|EDU||New Oriental Education & Technology Group||16,850|
|LOPE||Grand Canyon Education||6,080|
|COE||China Online Education Group||1,380|
|DFIN||Donnelley Financial Solutions||383|
|LOV||Spark Networks Se||9|
|Item 1.Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers|
|Item 2.Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable|
|Item 3.Key Information|
|Item 4.Information on The Company|
|Item 4A.Unresolved Staff Comments|
|Item 5.Operating and Financial Review and Prospects|
|Item 6.Directors, Senior Management and Employees|
|Item 7.Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions|
|Item 8.Financial Information|
|Item 9.The Offer and Listing|
|Item 10.Additional Information|
|Item 11.Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk|
|Item 12.Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities|
|Item 13.Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies|
|Item 14.Material Modifications To The Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds|
|Item 15.Controls and Procedures|
|Item 16A.Audit Committee Financial Expert|
|Item 16B.Code of Ethics|
|Item 16C.Principal Accountant Fees and Services|
|Item 16D.Exemptions From The Listing Standards for Audit Committees|
|Item 16E.Purchases of Equity Securities By The Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers|
|Item 16F.Change in Registrant's Certifying Accountant|
|Item 16G.Corporate Governance|
|Item 16H.Mine Safety Disclosure|
|Item 17.Financial Statements|
|Item 18.Financial Statements|
|Balance Sheet||Income Statement||Cash Flow|
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|¨||REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
|x||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018.
|¨||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the transition period from ___________ to __________________
|¨||SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
Date of event requiring this shell company report
Commission file number: 001-38237
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
1 Fusionopolis Place, #17-10, Galaxis
(Address of principal executive offices)
Yanjun Wang, Esq.
1 Fusionopolis Place, #17-10, Galaxis
Tel: +65 6270-8100
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Name of each exchange on which registered|
American Depositary Shares, each representing
one Class A ordinary share, par value US$0.0005 per share
|New York Stock Exchange|
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
(Title of Class)
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:
(Title of Class)
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the Issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
190,423,065 Class A ordinary shares and 152,175,703 Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.0005 per share, as of December 31, 2018.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes x No ¨
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Yes ¨ No x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ¨ No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
|Large accelerated filer x||Accelerated filer ¨||Non-accelerated filer ¨||Emerging growth company ¨|
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards † provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
U.S. GAAP x International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board ¨ Other ¨
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow. Item 17 ¨ Item 18 ¨
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ¨ No x
(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court. Yes ¨ No ¨
† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
table of contents
|ITEM 1.||IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS||5|
|ITEM 2.||OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE||5|
|ITEM 3.||KEY INFORMATION||5|
|ITEM 4.||INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY||37|
|ITEM 4A.||UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS||79|
|ITEM 5.||OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS||79|
|ITEM 6.||DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES||104|
|ITEM 7.||MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS||115|
|ITEM 8.||FINANCIAL INFORMATION||116|
|ITEM 9.||THE OFFER AND LISTING||117|
|ITEM 10.||ADDITIONAL INFORMATION||117|
|ITEM 11.||QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK||132|
|ITEM 12.||DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES||132|
|ITEM 13.||DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES||134|
|ITEM 14.||MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS||134|
|ITEM 15.||CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES||134|
|ITEM 16A.||AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT||135|
|ITEM 16B.||CODE OF ETHICS||135|
|ITEM 16C.||PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES||136|
|ITEM 16D.||EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES||136|
|ITEM 16E.||PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS||136|
|ITEM 16F.||CHANGE IN REGISTRANT’S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT||136|
|ITEM 16G.||CORPORATE GOVERNANCE||136|
|ITEM 16H.||MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE||137|
|ITEM 17.||FINANCIAL STATEMENTS||137|
|ITEM 18.||FINANCIAL STATEMENTS||137|
Unless otherwise indicated and except where the context otherwise requires:
|·||“active users” refers to the number of unique accounts that interacted with our mobile and PC online games or Shopee marketplace, as applicable, in a particular period. A single account that plays more than one online game or in more than one market is counted as more than one active user. “DAUs” refers to the aggregate number of active users during the daily period, “MAUs” refers to the aggregate number of active users during the monthly period, and “QAUs” refers to the aggregate number of active users during the quarterly period;|
|·||“China” or “PRC” refers to the People’s Republic of China excluding, for the purpose of this annual report only, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau;|
|·||“our region” comprises the seven distinct markets of Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore;|
|·||“gross merchandise value” or “GMV” refers to the value of orders of products and services on our Shopee marketplace. Our calculation of GMV for our e-commerce platform includes shipping and other charges;|
|·||“orders” refers to each confirmed order from a transaction between a buyer and a seller for products and services on our e-commerce platform, even if such order includes multiple items, during the specified period, regardless of whether the transaction is settled or if the item is returned;|
|·||“paying users” refers to the number of unique accounts through which a payment is made in our online games in a particular period. A unique account through which payments are made in more than one online game or in more than one market is counted as more than one paying user. “QPUs” refers to the aggregate number of paying users during the quarterly period;|
|·||“shares” or “ordinary shares” refer to our Class A and Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.0005 per share; and|
|·||“we,” “us,” “our company,” “our group,” “our” or “Sea” refers to Sea Limited, a Cayman Islands company, its consolidated subsidiaries and its consolidated affiliated entities, including its VIEs and their subsidiaries.|
Our reporting and functional currency is the U.S. dollar. This annual report contains translations of certain foreign currency amounts into U.S. dollars for the convenience of the reader. Unless otherwise stated, all translations from Indonesian rupiah into U.S. dollars have been made at the rate of IDR14,481.00 to US$1.00, being the foreign exchange reference rate and the Jakarta interbank spot dollar rate published by the Bank Indonesia in effect as of December 31, 2018, all translations of New Taiwan dollars, Thai baht and Singapore dollars into U.S. dollars have been made at the rates of NT$30.6100 to US$1.00, THB32.3100 to US$1.00 and S$1.3623 to US$1.00, respectively, being the noon buying rates in The City of New York for cable transfers in New Taiwan dollars, Thai baht and Singapore dollars as certified for customs purposes by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in effect as of December 31, 2018 set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board for translation into U.S. dollars, and all translations from Vietnamese dong into U.S. dollars made at the rate of VND22,825 to US$1.00, being the central rate published by The State Bank of Vietnam in effect as of December 31, 2018. We make no representation that the Indonesian rupiah, New Taiwan dollar, Vietnamese dong, Thai baht or Singapore dollar amounts referred to in this annual report could have been or could be converted into U.S. dollars at any particular rate or at all. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in Our Region—Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates will affect our financial results, which we report in U.S. dollars.” On February 22, 2019, the Jakarta interbank spot dollar rate for Indonesian rupiah was IDR14,079.00 to US$1.00, the noon buying rate for New Taiwan dollars was NT$30.7100 to US$1.00, the central rate for Vietnamese dong was VND22,906 to US$1.00, the noon buying rate for Thai baht was THB31.3000 to US$1.00 and the noon buying rate for Singapore dollars was S$1.3509 to US$1.00.
This annual report contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of current or historical facts are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made under the “safe harbor” provision under Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, including those listed under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors,” that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.
In some cases, you can identify these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “likely to” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include statements about:
|·||our goals and strategies;|
|·||our future business development, financial condition, financial results, and results of operations;|
|·||the expected growth in, and market size of, the digital entertainment, e-commerce and digital financial services industries in the markets where we operate, including segments within those industries;|
|·||expected changes in our revenue, costs or expenditures;|
|·||our ability to continue to source, develop and offer new and attractive online games and to offer other engaging digital entertainment content;|
|·||the expected growth of our digital entertainment, e-commerce and digital financial services businesses;|
|·||our expectations regarding growth in our user base, level of engagement and monetization;|
|·||our ability to continue to develop new technologies and/or upgrade our existing technologies;|
|·||our expectation regarding the use of proceeds from our financing activities, including our convertible notes offering in June 2018;|
|·||growth and trends of our markets and competition in our industries;|
|·||government policies and regulations relating to our industries; and|
|·||general economic and business conditions in our region.|
You should read this annual report with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and worse than what we expect. Other sections of this annual report include additional factors which could adversely impact our business and financial performance. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors and uncertainties emerge from time to time and it is not possible for our management to predict all risk factors and uncertainties, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements.
You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
This annual report also contains statistical data and estimates that we obtained from industry publications and reports generated by government or third-party providers of market intelligence. Although we have not independently verified the data, we believe that the publications and reports are reliable. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—Industry data, projections and estimates contained in this annual report are inherently uncertain and subject to interpretation. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on such information.”
|ITEM 1.||IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS|
|ITEM 2.||OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE|
|ITEM 3.||KEY INFORMATION|
|A.||Selected Financial Data|
Selected Consolidated Financial Data
The following selected consolidated statements of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and selected consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2017 and 2018 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report. The following selected consolidated statements of operations data for the year ended December 31, 2015 and selected consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2015 and 2016 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, which are not included in this annual report. Our consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP. The selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with, and are qualified in their entirety by reference to, our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” included elsewhere in this annual report. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of results expected for future periods.
|For the Year Ended December 31,|
|(US$ thousands, except for number of shares and per share data)|
|Selected Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:|
|E-commerce and other services||10,161||17,675||47,444||270,049|
|Sales of goods||—||10||1,579||94,455|
|Cost of revenue:|
|Cost of service|
|E-commerce and other services||(24,031||)||(47,284||)||(107,260||)||(446,281||)|
|Cost of goods sold||—||—||(1,632||)||(98,570||)|
|Total cost of revenue||(184,298||)||(232,598||)||(326,878||)||(812,210||)|
|Operating income (expenses):|
|Other operating income||3,063||2,103||3,497||9,799|
|Sales and marketing expenses||(89,015||)||(187,372||)||(425,974||)||(705,015||)|
|General and administrative expenses||(87,202||)||(112,383||)||(137,868||)||(240,781||)|
|Research and development expenses||(17,732||)||(20,809||)||(29,323||)||(67,529||)|
|Total operating expenses||(190,886||)||(318,461||)||(589,668||)||(1,003,526||)|
|Investment gain, net||—||9,434||33,591||8,603|
|Changes in fair value of convertible notes||—||—||(51,950||)||41,259|
|Foreign exchange (loss) gain||(4,911||)||(1,649||)||(4,215||)||4,801|
|Loss before income tax and share of results of equity investees||(87,458||)||(196,886||)||(548,509||)||(953,880||)|
|Income tax expense||(11,730||)||(8,546||)||(10,745||)||(4,088||)|
|Share of results of equity investees||(8,148||)||(19,523||)||(1,912||)||(3,066||)|
|Net loss (profit) attributable to non-controlling interests||3,970||2,088||681||(207||)|
|Net loss attributable to Sea Limited’s ordinary shareholders||(103,366||)||(222,867||)||(560,485||)||(961,241||)|
|Loss per share:|
|Basic and diluted||(0.63||)||(1.30||)||(2.72||)||(2.84||)|
|Weighted average shares used in loss per share computation:|
|Basic and diluted||164,625,286||171,127,788||205,727,195||338,472,987|
|Non-GAAP Financial Measures:|
|Adjusted net loss(1)||(86,772||)||(196,114||)||(480,580||)||(944,172||)|
|(1)||To see how we define and calculate adjusted net loss, a reconciliation between adjusted net loss and net loss (the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP financial measure) and a discussion of the limitations of non-GAAP financial measures, see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results—Non-GAAP Financial Measures.” The 2017 comparative numbers for adjusted net loss were restated due to a change in computation basis in 2018 to exclude impact from changes in fair value of convertible notes.|
|As of December 31,|
|Selected Consolidated Balance Sheets Data:|
|Total current assets||229,695||309,884||1,720,713||1,710,713|
|Cash and cash equivalents||116,203||170,078||1,347,361||1,002,841|
|Prepaid expenses and other assets||52,458||79,443||186,181||312,387|
|Total non-current assets||200,175||175,891||267,567||481,956|
|Intangible assets, net||50,857||29,963||37,333||12,887|
|Prepaid expenses and other assets||39,465||32,299||46,297||69,065|
|Deferred tax assets||33,374||35,295||48,104||63,302|
|Total current liabilities||244,345||263,756||637,705||1,186,493|
|Accrued expenses and other payables||42,147||102,086||285,248||636,880|
|Advances from customers||17,564||15,459||27,155||29,355|
|Total non-current liabilities||101,327||142,594||875,444||1,245,631|
|Total mezzanine equity||10,500||205,075||–||–|
|Total Sea Limited shareholders’ equity (deficit)||71,655||(125,670||)||469,025||(243,139||)|
|Total shareholders’ equity (deficit)||73,698||(125,650||)||475,131||(239,455||)|
|Total liabilities, mezzanine equity and shareholders’ equity (deficit)||429,870||485,775||1,988,280||2,192,669|
Selected Operating Data
The table below sets forth the key metrics across our digital entertainment and e-commerce businesses for the periods indicated.
For the Three Months Ended
|B.||Capitalization and Indebtedness|
|C.||Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds|
Risks Related to Our Business
We may fail to maintain or grow the size of our user base or the level of engagement of our users.
The size and engagement level of our user base are critical to our success. Our business and financial performance have been and will continue to be significantly determined by our success in adding, retaining, and engaging active users. We continue to invest significant resources to grow our user base and increase user engagement, whether through innovations, providing new or improved content or services, marketing efforts or other means. While our user base has expanded significantly in the past, we cannot assure you that our user base and engagement levels will continue growing at satisfactory rates, or at all. Our user growth and engagement could be adversely affected if:
|·||we fail to maintain the popularity of our platforms among users;|
|·||we are unable to maintain the quality of our existing content and services;|
|·||we are unsuccessful in innovating or introducing new, best-in-class content and services;|
|·||we fail to adapt to changes in user preferences, market trends or advancements in technology;|
|·||technical or other problems prevent us from delivering our content or services in a timely and reliable manner or otherwise affect the user experience;|
|·||there are user concerns related to privacy, safety, fund security or other factors;|
|·||aggressive monetization measures by us cause users to shift to other platforms;|
|·||our new games cause players to shift from our existing games without growing the overall size of our user base or online games platform;|
|·||there are adverse changes to our platforms that are mandated by, or that we elect to make to address, legislation, regulation, or litigation, including settlements or consent decrees;|
|·||we fail to maintain the brand image of our platforms or our reputation is damaged; or|
|·||there are unexpected changes to the demographic trends or economic development of or affecting our region or other markets we are in.|
Our efforts to avoid or address any of these events could require us to incur substantial expenditure to modify or adapt our content, services or platforms. If we fail to retain or continue growing our user base, or if our users reduce their engagement with our platforms, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
We may fail to monetize our business effectively.
Our financial performance largely depends on our ability to monetize our businesses, and our failure to do so could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In order to sustain revenue growth for our digital entertainment business, we must convert active game players to paying users and increase their spending. Spending in our games is discretionary and our users may be price-sensitive, undermining our ability to monetize our business. It is crucial to balance creating sufficient in-game monetization opportunities on the one hand, and ensuring that our games continue to attract a considerable number of users by offering them an enjoyable free-to-play experience on the other. To stimulate in-game spending, we need to continue to ensure that our games are engaging, the in-game items that we offer are appealing, our prices are attractive and our marketing and promotional activities, such as eSports events, are effective.
Our focus for our e-commerce business has been on building the ecosystem of sellers and buyers and improving the shopping experience. We monetize Shopee by offering sellers performance-based advertising tools, which we call “cost-per-click advertising services,” in all our markets, charging handling fees, transaction fees or seller commissions for certain transactions in selected markets, charging seller commissions for all cross-border transactions, and charging sellers for certain value-added services. However, these monetization mechanisms have been in place for only a limited time so we cannot be certain that our monetization efforts will be successful. If our efforts to monetize our e-commerce business are not successful, revenue generated from monetizing our Shopee marketplace may not offset its significant operating costs, causing it to operate with losses for the foreseeable future. Moreover, monetization efforts could increase the costs of using our Shopee platform to users, which could negatively affect the number of users and the level of user engagement on our platform.
We currently monetize our digital financial services business primarily by charging commissions to merchants for transactions on our AirPay platform. Our ability to continue to successfully monetize our digital financial services business in the future will depend significantly on expanding our user base and the number of use cases available, neither of which may be achieved at the level we anticipate. In addition, we may consider ways to expand our digital financial services platform by offering new services, such as extending small loans to small businesses. We cannot assure you that our monetization efforts or our expansion into new services on our digital financial services platform will succeed and generate revenue at levels we expect, or at all.
