SVB fallout could hit harder on Southeast Asia: TechNode founder
Updated 22:58, 16-Mar-2023
Zhao Chenchen, Zhao Yuxiang

The Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapse could have a greater impact on startups in Southeast Asia, said the founder of a China-based startup that also serves the pan-Asia innovators and entrepreneurs.

The startup-focused SVB Financial Group, which did business as SVB, collapsed on March 10 in the largest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis. U.S. officials stepped in to stem the financial fallout, saying that all customers will have access to their deposits starting Monday.

While many U.S. startups are now in a rush to get their money cashed out, those in Southeast Asia are also affected as they are heavily relying on investment from the U.S.

"We see lots of concerns and worry," said Lu Gang, founder of TechNode, a global startup platform with a focus on innovators in China and Southeast Asia.

In an interview with CGTN during his trip to Indonesia, Lu said that venture capitals and startups based in Jakarta are worried about the impact from the SVB failure on top of the fact that the total amount of fundraising in the country dropped by 90 percent in 2022 compared to the year before.

Like startups in China over 10 years ago, Lu said those in Southeast Asia are at the beginning stage and companies are eager to raise money from the West, particularly from the U.S., which is also a potential market they are targeting.

However, the worsened global economy and the SVB episode "bring more worries to everyone here," Lu said.

SVB's impact on China startups

The SVB established a joint-venture with Shanghai Pudong Development Bank back in 2012. Before that, it was TechNode that helped China's tech companies connect with SVB for overseas expansion. 

Lu said that the "impact might be limited" on China's startups as the rise of RMB-based capital funds and the booming domestic market in recent years have drawn them back to the domestic market.

"Now... the tech industry (in China) is growing so fast, and we have built our own ecosystem," Lu said.

As for the fundraising sector of China's startup ecosystem, Lu said that "there are so many really good RMB-funds" for them to talk to.

The level of impact on China's startups requires case-by-case analysis based on the sector of the company, their U.S.-listing intentions and fundraising directions, Lu added.

According to Reuters and Wall Street Journal reports, those who hold cash deposits at SVB are mostly Chinese pharmaceutical firms and Hong Kong-listed.

The bank also has a joint venture. It claimed on Saturday that it has a sound corporate structure and an independently operated balance sheet.

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