The Thai Internet economy almost doubles in two years, says Google report


By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation

SOME US$13 billion (Bt408 billion) was invested in Southeast Asia’s Internet economy since 2015, including a strong acceleration of investment between 2016 and 2017, according to the “e-Conomy Southeast Asia Spotlight 2017” report.

Nearly 1,400 deals involving SEA’s Internet companies in 2016 and 2017 saw investments in series A and seed rounds. It shows that there are a lot of opportunities for Thai Internet companies, said Ben King, country director of Google Thailand.

The country’s Internet economy was valued at $10 billion in 2017, up from $5.8 billion in 2015, and it is projected to reach $37 billion by 2025.

E-commerce saw the highest growth at 43 per cent during 2015 to 2017. Meanwhile, online travel was the largest sector with $6.2 billion, followed by e-commerce with $1.8 billion. Thailand’s e-commerce market (in term of total gross merchandise value) is expected to reach $11.1 billion in 2025, with 12 times the growth rate in 10 years from 2015 (which was $0.9 billion).

 “At Google, we’re committed to supporting Thailand to reach its enormous opportunity,” said King. “We will support Thailand in realising the opportunities and needs of its Internet economy by helping to train its people and businesses – from the largest e-commerce players to the smallest local stores – to reach new customers in Thailand and around the world.”

In 2017 alone, $7.7 billion was invested in SEA start-ups, almost doubling the $4.4 billion invested in 2016, according to the “e-Conomy Southeast Asia Spotlight 2017” report.

King noted the report’s forecast that the SEA Internet economy would reach $200 billion in 2025.

According to the report, there are $40 billion to $50 billion in funds required over the 10 years from 2015 to 2025, to build the whole forcasted $200 billion SEA Internet economy.

However, the report also unveiled a trend that seed global and regional investors concentrating their bets by putting their majority of funds into the unicorns – start-ups having more than $1 billion in valuation.

From 2016 to the third quarter of 2017, $9 billion in funding was injected into the unicorns, $1.4 billion invested in companies having value between $100 million to $1 billion, and $1.9 billion invested in companies having valuations below $100 millions.

SEA itself has spawned seven unicorns – Grab, Lazada, SEA (a Singapore-based Internet platform), Razer (a gaming hardware company), Go-Jek (an Indonesian hyperlocal transport, logistics and payments start-up), Tokopedia (one of Indonesia’s biggest online marketplaces), and Traveloka (an Indonesian online travel aggregator).

The report was co-developed by Google and Temasek and studied four key areas of the Internet economy, including e-commerce, online media, ride-hailing, and online travel. It did not include education, entertainment, financial services or healthcare.


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