For all of our businesses, we invest in user data mining and analysis to better understand user consumption patterns. This allows us to introduce content and services that are appealing to paying users on all of our platforms and to properly deploy and price content and services to enhance our monetization. However, data mining and analysis involves a substantial amount of judgment and discretion. If we fail to properly interpret the data collected from our operations or convert our data mining results into effective business strategies, our monetization may not be successful.
We have a history of net losses and we may not achieve profitability in the future.
We had net losses of US$225.0 million, US$561.2 million and US$961.0 million in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. Our net losses in 2016, 2017 and 2018 were primarily due to significant sales and marketing expenses, in particular promotions, which include subsidies for shipping for Shopee users, in order to expand our e-commerce business. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, our sales and marketing expenses equaled 54.2%, 102.8% and 85.3% of our total revenue, respectively. As we seek to monetize the user base and gradually reduce these promotions, we may adversely affect user experience and users may leave our platform. Our operating expenses may continue to increase as we invest in marketing efforts, hire additional local employees, and continue to invest in the development and expansion of our platform, including offering new content and services. These efforts may be more costly than we expect and our revenue may not increase sufficiently to offset these expenses. We may continue to take actions and make investments that do not generate optimal short-term financial results and may even result in increased operating losses in the short term with no assurance that we will eventually achieve the intended long-term benefits or profitability. These factors, among others set out in this “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” section, may negatively affect our ability to achieve profitability in the near term, if at all.
We derive a significant portion of revenue from online games.
Historically, a majority of our revenue has been generated from online games in our digital entertainment business, while our e-commerce and digital financial services businesses were in their early stages of monetization. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, our digital entertainment business contributed 94.9%, 88.2% and 55.9%, of our total revenue, respectively. Among our online games, we are substantially dependent on a small number of games. Our top five games, which included our self-developed game Free Fire for 2018, contributed 75.6%, 76.6% and 80.7% of our digital entertainment revenue during 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. Given the concentration of our revenue, if there are any negative or unexpected occurrences to our key revenue-earning games, or if any of these games decline in popularity, our revenues could decline or experience slower growth, which could adversely affect our results of operations and prospects. In addition, since a significant portion of our revenue is derived from a small number of games licensed to us by third-party game developers, if we lose the license for any of these games, there could be an adverse effect on our results of operations. See “—We rely upon third-party game developers for some of the content of our digital entertainment platform” for further information.
We anticipate that as we continue to monetize our e-commerce business, our sources of revenue will further diversify. However, if the additional revenue sources do not continue to develop as we expect them to, or if we are unable to identify, source, develop and launch new game titles that gain widespread popularity and generate significant revenue, our entire business may remain dependent on the success of just a few game titles. If those game titles fail to maintain user engagement or sustain current levels of revenue, or if we fail to successfully introduce updates to extend their commercial lifespan and revenue generation, it would have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may be unable to achieve the expected linkages among our three businesses.
We believe there exist strong linkages among our three businesses, whereby the growth of one platform helps drive and accelerate that of the others, leading to a rise in the breadth, depth and interconnectedness of our overall ecosystem. For example, as more of our game players and Shopee buyers complete transactions using our AirPay platform, growth in our digital entertainment and e-commerce platforms will accelerate our digital financial services platform. However, these linkages may not materialize as we expect them to or in a cost-effective manner. Further, where we are able to form linkages, if user activity declines in one of our platforms for any reason, it may also drive a decline in other platforms. In addition, changes we may make to meet the needs and interests of certain members of our ecosystem may have a negative impact upon other members of our ecosystem. If we fail to balance the interests of all participants in our ecosystem, they may stop visiting our platforms, conduct fewer transactions or use alternative platforms, any of which would make our ecosystem less appealing to other participants and could result in a material decrease in our revenue and net income. Any of these scenarios could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may not succeed in managing or expanding our business across the expansive and diverse markets that we operate in.
Our business has become increasingly complex as we have expanded the scale of our operations and the markets in which we operate. We have significantly expanded and expect to continue to expand our headcount, office facilities and infrastructure. Furthermore, as Free Fire continues to gain momentum in global emerging markets, especially in Latin America, we may expand our digital entertainment business operations beyond our traditional core markets. As our operations continue to expand, our technology infrastructure systems and corporate functions will need to be scaled to support our operations, and if they fail to do so, it could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The markets where we operate are diverse and fragmented, with varying levels of economic and infrastructure development and distinct legal and regulatory systems, and do not operate seamlessly across borders as a single or common market. Managing our growing businesses across these emerging markets requires considerable management attention and resources. Should we choose to expand into additional markets, these complexities and challenges could further increase. Because each market presents its own unique challenges, the scalability of our business is dependent on our ability to tailor our content and services to this diversity.
Our growing multi-market operations also require certain additional costs, including costs relating to staffing, logistics, intellectual property protection, tariffs and other trade barriers and higher tax rates in certain markets. Moreover, we may become subject to risks associated with:
|·||recruiting and retaining talented and capable management and employees in various markets;|
|·||challenges caused by distance, language and cultural differences;|
|·||providing content and services that appeal to the tastes and preferences of users in multiple markets;|
|·||implementing our businesses in a manner that complies with local laws and practices, which may differ significantly from market to market;|
|·||maintaining adequate internal and accounting control across various markets, each with its own accounting principles that must be reconciled to U.S. GAAP upon consolidation;|
|·||currency exchange rate fluctuations;|
|·||protectionist laws and business practices;|
|·||complex local tax regimes;|
|·||potential political, economic and social instability; and|
|·||higher costs associated with doing business in multiple markets.|
Any of the foregoing could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may fail to compete effectively in the markets in which we operate.
We face competition in each of our business lines and the failure to compete effectively in any of them could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and our results of operations.
Our digital entertainment business competes on the basis of a number of factors, including user base, game portfolio, quality of user experience, brand awareness and reputation, relationships with game developers and access to distribution and payment channels. Our competitors for game publishing in our region primarily include companies with a presence in just one or a few markets in the region, such as VNG Corporation in Vietnam. Our competitors for game development include global developers, who may have more experience, better reputations and more data obtained from developing games that target the same user pool. Outside of our region, we have a limited operating history, and may not be successful in continuing to attract and retain users for our games. Our competitors may capitalize on their significant financial, technical, or know-how resources to develop, distribute and operate mobile and PC online games. Moreover, some developers may choose to distribute games themselves through other channels such as the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store and Steam, which may compete with games distributed and developed by us in our region and globally. In addition, we face competition from other entertainment formats for the time, attention and entertainment spending of our online game players. If other leisure time activities are perceived by our players to offer greater variety, affordability, interactivity and overall enjoyment, our digital entertainment business may be materially and adversely affected.
Our e-commerce business faces competition principally from regional players that operate across several markets in our region, such as Lazada. We also face competition from single-market players in our region. Global e-commerce companies are also making efforts to enter into our region and may further expand their footprints in our region. Such competitors may have greater access to financial, technological and marketing resources than we do. We compete to attract, engage and retain buyers based on the variety and value of products and services listed on our marketplaces, overall user experience and convenience, online communication tools, integration with mobile and networking applications and tools, mobile applications and availability of payment settlement and logistics services. We also compete to attract and retain sellers based on the number and the engagement of buyers, the effectiveness and value of the marketing services we offer, commission rates and the usefulness of the services we provide including data and analytics for potential buyer targeting, cloud computing services and the availability of support services including payment settlement, fulfillment and logistics services. As e-commerce is relatively new in our region, competition for market share is particularly intense. Given the scalability of the e-commerce model, within each market, a market leader may be able to achieve the scale and network effect that makes it very difficult for other market players to compete effectively. Our competitors may consolidate or be acquired by other competitors, allowing them to obtain greater market share, gain access to greater resources and gain real advantages over us.
Our digital financial services business faces competition from debit and credit card service providers, banks with payment processing offerings, other offline payment options and other electronic payment system operators, such as Ascend Money, in each of the markets in which we operate. We expect competition to intensify in the future as existing and new competitors introduce new services or enhance existing services. Certain competitors may have longstanding relationships with certain merchants to accept the payment services they offer, which may make it difficult or costly for us to establish partnerships with these merchants. New entrants tied to established brands may engender greater user confidence in the safety and efficacy of their services. We may also face pricing pressures from competitors. Some potential competitors may charge lower commissions to merchants by lowering their own profit margins or subsidize merchants through other services they offer. Such competition may result in the need for us to alter the pricing we offer which could reduce our gross profit.
Existing or future investments or acquisitions may not be successful.
In addition to organic growth, we have invested in or acquired, and may take advantage of opportunities to invest in or acquire additional businesses, services, assets or technologies from time to time. However, we may fail to select appropriate investment or acquisition targets, or we may not be able to negotiate optimal arrangements, including arrangements to finance any acquisitions. Acquisitions and the subsequent integration of new assets and businesses into our own could require significant management attention and could result in a diversion of resources away from our existing business. Investments and acquisitions could result in the use of substantial amounts of cash, increased leverage, potentially dilutive issuances of equity securities, goodwill impairment charges, amortization expenses for other intangible assets and exposure to potential unknown liabilities of the acquired business, and the invested or acquired assets or businesses may not generate the financial results we expect. Moreover, the costs of identifying and consummating these transactions may be significant. In addition to receiving the necessary corporate governance approvals, we may also need to obtain approvals and licenses from relevant government authorities for the acquisitions to comply with applicable laws and regulations, which could result in increased costs and delays.
We rely upon third-party game developers for some of the content of our digital entertainment platform.
We license the majority of our online games from third-party game developers. The term of our game license agreements with game developers typically range from two to seven years, renewable upon both parties’ consent. We must continually source new games that are attractive to our game players. However, we may not become aware of, or be able to procure on terms acceptable to us, new games that eventually succeed. We may also select and invest significant financial and human resources in games that later prove unsuccessful. There may also be unforeseen delays in the launch of new games. If we are unable to source or launch new popular games in a timely manner, our game players may seek entertainment elsewhere and our prospects may be materially and adversely affected. In November 2018, we obtained a right of first refusal from Tencent to publish its mobile and PC games in Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, subject to certain terms and conditions. Although we launched the first game under such right of first refusal arrangement in January 2019, there is no guarantee that we will publish more games under such right of first refusal arrangement at terms satisfactory to us or at all, or that any games published under such arrangement will yield a positive result.
We may also not be able to establish or maintain mutually beneficial commercial relationships with game developers. Our game developer partners may terminate our agreements prior to their expiration if we are not in compliance with the relevant terms or conditions and we fail to remedy such non-compliance in time, or they may refuse to renew the agreements. Even if they are willing to renew the agreements, they may demand commercial terms, such as revenue-sharing ratios, that are less favorable to us. Further, any failure on our part to effectively localize, operate, market or monetize their games, safeguard their intellectual properties, or otherwise perform our obligations under the license agreements may cause substantial harm to our relationships with game developers, who may then choose other game operators to distribute their games.
In certain circumstances, the actions of our third-party game developers which are beyond our control could materially and adversely affect the success of our online games, causing our online games revenue to fluctuate or even be lower than expected. These actions by game developers could include software updates resulting in adverse changes in gameplay which are poorly received by our users, game or update releases with insufficient content to attract users or maintain the level of their engagement, or delays in any release of anticipated games in our pipeline or game updates.
We are relatively new to game development.
Our first fully self-developed game, Free Fire, was launched in December 2017. While Free Fire has so far been well-received, we are still relatively new to game development. There is no guarantee that we will be able to continue to identify market opportunities and develop new games, and subsequent self-developed games may not always have the same or comparable levels of success.
There is no certainty of the timely commercial launch or profitability of self-developed games. If our self-developed games are not well received by our users due to factors including loss of interest, ineffective marketing, or the popularity of competing games, our business and results of operation may be adversely affected. Furthermore, the development of new games requires considerable resources, including research, testing, marketing, infrastructure and staff expenses. If the increased costs do not translate to higher revenues and cost efficiencies, our business could be negatively affected.
Free Fire is currently available in several continents, including parts of Asia outside of our region, Europe, Latin America and Africa. Any self-developed games we may develop in the future may also be offered in multiple jurisdictions. The expansion of our digital entertainment business into new markets where we have previously had little or no business presence, including through our self-developed games, may subject us to additional regulatory and compliance requirements and other new risks. We may have to adopt differing methods and processes to adhere to each jurisdiction’s laws and regulations, which could result in undue delays in launching such self-developed games or increased costs.
We have a limited operating history.
We have a limited operating history upon which to evaluate the viability and sustainability of our businesses, in particular our e-commerce and digital financial services businesses. Our history of operating all three of our businesses together is relatively short, as our AirPay and Shopee platforms were launched in April 2014 and June 2015, respectively. Our historical results may not be indicative of our future performance and you should consider our future prospects in light of the risks and uncertainties of early stage companies operating in fast evolving high-tech industries in emerging markets. Some of these risks and uncertainties relate to our ability to:
|·||retain existing users, attract new users, and increase user engagement and monetization;|
|·||maintain growth rates across our businesses in multiple markets;|
|·||maintain and expand our network of domestic, regional and global industry value chain partners;|
|·||upgrade our technology and infrastructure to support increased traffic and expanded offerings of content and services;|
|·||anticipate and adapt to changing user preferences;|
|·||implement our strategy to expand our offerings on our platforms;|
|·||increase awareness of our brand;|
|·||adapt to competitive market conditions;|
|·||maintain adequate control of our expenses; and|
|·||attract and retain qualified personnel.|
If we are unsuccessful in addressing any of these risks and uncertainties, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
We may fail to obtain, maintain or renew the requisite licenses and approvals.
We may not be able to obtain all the licenses and approvals that may be deemed necessary to provide the content and services we plan to offer. Because the industries we operate in are relatively new in our markets, especially the e-commerce and digital financial services businesses, the relevant laws and regulations, as well as their interpretations, are often unclear and evolving. This can make it difficult to know which licenses and approvals are necessary, or the processes for obtaining them. For these same reasons, we also cannot be certain that we will be able to maintain the licenses and approvals that we have previously obtained, or that once they expire we will be able to renew them. We also believe that some of our business operations fall outside the scope of licensing requirements, or benefit from certain exemptions, making it not necessary to obtain certain licenses or approvals. We cannot be sure that our interpretations of the rules and their exemptions have always been or will be consistent with those of the local regulators.
As we expand our businesses, in particular our e-commerce and digital financial services businesses, we may be required to obtain new licenses and will be subject to additional laws and regulations in the markets we plan to operate in. If we fail to obtain, maintain or renew any required licenses or approvals or make any necessary filings or are found to require licenses or approvals that we believed were not necessary or we were exempted from obtaining, we may be subject to various penalties, such as confiscation of the revenue or assets that were generated through the unlicensed business activities, imposition of fines, suspension or cancelation of the applicable license, written reprimands, termination of third-party arrangements, criminal prosecution and the discontinuation or restriction of our operations. Any such penalties may disrupt our business operations and materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We operate platforms that include third parties over whose actions we have no control.
Each of our digital entertainment, e-commerce and digital financial services businesses requires the participation of third parties such as game developers, sellers and merchants who own the content and services offered through our platforms. We cannot control the actions of these third parties and if they do not perform their functions to our satisfaction or the satisfaction of our users, it may damage the reputation of our platform. Our digital entertainment business requires game developers to provide the online games that we offer through our Garena platform, and we cannot be certain that the games, including any revisions or updates, will not be offensive to some of our users or infringe upon the intellectual property rights of other parties. Our e-commerce business relies upon sellers to provide and post their products on our platform, and we cannot be certain that the products that they sell will all be legitimate, of a sufficiently high quality or that they will accurately represent the products in their postings. See “—We may be subject to intellectual property or other content related claims.” Our AirPay e-wallet services rely upon counter operators to accurately process transactions in connection with AirPay counter services and upon merchants to provide quality products and services that our users are willing to purchase. Though we take efforts to carefully screen the games we place on our platform, the listings placed by our Shopee sellers and the payments for products and services that can be settled through our AirPay platform, we cannot be certain that we will detect every improper third-party action before it reaches our users. Further, while we have agreements with each of these parties that obligate them to carry out their respective businesses in a professional manner, any legal protections we might have could be insufficient to compensate us for our losses and would not be able to repair the damage to our reputation.
We rely upon third-party channels in distributing content and services and for other functions of our platforms.
