Singapore-based consumer Internet startup Garena has rebranded itself as ‘Sea’, and has also successfully raised $550 million in a fresh round of funding. Incorporated in 2009 as Garena Interactive Holding Limited, Sea will be the startup’s new brand at the corporate holding company level to reflect its leadership across multiple platforms.

The funding round saw participation from GDP Venture, Hillhouse Capital, JG Summit Holdings, Farallon Capital Management, Cathay Financial Holding Co. and Uni-President Enterprises. Speculations are rife that the company is aiming towards raising an IPO worth $1 billion.

Sea currently specialises in three major sectors – financial services, e-commerce and entertainment via three different platforms.  The Sea Founder, Chairman, and Group CEO Forrest Li, mentioned,

Garena is a brand that is beloved across our game ecosystem, our Shopee brand has become synonymous with e-commerce in our region, and AirPay is quickly becoming a leader in digital financial services. We cherish these three brands, and are now embracing an overall identity for our entire company.

Prior to this funding round, Garena had picked up $170 million at a valuation of $3.75 billion in March last year, followed by an undisclosed round funding in September. The capital amount was enough to make it one of the biggest startups in Southeast Asia, the region, which when abbreviated, makes for its rebranded identity. Li rightly added,

Our new name draws inspiration from the acronym for our region, symbolizing our strong ‘home court advantage.’ In addition, the sea connects every one of our markets, symbolizing our corporate motto of ‘connecting the dots.’ Finally, Sea is a humble, authentic word that evokes the pioneering spirit of exploration – a wonderful symbol of our corporate values.

The company had also announced the appointment of three new advisors – Mari Pangestu (Indonesia’s former trade minister), George Yeo ( Singapore’s former foreign minister), and director of Indonesia’s PT Toba Bara Sejahtra, Pandu Sjahrir.

Sea will be seen utilising the freshly raised capital to expand Shopee into Indonesia. What’s interesting to note is that fact, it will compete directly with Alibaba. The situation is severely intensified, as Tencent on of its investors, is among Alibaba’s biggest competitors. Also, Alibaba has been continuously prepping up to make its presence stronger in the whole of SEA. It has taken over the reigns of Singapore-based Lazada to rival against other e-commerce brands in the region. However, time will tell how Sea deploys its funds, what are Alibaba’s plans and also whether Amazon would be joining in!

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