Although names like Shopee, Foody or Airpay are very popular in Vietnam tech market, few of us know that they are all managed by this holding company.


A meteoric growth among the ASEAN tech giants

SEA Group is one of Southeast Asia’s largest internet companies focusing on digital entertainment, E-commerce, and financial services.

Founded in 2009 by Forrest Li Xiaodong, and started as Garena, Sea’s mission is better the lives of consumers and small businesses in their region with technology. Their vision is “Connecting the dots,” and the name, Sea, also symbolizes that vision as it is the sea connecting the Greater Southeast Asia, the region including Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan as well.

Sea Group is connecting the dots across three sectors – connecting online game players through Garena, connecting buyers and sellers through Shopee and enabling payment access through AirPay. The company proudly claims to be GSEA’s top provider of digital entertainment in terms of revenue, and No. 1 within the e-commerce space when measured by gross merchandise value and number of orders. It also says it is the winner within the digital financial-services segment, in terms of e-wallet gross transaction value (GTV).

A year of spectacular revenue record

According to Sea’s second quarter 2019 report, the group has:

  • Total adjusted revenue was US$665.4 million, up 203.1% year-on-year from US$219.6 million for the second quarter of 2018. Total adjusted EBITDA was US$(11.0) million compared to US$(161.9) million for the second quarter of 2018.
  • Digital Entertainment: Revenue increased by 112.4% to US$229.5 million in the second quarter of 2019 from US$108.0 million in the second quarter of 2018. This increase was primarily due to the increase of the active user base as well as the deepened paying user penetration as they continue to bring new and engaging content to users and enhance the sport and monetization features supported a deep understanding of local preferences and conditions also as strong efforts in esports and community-building.
  • E-commerce and other services: Revenue increased by 207.4% to US$165.7 million in the second quarter of 2019 from US$53.9 million in the second quarter of 2018. This rise was almost driven by the growth of their e-commerce marketplace, and positive development in each of marketplace revenue streams – transaction-based fees, value-added services, and advertising.
  • Sales of goods: Revenue and adjusted revenue increased by 143.5% and 141.7% respectively to US$51.3million in the third quarter of 2019, mainly due to the increase in the product offerings.

This outstanding development of Sea Group in 2019 is truly a persuasive demonstration for the statement of its CEO, Forrest Li, “Shopee continued to expand rapidly across all markets, strengthening its leadership in the region.

This Singapore-based tech player is highly competitive in the game to embrace Vietnam market potential

US$64 million from Sea Group invested in the F&B marketplace named Foody was the largest investment in 2017. Sea Group’s acquired 82 per cent of stake in the marketplace. Established in 2012, Foody has become one of the Vietnam’s most successful startups in the field of food delivery and hotel reservations. The startup also received investments from Cyberagent Ventures, Pix Vine Capital and Tiger Global Investment. After its success in Vietnam, Foody plans to expand to Indonesia and Thailand.

Besides Foody, Sea Group also invested in two other companies in Vietnam including VNPay, an intermediary payment company with a total value of US$50 million as well as an undisclosed stake in a local logistics firm.

Shopee, a popular e-commerce app in Vietnam, has locked in a race with Tiki and Lazada to be the top in online retail, is pouring money and trying various strategies to attract customers. When Alibaba is close to get a jolt from its largest rival in Southeast Asia, Lazada, Sea is raising the maximum amount as $1.5 billion from a replacement share offering that’s bound to be funneled into its Shopee e-commerce business. Forrest Li said Shopee has climbed to the top in Southeast Asia in just three years, and Sea would continue to invest in the platform to maintain this position.

Want to know more about Singapore venture capital companies? Viettonkin Consulting stands by your side with international know-how and local knowledge for the fast-growing companies throughout the region. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via email: or hotline: +84 918 866 858.


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