We rely upon a number of third-party channels to provide content and services to our users, as well as performing other functions of our platform. For example, we primarily rely on third-party application distribution channels, such as the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, to allow users to download our applications and games, including our self-developed games. We depend upon third-party payment service providers to provide users with various payment options, such as payment on delivery, bank transfers, direct carrier billing, credit cards, debit cards, telecommunication card top-up and payment through other third-party payment services. In April 2018, some mobile operators in Vietnam launched certain measures to restrict the use of prepaid telecommunication cards for online game top-ups. Such measures have limited the payment methods that our game players in Vietnam can use to pay for our online games. Despite our efforts to strengthen alternative top-up channels in Vietnam, there has been some negative impact on our digital entertainment business operations in Vietnam. We cannot guarantee that similar measures will not be imposed again in our region, or we will be able to arrange for alternative measures in a timely manner or at all. Any occurrence or continuance of such or similar measures may have an adverse effect on our business. For our e-commerce business, we also rely on local logistics service providers to help sellers store and deliver products to buyers. In each of our businesses, we also rely upon data center providers to store important and valuable data. If any of these third-party channel providers delivers unsatisfactory service, engages in fraudulent actions, or is unable or refuses to continue to provide its services to us and our users for any reason, it may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may fail to attract, motivate and retain the key members of our management team or other experienced and capable employees.
Our future success is significantly dependent upon the continued service of our executives and other key employees. If we lose the services of any member of management or any key personnel, we may not be able to locate a suitable or qualified replacement and we may incur additional expenses to recruit and train a replacement, which could severely disrupt our business and growth.
To maintain and grow our business, we will need to identify, hire, develop, motivate and retain highly skilled employees. Identifying, recruiting, training, integrating and retaining qualified individuals requires significant time, expense and attention. In addition, from time to time, there may be changes in our management team that may be disruptive to our business. We may also be subject to local hiring restrictions in certain markets, particularly in connection with the hiring of foreign employees, which may affect the flexibility of our management team. If our management team, including any new hires that we make, fail to work together effectively and execute our plans and strategies, or if we are not able to recruit and retain employees effectively, our ability to achieve our strategic objectives will be adversely affected and our business and growth prospects will be harmed.
Competition for highly skilled personnel is intense, particularly in the markets in our region where our business operations are located. We may need to invest significant amounts of cash and equity to attract and retain new employees and we may not be able to realize returns on these investments.
We face uncertainties relating to the growth and profitability of the e-commerce industry in our region and we may face challenges and uncertainties in implementing our e-commerce strategy.
While e-commerce has existed in our region since the 2000s, only recently have certain regional e-commerce companies become sizeable. Our future results of operations will depend on numerous factors affecting the development of the e-commerce retail industry in our region, which may be beyond our control. These factors include:
|·||the growth rate of internet, broadband, personal computer, and smartphone penetration and usage in our region;|
|·||the trust and confidence level of e-commerce consumers in our region, as well as changes in customer demographics and consumer tastes and preferences;|
|·||the selection, pricing and popularity of products that online sellers offer;|
|·||whether alternative retail channels or business models that better address the needs of consumers emerge in our region; and|
|·||the development of logistics, payment and other ancillary services associated with e-commerce.|
In addition, we will continue to face challenges in the growth of our e-commerce business and profitability related to the expansive and diverse geographic regions we operate in and the need for substantial improvements in logistics, including last-mile delivery and warehousing infrastructure necessary to fulfill users’ orders. Moreover, the growth of our e-commerce business depends on assumptions about the e-commerce penetration rate and overall growth of the e-commerce market. To the extent these growth assumptions and forecasts turn out to be incorrect, our business may be materially and adversely affected. Our e-commerce business is currently concentrated, with our top two markets accounting for a majority of our total orders and GMV. If we were to experience a material decline in these top markets, it could further challenge the growth and profitability of our e-commerce business.
A decline in the popularity of online shopping in general, or any failure by us to adapt and monetize our Shopee platform and improve the online shopping experience of our users in response to trends and consumer preferences, may adversely affect our revenue and business prospects.
Furthermore, we have observed that for certain goods there has not been a sufficient number of active online sellers to meet the potential demand of buyers. As part of our e-commerce growth strategy, we undertake direct sales activities online with respect to some of those goods under a separate business line from the marketplace. Undertaking online direct sales will require us to market and sell products directly to consumers, manage inventories, and provide delivery and after-sales services. We cannot assure you that our direct sales initiatives will be successful. If we are not able to execute our strategy effectively, our business and prospects may be adversely affected.
Moreover, as we focus on providing more value-added services to our users, we plan to continue to expand our support for sellers by offering integrated logistics and payments solutions as well as fulfillment and other services. Developing such services and maintaining related infrastructure may strain our managerial, financial, operational and other resources. For example, if we fail to accurately predict demand for our value-added services and as a result maintain excess or inadequate warehouse, logistics or other infrastructure capacity or fail to manage inventory efficiently, we may suffer increased costs or impairment charges, which would adversely affect our results of operations.
We may be subject to intellectual property or other content related claims.
From time to time we receive complaints alleging that items offered on or sold through our Shopee platform infringe third-party copyrights, trademarks and patents or other intellectual property rights, or contain obscene, defamatory or libelous contents. Although we have adopted measures to verify the authenticity of and minimize infringements or offense by product listings on our Shopee platform before they appear on the marketplace, these efforts may not always be successful. Any public perception that counterfeit, pirated, or otherwise inappropriate or illegal items are commonplace on Shopee, even if factually incorrect, or perceived delays in our removal of these items could damage our reputation and result in regulatory action against us and diminish the value of our brand name. Further, we may be subject to allegations of civil or criminal liability based on allegedly unlawful activities carried out by third parties through our Shopee platform. We may also be subject to sanctions by local authorities for infringing products offered on our marketplace, including removal of the infringing products or a temporary or permanent block of our marketplace.
We may implement further measures in an effort to strengthen our efforts to protect users and ourselves against these potential liabilities that could require us to spend substantial additional resources or discontinue certain service offerings. In addition, these measures may reduce the attractiveness of our platforms to users. For example, a seller whose listings are removed or suspended by us, regardless of our compliance with the applicable laws, rules and regulations, may dispute our actions and commence action against us for damages based on breach of contract or other causes of action or make public complaints or allegations. Any costs incurred as a result of such liability or asserted liability could also harm our business.
Moreover, as the number of interactive games increases and the features and content of these games continue to overlap, software developers and distributors have increasingly become subject to infringement claims. Despite any steps taken by us to avoid knowingly violating the intellectual property rights of others, third parties may still claim that content we develop or license from third parties infringes their intellectual property rights. Any such claims, whether or not meritorious, may be time consuming, distracting to management and expensive to defend, and could force us to cease using or redesign the affected content, obtain a license from the claimant, which, if available at all, may not be available on commercially favorable terms, and or pay damages, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our reputation, business and results of operations.
We may suffer losses relating to the products we sell on Shopee.
In connection with our direct sales and certain value-added services, we purchase products from manufacturers and third parties and subsequently sell such products on our Shopee platform. This subjects us to risks relating to managing our inventory turnover. We depend on our forecasts of demand and popularity for a variety of products to make decisions regarding product purchases. Our customers may not order products at the levels expected by us due to our failure to forecast accurately, unfavorable market conditions or change in consumer trends. In addition, if the supply of products from manufacturers and third parties deteriorates, we may be unable to obtain the products that buyers want to purchase. Manufacturers and third parties may discontinue selling products due to factors that may or may not be within our control. Our inability to secure timely and sufficient supplies of products would negatively affect inventory levels and may have an adverse effect on our financial performance and reputation.
We do not always have the right to return unsold items to suppliers. In addition, in order to secure more favorable commercial terms, we may need to purchase a higher volume of products. If we fail to efficiently manage our inventory, we may suffer losses, including losses due to inventory write-downs relating to decrease in estimated market value or damaged or obsolete inventory. In 2018, we recorded a US$1.0 million inventory write-down. In addition, if we are unable to sell products or if we deem it necessary to lower sale prices in order to attract buyers or reduce inventory level, our profitability will be negatively affected.
Furthermore, we cannot assure you that all products that we sell are of the quality expected by our buyers. If buyers have any disputes with us regarding the products we sell, including disputes relating to product quality or authenticity, we may suffer reputational loss and need to incur additional costs to address such disputes, which in turn may adversely affect our business and results of operations.
An increase in the use of credit and debit cards may result in lower growth or a decline in the use of our e-wallet services.
Due to the underdevelopment of the banking industry in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, where we currently operate our AirPay platform, a significant portion of the population in these markets do not have access to credit or debit cards. In addition, many may be unwilling to use debit or credit cards for online transactions due to security concerns. Through our AirPay e-wallet, consumers can make payments through AirPay counters or the AirPay App. AirPay counters also facilitate cash top-ups into the AirPay App as a complement to debit card and bank transfer top-ups into e-wallet. However, if the banking industry in our region continues to develop and there is a significant increase in the availability, acceptance and use of credit card or debit card for online or offline payments by consumers in our region, demand for our e-wallet cash top-up services could decline.
We could be held liable if our digital financial services platform is used for fraudulent, illegal or improper purposes such as money laundering.
Despite measures we have taken and continue to take, our digital financial services platform remains susceptible to potentially illegal or improper uses, which could damage our reputation and subject us to liability. These may include the use of our payment services in connection with fraudulent sales of goods or services, software and other intellectual property piracy, money laundering, bank fraud and prohibited sales of restricted products. Criminals are using increasingly sophisticated methods to engage in illegal activities such as counterfeiting and fraud and incidents of fraud could increase in the future. We could be subject to fraud claims if confidential information obtained from our users is used for unauthorized purposes.
Our risk management policies and procedures may not be fully effective in identifying, monitoring and managing these risks. We are not able to monitor in each case the sources of funds for our digital financial services platform users, or the ways in which they are used. An increase in fraudulent transactions or publicity regarding payment disputes could harm our reputation and reduce consumer confidence in our services.
Our lending business may not ultimately prove successful and will expose us to new business and legal risks.
As a natural extension of our digital financial services platform, we began extending small loans to small businesses in Thailand in June 2016. We cannot be certain that these additional services will generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs and expenses of their launch and development, and offering these additional services, if unsuccessful, could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, these services will also expose us to risks and liabilities, including credit risks relating to the borrowers and counterparty risks in dealing with our bank partners. We believe that our understanding of the business and liquidity situation of our borrowers will allow us to limit borrower risk to a certain extent, but we cannot be certain that our understanding of these situations will always be accurate. We also cannot be certain that a sufficient number of borrowers will be able to repay the loans we extend to them, or that the interest rates we charge them will be sufficient to cover our costs and expenses in providing the loans, including the costs associated with borrower defaults.
We may fail to maintain or improve our technology infrastructure.
We are constantly upgrading our technology to provide improved performance, increased scale and better integration among our three businesses. Adopting new technologies, upgrading our internet ecosystem infrastructure, maintaining and improving our technology infrastructure require significant investments of time and resources, including adding new hardware, updating software and recruiting and training new engineering personnel. Adverse consequences for the failure to do so may include unanticipated system disruptions, security breaches, computer virus attacks, slower response times, impaired quality of experiences for our users and delays in reporting accurate operating and financial information. In addition, many of the software and interfaces we use are internally developed and proprietary technology. If we experience problems with the functionality and effectiveness of our software or platforms, or are unable to maintain and constantly improve our technology infrastructure to handle our business needs and ensure a consistent and acceptable level of service for our users, our business, financial condition, results of operation and prospects, as well as our reputation, could be materially and adversely affected.
We may be liable for security breaches and attacks against our or our third-party partners’ platforms and network, particularly with regards to confidential user information and personal or other data or any other data privacy or data protection compliance issue, and our platforms and games may contain unforeseen “bugs” or errors.
Our business stores, generates, and processes a large amount of personal data, and the improper use or disclosure of such data could harm our reputation. We also maintain certain other proprietary and confidential data relating to our business and personal data of our personnel. Although we have employed significant resources to develop security measures aimed at preventing breaches, our cybersecurity measures may not detect or prevent all attempts to compromise our systems, including distributed denial-of-service attacks, viruses, malicious software, physical or electronic break-ins, phishing attacks, social engineering, and security breaches or other attacks and similar disruptions that may jeopardize the security of information stored in and transmitted by our systems or that we otherwise maintain. Any security breach, including personal data breaches or incidents, including cybersecurity incidents, could result in unauthorized access to our systems or a user’s system, misappropriation of our or a user’s information or data, loss, corruption, or alteration of such data, deletion or modification of user information, damage to our systems or those of our users, or a denial-of-service or other interruption to our business operations. Any such incidents could expose us to claims, litigation, regulatory or other governmental investigations, administrative fines, and potential liability. As techniques used to obtain unauthorized access to or otherwise sabotage systems change frequently and may not be known until they have been launched against us, our users or our third-party service providers, we may be unable to anticipate or implement adequate measures to protect against these attacks. If an actual or perceived breach of our or our third-party partners’ security occurs, public perception of the effectiveness of our security measures and brand could be harmed, demand for our platforms may be reduced, our operations may be disrupted, we may incur significant legal liabilities, and our business could be materially and adversely affected. Any compromise of our or our third-party partners’ security could result in a violation of applicable security, privacy or data protection, consumer and other laws, regulatory or other governmental investigations, enforcement actions, and legal and financial exposure, including potential contractual liability.
We have in the past and are likely again in the future to be subject to these types of attacks, although to date no such attack has resulted in any material damages or remediation costs. If we are unable to avert these attacks and security breaches, we could be subject to significant legal and financial liability, our reputation would be harmed and we could sustain substantial revenue loss from lost sales and customer dissatisfaction. We may not have the resources or technical sophistication to anticipate or prevent rapidly evolving types of cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks may target us, our game players, sellers, buyers, counter owners or other members of our ecosystem, or the communication infrastructure on which we depend. Actual or anticipated attacks and risks may cause us to incur significantly higher costs to protect against, and to address issues created by, security breaches and other incidents, including costs to deploy additional personnel and network protection technology, train employees, and engage third-party experts and consultants. Cybersecurity breaches could not only harm our reputation and business, but also materially decrease our revenue and net income and expose us to a risk of loss or litigation and possible liability.
Our platforms and games have in the past contained and may in the future contain errors or “bugs” that are not detected until after the applications are published. Any such errors and a significant unavailability of our platforms due to these errors or “bugs” could impact the overall user experience, which could cause users to reduce their time or interest on our platforms or games, or not recommend our content and services to others. Such errors could also result in non-compliance with applicable laws or create legal liability for us. Resolving such errors could also disrupt our operations, cause us to divert resources from other matters, or materially harm our business, prospects, financial condition, and operating results.
Our results of operations are subject to fluctuations.
We are subject to seasonality and other fluctuations in our business. Our revenue is also largely affected by our promotional and marketing activities and our revenue may increase as a result of these activities. We may also introduce new promotions or change the timing of our promotions in ways that would further cause our quarterly results to fluctuate and differ from historical patterns. Our results of operations will likely fluctuate due to these and other factors, some of which are beyond our control. In addition, our rapid growth has masked certain fluctuations that might otherwise be apparent in our results of operations. When our growth stabilizes, the seasonality in our business may become more pronounced.
Our revenue and other operating results may vary significantly from quarter to quarter due to a variety of factors, many of which are outside our control. Factors that may contribute to the fluctuations of our quarterly results include (i) fluctuations in overall consumer demand for mobile and PC online games during certain months and holidays; (ii) timing of game releases and monetization rates of new games and game enhancements in different markets in our region; (iii) increases in sales and marketing and other operating expenses that we may incur to grow and expand our businesses; (iv) timing of promotional and marketing activities as described above; and (v) macro-economic conditions and their effect on discretionary consumer spending. Moreover, changes in cash flow generated from our games may not always match our revenue trends due to our revenue recognition policy, under which proceeds from our sales of in-game virtual items are booked as deferred revenue and recognized over a period of time based on estimates of service periods pursuant to applicable accounting rules. Furthermore, the conversion option of the convertible promissory notes issued by us in 2017, or the 2017 convertible notes, is subject to derivative accounting, whereas the convertible senior notes issued by us in 2018, or the 2018 convertible notes, is subject to cash conversion accounting. The liability component of the 2018 convertible notes was initially measured at fair value with the residual value recorded as additional paid-in capital within equity. The liability component would require a greater amount of non-cash interest expense to accrete the carrying value back to the face value over the term of the notes. We recorded a gain relating to the 2017 convertible notes in our consolidated statement of operations in 2018 due to the decrease in the trading price of our ADSs. We also recorded additional non-cash interest in addition to the notes’ coupon interest. Additional changes in the fair value of the convertible notes and interest expenses could affect our results of operations during the period that the convertible notes remain outstanding. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Convertible Notes” for more information about the convertible notes. Because of these and other factors as well as the short operating history of some of our businesses, it is difficult for us to accurately identify recurring seasonal trends in our business. Accordingly, you should not rely on quarter-to-quarter comparisons of our results of operations as an indication of our future performance.
