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AdAsia Holdings raises $12m to expand into China and Japan

Advertising technology company AdAsia Holdings is to launch in China and Japan after securing US$12 million in venture capital funding. The investment was the largest Series A funding given to South East Asian ad tech company and will be used to open offices in Shanghai and Tokyo later this month.

The Singapore-based company, which claims to be the fastest-growing in Asia, has hired Japanese national Tatsumi Watanabe to lead Chinese operations from Shanghai. A general manager for the Tokyo office has still to be appointed.

AdAsia had originally attempted to raise US$20m in funding, but eventually settled on US$12m. Commenting on the shortfall, chief executive office Kosuke Sogo said: “We were looking for the right investor, and while lot of investors did contact us, we wanted to choose our shareholder very carefully. We are in discussions with investors currently, but we have not closed the deal with them yet.”

He added: “I’m not sure if we can secure more funding yet, but we can still carry out our vision to expand in China and Japan this month.”

Founded in April last year, the company is hybrid of an agency and a tech vendor. The company primarily provides a trading desk programmatic platform alongside in-house creative, video production and media planning. Last summer, the firm launched the talent network CastingAsia, which links advertisers to social influencers. AdAsia now plans to build artificial intelligence technology into the platform.  

In the space of a year, the company has also grown from its Singapore headquarters to seven offices in six markets. The majority of its 90-person team works across Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, while the remainder operate in Singapore, Taiwan and Cambodia.

The company is expected to launch offices in Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong later this year, and in Dubai by the next. Sogo said he expected to take AdAsia public by 2019, floating either in Hong Kong or Tokyo.  

Asked whether AdAsia was growing too fast, Sogo said: “People think AdAsia is very aggressive and some people believe we grow too fast, but we are already making a profit, and we really care about the numbers.

“When I started this company, I believed we could become the biggest adtech company in Asia and I am still confident in that vision. I believe we can be the biggest in the next three years. Growing a business so quickly is hard, but any challenges we have just make us thrive more. I have a very big vision and I never give up.”

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