Recent News

Singapore’s EDBI joins US$90 million funding round in US startup Pindrop

Pindrop

6/12/2018 – EDBI, the investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board has entered the US$90 million Series D funding round in voice security and authentication startup Pindrop.

The financing in the Atlantan startup was led by London’s Vitruvian Partners, alongside the participation of existing investors CapitalG, IVP, Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, and Citi Ventures. New strategic investors – Allegion Ventures, Cross Creek, Dimension Data, and Goldman Sachs – also invested in the round.

Commenting on the deal, EDBI’s Chief Executive and President Chu Swee Yeok said, “voice is fast emerging as the next generation human user interface (UI) with wide consumer and commercial applications, yet security remains a major concern.”

“Pindrop’s world-class AI voice security technology will be a significant enabler for wider voice UI adoption, beyond call centers. We look forward to working closely with Pindrop as a like-minded innovative player in Singapore’s vibrant AI ecosystem for their Asia expansion,” she added.

EDBI also added that their investment in Pindrop is in line with Singapore’s trusted position as both a leading global financial centre in Asia and a development hub for new human-centric digital services.

Founded in 2001, Pindrop provides a suite of multifactor anti-fraud and authentication software for call centers. Its patented Pindrop Protect technology runs in the background of calls to collect information such as location, behavior, device type, audio, voice and time of day to confirm caller identity.

By scoring each call based on AI-driven anomaly detection and using voice printing to correlate matches with what Pindrop claims is one of the world’s largest audio databases of fraudulent calls, the company contends it’s able to lower handle times by up to 60 seconds.The startup also claims to reduce fraud loss exposure by up to US$500,000 for every 1 million calls.

“Our broad range of investors collectively view Pindrop as the established industry leader for securing the future of voice as it moves beyond the voice channel and towards voice-enabled devices,” said Vijay Balasubramaniyan, the co-founder of Pindrop.

“This investment enables us to quickly boost our advancements in consumer IoT and voice technology while also continuing to strengthen our market-leading solutions for anti-fraud and authentication solutions for the global enterprise.”

Pindrop will use the freshly raised fund to expanding the firm’s operations to Britain, Ireland and France, in addition to extending into the Internet-of-Things (IoT) industry.

Besides, parts of the fund will also go into advancing the company’s evolution towards providing security and identity solutions for voice-assisted smart devices ranging from Google Home to smart locks to connected cars.

Moving forward, Balasubramaniyan said he sees an initial public offering (IPO) down the line for the company, citing the 137 percent increase in its revenue over the past three years.

“If the world is moving to voice and we’re providing all of security and identity for voice, I think we’ll be a very valuable public company, so absolutely that’s where we’re headed,” he told CNBC in an interview Wednesday.

On the other hand, EDBI investment in Pindrop signals the company’s intentions to establish a stronger presence in the Asian markets. With EDBI’s APJ network, Pindrop will be able to expand its go-to-market capabilities globally and serve a worldwide customer base.

Investing since 1991, EDBI is an investor in select high growth technology sectors ranging from information and communication technology (ICT), emerging technology, healthcare, and other strategic industries.

WeWork’s biggest Southeast Asia co-working space debuts in Malaysia

WeWork

WeWork

6/12/2018 – New York-based co-working space operator WeWork will be entering Malaysia with its first location in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur slated to open in early 2019.

Entering Malaysia, according to WeWork, is part of the startup’s commitment to expand its footprint in the region as it seeks to grow to 16 locations with more than 11,000 desks in Southeast Asia within a year.

The new co-working space is a five-story workspace located in Equatorial Plaza, Kuala Lumpur which has been selected due to its convenient access to public transport, eateries, business services, and entertainment areas.

“With Malaysia experiencing a sustained and strong outlook for its future growth, the country has made it an exciting market for us to enter,” WeWork’s Southeast Asia Marketing Director Turochas Fuad said.

This co-working space will be the largest WeWork office in Southeast Asia to date, having the capacity to accommodate 1,900 members across five floors.

It will offer three products, namely:

– Hot desk at RM950 per month (approx. US$228.10)
– Dedicated desk at RM1,150 per month (approx. US$276.36)
– Private offices from RM1,200 per month (approx. US$288.37)

Besides, WeWork will also partner with Daman Land through a revenue share agreement, who will act as an intermediary to help the startup scout for different locations across Malaysia.

“There is no timeline set just yet,” said Fuad. “But we will definitely look at expanding. We have also formed partnerships with local companies across various industries like food and beverage, furniture makers, and general contractors.”

WeWork is also looking to expand into other places in Malaysia aside from the CBD area of Kuala Lumpur, targeting other parts of Kuala Lumpur such as Bangsar and Damansara over the next few months and years.

“We provide a one-stop solution in terms of design, build out to management and leveraging out brand value, global footprint, and strong member base. We look forward to partnering with landlords as we further build our presence in Malaysia and beyond,” he added.

Founded in 2010, WeWork now has over 320,000 members across 355 worldwide locations in countries including Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok, and more. The office space varies from country to country and members can book their services on the network mobile application.

Meanwhile, WeWork’s Chinese rival, Ucommune, has recently raised a $200-million Series D by end of the year, paving the way for an IPO early next year, this portal had reported. Another industry player, MyDreamPlus, had also raised $120 million.

When asked about other co-working companies, Fuad commented, “we don’t see them as direct competition, WeWork has been around for eight years and what we are doing – especially in the global network – is one thing that sets us apart very far from everyone else.”

“Not only are we trying to help companies around the world enter Malaysia, we are also looking at how we can work closely with the government and other partners around Malaysia to help expand globally. With the WeWork network – 335 physical locations and 320,000 members around the world – that is one of the big feature that sets us apart other similar co-working spaces out there.”

In related news, the startup will be opening its first location in the Philippines this month.