We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights.
We rely on a wide portfolio of intellectual properties to operate our businesses and we may not be able to effectively protect these intellectual properties against infringement, or efforts to safeguard our intellectual properties may be costly.
We rely on a combination of trademark, fair trade practice, copyright and trade secret protection laws in our region and other jurisdictions, as well as confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions, to protect our intellectual properties. We also enter into confidentiality agreements with our employees and any third parties who may access our proprietary information, and we rigorously control access to our proprietary technology and information.
Intellectual property protection may not be sufficient in our region or in the other regions in which we operate. Confidentiality agreements may be breached by counterparties, and there may not be adequate remedies available to us for any such breach. Accordingly, we may not be able to effectively protect our intellectual property rights, including our self-developed games, or the intellectual properties licensed from third parties, or to enforce our contractual rights in the markets we operate in or elsewhere. For example, in the event any third party game developer, publisher or hacking group infringes the copyright of our self-developed game, our users may lose interest in our games and our results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, policing any unauthorized use of our intellectual properties is difficult, time-consuming and costly, and the steps we have taken may be inadequate to prevent the misappropriation of our intellectual properties. In the event that we resort to litigation to enforce our intellectual property rights, such litigation could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our managerial and financial resources. We can provide no assurance that we will prevail in such litigation. In addition, our trade secrets may be leaked or otherwise become available to, or be independently discovered by, our competitors. Any failure in protecting or enforcing our intellectual property rights could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We rely upon the internet infrastructure, data center and cloud service providers and telecommunications networks in the markets where we operate.
Our business depends on the performance and reliability of the internet infrastructure and contracted data center and cloud service providers in the markets where we operate. We may not have access to alternative networks or data servers in the event of disruptions or failures of, or other problems with, the relevant internet infrastructure. In addition, the internet infrastructure, especially in the emerging markets where we operate, may not support the demands associated with continued growth in internet usage.
We use third-party data center providers and cloud services for the storing of data related to our business. We do not control the operation of these facilities and rely on contracted agreements to employ their use. The owners of the data center facilities have no obligation to renew their agreements with us on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. If we are unable to renew these agreements on commercially reasonable terms, or if one of our data center providers is acquired by another party, we may be required to transfer our servers and other infrastructure to new data center facilities, or change to other service providers, and we may incur significant costs and possible lengthy service interruptions in connection with doing so. Any changes in third-party service levels at our data centers or any errors, defects, disruptions, or other performance problems with our games could adversely affect our reputation and adversely affect the game playing experience. If a particular game is unavailable when players attempt to access it or navigation through a game is slower than they expect, players may stop playing the game and may be less likely to return to the game as often, if at all. Interruptions in our services might reduce our revenue, subject us to potential liability, or adversely affect our renewal rates for our online game business.
We also rely on major telecommunication operators in the markets where we operate to provide us with data communications capacity primarily through local telecommunications lines and data centers to host our servers. We and our users may not have access to alternative services in the event of disruptions or failures of, or other problems with, the fixed telecommunications networks of these telecommunications operators, or if such operators otherwise fail to provide such services. Any unscheduled service interruption could disrupt our operations, damage our reputation and result in a decrease in our revenue. Furthermore, we have no control over the costs of the services provided by the telecommunications operators to us and our users. If the prices that we pay for telecommunications and internet services rise significantly, our gross margins could be significantly reduced. In addition, if internet access fees or other charges to internet users increase, our user traffic may decrease, which in turn may cause our revenue to decline.
We are subject to extensive laws and government regulations across our business, and changes to these laws or any actual or perceived failure by us to comply with such laws and regulations could materially and adversely affect our business.
Our business is impacted by laws and regulations across multiple jurisdictions that affect the industries our businesses operate in, and their scope has increased significantly in recent years. We are subject to a variety of regulations, including those relating to game operations, game ratings, e-commerce, social networking, internet applications or content services, privacy and data protection, live-streaming services, labor laws, national language requirements, intellectual property, virtual items, national security, content restrictions, consumer protection, prevention of money laundering and financing criminal activity and terrorism, digital financial services regulation, electronic payment services regulation and currency control regulation. Furthermore, these laws and regulations vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and are often evolving, unclear or inconsistent with other applicable laws. Future expansion in terms of services and geographic coverage, including the expansion of our self-developed game to other parts of the world, could subject us to additional regulatory requirements and other risks that may be costly or difficult to comply with. This may require us to expend substantial resources, which would harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. For example, the Indonesian Minister of Finance issued a regulation in December 2018 requiring e-commerce marketplace platform providers like us to be registered and have a taxpayer identification number and VAT-able undertaking number, collect certain information from sellers, including their tax details and records of transactions made through the marketplace platform, and report such information to the tax authorities. The regulation would also require sellers and marketplace platform operators to collect value-added tax, issue tax invoices and remit such tax to the tax authorities in relation to VAT-able services and goods they deliver on the platform, and be responsible to pay relevant import duty and taxes. The regulation is scheduled to take effect April 1, 2019. As marketplace platform operators are made responsible to report transactions made by sellers and other service providers through the platform to the tax authorities, there is no guarantee that we will not be held responsible for the delinquent tax owed by such sellers and service providers. If we are held responsible, whether financially or operationally, our business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
We receive, store and process personal information and other data in all of our three businesses. The regulatory frameworks for privacy issues vary worldwide and are likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It is possible that obligations imposed under applicable laws may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent between jurisdictions and may conflict with other rules or our practices. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with our privacy policies, our privacy-related obligations to our users or other third parties, or applicable privacy laws, or any compromise of security that results in the unauthorized release or transfer of information or other data, may result in governmental enforcement actions, litigation or public statements against us by consumer advocacy groups or others and could cause our users to lose trust in us, which could have an adverse effect on our business. Furthermore, if third parties that we work with, such as individual users, game developers, Shopee sellers, payment gateway partners, counter owners and logistics service providers, violate applicable laws or our policies, such violations may put us and our user information at risk and could have an adverse effect on our reputation and business.
Aspects of our operations or business are subject to privacy and data protection regulation in Asia Pacific, the EU, and elsewhere. As certain privacy and data protection regulations in the jurisdictions where we operate remain under development and subject to change, and as further guidance and interpretations remain forthcoming, such regulations may require us to modify our data practices and policies (e.g., in relation to the management of cookies, the processing of personal data, the retention and/or transference of personal data, and issuance of marketing messages through different media) and we could incur substantial costs as a result. Actual or perceived non-compliance with such regulations may lead to regulatory or legal action being taken against us, reputational damages, and a loss of confidence in our security and privacy or data protection measures.
We may not achieve the intended tax efficiencies of our corporate structure and intercompany arrangements, which could increase our worldwide effective tax rate.
Our corporate structure and intercompany arrangements, including the manner in which we conduct our intercompany and related party transactions, are intended to provide us with worldwide tax efficiencies. The application of tax laws of various jurisdictions to our business activities is subject to interpretation and also depends on our ability to operate our business in a manner consistent with our corporate structure and intercompany arrangements. The tax authorities of jurisdictions where we operate may challenge our methodologies for intercompany and related party arrangements, including transfer pricing, or determine that the manner in which we operate does not achieve the intended tax consequences, which could increase our worldwide effective tax rate and adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.
A certain degree of judgment is required in evaluating our tax positions and determining our provision for income taxes. In the ordinary course of business, there are many transactions and calculations for which the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. For example, our effective tax rate could be adversely affected by lower than anticipated earnings in markets where we have lower statutory rates and higher than anticipated earnings in markets where we have higher statutory rates, by changes in foreign currency exchange rates or by changes in the relevant tax, accounting and other laws, regulations, principles and interpretations. Any of these factors could materially and adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.
We face risks in connection with our strategic partnerships.
We seek to establish strategic partnerships to expand and grow our business. If we are unable to maintain our relationships with any of our existing or future strategic partners, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
For example, some of our most popular games, including League of Legends, Arena of Valor, and Speed Drifters are owned by Tencent Holdings Limited and its affiliates, or Tencent, one of our major shareholders. In November 2018, we obtained a right of first refusal from Tencent to publish its mobile and PC games in certain of our core markets, subject to certain terms and conditions. We believe we have maintained a strong relationship with Tencent, which reinforces our long-term relationship based on aligned interests, and allows us to benefit from their wealth of experience as a leading global industry player. However, we cannot assure you that we will always be able to maintain such good relationship in the future. If our relationship with Tencent deteriorates, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Strategic partnerships could also subject us to a number of other risks, including risks associated with sharing proprietary information and non-performance by third-party strategic partners. Likewise, we may have a limited ability to monitor or control the actions of our strategic partners and, to the extent any such strategic partner suffers negative publicity or harm to its reputation for any reason, we may also suffer harm to our reputation by association.
Industry data, projections and estimates contained in this annual report are inherently uncertain and subject to interpretation. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on such information.
Certain facts, forecasts and other statistics relating to the industries in which we compete contained in this annual report have been derived from various public sources and commissioned third-party industry reports. In particular, we commissioned Niko Partners to conduct certain market research concerning the PC online game market in our region, Newzoo to conduct certain market research concerning the mobile game market in our region, and Frost & Sullivan to conduct certain market research concerning the e-commerce market in our region. In deriving market data, these industry consultants may have adopted different assumptions and estimates. While we generally believe such reports to be reliable, we have not independently verified the accuracy or completeness of such information. Such reports may not be prepared on a comparable basis or may not be consistent with other sources.
Industry data, projections and estimates are inherently uncertain as they require certain assumptions and judgments. Moreover, geographic markets and the industries we operate in are not rigidly defined or subject to standard definitions, and are the result of subjective interpretation. Accordingly, our use of the terms referring to our geographic markets and industries such as, digital entertainment, e-commerce and digital financial services or e-wallet markets may be subject to interpretation, and the resulting industry data, projections and estimates may not be reliable. In addition, we define our region as the six major markets in the Southeast Asia region, namely Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, in addition to Taiwan. Our industry and market data should be interpreted in light of the defined geographic markets and defined industries we operate in. Any discrepancy in the interpretation thereof could lead to different industry data, measurements, projections and estimates and result in errors and inaccuracies. For these reasons, you should not place undue reliance on such information.
Our user metrics and other estimates are subject to inherent challenges in measuring our operating performance.
We regularly review metrics, including our QAUs, QPUs, GMV and gross orders, to evaluate growth trends, measure our performance, and make strategic decisions. These metrics are calculated using internal company data and have not been validated by an independent third party. While these numbers are based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges in measuring how our services are used across large populations throughout our region. For example, we believe that we cannot distinguish individual users who have multiple accounts. Our user metrics are also affected by technology on certain mobile devices that automatically runs in the background of our applications when another phone function is used, and this activity can cause our system to miscount the user metrics associated with such accounts.
Errors or inaccuracies in our metrics or data could result in incorrect business decisions and inefficiencies. For instance, if a significant understatement or overstatement of active users were to occur, we may expend resources to implement unnecessary business measures or fail to take required actions to remedy an unfavorable trend. If partners or investors do not perceive our user, geographic, or other operating metrics to accurately represent our user base, or if we discover material inaccuracies in our user, geographic, or other operating metrics, our reputation may be seriously harmed.
We have previously identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting. If we fail to maintain an effective internal control over financial reporting, we may be unable to accurately report our results of operations, meet our reporting obligations or prevent fraud and investor confidence in our company and the market price of our ADSs may decline.
As a public company, we are subject to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires us to evaluate and determine the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, report any material weaknesses in such internal controls and, beginning with our second annual report following our initial public offering, provide a management report on internal control over financial reporting.
In connection with the audit of our consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2017, we identified one material weakness under the standards established by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board of the United States, or PCAOB. The material weakness identified relates to our insufficient accounting resources and processes necessary to comply with the reporting and compliance requirements of U.S. GAAP and the SEC. We have taken measures to improve our internal control over financial reporting.
Our management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting is effective as of December 31, 2018. See “Item 15. Controls and Procedures —Management’s Annual Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting”. Our independent registered public accounting firm has issued an attestation report, which has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting is effective as of December 31, 2018. However, if we fail to maintain effective internal control environment, we could suffer material misstatements in our financial statements and fail to meet our reporting obligations, which could cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information. This could in turn limit our access to capital markets, harm our results of operations, and lead to a negative impact on the trading price of our ADSs. Additionally, ineffective internal control over financial reporting could expose us to increased risk of fraud or misuse of corporate assets and subject us to potential delisting from the New York Stock Exchange, regulatory investigations and civil or criminal sanctions.
We may need additional capital but may not be able to obtain it on favorable terms or at all.
We may require additional cash capital resources in order to fund future growth and the development of our businesses, including expansion of our e-commerce business and any investments or acquisitions we may decide to pursue. If our cash resources are insufficient to satisfy our cash requirements, we may seek to issue additional equity or debt securities or obtain new or expanded credit facilities. Our ability to obtain external financing in the future is subject to a variety of uncertainties, including market conditions, our future financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, share price performance, liquidity of international capital and lending markets, governmental regulations over foreign investment and the digital entertainment, e-commerce and digital financial services industries in our region. In addition, incurring indebtedness would subject us to increased debt service obligations and could result in operating and financing covenants that would restrict our operations. There can be no assurance that financing will be available in a timely manner or in amounts or on terms acceptable to us, or at all. Any failure to raise needed funds on terms favorable to us, or at all, could severely restrict our liquidity as well as have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Moreover, any issuance of equity or equity-linked securities could result in significant dilution to our existing shareholders.
We have limited business insurance coverage.
Insurance products available in our region currently are not as extensive as those offered in more developed regions. Consistent with customary industry practice in our region, our business insurance is limited and we do not carry business interruption insurance to cover our operations. We have determined that the costs of insuring for related risks and the difficulties associated with acquiring such insurance on commercially reasonable terms make it impractical for us to have such insurance. Any uninsured damage to our platforms, technology infrastructures or disruption of our business operations could require us to incur substantial costs and divert our resources, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may be subject to risks related to litigation and regulatory proceedings.
We may be, and in some instances have been, subject to claims, lawsuits (including class actions and individual lawsuits), regulatory and government investigations, and other proceedings relating to intellectual property, consumer protection, privacy, labor and employment, import and export practices, competition, securities, tax, marketing and communications practices, contracts, commercial disputes and various other matters. We may also be subject to claims or lawsuits for infringement or violation of third-party intellectual property rights. The number and significance of our legal disputes and inquiries have increased as we have grown larger, as our business has expanded in scope and geographic reach, and as our services have increased in complexity.
Moreover, having become a public company has raised our public profile, which may result in increased litigation as well as increased public awareness of any such litigation, both inside and outside of our region. We will need to defend against such lawsuits, including any appeals, and we may also initiate legal proceedings to protect our rights and interests. There is substantial uncertainty regarding the scope and application of many of the laws and regulations to which we are subject, which increases the risk that we will be subject to claims alleging violations of those laws and regulations. There can be no assurance that we will prevail in any such cases, and any adverse outcome of these cases could have a material adverse effect on our reputation, business and results of operations.
In particular, we will need to defend against the putative shareholder class action lawsuit described in "Item 8. Financial Information — A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information — Legal and Administrative Proceedings," including any appeals of such action. We are currently unable to ascertain the possible loss or possible range of loss, if any, associated with the resolution of this lawsuit. The litigation process may utilize our cash resources and divert management’s attention from the day-to-day operations of our company, all of which could materially harm our business. An adverse determination in this lawsuit, including an adverse determination on appeal in this lawsuit, may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Regardless of the outcome of any particular claim, lawsuit, investigation, dispute or proceeding, any of these types of legal proceedings can have a material and adverse impact on us due to their costs, diversion of our resources, and other factors. We may decide to settle legal disputes on terms that are unfavorable to us. Furthermore, if any litigation to which we are a party is resolved adversely, we may be subject to an unfavorable judgment that we may not choose to appeal or that may not be reversed upon appeal. We may have to seek a license to continue practices found to be in violation of a third party’s rights. If we are required or choose to enter into royalty or licensing arrangements, such arrangements may not be available on reasonable terms, or at all, and may significantly increase our operating costs and expenses. As a result, we may also be required to develop or procure alternative non-infringing technology or discontinue the use of technology, and doing so could require significant effort and expense, or may not be feasible. In addition, the terms of any settlement or judgment in connection with any legal claims, lawsuits, or proceedings may require us to cease some or all of our operations, or pay substantial amounts to the other party and could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The occurrence of a natural disaster, widespread health epidemic or other outbreaks could adversely affect our business.
