predictions of tech and investment trends in Southeast Asia (and sometimes other regions). 

More importantly, at the end of every year, we come back to review the predictions made. The exercise is not to prove we are prophetic (we are not) – but to enhance and deepen our understanding about opportunities in this region together with our community. 

Now it is the time of the year to review our 2022 predictions. 2022 marks the first year of post-COVID normally in the region, as well as tech’s painful adjustment to the drop in growth. 

Coupled with the challenging global macroeconomic and investment climate, many of our friends had hoped that the year would pass faster. 

We did not predict the stubborn inflation, nor did we anticipate a major war (as well as all the shocks that came along with it). So our 2022 predictions are probably the worst faring since we started this exercise in December 2017 – this time round we only got 5.5 out of 10 right

You can read our previous years’ verdicts of Southeast Asia predictions: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018.  

Same as previous verdicts, the predictions we got right are in green, the ones we were wrong about are in red and those which aren’t clear are in blue.

Let’s dive in: 

1. Three more unicorns go public – prices of two of them will slide by end of the year

GoTo (IDX: GOYO), PropertyGuru (NYSE: PGRU) and Blibli (IDX: BELI) went public this year. 

Blibli’s price went up (as of 19 December) while prices of both GoTo and PropertyGuru came down significantly. It’s been a brutal year for global tech in the public market, anyway. 

2. All major e-commerce platforms invest heavily in delivery operations; food delivery platforms invest in POS systems

Shopee is probably the most aggressive in this, with ShopeeExpress overtaking J&T as Shopee’s largest logistics provider in a number of markets. 

J&T is now a global logistics company, while TikTok Shop came to rescue in a number of markets – the year has nonetheless been very tough for third party ecommerce logistics companies.

On the delivery platform front, Grab acquired Aliments – a Malaysia-based POS player – this year. This adds to Foodpanda’s acquisition of Tabsquare towards the end of last year, as well as Lineman Wongnai’s effort to deploy its own POS in Thailand. 

We will elaborate more on this in the upcoming Food Delivery Platforms in Southeast Asia 2023 report – to be released in early January.   

3. All major consumer tech platforms including Grab, Shopee and Foodpanda ramp up groceries; many social commerce and grocery startups crumble under fierce competition

Grab and Foodpanda pushed for growth of (non cooked food) deliveries, although both have reduced dark stores to focus more on the 3P model (and in Grab’s case ‘grey store’ model through Jaya Grocer). 

A number of social commerce and grocery startups (e.g. Chilibeli, BeepBeep) went under this year – though fierce competition played less of a role compared to the changing investment environment.  

4. TikTok grows its advertising business in Indonesia but still struggles with supply for its e-commerce

Globally, digital advertising has been a bummer this year – even though TikTok managed to capture some advertising market share from Meta, it is probably less significant than it had hoped for. 

TikTok Shop has grown significantly in order volume and GMV this year – though the products on sale in Indonesia, unlike in China, are not that differentiated from those offered at Shopee. 

The launch of a ‘search-based’ marketplace in Indonesia, earlier than expected, shows the desire to increase conversion (and perhaps the difficulty to do so).

5. Startups targeting MSMEs race to build B2B super apps

Some consolidation and runway extension (i.e. layoffs) happening. Companies in the sector which are still viable are expanding their services in order to improve profitability – however no race is happening thanks to the cooling down of investments throughout the year. 

You can find more about this topic in our report ​​Menjamur: The race to digitise 65M small businesses in Indonesia.

6. Governments are pushing for more cross border payment through their own settlement networks; legitimate digital payment processors margins thinning

Efforts are ongoing – examples include the Bank Indonesia – Monetary Authority of Singapore public announcement, as well as the pilot between Indonesia and Malaysia/Thailand. The sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine probably hastened that trend. 

Digital payment processing still remains a highly competitive business, although this year we see two notable exits (2C2P and Coda Payments respectively).

7. More crypto wealth management companies emerge, and other wealth management companies add crypto to their portfolio

What a year for crypto, and Web3 in general!

Momentum Academy is hosting an online sharing session Off the record: Web3’s brutal year on 6 Jan 2023 – you are welcome to join! 

8. Global crossover funds become more aggressive in dealmaking in Southeast Asia; Chinese VCs finally set up in the region

Deal making has drastically slowed down in Southeast Asia this year across the board – many of the Tiger Global and Softbank deals you have heard about this year had actually been made earlier. 

After the lockdowns in Shanghai in Q2 this year, more Chinese VCs started visiting Southeast Asia, culminating in the large party in September

We know at least four that have recently set up offices in Singapore – the question remains whether they will actually seriously deploy capital to the region.

9. Investments in Indonesian startups continue to boom


Dry powder remains dry powder in this cautious environment – let’s see whether markdowns do happen en masse in 2023. 

10. BuyNowPayLater becomes a dog fight – banks channel more funding into major players

ShopBack, Atome and Grab PayLater became the major regional players – while Shopee has impressively built up a loan book of more than US$2 billion, largely through its own (ecommerce) use cases. 

Sea Bank and Bank Jago, digital banks owned by and affiliated to SeaMoney and GoTo Financial respectively, have become some of the major conduits providing lending capital. 

Multiple lending capital tie-ups went unannounced, of course. 

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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Jianggan Li is the Founder & CEO of Momentum Works. Prior to founding Momentum Works, he co-founded Easy Taxi in Asia, and served as Managing Director of Foodpanda. The two years running Rocket Internet companies has given him a lifetime experience on supersonic implementation, and good camaraderie with entrepreneurs across the developing world. He holds a MBA from INSEAD (GMAT 770) and a degree in Computer Engineering from Nanyang Technological University. Unfortunately he never wrote a single line of code professionally - but in his first job he was in media, travelling extensively across Asia & Europe, speaking with Ministers & (occasionally) Prime Ministers. Apart from English and his native Mandarin, he is also fluent in French and conversational in Cantonese & Spanish. He tried to learn Latin (for three years) and Sanskrit (for six months) as well. In his (scarce) free time, he reads, travels, hikes and dives. Pyongyang, Tehran & Chisinau are among the interesting cities he has been to.