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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Towards Better Tech Reporting Standards?

(Added 11th April : This is an example of much better reporting :

Details given on S1 filing by zendesk to ascertain what was missing in press release. And to techinasia credit, they managed to get hold of share table and P&L for year ending Mar 2013 for zopim to put more flesh into the deal.

My last post on Grabtaxi was triggered because i read a techblog that stated they raised 10M for a Series A round. This number just felt wrong, because by definition Series A does not go to 10M USD. When i did some digging, this number was repeated it seems, simply because another blog said so and there is an e27 and SPH article where the founder was quoted as saying it is "8 digits". Based on acra share allotment report , it is about US$5M and about US$3M in most recent round lodged early march 2014. More importantly and the part where readers can learn from is that the funding was done mainly via family funds which is a great way to do it for 2nd gen. Below are some of the articles by popular tech blogs I refer to:

(Made reference to this link below from TNW that just blindly said 10M)

To be fair to techinasia, they  quoted and attributed to the TNW. And below is an article by e27.

Again they repeat the 8 digit funding comment and this time attribute the quote to the founder Anthony. They also claim they are sure they heard it right. Can this be right? Or was he misquoted? There is really no way for us to know. But the ACRA reports on GrabTaxi holdings say the funding is not 10M. Of course it could be in tranches which have yet to be realized or injections into other companies not mentioned.

Even SPH has quoted Anthony saying 8 digit. Maybe he meant in RM.. Either that or future tranches... Anyway the key learning here for us is the use of family funding bargaining power not so much whether 8 digit or not.

One comment for tech writers and journalists, there is a reponsibilty to readers to get our facts right and to try to think deeper into the topic. And if we are speculating, we should say so. And we should always aim to uncover the details and if possible learning. BTW, tech blogs are definitely not the only ones guilty of this. There is still a SPH story about Beeconomics being sold for 24M back in 2009!

A simple ACRA search would have told the journalist that Groupon invested in beeconomic 2.6M if i remember correctly. Then Karl and brother had 2-3 years to really grow the business to desired metric and they got paid nicely each year in the form of an earnout for doing such a great job with Groupon SG. I am sure the Groupsmore people MY had the same deal.

There probably are many more such lapses. For example :

Its not 60M injected into company for sure. If there are tech writers reading this, I hope you will do more indepth forensic work and get hold of their ACRA report for allotment of shares and p&l etc

In summary, our community needs to start getting our numbers right! Not only is there a credibility issue, equally important, we owe it to our fellow entrepreneurs and wider business community to report the right numbers so that proper decisions and expectations can happen.


  1. Hey Der Shing,

    I definitely agree about the ACRA point. Thanks for keeping the press in check.

    However, regarding Grabtaxi 10M... we definitely did not hear it wrongly. It was in writing, and I even double-checked with the official source on the day of the announcement.

    Again, thanks for pointing out that there's still a lot of room for improvement. :)

  2. Hi Elaine, appreciate your reply. As written, it seems many heard the 10m figure. I am suggesting in future to go by what acra reports say and let readers decide. It also will lend a lot more credibility to articles.

    1. Oops, I meant 8-fig, and that implies that it's definitely 10M or more.

      I like your suggestion about ACRA; we will definitely do that.

  3. I think it's great that media brands should be called to a higher calling of factual accuracy. As readers, all of us deserve that.

    While I'm the marketing manager at e27, I believe these are some factors that should be considered in reference to e27's article about GrabTaxi's funding:

    I don't think Elaine reported anything wrongly. Because:
    - The 8-figure value is black and white, in official press documents, and also confirmed by the source. This is usually the protocol to verify facts done by the media
    - $10M is explicitly stated as a rumour.

    Sure, one could check the ACRA report and point out the apparent discrepency, but that's just an added nugget of data, and doesn't discount the reporting that was done.

    Still, overall, if any media brand is to be worth their salt, it has to adhere to rigorous journalistic process, and I hope we'll continue to do so. Hope you continue reading us, Der Shing, and do call us out on anything, it's your right, and a mirror to us as well. -)