Our business or operations could be adversely affected by severe weather conditions and natural disasters or the outbreak of avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome, the influenza A (H1N1), H7N9 or another epidemic. Any of such occurrences could cause severe disruption to our daily operations, and may even require a temporary closure of our operations across one or more markets. Such closures may disrupt our business operations and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Our operations could also be disrupted if our third-party service providers, business partners or a significant portion of our users were affected by such natural disasters or health epidemics.
Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure
We rely upon structural arrangements to establish control over certain entities and government authorities may determine that these arrangements do not comply with existing laws and regulations.
The laws and regulations in many markets in our region, including Vietnam and Thailand, place restrictions on foreign investment in and ownership of entities engaged in a number of business activities. For example, in Vietnam, foreign ownership in companies engaging in the online game business may not exceed 49%, and foreign ownership in companies engaging in e-payment business is restricted unless certain government approvals are obtained. In Thailand, direct foreign ownership of each entity operating restricted businesses under, among others, the Thai Foreign Business Act B.E. 2542 (1999), or Thai Foreign Business Act, must be less than 50%.
To comply with the relevant laws and regulations, we conduct our digital entertainment and e-payment businesses in Vietnam through our VIEs and their subsidiaries. We and certain of our wholly-owned subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and Singapore have entered into a series of contractual arrangements with our VIEs and their shareholders who are Vietnam citizens, which enable us to (i) exercise effective control over our VIEs, (ii) receive substantially all of the economic benefits and absorb losses of our VIEs, and (iii) have an exclusive call option to purchase all or part of the equity interests in and/or assets of our VIEs when and to the extent permitted under the relevant laws. Because of these contractual arrangements, we have control over and are the primary beneficiary of our VIEs and hence consolidate their financial results as our VIEs under U.S. GAAP. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure—Contractual Arrangements among Our VIEs, Their Shareholders and Us.” In addition, we have made and may in the future make minority investment through similar structures, which may involve risks similar to those described here.
In Thailand, we conduct our business activities using a tiered shareholding structure in which direct foreign ownership in each Thai entity is less than 50%. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure—Thailand Shareholding Structure.” As Thai laws only consider the immediate level of shareholding, no cumulative or look-through calculation is applied to determine the foreign ownership status of a company when it has several levels of foreign shareholding. Such shareholding structure has allowed us to consolidate our Thai operating entities as our subsidiaries.
We have engaged Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers to help us with the VIE arrangements in Vietnam, and it is of the opinion that the VIE structure and related contractual arrangements are not in violation of the current local laws and regulations. We have also engaged Kudun & Partners Limited in Thailand, and they are of the opinion that the shareholding structure of our Thai operating entities is in compliance with applicable Thai law. However, the local or national authorities or regulatory agencies in Vietnam or Thailand may reach a different conclusion, which could lead to an action being brought against us, the VIEs and their shareholders by administrative orders or in local courts. If the authorities of Vietnam or Thailand find that our arrangements do not comply with their prohibition or restrictions on foreign investment in our lines of business, or if the relevant government otherwise finds that we or any of our subsidiaries, VIEs or their subsidiaries are in violation of the relevant laws or regulations or lack the necessary registrations, permits or licenses to operate our businesses in Vietnam or Thailand, they would have broad discretion in dealing with such violations or failures, including:
|·||revoking the business licenses and/or operating licenses of such entities;|
|·||discontinuing or placing restrictions or onerous conditions on the operations of our VIEs or Thai subsidiaries, or on our operations through any transactions between our company or our Cayman Islands or Singapore subsidiaries on the one hand and our VIEs, subsidiaries of such VIEs or our Thai subsidiaries on the other hand;|
|·||imposing fines, prohibiting payments by our VIEs or their shareholders to us as contemplated in the contractual arrangements with our VIEs, confiscating income from us, our Cayman Islands or Singapore subsidiaries, VIEs or Thai subsidiaries, or imposing other requirements with which such entities may not be able to comply;|
|·||imposing criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment on our VIEs or Thai subsidiaries, their shareholders or directors;|
|·||requiring us to restructure our ownership structure or operations, including terminating the contractual arrangements with our VIEs and their shareholders, which in turn would affect our ability to consolidate, derive economic interests from, or exert effective control over our VIEs or Thai subsidiaries; or|
|·||restricting or prohibiting us from providing funding to our business and operations in Vietnam and Thailand.|
Any of these actions could cause significant disruption to our business operations and severely damage our reputation, which would in turn materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If any of these occurrences results in our inability to direct the activities of our VIEs or Thai subsidiaries that most significantly impact its economic performance, or prevent us from receiving the economic benefits or absorbing losses from these entities, we may not be able to consolidate the entity in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP.
We rely on contractual arrangements with our VIEs and their respective shareholders for a significant portion of our business operations, which may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing operational control.
We have relied and expect to continue to rely on contractual arrangements with our VIEs and their shareholders to operate our businesses in some of our markets. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, revenue from all of our VIEs (including VIEs in other jurisdictions) accounted for 45.6%, 48.6% and 41.5% of our total revenue, respectively. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure.” These contractual arrangements may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing us with control over our VIEs. For example, our VIEs and their shareholders could breach their contractual arrangements with us by, among other things, failing to conduct their operations in an acceptable manner or taking other actions that are detrimental to our interests or these contractual arrangements might be terminated due to non-compliance with the laws of the relevant jurisdiction of the VIEs. Moreover, in the markets where we operate, the use of VIEs are relatively new and remain generally untested before regulators and courts, and therefore, may be subject to legal and regulatory scrutiny, investigations and disputes and these arrangements might have their legality, validity or enforceability challenged by the relevant authorities.
If we had a direct controlling equity interest in our VIEs, we would be able to exercise our rights as a controlling shareholder to effect changes in the board of directors of our VIEs, which in turn could implement changes, subject to any applicable fiduciary obligations, at the management and operational level. However, under the current contractual arrangements, we rely on the performance by our VIEs and their shareholders of their obligations under the contracts to exercise control over our VIEs. These shareholders may not act in the best interests of our company or may not perform their obligations under these contracts. Such risks will continue throughout the period in which we intend to operate certain portions of our business through the contractual arrangements with our VIEs. If any dispute relating to these contracts remains unresolved, we will have to enforce our rights under these contracts through the operations of the laws where our VIEs are located and through arbitration, litigation and other legal proceedings and therefore will be subject to uncertainties in the legal systems in the relevant jurisdiction. Therefore, our contractual arrangements with our VIEs may not be as effective in ensuring our control over the relevant portion of our business operations as direct ownership would be.
Our VIEs or their respective shareholders may fail to perform their obligations under our contractual arrangements with them.
If our VIEs or their shareholders fail to perform their respective obligations under the contractual arrangements, we may have to incur substantial costs and expend additional resources to enforce such arrangements. We may also have to rely on legal remedies, including seeking specific performance or injunctive relief, and claiming damages, which we cannot assure you will be effective under the relevant laws and regulations. For example, if the shareholders of our VIEs refuse to transfer their equity interest in their respective VIEs to us or our designee if we exercise our call option pursuant to these contractual arrangements, or if they otherwise act in bad faith toward us, we may have to take legal action to compel them to perform their contractual obligations. In addition, if any third parties claim any interest in the equity interests of our VIEs, our ability to exercise shareholders’ rights or foreclose the share pledge according to the contractual arrangements may be impaired. If these or other disputes between the shareholders of our VIEs and third parties were to impair our control over our VIEs, our ability to consolidate the financial results of our VIEs would be affected, which would in turn materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
All of the contracts under our contractual arrangements in Vietnam are governed by Vietnamese laws and most of them provide for the resolution of disputes through arbitration in Singapore. Accordingly, these contracts would be interpreted in accordance with Vietnamese laws and any disputes would be resolved in accordance with the applicable legal procedures, subject to arbitration in Singapore. The legal system in Vietnam is not as developed as in some other jurisdictions, such as the United States. As a result, uncertainties in the legal system could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements. Meanwhile, there are very few precedents and little formal guidance as to how contractual arrangements in the context of a VIE should be interpreted or enforced under Vietnamese laws. There remain significant uncertainties regarding the ultimate outcome of such arbitration should legal action become necessary. In addition, according to the agreements we entered into with the VIEs and their respective shareholders, rulings by arbitrators are final and binding on the parties. If the losing parties fail to carry out the arbitration awards within a prescribed time limit, the prevailing parties may only enforce the arbitration awards in the relevant courts through arbitration award recognition proceedings, which would require additional expenses and delay. In the event we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, or if we suffer significant delay or other obstacles in the process of enforcing these contractual arrangements, we may not be able to exert effective control over our VIEs, and our ability to conduct our business may be negatively affected.
The shareholders of our VIEs may have potential conflicts of interest with us.
The shareholders of our VIEs are our local employees or other local citizens. None of these shareholders has a significant equity interest in our company and thus their interests may not be aligned with ours, or they may have other potential conflicts of interest with us. These shareholders of our VIEs may breach, or cause our VIEs to breach, the existing contractual arrangements we have with them and our VIEs, which would have a material and adverse effect on our ability to effectively control our VIEs and receive economic benefits and absorb losses from them. For example, these shareholders may be able to cause our agreements with our VIEs to be performed in a manner adverse to us by, among other things, failing to remit payments due under the contractual arrangements to us on a timely basis. We cannot assure you that when conflicts of interest arise, any or all of these shareholders will act in the best interests of our company or such conflicts will be resolved in our favor. Currently, we do not have any arrangements to address potential conflicts of interest between these shareholders and our company. If we cannot resolve any conflict of interest or dispute between us and these shareholders, we would have to rely on legal proceedings, which could result in disruption of our business and subject us to substantial uncertainty as to the outcome of any such legal proceedings.
Contractual arrangements in relation to our VIEs may be subject to scrutiny by the local tax authorities and they may determine that we or our VIEs owe additional taxes.
Under the applicable laws and regulations in Vietnam, arrangements and transactions among related parties may be subject to audit or challenge by the local tax authorities. We could face material and adverse tax consequences if the local tax authorities determine that the contractual arrangements were not entered into on an arm’s length basis in such a way as to result in an impermissible reduction in taxes under the applicable laws, rules and regulations, and adjust the income of our VIEs in the form of a transfer pricing adjustment. A transfer pricing adjustment could, among other things, result in a reduction of expense deductions recorded by our VIEs for tax purposes, which could in turn increase their tax liabilities. In addition, the local tax authorities may impose late payment fees and other penalties on our VIEs for the adjusted but unpaid taxes according to the applicable regulations. Our financial position could be materially and adversely affected if the tax liabilities of our VIEs increase or if they are required to pay late payment fees and other penalties.
We may lose the ability to use and benefit from assets held by a VIE if such VIE goes bankrupt or becomes subject to a dissolution or liquidation proceeding.
As part of our contractual arrangements with our VIEs, our VIEs hold certain licenses and assets that are material to the operation of our business in the relevant jurisdictions, including data servers and equipment held by our VIEs. If any of our VIEs go bankrupt and all or part of their assets become subject to liens or rights of third-party creditors, we may be unable to continue some or all of our business activities in Vietnam, which could materially and adversely affect our businesses, financial condition and results of operations. Under the contractual arrangements, our VIEs may not, in any manner, sell, transfer, mortgage or dispose of their assets or legal or beneficial interests in the business without our prior consent. If our VIEs undergo a voluntary or involuntary liquidation proceeding, the independent third-party creditors may claim rights to some or all of these assets, thereby hindering our ability to operate our businesses, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Doing Business in Our Region
Our revenue and net income may be materially and adversely affected by an economic slowdown in any of our regions or globally.
The success of our business ultimately depends on consumer spending. We derive substantially all of our revenue from the markets in our region and are exposed to general economic conditions that affect consumer confidence, consumer spending, consumer discretionary income or changes in consumer purchasing habits. As a result, our revenue and net income could be impacted to a significant extent by economic conditions in our region and globally, as well as economic conditions specific to digital entertainment, e-commerce and digital financial services. The regional and global economy, markets and levels of consumer spending are influenced by many factors beyond our control, including consumer perception of current and future economic conditions, political uncertainty, employment levels, inflation or deflation, real disposable income, interest rates, taxation and currency exchange rates.
Economic growth in our region experienced a mild moderation in the past, partially due to the slowdown of the Chinese economy since 2012, as well as the global commercial volatility of energy prices, U.S. monetary policy and other markets. Productivity growth in our region also slowed since the global financial crisis. In addition, there have been ongoing discussions and commentary regarding potential significant changes to the United States trade policies, treaties, tariffs and taxes, including trade policies and tariffs regarding China. These changes have created significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United States and China, as well as other countries, including with respect to the trade policies, treaties, government regulations and tariffs that could apply to trade between the United States and other nations. It is uncertain what measures will be adopted by the governments of the United States and China and such measures, or the perception that any of them could occur, may have a material adverse effect on our region, global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets. Our region will have to continue to cope with potential external and domestic risks to sustain its economic growth. An economic downturn, whether actual or perceived, a further decrease in economic growth rates or an otherwise uncertain economic outlook in our region or any other market in which we may operate could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Changes in economic, political or social conditions or government policies in our region could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.
Substantially all of our assets and operations are located in the markets in our region. Accordingly, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be influenced to a significant degree by political, economic and social conditions in this region generally. The economy in our region differs from most developed markets in many respects, including the level of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange, government policy on public order and allocation of resources. In some of our markets, governments continue to play a significant role in regulating industry development by imposing industrial policies. Moreover, some local governments also exercise significant control over the economic growth and public order in their respective jurisdictions through allocating resources, controlling payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policies, and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies.
While the economy in our region, as a whole, has experienced significant growth over the past decades, growth has been uneven, both geographically and among various sectors of the economy. Any adverse changes in economic conditions in our region or in other markets in neighboring regions (such as China and Japan), or in the policies of the governments or of the laws and regulations in each respective market could have a material adverse effect on the overall economic growth of our region. Such developments could adversely affect our business and operating results, lead to reduction in demand for our content and services and adversely affect our competitive position. Many of the governments in our region have implemented various measures to encourage economic growth and guide the allocation of resources. Some of these measures may benefit the overall economy, but may have a negative effect on us. For example, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by government control over foreign capital investments or changes in tax regulations. Some markets in our region have historically experienced low growth in their gross domestic product, or GDP, significant inflation and/or shortages of foreign exchange. We are exposed to the risk of rental and other cost increases due to potential inflation in the markets in which we operate. In the past, some of the governments in our region have implemented certain measures, including interest rate adjustments, currency trading band adjustments and exchange rate controls, to control the pace of economic growth. These measures may cause decreased economic activity in our region, which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, some markets in our region have experienced, and may in the future experience, political instability, including strikes, demonstrations, protests, marches, coups d’état, guerilla activity or other types of civil disorder. These instabilities and any adverse changes in the political environment could increase our costs, increase our exposure to legal and business risks, disrupt our office operations or affect our ability to expand our user base.
Our businesses and operations in Taiwan may be materially and adversely impacted if we are deemed to be a PRC investor.
Although there have been significant economic and cultural interactions and relationships established between Taiwan and the PRC, there have been and remain tensions between the governments of Taiwan and the PRC regarding the international political status of Taiwan. Such tensions may affect the economic and social activities in Taiwan, which may in turn affect our businesses and operations in Taiwan. The Taiwan government has historically imposed prohibitions and restrictions on investments, directly and indirectly, by PRC investors. “PRC investors” refer to PRC individuals, juristic persons, organizations and other institutions, and PRC invested companies from other jurisdictions. “PRC invested companies from other jurisdictions” refer to those entities incorporated outside of the PRC and invested by PRC individuals, juristic persons, organizations and other institutions that: (i) directly or indirectly hold more than 30% of the shares or capital of such entities, or (ii) have the ability to control such entities. Under the current policies on PRC investments in Taiwan, PRC investors are allowed to invest, upon prior approval, in Taiwan companies that operate business in the statutory business categories listed as permitted in the Positive Listings promulgated by the Taiwan authorities, and are prohibited or restricted from investing in all other businesses.
