Tracking Taiwan's Progress With Startups That Rock

Rebecca Fannin , CONTRIBUTOR Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


Anita Huang jumpstarts Taiwan entrepreneurs at Silicon Dragon in Taipei

After years of stagnation, a newly energized Taiwan tech and startup economy is continuing on an upward path, with numerous new financings, funds and M&A deals for emerging companies far afield from its old-time focus on semiconductors.

The latest example of the maturing of Taiwan's startup scene is the mid-August acquisition by Taipei-based mobile Internet service GMobi of its long-term partner, mobile performance ad network MassiveImpact in Israel. The deal with MassiveImpact, backed by Softbank and SingTelInnov8, seeks to expand their services for app developers in the U.S. and China.

Another deal that reflects how Taiwanese startupsare bulking up through acquisition is the buy by design marketplace Pinkoi of majority shares of its Japanese counterpart iichi.


Anita Huang, so-called Captain of the relatively new initiative Taiwan Startup Stadium, outlined a bunch of updates from Taiwan's tech startup investment scene. That was a good reminder that Taiwan continues to be a startup market to watch.

Here's a brief summary of notable happenings in Taiwan's venture investment community.

New funds investing in Taiwan include four that are backed by Taiwan's state-run National Development Fund: Japanese VC Infinity Venture Partners and its third fund of $75 million, WI Harper and its $175 million Asia Fund, Pinehurst Advisors and its joint $30 million effort with GD1 Fund by Sparkbox Ventures in New Zealand and finally, China Development Industrial Bank and its $120 million initiative to focus on deals in greentech and smart development sectors.

These funds are going after increasing opportunities in Taiwan for exits and returns from the market's new digital startups. Examples this year include two Taiwanese startups that were acquired by Chinese companies: mobile livestream app MimiCam bought by Asia Innovation Group and phone number search app WhatsTheNumber by Dianhuabang for $10 million. Additionally, mobile app prototyping tool Woomoo was acquired by travel booking site Priceline.

Meanwhile, several new investments in Taiwanese startups have been racked up over the past six months. Online restaurant reservation service EZTABLE pulled in $8.8 million while live streaming social platform app 17 Media raised $23 million. Seed or series A deals include budget airline tickets search site HelloWings with $320,000, mobile content creation tool Kdan Mobile with $1.3 million, and a breakfast cereals e-commerce service Morning Shop with $640,000.

Additionally, Taiwan Startup Stadium is working with early stage investors on funding a next pool of early stage startups in web, mobile and IoT. Several of these such as VoiceTube and SkyREC are graduates from Taiwan's well-regarded accelerator AppWorks.

See my earlier Forbes posts this year tracking progress in Taiwan:

Can Taiwan Get Back on The Tech Map?


How Long Will Fear of Failure Outweigh Urge to Start Up?