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our 2020 wrap up: reflections and highlights from the singapore office

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When writing this time last year, we were full of optimism for 2020. A lesson in not looking too far ahead!

reflections on the region

Unsurprisingly in such an extraordinarily difficult year, it’s been tough for many of our tech clients across Southeast Asia. Some have hunkered down to conserve cash, some raised emergency financing, and others have had to pivot temporarily or permanently. For those more fortunate, it was business as usual.

Fortunately, our deal flow in 2020 has remained strong and kept us busy. Globally, the number and size of technology M&A and investment transactions has amazed observers, including ourselves. Regionally, Southeast Asia continues to be extremely attractive to both local and global investors.  As Techcrunch very recently noted, Singapore has firmly put its flag down as “Asia’s Silicon Valley”. Additionally, Singapore and Vietnam, along with much of Asia, have coped with the pandemic much better than the US and Europe. As a result we expect investor appetite for these young digital economies to continue increasing rapidly, both in terms of setting up shop and seeking investment opportunities. This suggests a busy time for the SEA tech and venture focused law firms such as Kindrik as we head into 2021.

firm highlights

This year, there was no exhibiting for us at Echelon or Tech in Asia. Our regular speaking events hosted by accelerators and incubators across the region also went exclusively online. Indeed, as regional accelerator programmes in the main paused for the year, there was a drop off in the flow of new startups emerging and raising seed capital. However, 2020 still saw plenty of activity for the team. Deals occasionally took slightly longer to close, but investor-friendly VC terms and down rounds didn’t materialise for the most part. All in all, it was business as usual on fundraising transactions. There were more bridge financings and more convertible debt than usual as investors looked to support existing portfolio companies over the difficult months.

In terms of other highlights:

looking ahead

We’d expect 2021 to see some consolidation in the startup ecosystem and potentially some small (and maybe larger) M&A deals. Who knows, we may even see the biggest merger of all between Grab and Go-Jek. Those tech companies who raised in 2019, and have kept their heads down this year, will probably come up for air and engage with the investor community. We also expect a lot of the VCs who kept some of their powder dry in 2020 to be particularly active in the first half of 2021. Indeed, our pipeline already looks good.

Thanks to the Kindrik Singapore team who have been working at home for the best part of the year – you’ve done a great job. Best wishes too to all our clients in Asia for 2021. It can only get better.

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