Under Taiwan company law, a Taiwan company is required to select from a statutory list of business categories for inclusion in its corporate registration based on various aspects of its business operations. Some of the statutory categories currently listed in the corporate registration of our Taiwan operating entities include computer recreational activities, software publication, third party payments and general advertising services that are not within the Positive Listings. The other statutory business categories currently listed in the business scope of the corporate registration of our Taiwan operating entities are within the Positive Listings, including the data processing services listed in the corporate registration of our digital entertainment and e-commerce business entities, and the software design services currently listed in the corporate registration of our digital entertainment business entity.
We do not believe, based on advice from our Taiwan counsel, LCS & Partners, that we are a PRC investor under existing Taiwan law and court judgments. Therefore, we do not believe that we are prohibited from operating businesses that have statutory business categories not listed as permitted in the Positive Listings or that we need to seek prior approval for operating businesses that have statutory business categories listed as permitted in the Positive Listings. We currently operate our digital entertainment business in Taiwan through our wholly-owned branch office in Taiwan, and operate our e-commerce business in Taiwan through our wholly-owned subsidiary in Taiwan. Both of such entities were acquired or established upon approval by the relevant Taiwan government authorities. However, should the Taiwan authorities deem us to be a PRC investor, the Taiwan authorities may take a range of actions, including:
|·||imposing fines between NT$120,000 (US$3,920) to NT$600,000 (US$19,601) and further fines if the non-compliance is not rectified as ordered;|
|·||ordering us to reduce any direct or indirect ownership or control by PRC investors in our company;|
|·||requesting us to divest some or all of our ownership or control in our operating entities in Taiwan;|
|·||suspending the rights of shareholders of our Taiwan operating entities; and|
|·||discontinuing the operations and revoking the business licenses of our Taiwan operating entities.|
If any such actions are taken, our operation in Taiwan and our financial results will be materially and adversely affected.
Uncertainties with respect to the legal system in certain markets in our region could adversely affect us.
The legal systems in our region vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions have a civil law system based on written statutes and others are based on common law. Unlike the common law system, prior court decisions under the civil law system may be cited for reference but have limited precedential value.
Many of the markets in our region have not developed a fully integrated legal system, and recently enacted laws and regulations may not sufficiently cover all aspects of economic activities in such markets. In particular, the interpretation and enforcement of these laws and regulations involve uncertainties. Since local administrative and court authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing statutory provisions and contractual terms, it may be difficult to evaluate the outcome of administrative and court proceedings and the level of legal protection we enjoy in many of the localities that we operate in. Moreover, local courts may have broad discretion to reject enforcement of foreign awards. These uncertainties may affect our judgment on the relevance of legal requirements and our ability to enforce our contractual rights or tort claims. In addition, the regulatory uncertainties may be exploited through unmerited or frivolous legal actions or threats in attempts to extract payments or benefits from us.
Each jurisdiction in our region has enacted, and may enact or amend from time to time, laws and regulations governing the distribution of games, services, messages, applications, electronic documents and other content through the internet. The relevant government authorities may prohibit the distribution of information through the internet that they deem to be objectionable on various grounds, such as public interest or public security, or to otherwise be in violation of local laws and regulations. If any of the information disseminated through our platforms were deemed by any relevant government authorities to violate content restrictions, we would not be able to continue to display such content and could be subject to penalties, including confiscation of the property used in the non-compliant acts, removal of the infringing content, temporary or permanent blocks, administrative fines, suspension of business, revocation of the registration to act as an electronic systems provider and revocation of required licenses, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Furthermore, many of the legal systems in our region are based in part on government policies and internal rules, some of which are not published on a timely basis or at all and may have retroactive effect. There are other circumstances where key regulatory definitions are unclear, imprecise or missing, or where interpretations that are adopted by regulators are inconsistent with interpretations adopted by a court in analogous cases. As a result, we may not be aware of our violation of certain policies and rules until sometime after the violation. In addition, any administrative and court proceedings in our region may be protracted, resulting in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention.
It is possible that a number of laws and regulations may be adopted or construed to apply to us in our region and elsewhere that could restrict our industries. Scrutiny and regulation of the industries in which we operate may further increase, and we may be required to devote additional legal and other resources to addressing this regulation. For example, existing laws or new laws regarding the regulation of currency, money laundering, banking institutions, unclaimed property, e-commerce, consumer and data protection and intermediary payments may be interpreted to cover virtual items offered in our digital entertainment business. Changes in current laws or regulations or the imposition of new laws and regulations in our region or elsewhere regarding our industries may slow the growth of our industries and adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.
It is not certain if Sea Limited will be classified as a Singapore tax resident.
Under the Singapore Income Tax Act, a company established outside Singapore but whose governing body, being the board of directors, usually exercises de facto control and management of its business in Singapore could be considered a tax resident in Singapore. However, such control and management of the business should not be deemed to be in Singapore if physical board meetings are mainly conducted outside of Singapore. Where board resolutions are passed in the form of written consent signed by the directors each acting in their own jurisdictions, or where the board meetings are held by teleconference or videoconference, it is possible that the place of de facto control and management will be considered to be where the majority of the board are located when they sign such consent or attend such conferences.
We believe that Sea Limited is not a Singapore tax resident for Singapore income tax purposes. However, the tax residence status of Sea Limited is subject to determination by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, or IRAS, and uncertainties remain with respect to the interpretation of the term “control and management” for the purposes of the Singapore Income Tax Act. If IRAS determines that Sea Limited is a Singapore tax resident for Singapore income tax purposes, the portion of Sea Limited’s single company income on an unconsolidated basis that is received or deemed by the Singapore Income Tax Act to be received in Singapore, where applicable, may be subject to Singapore income tax at the prevailing tax rate of 17% before applicable income tax exemptions or relief. If Sea Limited is regarded as a Singapore tax resident, any dividends received or deemed received by Sea Limited in Singapore from subsidiaries located in a foreign jurisdiction with a rate of income tax or tax of a similar nature of no more than 15% may generally be subject to additional Singapore income tax where there is no other applicable tax treaty between such foreign jurisdiction and Singapore. Income is considered to have been received in Singapore when it is: (i) remitted to, transmitted or brought into Singapore; (ii) applied in or towards satisfaction of any debt incurred in respect of a trade or business carried on in Singapore; or (iii) applied to purchase any movable property that is brought into Singapore. In addition, as Singapore does not impose withholding tax on dividends declared by Singapore resident companies, if Sea Limited is considered a Singapore tax resident, dividends paid to the holders of our ordinary shares and ADSs will not be subject to withholding tax in Singapore. Regardless of whether or not Sea Limited is regarded as a Singapore tax resident, holders of our ordinary shares or the ADSs who are not Singapore tax residents would generally not be subject to Singapore income tax on gains derived from the disposal of our ordinary shares or the ADSs if such shareholders do not maintain a permanent establishment in Singapore, to which the disposition gains may be effectively connected, and the entire process (including the negotiation, deliberation, execution of the acquisition and sale, etc.) leading up to the actual acquisition and sale of the ADSs or our ordinary shares is performed outside of Singapore. For Singapore resident shareholders, if the gain from disposal of our ordinary shares or the ADSs is considered by IRAS as income in nature, such gain will generally be subject to Singapore income tax, and not taxable in Singapore if the gain is considered by IRAS as capital gains in nature. See “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—Singapore Taxation—Income Tax—Gains With Respect to Disposition of Our ADSs or Our Ordinary Shares.”
It will be difficult to acquire jurisdiction and enforce liabilities against our assets based in some of the jurisdictions in our region.
Substantially all of our assets are located in the markets in our region and almost all of our executive officers and present directors reside outside of the United States. As a result, it may be difficult for United States investors to enforce their legal rights, to effect service of process upon our directors or executive officers or to enforce judgments of United States courts predicated upon civil liabilities and criminal penalties of our directors and executive officers under Federal securities laws. Moreover, management has been advised that Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand and many of the other jurisdictions within our region do not have treaties providing for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments of courts with the United States. Further, it is unclear if extradition treaties now in effect between the United States and some of our markets, such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, would permit effective enforcement of criminal penalties of the Federal securities laws.
Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates will affect our financial results, which we report in U.S. dollars.
We operate in multiple jurisdictions, which exposes us to the effects of fluctuations in currency exchange rates. We earn revenue denominated in Indonesian rupiah, New Taiwan dollars, Vietnamese dong, Thai baht, Philippine pesos, Malaysian ringgit, Singapore dollars and U.S. dollars, among other currencies. We generally pay license fees to game developers in U.S. dollars and incur expenses for employee compensation and other operating expenses in the local currencies in the jurisdictions in which we operate, including the jurisdictions described above and the PRC. Fluctuations in the exchange rates between the various currencies that we use could result in expenses being higher and revenue being lower than would be the case if exchange rates were stable. We cannot assure you that movements in foreign currency exchange rates will not have a material adverse effect on our results of operations in future periods. We do not generally enter into hedging contracts to limit our exposure to fluctuations in the value of the currencies that our businesses use. Furthermore, the substantial majority of our revenue is denominated in emerging markets currencies. Because fluctuations in the value of emerging markets currencies are not necessarily correlated, there can be no assurance that our results of operations will not be adversely affected by such volatility. See “Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.”
Restrictions on currency exchange may limit our ability to receive and use our cash effectively.
A large majority of our revenue and expenses are denominated in Indonesian rupiah, New Taiwan dollars, Vietnamese dong and Thai baht. If revenue denominated in Indonesian rupiah, New Taiwan dollars, Vietnamese dong and Thai baht increase or expenses denominated in such currencies decrease in the future, we may need to convert a portion of our revenue into other currencies to meet our foreign currency obligations, including, among others, payment of dividends declared, if any, in respect of our ordinary shares. Currently, in Taiwan, a single remittance by a company for an amount over US$1 million or remittances by a company in annual aggregate amounts exceeding US$50 million may not be processed without the approval of the Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan). In Vietnam, exchanging Vietnamese dong into foreign currency must be conducted at a licensed credit institution such as a licensed commercial bank. Conversion of Thai baht to another currency is subject to regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Finance and Bank of Thailand. Conversion of Indonesian rupiah into any foreign currency that exceeds certain specific threshold is required to have an underlying transaction and supported by underlying transaction documents. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to convert such local currencies into U.S. dollars or other foreign currencies to pay dividends or for other purposes on a timely basis or at all.
The ability of our subsidiaries to distribute dividends to us may be subject to restrictions under the laws of their respective jurisdictions.
We are a holding company, and our subsidiaries are located throughout the markets in our region including Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. Part of our primary internal sources of funds to meet our cash needs is our share of the dividends, if any, paid by our subsidiaries. The distribution of dividends to us from the subsidiaries in these markets as well as other markets where we operate is subject to restrictions imposed by the applicable laws and regulations in these markets. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Indonesia—Regulations on Dividend Distributions,” “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Thailand—Regulations on Dividend Distributions,” “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Singapore—Regulations on Dividend Distributions”, and “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Taiwan—Regulations on Dividend Distributions”. In addition, although there are currently no foreign exchange control regulations which restrict the ability of our subsidiaries in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore to distribute dividends to us, the relevant regulations may be changed and the ability of these subsidiaries to distribute dividends to us may be restricted in the future.
Risks Related to the ADSs
The trading price of the ADSs is likely to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to investors.
The trading price of the ADSs is likely to be volatile and could fluctuate widely due to factors beyond our control. This may happen because of broad market and industry factors, including the performance and fluctuation of the market prices of other companies with business operations located mainly in our region that have listed their securities in the United States. In addition to market and industry factors, the price and trading volume for the ADSs may be highly volatile for factors specific to our own operations, including the following:
|·||variations in our quarterly or annual revenue, earnings and cash flow;|
|·||announcements of new investments, acquisitions, strategic partnerships or joint ventures by us or our competitors;|
|·||announcements of new content and services or plan of expansions by us or our competitors;|
|·||changes in financial estimates by securities analysts;|
|·||detrimental adverse publicity about us, our businesses or our industries;|
|·||additions or departures of key personnel;|
|·||release of lock-up or other transfer restrictions on our outstanding equity securities or sales of additional equity securities; and|
|·||current class action, potential litigation or regulatory investigations.|
Any of these factors may result in large and sudden changes in the volume and price at which the ADSs will trade.
In the past, shareholders of public companies have often brought securities class action suits against those companies following periods of instability in the market price of their securities. We are currently involved in a putative securities class action. See “Item 8. Financial Information – A. Consolidated Statement and Other Financial Information - Legal and Administrative Proceedings.” Involvement in a securities class action could divert a significant amount of our management’s attention and other resources from our business and operations and require us to incur significant expenses to defend the suit, which could harm our results of operations. Any such class action suit, whether or not successful, could harm our reputation and restrict our ability to raise capital in the future. In addition, if a claim is successfully made against us, we may be required to pay significant damages, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Certain shareholders have substantial influence over our company and their interests may not be aligned with the interests of our other shareholders.
We have adopted a dual-class voting structure such that our ordinary shares consists of Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares. Based on our dual-class voting structure, in respect of matters requiring a shareholders’ vote, holders of Class A ordinary shares will be entitled to one vote per share, while holders of Class B ordinary shares will be entitled to three votes per share. Due to the different voting powers associated with our two classes of ordinary shares, as of January 31, 2019, our founder and Tencent beneficially owned an aggregate of 72.4% of the total voting power of our ordinary shares. See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—E. Share Ownership.” As a result, our founder and Tencent have substantial influence over our business, including significant corporate actions such as mergers, consolidations, sales of all or substantially all of our assets, election of directors and other significant corporate actions. Pursuant to an irrevocable proxy between our founder and Tencent, Tencent has agreed to appoint our founder as its proxy with respect to all or a portion of the Class B ordinary shares held by Tencent on matters that are subject to the vote of shareholders. See “Item 10. Additional Information—B. Memorandum and Articles of Association—Ordinary Shares—Classes of Ordinary Shares; Conversion” for more information. Furthermore, under our amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, any change of control of our company upon merger or consolidation, scheme of arrangement or other similar transactions, or the sale or exclusive license of all or substantially all of our intellectual property, will require the separate approval of holders of at least 80% of Class B ordinary shares then outstanding. See “Item 10. Additional Information—B. Memorandum and Articles of Association—Ordinary Shares—Special Approvals” for more information.
These shareholders may take actions that are not aligned with the interests of our other shareholders. This concentration of ownership as well as voting and approval rights among holders of Class B ordinary shares may discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could deprive our shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and may reduce the price of the ADSs. Certain actions may be taken even if they are opposed by our other shareholders. In addition, the significant concentration of share ownership may adversely affect the trading price of the ADSs due to investors’ perception that conflicts of interest may exist or arise. For more information regarding our principal shareholders and their affiliated entities, see “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—E. Share Ownership.”
The depositary for the ADSs will give us a discretionary proxy to vote our Class A ordinary shares underlying our ADSs at shareholders’ meetings if holders of ADSs do not give voting instructions to the depositary, except in limited circumstances, which could adversely affect the interests of such holders.
Under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, the depositary will give us a discretionary proxy to vote our Class A ordinary shares underlying our ADSs at shareholders’ meetings if holders of ADSs do not give voting instructions to the depositary, unless:
|·||we have failed to timely provide the depositary with our notice of meeting and related voting materials;|
|·||we have instructed the depositary that we do not wish a discretionary proxy to be given;|
|·||we have informed the depositary that there is substantial opposition as to a matter to be voted on at the meeting;|
|·||a matter to be voted on at the meeting would have a material adverse impact on shareholders; or|
|·||voting at the meeting is made on a show of hands.|
The effect of this discretionary proxy is that, if holders of ADSs fail to give voting instructions to the depositary, they cannot prevent our Class A ordinary shares underlying our ADSs from being voted, absent the situations described above, and it may make it more difficult for shareholders to influence our management. Holders of our Class B ordinary shares are not subject to this discretionary proxy.
We have granted, and may continue to grant, share incentives, which may result in increased share-based compensation expenses and dilution to shareholders.
