When speaking to people in the e-commerce industry about the company they view as the biggest threat, nearly everyone points to Shopee. On Wednesday morning, Sea Group’s quarterly report suggested the e-commerce brand deserves that reputation, but that it is also contributing to rising present-day losses.
Sea Group made US$155 million in the first quarter of 2018 and US$11o million came from its digital entertainment arm — so, the core of Sea Group remains its gaming brand Garena. The company made US$93.9 million in Q4 2018, so its quarter-on-quarter growth was 65 per cent.
Shopee generated US$33.7 million in Q1 2018, which was a 262.1 per cent increase from Q4 2017 when it made US$9.3 million.
While Shopee presumably received a boost from the Chinese New Year spending season, Q4 2017 includes the Christmas holiday so it will be fascinating to see how/if the platform grows in Q2 2018.
Despite the growing revenue, the loss numbers were significant. The company lost US$216 million which was a almost a 3x increase from the US$73 million in Q1 2017.
Shopee was the driver of these losses with a negative EBITA of US$179.6 million (By comparison, Garena had a positive EBITA of US$55 million). Those operation costs for Shopee were a 186.7 per cent increase from the year before.
The money spent by Shopee is aimed at sellers. Sea Group is betting that services like inventory management and logistics services will incentivise merchants to use the platform to sell their goods.
These numbers fit the narrative Sea Group is telling about pursuing high-growth and grabbing as much marketshare as possible across Southeast Asia.
“Shopee continues to grow ahead of expectations as we capture a larger share of our region’s e-commerce market, and the virtuous cycle created by that accelerated scaling is driving ever-improving economics on our platform,” said Forrest Li, Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer of Sea Group in a statement.
For Garena, the solid quarter was driven by two mobile games, Arena of Valor and Free Fire, which have 13 million daily active users. The company also held its offline e-sports event, Garena World 2018, in Bangkok. The company claimed 10.6 million people tuned-in online to watch the tournament.
Always worth a mention is the digital payments platform AirPay. The finance arm saw US$1.7 billion of Gross Transaction Value processed via the service, which was a 427 per cent growth year-on-year from US$322 million in Q1 2017. The quarterly report pointed towards Shopee as the reason for this growth. Q4 2017 saw US$1 billion processed through AirPay.
In other news, Sea Group hired Santitarn Sathiratha as its Chief Economist and he will join the company in June. He will work with regional stakeholders to promote a digital economy in Southeast Asia.
Sea Group’s stock price rose 1.82 per cent to US$10.64 in the past 24 hours.