Forbes Asia December 2020

Forbes Asia chronicles entrepreneurs, executives and companies throughout Asia.

United States
Forbes Media LLC
13 Issues

in this issue

2 min
annus horribilis

It’s a small comfort to know there’s a specific Latin term that aptly summarizes 2020: annus horribilis. Normally it would seem unfair to brand an entire year as horrible, but in this year’s case, there are few better descriptions. To be sure, it was a good year for a fortunate few (cue SEA’s Forrest Li, among others), but overall it was decidedly awful for most and on many levels. Now thoughts turn to 2021, and whether any reasons can be found to be cheerful. A common guessing game these days is predicting when there might be a meaningful end to the pandemic and a resumption of the old—rather than new—normal. Bill Gates, who famously forewarned of the dangers of a global virus, recently forecast that the U.S. by next summer would…

6 min
stop being uncivil to civics

Knowing the fundamentals of our government and history is essential to being an informed and effective citizen. Yet few Americans today know the basics about their country—that is, its history and how its government works. Having an elementary knowledge of what makes the United States tick, so to speak, and why the U.S. has been a magnet and an inspiring example to countless numbers of people around the world for more than two centuries, are important for Americans to understand, and that’s why we require those immigrants who want to become citizens to study for and pass a test on these crucial elements. For years, however, most of our schools have been derelict in teaching kids what used to be called “civics,” the fundamentals of U.S. history and our system of…

3 min
we are where we’ve been

Physical place is often a powerful influence on entrepreneurs. One thinks of Steve Jobs growing up in the suburbs south of San Francisco. The unique mashup of cultural rebels and computer geeks inspired Jobs to locate Apple at the intersection of science and art. It’s still the Apple address. The influence of place can also be seen in Mohit Aron, the founder and CEO of Cohesity, a Silicon Valley data-management firm and, with a valuation of $2.5 billion in its latest round of funding—a unicorn. Aron, 47, grew up in Chandigarh, India’s most modern and affluent city, 250 kilometers north of Delhi. Chandigarh is young, its birth the result of the India-Pakistan partition of 1947. Suddenly the ancient and beautiful Punjabi city of Lahore found itself on the Pakistan side of…

12 min
how spacs became wall street’s money tree

if you want to see the future of so many of the special purpose acquisition companies currently flooding the market, look to the recent past. Nearly five years ago, Landry’s Seafood billionaire Tillman Fertitta took Landcadia Holdings public to the tune of $345 million. No matter that, true to the SPAC “blank check” model, there was not yet any operating business—dozens of hedge funds piled into its $10-per-unit IPO. In May 2018, Landcadia finally located its target: a budding online restaurant delivery service called Waitr that would merge with the SPAC in exchange for $252 million in cash. Fertitta touted the fact that the Louisiana startup, with $65 million in revenue, would now have access to 4 million loyalty members of his restaurant and casino businesses, and a new partnership with…

2 min
suspicious spacs

SPAC: Orisun Acquisition IPO FUNDING: $700 million MERGER PARTNER: Ucommune VALUATION: $769 million PROBLEM: Red flag. The “Chinese WeWork,” with 211 office locations in mainland China and Singapore, is going the SPAC route after underwriters Citigroup and Credit Suisse abandoned a traditional IPO effort, citing an unrealistic IPO valuation for the money-losing company. SPAC: Landcadia Holdings II IPO FUNDING: $300 million MERGER PARTNER: Golden Nugget Online Gaming VALUATION: $745 million PROBLEM: Blatant conflicts of interest. Debt-laden Tillman Fertitta is selling his Golden Nugget Online Gaming operation to his own SPAC (his second). When the dust settles he will own 11% of the new company and his debt load will be reduced by $150 million. (Despite this, and a dismal performance on his first SPAC, Fertitta raised $500 million in Landcadia Holdings III in October.) SPAC: Forum Merger II IPO FUNDING: $200…

1 min
asia-pacific’s most influential celebrities on social media

With reporting by John Kang, Khong Loan, Jeanhee Kim, Emma Chi Wei Lee, Yue Wang and Jennifer Wells. BTS Band • SOUTH KOREA The seven-member band is one of the world’s most successful musical groups ever, with over 33 million Instagram followers. This year, BTS ranked 47th on the Celebrity 100 list, with earnings of $50 million. Last year, BTS grossed $170 million on the road, more than any American band except Metallica. The band in early 2020 topped the Billboard 200 album chart four times in less than two years—which only the Beatles have done faster, back in 1968. In October, BTS became the first group since the Black Eyed Peas in 2009 to clinch the top two spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. The band’s song “Dynamite” reportedly made YouTube history…