We adopted our 2009 Share Incentive Plan, last amended in February 2018, or the 2009 Plan, for the purpose of granting share-based compensation awards to officers, employees, directors and other eligible persons to incentivize their performance and align their interests with ours. In February 2018, our board of directors approved automatic increases on January 1 of each of 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 of the maximum aggregate number of ordinary shares which may be issued under the 2009 Plan by 5% of the total number of ordinary shares of all classes of the company outstanding on that day immediately before the increase, which may cause further dilution to our shareholders. The maximum aggregate number of ordinary shares which may be issued pursuant to all awards under the 2009 Share Incentive Plan has increased to 100,129,938 beginning January 1, 2019 from 83,000,000 as of December 31, 2018. We are authorized to grant options, share appreciation rights, share awards of restricted shares and non-restricted shares, restricted share units and other types of awards the administrator of the 2009 Plan decides.
We account for compensation costs for all share options using a fair-value based method and recognize expenses in our consolidated statements of operations in accordance with U.S. GAAP. As of January 31, 2019, outstanding awards granted under the 2009 Plan consisted of (i) options to purchase 36,039,818 Class A ordinary shares, (ii) 159,190 restricted Class A ordinary shares, (iii) 7,802,229 restricted Class A ordinary share units, and (iv) 126,090 share appreciation rights. As a result of our grants of awards under the 2009 Plan, we incurred share-based compensation of US$28.8 million, US$28.6 million and US$58.1 million in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. For more information on our share incentive plan, see “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—B. Compensation—Share Incentive Plan.” We will incur additional share-based compensation expenses in the future as we continue to grant share-based incentives. We believe the granting of share-based compensation is of significant importance to our ability to attract and retain key personnel and employees, and we will continue to grant share-based compensation to employees in the future. As a result, our expenses associated with share-based compensation may increase, which may have an adverse effect on our results of operations.
Substantial future sales or perceived potential sales of our ADSs, Class A ordinary shares or other equity securities could cause the price of our ADSs to decline significantly.
Sales of substantial amounts of our ADSs, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of our ADSs to decline and could materially impair our ability to raise capital through equity offerings in the future. The ADSs sold in our initial public offering are freely tradable without restriction or further registration under the Securities Act, and all other Class A ordinary shares held by our pre-IPO shareholders may be sold in the public market in the future. In addition, subsequent to January 31, 2019 (the latest practicable date of our share count disclosure in this annual report), note holders of an aggregate principal amount of US$417.5 million have elected to convert their 2017 convertible notes, representing approximately 31,369,287 Class A ordinary shares. Also, as of the date of this annual report, we have outstanding 2017 convertible notes in the aggregate principal amount of US$207.5 million. The holders of the outstanding 2017 convertible notes may convert all or any portion of the outstanding principal under the notes into Class A ordinary shares at any time prior to the maturity date, and sell such shares. The outstanding 2017 convertible notes may be converted into up to 15,014,460 Class A ordinary shares at a conversion price ranging from approximately US$13.63 to US$13.95, based on our initial public offering price of US$15.00 per ADS. Additionally, we have outstanding 2018 convertible notes in the aggregate principal amount of US$575 million, issued in June 2018. The holders of the 2018 convertible notes may convert the notes into ADSs upon the terms governing the 2018 convertible notes, which included an initial conversion rate of 50.5165 ADSs per US$1,000 principal amount of the 2018 convertible notes, subject to adjustment in certain dilutive and other events. If these convertible notes are converted, the ownership interest of our ADS holders will be diluted. Any sale of our securities held by our pre-IPO shareholders after the expiration of any applicable lock-up agreement may also cause the market price of our ADSs to decline.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or if they adversely change their recommendations regarding our ADSs, the market price for our ADSs and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our ADSs will be influenced by research or reports that industry or securities analysts publish about our business. If one or more analysts who cover us downgrade our ADSs, the market price for our ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause the market price or trading volume for our ADSs to decline.
Because we do not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future, holders of ADSs must rely on price appreciation of our ADSs for return on their investment.
We currently intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of our business. As a result, we do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Therefore, holders of ADSs should not rely on an investment in ADSs as a source for any future dividend income.
Our board of directors has complete discretion as to whether to distribute dividends. Even if our board of directors decides to declare and pay dividends, the timing, amount and form of future dividends, if any, will depend on our future results of operations and cash flow, our capital requirements and surplus, the amount of distributions, if any, received by us from our subsidiaries, our financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. Accordingly, the return on the investment in our ADSs will likely depend entirely upon any future price appreciation of our ADSs. There is no guarantee that our ADSs will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which the holders purchased our ADSs. Holders of ADSs may not realize a return on their investment in our ADSs and may even lose their entire investment in our ADSs.
Our memorandum and articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions and a dual-class voting structure that could have a material adverse effect on the rights of holders of our Class A ordinary shares and our ADSs.
Our memorandum and articles of association contain provisions to limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in change-of-control transactions. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transaction. Our memorandum and articles of association also contain a dual-class voting structure that gives disproportionate voting power to the Class B ordinary shares held by our founder, Forrest Xiaodong Li, and Tencent and their respective affiliates. As of January 31, 2019, our founder and Tencent beneficially owned an aggregate of 72.4% of the total voting power of our ordinary shares. See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—E. Share Ownership.” In addition, our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our shareholders, to issue preferred shares in one or more series and to fix their designations, powers, preferences, privileges, and relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications, limitations or restrictions, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights (other than to issue additional supervoting shares, which would require the consent of holders of Class B ordinary shares), terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights associated with our ordinary shares, in the form of ADS or otherwise. Preferred shares could be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our company or make removal of management more difficult. If our board of directors decides to issue preferred shares, the price of our ADSs may fall and the voting and other rights of the holders of our Class A ordinary shares and our ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.
Holders of ADSs may face difficulties in protecting their interests, and their ability to protect their rights through U.S. courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law, we conduct substantially all of our operations and all of our directors and executive officers reside outside of the United States.
We are an exempted company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association, the Companies Law (2018 Revision) of the Cayman Islands and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take action against the directors, actions by minority shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from the common law of England, the decisions of whose courts are of persuasive authority, but are not binding, on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedent in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. Some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States.
Shareholders of Cayman Islands exempted companies like us have no general rights under Cayman Islands law to inspect corporate records or to obtain copies of lists of shareholders of these companies. Our directors have discretion under our articles of association to determine whether or not, and under what conditions, our corporate records may be inspected by our shareholders, but are not obliged to make them available to our shareholders. This may make it more difficult for holders of ADSs to obtain the information needed to establish any facts necessary for a shareholder motion or to solicit proxies from other shareholders in connection with a proxy contest.
Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, differ significantly from requirements for companies incorporated in other jurisdictions such as the United States. To the extent we choose to follow home country practice with respect to corporate governance matters, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would under rules and regulations applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.
As a result of all of the above, our public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by management, members of the board of directors or controlling shareholders than they would as public shareholders of a company incorporated in the United States.
Certain judgments obtained against us by our shareholders may not be enforceable.
We are a Cayman Islands company and substantially all of our assets are located outside of the United States. Substantially all of our current operations are conducted in the markets in our region. In addition, most of our current directors and executive officers are not United States nationals or residents. Substantially all of the assets of these persons are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for our shareholders to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States in the event that they believe that their rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if our shareholders are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of the jurisdictions that comprise our region may render our shareholders unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and executive officers.
The voting rights of holders of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement, and holders of ADSs may not be able to exercise their right to vote their Class A ordinary shares.
Holders of ADSs are only able to exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying Class A ordinary shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Holders of ADSs may not have the same voting rights as the holders of our Class A ordinary shares and may not receive voting materials in time to be able to exercise the right to vote. Under the deposit agreement, holders of ADSs must vote by giving voting instructions to the depositary. If we ask for instructions from the holders of ADSs, upon receipt of voting instructions from the holders of ADSs, the depositary will try to vote the underlying Class A ordinary shares in accordance with these instructions. If we do not instruct the depositary to ask for instructions from the holders of ADSs, the depositary may still vote in accordance with instructions given by the holders of ADSs, but it is not required to do so. Holders of ADSs are not able to directly exercise the right to vote with respect to the underlying Class A ordinary shares unless holders of ADSs withdraw their Class A ordinary shares from the depositary and become a registered holder of such shares. When a general meeting is convened, holders of ADSs may not receive sufficient advance notice to withdraw their Class A ordinary shares to allow them to vote with respect to any specific matter. If we ask for instructions from holders of ADSs, the depositary will notify holders of ADSs of the upcoming vote and will arrange to deliver our voting materials to holders of ADSs. We have agreed to give the depositary prior notice of shareholder meetings as far in advance of the meeting date as practicable. Nevertheless, we cannot assure you that holders of ADSs will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that holders of ADSs can instruct the depositary to vote the Class A ordinary shares underlying their ADSs. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for their manner of carrying out voting instructions. This means that holders of ADSs may not be able to exercise the right to vote and may have no legal remedy if the Class A ordinary shares underlying our ADSs are not voted as they requested.
Holders of ADSs may be subject to limitations on the transfer of their ADSs.
Our ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. The depositary may close its books from time to time for a number of reasons, including in connection with corporate events such as a rights offering, during which time the depositary needs to maintain an exact number of ADSs on its books for a specified period. The depositary may also close its books in emergencies, and on weekends and public holidays. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our share register or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary thinks it is advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.
Holders of ADSs may experience dilution of their holdings due to an inability to participate in rights offerings.
We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. Under the deposit agreement for our ADSs, the depositary will not offer those rights to ADS holders unless both the rights and the underlying securities to be distributed to ADS holders are either registered under the Securities Act, or exempt from registration under the Securities Act with respect to all holders of ADSs. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or underlying securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective. In addition, we may not be able to take advantage of any exemptions from registration under the Securities Act. Accordingly, holders of our ADSs may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution in their holdings as a result.
We are a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules under the Exchange Act, and as such we are exempt from certain provisions applicable to domestic public companies in the United States.
Because we are a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act, we are exempt from certain provisions of the securities rules and regulations in the United States that are applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, including: (i) the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K with the SEC; (ii) the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents, or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act; (iii) the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and (iv) the selective disclosure rules by issuers of material nonpublic information under Regulation FD.
We are required to file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the end of each fiscal year. In addition, we publish our results on a quarterly basis through press releases, distributed pursuant to the rules and regulations of the New York Stock Exchange. Press releases relating to financial results and material events are furnished to the SEC on Form 6-K. However, the information we are required to file with or furnish to the SEC will be less extensive and less timely compared to that required to be filed with the SEC by U.S. domestic issuers. As a result, holders of ADSs may not be afforded the same protections or information, which would be made available to them, were they investing in a U.S. domestic issuer.
We are subject to the corporate governance requirements of the New York Stock Exchange. However, New York Stock Exchange rules permit a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of our home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from the New York Stock Exchange corporate governance requirements. If we choose to follow home country practice, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they would otherwise enjoy under the New York Stock Exchange corporate governance listing standards applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.
We will continue to incur increased costs as a public company, particularly as we no longer qualify as an “emerging growth company.”
As a public company with ADSs listed on the New York Stock Exchange, we incur significant legal, accounting and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as well as rules subsequently implemented by the SEC and the New York Stock Exchange, impose various requirements on the corporate governance practices of public companies. These and other rules and requirements may increase or change, resulting in an increase our legal and financial compliance costs. Operating as a public company also makes it more difficult and more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and we may be required to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. It may also be more difficult for us to attract qualified persons to serve on our board of directors or as executive officers.
As we no longer qualify as an emerging growth company, we can no longer take advantage of reduced reporting requirements applicable to emerging growth companies. For example, we now must comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Complying with Section 404 may be costly and management’s attention may be diverted from other business concerns, which could adversely affect our business and results of operations.
If we are a passive foreign investment company for United States federal income tax purposes for any taxable year, United States holders of ADSs or our ordinary shares could be subject to adverse United States federal income tax consequences.
A non-United States corporation will be a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for United States federal income tax purposes for any taxable year if either (i) at least 75% of its gross income for such year is passive income or (ii) at least 50% of the value of its assets (based on an average of the quarterly values of the assets) during such year is attributable to assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income. A separate determination must be made after the close of each taxable year as to whether a non-United States corporation is a PFIC for that year. Based on the current and anticipated value of our assets, composition of our income and assets, and the market value of our ADSs, we do not believe that we were a PFIC for the taxable year ended December 31, 2018, and we do not expect to be a PFIC for our current taxable year ending December 31, 2019. Nevertheless, the application of the PFIC rules is subject to uncertainty in several respects, and we cannot assure you the United States Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, will not take a contrary position.
The classification of certain of our income as active or passive, and certain of our assets as producing active or passive income, and hence whether we are or will become a PFIC, depends on the interpretation of certain United States Treasury Regulations, including certain regulations relating to royalty income and income from intangible assets, as well as certain IRS guidance relating to the classification of assets as producing active or passive income. Such regulations and guidance are potentially subject to different interpretations. If the percentage of our passive income or the percentage of our assets treated as producing passive income increases, for example due to a differing interpretation of such regulations and guidance, we may be treated as a PFIC for any taxable year. In addition, although the law in this regard is not entirely clear, we treat our VIEs and each of their subsidiaries as being owned by us for United States federal income tax purposes, because we are entitled to substantially all of the economic benefits associated with such entities. Also, we control the management decisions of such entities, and we consolidate the results of their operations in our consolidated U.S. GAAP financial statements. If it is determined, however, that we are not the owner of our VIEs or any of their subsidiaries for United States federal income tax purposes, their income and assets will not be included for purposes of determining our PFIC status, and as a result, we may be treated as a PFIC for any taxable year.
Changes in the composition of our income or composition of our assets may cause us to become a PFIC. The determination of whether we will be a PFIC for any taxable year may depend in part upon the value of our goodwill not reflected on our balance sheet (which may depend upon the market value of our ADSs from time to time, which may be volatile) and may also be affected by how, and how quickly, we spend our liquid assets, including cash. In estimating the value of our goodwill, we have taken into account our market capitalization based on the market value of our ADSs listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Among other matters, if our market capitalization subsequently declines, we may be or become a PFIC for the current or subsequent taxable years because our liquid assets (which are for this purpose considered assets that produce passive income) may then represent a greater percentage of our overall assets. Further, while we believe our classification methodology and valuation approach is reasonable, it is possible that the IRS may challenge our classification or valuation of our goodwill, which may result in our being or becoming a PFIC for any taxable year.
If we are a PFIC for any taxable year during which a United States person holds ADSs or ordinary shares, certain adverse United States federal income tax consequences could apply to such United States person. See “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Taxation—Passive Foreign Investment Company.”
|ITEM 4.||INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY|
|A.||History and Development of the Company|
On May 8, 2009, we incorporated Garena Interactive Holding Limited, our holding company, as a limited liability company in the Cayman Islands. On April 8, 2017, we changed our company name from Garena Interactive Holding Limited to Sea Limited.
Sea Limited is a holding company that does not have substantive operations. We conduct our businesses through our subsidiaries and consolidated affiliated entities.
We began our digital entertainment business at our inception in May 2009, and by September 2012, we had expanded the business to cover Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, which we refer to as our region. Our self-developed game Free Fire is also currently available in several continents, including parts of Asia outside of our region, Europe, Latin America and Africa.
We launched our e-commerce platform, Shopee, in all seven markets in our region in June and early July 2015.
We launched our digital financial services platform, AirPay, in Vietnam in April 2014 and in Thailand in June 2014. AirPay also has limited operations in the other markets in our region.
We completed our initial public offering of 58,960,000 ADSs on October 24, 2017. On October 20, 2017, we listed our ADSs on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SE.” In November 2017, the underwriters exercised their over-allotment option to purchase of an additional 6,994,538 ADSs from us.
In June 2018, we completed an offering of 2.25% convertible senior notes in an aggregate principal amount of US$575 million. These convertible notes were offered to qualified institutional buyers pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act, and certain non-U.S. persons in compliance with Regulation S under the Securities Act. The notes will mature on the fifth anniversary of the issuance dates. See “Item 8. Financial Information — B. Liquidity and Capital Resources — Convertible Notes.”
Our principal executive offices are located at 1 Fusionopolis Place, #17-10, Galaxis, Singapore 138522. Our telephone number at this address is +65 6270-8100. Our registered office in the Cayman Islands is at the offices of Maples Corporate Services Limited at PO Box 309, Ugland House, Grand Cayman, KY1-1104, Cayman Islands. Our website is www.seagroup.com.
Our mission is to better the lives of the consumers and small businesses of our region with technology.
Our Beliefs and Values
We have Three Core Beliefs:
|·||Our people define us. Sea shall be a place where talented people thrive at scale, enjoy freedom of ideas and achieve the unimaginable. It shall be a magnet for the smartest, the most creative and the most driven.|
|·||Our products and services differentiate us. We aspire to better every life we touch and make the world an ever more connected community through innovative products and services.|
|·||Our institution will outlast us. We strive to build an institution that will last for generations and evolve with time, and that is founded upon our core values.|
These Five Core Values are Sea’s foundation:
|·||We serve. Our customers are the sole arbiter of the value of our products and services. We strive to meet unmet needs and serve the underserved.|
|·||We adapt. Rapid change is the only constant in the digital age of ours. We embrace change, celebrate it and always strive to be a thought leader that influences it.|
|·||We run. We are in a constant race to success while grappling with rapidly shifting forces. We move faster, better and with more urgency every day.|
|·||We commit. Our work is our commitment. We commit to our values, institution, customers and partners. We commit to each other. Above all, we commit to doing the best we can and being the best we are.|
|·||We stay humble. We have traveled a long way from our humble beginning and yet, we never lose our humility in our continual quest for greater heights.|
Together, our Three Core Beliefs and Five Core Values form a consistent mindset which we believe is both a practical recipe for long-term organizational sustainability and also a deeper philosophy for how we want to live our lives. They are a guide for the kind of people we hire and develop, as well as a roadmap for how we interact with our customers, our business partners, and our broader stakeholders. Ultimately, they are our compass: whenever we are faced with a decision, we always ask ourselves which alternative is most authentic to these Beliefs and Values.
We believe we are the leading internet company in our region based on our number one market share by revenue in our region’s online game market, our number one market share by GMV and total orders in our region’s e-commerce market, and our position as a leading player in our region’s digital payments market, each in 2018.
Sea has developed an integrated platform consisting of digital entertainment, e-commerce, and digital financial services, each localized to meet the unique characteristics of our markets. Our region was estimated to have 597.8 million people and a GDP of US$3.4 trillion in 2018 according to the IMF World Economic Outlook Database. It is also one of the world’s fastest growing regions in terms of per capita GDP and, moreover, at the early stages of internet penetration. The markets in our region are increasingly interdependent, being brought together ever more closely by leading internet business models such as our own. Our markets exhibit distinct and unique consumer behavior characteristics from other Asian markets, and consequently require dedicated focus, resources and local market knowledge, which gives us a home court advantage.
Sea operates three key businesses—Garena, Shopee, and AirPay:
|·||Our Garena business was number one in market share in our region in 2018 by revenue in the online game market, as estimated by Newzoo and Niko Partners. Garena provides access to popular and engaging mobile and PC online games that we develop, curate and localize for each market. Garena is the exclusive operator of most of our licensed games in our region. Free Fire, our self-developed mobile game, was the fourth most downloaded game across the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store combined for the full year of 2018, according to App Annie. Garena also provides access to other entertainment content, such as live streaming of online gameplay, as well as social features, such as user chat and online forums. In addition, we believe we are our region’s leader in eSports, which strengthens our game ecosystem and increases user engagement.|
|·||Our Shopee e-commerce platform was number one in market share in our region in 2018 by GMV and total orders, according to Frost & Sullivan. Since its inception, Shopee has adopted a mobile-first approach and is a highly scalable marketplace platform that connects buyers and sellers. Shopee provides users with a convenient, safe and trusted shopping environment that is supported by integrated payment, logistics, fulfillment, and other value-added services. We monetize Shopee by offering sellers performance-based advertising tools, which we call “cost-per-click advertising services,” in all our markets, charging handling fees, transaction fees or seller commissions for certain transactions in selected markets, charging seller commissions for all cross-border transactions, and charging sellers for certain value-added services. We also purchase products from manufacturers and third parties and sell them directly to buyers on our Shopee platform.|
|·||Our AirPay platform provides digital financial services and is a leading digital payments provider in our region. Through our AirPay e-wallet, consumers use either our AirPay App or one of our registered partner-operated service counters to make payments to a wide variety of product and service providers. We continue to focus on growing our digital financial services infrastructure to support our existing platforms and to improve user experience, and have deepened the integration of our AirPay platform with our Garena and Shopee platforms. Such integration has helped us reduce our payment channel costs.|
Each of our businesses provides a distinct and compelling value proposition to our users, and each also exhibits strong virtuous cycle dynamics, which we believe supports our leadership position and provides a strong foundation for continued growth while creating barriers to entry for our competitors in our region.
Our scale, regional breadth, and substantial home court advantage provide a strong foundation on which we are able to rapidly scale new businesses. Our digital entertainment business grew its revenue at a 18.7% compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, from 2016 to 2018. Our Shopee platform, which we launched in mid-2015, grew its GMV from US$41.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 to US$3,425.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Our AirPay platform, which we launched in early 2014, serves as our underlying pan-regional payments infrastructure for Shopee and is an important payment channel for Garena, both of which are large captive use cases owned by us.
We develop, curate and localize the content and services on our platforms to serve a highly diverse population across multiple markets and regulatory regimes. We believe our local knowledge, presence, and focus provide us with a home court advantage in addressing the unique opportunities and challenges of our region. This home court advantage is a key factor in our success as well as a significant barrier to entry against international competitors and single-market local players in our region.
We have forged long-term collaborative relationships with global industry leaders as well as local partners that have supported our success and growth. Tencent is one of our key game developer-partners and also a shareholder. This long-term relationship is based on aligned interests, and allows us to benefit from Tencent’s wealth of experience as a leading global industry player. In 2018, we further strengthened our relationship with Tencent through a partnership under which Tencent granted Garena a right of first refusal to publish Tencent’s mobile and PC games in Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, subject to certain terms and conditions.
We have achieved significant scale and growth since our founding. Our total revenue increased from US$345.7 million in 2016 to US$827.0 million in 2018, a CAGR of 54.7%. We had gross profit of US$113.1 million, US$87.3 million and US$14.8 million in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. We incurred net losses of US$225.0 million, US$561.2 million and US$961.0 million in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively, due to our investments in expanding our businesses, in particular our e-commerce business. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results—Segment Reporting” and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results—Description of Certain Statement of Operations Items—Revenue” for a breakdown of our total revenues by category of activity and geographic market for each of the last three financial years.
Garena Digital Entertainment Business
Garena, our digital entertainment business, primarily focuses on offering mobile and PC online games across our region and developing mobile games for the global market. It was number one in market share in our region by revenue in the online game market in 2018, as estimated by Newzoo and Niko Partners.
We began our digital entertainment business at our inception in 2009. We focus on game development, curation, localization, operation, distribution, monetization, and payments, as well as user community building and eSports activities.
|·||We develop mobile games that cater to the demands of our region and global markets, especially the global emerging markets. We believe we are equipped with the knowledge, experience and technology to identify opportunities and develop games that have potential in our markets. Our game development capabilities are particularly strengthened by our experience and big data collected from running our self-developed game in global markets.|
|·||We offer our users easy access to highly engaging and localized content online that we develop or license, as well as organize and sponsor exciting game activities online and offline. In addition to the game we developed, we typically curate high quality games from leading international game developers through exclusive licensing arrangements in some or all markets in our region. We then localize such licensed content to best suit our users’ preferences in each market.|
|·||We operate and service the games we develop or license through a carefully designed regional infrastructure with support from significant on-the-ground resources to optimize the game experience for our users.|
|·||We also provide access to other entertainment content, such as live streaming of gameplay as well as social features, such as user chat and online forums on our Garena mobile application, or Garena App, and our Garena desktop application.|
|·||In addition, we believe we are our region’s leader in eSports, which strengthens our game ecosystem, increases our user engagement and extends the longevity of the games we offer.|
Our strong capabilities in the entire value chain of online game business have allowed us to develop Garena into a comprehensive online game ecosystem that serves both global game developers (including our in-house development arm) and game players in our region and global markets. We believe our ecosystem is very difficult for competitors to replicate, creating a high barrier to entry in our region. As a result, we have been able to secure many exclusive licensing arrangements in our markets with top game developers for high quality titles over sustained contract periods, as well as build a highly engaged consumer base for our games and platform. Our self-developed game which targets emerging markets also enabled us to grow globally beyond our region. Free Fire is currently available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store in more than 130 countries.
Our Garena mobile and desktop applications are important components of our ecosystem. Each is designed to enrich and complement our users’ game experience by offering key avenues for users to explore and share content, connect, compete and socialize.
Garena Desktop Application
Our Garena desktop application provides users with access to all of the PC games we operate, gameplay-related functionalities that enhance user experience, and various social features.
Players log onto the Garena desktop application to launch our PC online games. On the Garena desktop application they may also discover and download new PC online games operated by Garena. In addition, the application provides a group voice chat function designed for multi-player games in which players form small teams and play against other teams. Using our group voice chat feature, players are able to coordinate with teammates live using voice without affecting their keyboard operations. These functions enhance the game playing performance and experience of our game players.
In addition to serving core gameplay requirements, the Garena desktop application also caters to the social needs of our players. We offer an integrated chat system for our players to keep in touch with the friends they make while playing our games. Moreover, we offer a game streaming feature, Garena LIVE, on the desktop application in Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam. With this feature, players can easily stream in real-time the games they are playing to our web portal at Garena Live.
Garena App for Mobile
We launched Garena App in 2014. Garena App primarily caters to the game discovery, content sharing and social communication needs of our mobile users. The iOS version of Garena App is available on the Apple App Store while the Android version can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and our websites.
On Garena App, users can discover new mobile games offered by Garena. Moreover, those using the Android version may download our mobile games directly from the application. On Garena App, users may also access various forms of content, including game-related news, gameplay strategies, videos, game statistics, as well as eSports-related content, such as in-depth tournament reporting, live score updates, and live streaming. Easy access to content further enriches their game experience and improves user acquisition and retention.
On the social side, Garena App offers an integrated text chatting function to allow users to keep in touch with their friends. Garena App also hosts game forums for users to share their views on a wide variety of topics related to games and eSports, such as drawings and stories based on storylines or virtual characters in the games, comments on strategies to win the games and analysis of eSports matches. Users can also socially interact with each other by liking or commenting on posts.
The games we offer are all immersive games, covering some of the most popular and engaging genres, such as battle royale games; multiplayer online battle arenas, or MOBAs; massively multiplayer online action games, or MMOAGs; massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs; and sports games. In these games, users play online in a virtual environment existing on network game servers that connect a large number of players simultaneously to interact with each other within the games. We believe players of immersive games tend to play more frequently, play for longer periods of time and spend more money on in-game purchases than casual game players. We therefore look to continue to enhance our selection of immersive games in order to better engage and retain our most dedicated users and monetize our content.
Mobile games have gained popularity in our region. Over the past three years, our mobile game business has seen rapid growth. In particular, we are the exclusive operator of Arena of Valor in our region, a mobile MOBA game developed by Tencent in collaboration with us, which has become one of the most popular games in our region.
In December 2017, we launched the first game that we developed entirely in-house, Free Fire, a battle royale type of mobile game. According to App Annie, Free Fire was the fourth most downloaded game across the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store combined for the full year of 2018. According to Newzoo, it was also the fourth most streamed game on Youtube globally in December 2018. Since its launch, Free Fire has achieved more than 40 million peak DAUs and more than 350 million registered users globally and has hit the milestone of recording more than 100 million MAUs globally. We plan to continue to expand our game development capabilities.
We have a large and active user base for our online game business. The table below sets forth certain of our operating metrics for the periods indicated.
For the three months ended
Our large user base as well as the team and social aspects of our games keep our game players engaged and decrease the likelihood that they search outside of our ecosystem for entertainment. It also creates powerful network effects that further attract users to our games, resulting in a high barrier to entry for our competitors.
Our market leadership and success in operating and customizing games for our local game players have helped us forge deep relationships with key international game developers such as Tencent, Riot Games, Electronic Arts and PUBG Corporation. These developers access users in our region through us and trust our local know-how to deliver the best experience to those users. We are therefore able to source high quality games from world class developers, many of whom work with us as their exclusive partner in our region. In November 2018, we entered into a master license agreement with Tencent pursuant to which Tencent granted us a right of first refusal to publish its mobile and PC games in Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore. In January 2019, we launched Speed Drifters, a localized version of Tencent’s hit game QQ Speed. Speed Drifters is the first game from the Tencent portfolio published under our right of first refusal arrangement with Tencent. We also believe that our large user base contributes to a virtuous cycle. As we attract more high quality game developers to partner with us, we are able to attract more users with a larger volume of high quality content.
We offer the following key value propositions to game players:
|·||Easy Access to High Quality and Localized Game Content. We typically curate high quality games from top international game developers through exclusive licensing arrangements and customize those games to cater to local user preferences. In 2017, we also began introducing our self-developed game, Free Fire, to our region and the global market.|
Our mobile games are made available on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, as well as through our Garena App. Our PC online games are accessible through our Garena desktop application.
We have established strong relationships with an extensive network of cybercafés throughout our region. These cybercafés are important distribution channels for our PC online games due to low residential broadband penetration and other limitations in infrastructure in many parts of our markets. Our strategic alliance with cybercafés allows us to provide our users easy access to our game content.
|·||Integrated and Comprehensive Ecosystem. We believe we are the only one-stop service provider across our region where users can explore and play online games, socialize, share content, build communities, and participate in professional eSports competitions. Through our ecosystem that covers the entire value chain of our game business, we offer our users a seamless and high quality game experience, both online and offline. This includes anytime easy access to professional customer service, high quality content related to the games they play, vibrant game forum discussions, convenient online and offline payment services, and social functionalities on mobile and PC to stay connected with other game players. We also offer community activities, including local and regional eSports events.|
We offer the following key value propositions to game developers:
|·||Access to a Large and Engaged User Base. We provide our game developer-partners and our self-developed game access to a large user base in our region, enabling our games to quickly become popular. We are also able to obtain key insights about local user preferences and behavior for more targeted game design as well as marketing and pricing strategies.|
|·||Reliable One-Stop Game Operating Services. Our online game ecosystem offers a comprehensive solution to our game developer partners. Our services include game launch and hosting, localization, marketing, distribution, monetization, integrated payment infrastructure, including access to our AirPay platform, and user services, including both online and offline community building activities. We believe these services bring compelling value to our game developer partners.|
Online Game Value Chain
We have a strong in-house capability to develop new games and identify, procure, customize, rollout, and monetize promising new external games. Our game value chain involve the following key aspects:
We aim to develop well-designed, high-quality games that serve the needs of our game players. We also focus on keeping the game players engaged to our self-developed games by providing regular content updates with high replay value.
Our game development process typically begins from identifying new game opportunities based on our understanding of the demands of our players. Such understanding is gained through our experience in operating self-developed game in global markets, data that we collected from such operations, as well as other market research data. This is followed by concept development to various stages of testing and player engagement. To self-develop games, we coordinate the efforts of programmers, game designers, graphic artists, audio designers, and quality assurance engineers, as well as our marketing and analytics team. In December 2017, we launched the first game that we fully self-developed, Free Fire, a battle royale mobile game. We plan to continue to build our game development capabilities in order to better meet the constantly evolving needs and preferences of our game players and expand our game offerings. Our game development studio in Shanghai now has more than 200 developers focused on enhancing Free Fire gameplay and building out our pipeline of self-developed games.
We curate top global game content. Many game developers proactively choose us to operate their games exclusively in our region because of our leading market position, strong reputation in the online game community, and successful track record of operating and popularizing games in our region. We have a dedicated team that tracks the latest development in online games globally, user data from our own game operations and other third party gaming market research data providers, as well as other entertainment and popular culture trends in our region, which provides us important insights on game selection. We also rely on our years of game operating experience to select games that will match changing user needs and genre preferences. Our game assessment process involves input from our research and development, operations, distribution, and payments teams, each playing a key role in the successful launch, operation, and monetization of our games. Once we agree to operate a game, we typically enter into a licensing arrangement and develop an operating plan with the game developer.
We work with game developers to translate game content into local languages, revise game design to suit local preferences, and meet regulatory requirements for each jurisdiction. We also develop exclusive local content for particular markets to enhance game attractiveness to local audiences. Our content localization efforts entail continuing feedback loops with developers throughout the life of the games we operate.
Leveraging our deep local knowledge, regional technology capabilities, and strong on-the-ground resources, we are able to provide important services to our game developer partners and users, including the following:
|·||Marketing. We devise and execute marketing plans tailored for each market. We market our games through a combination of outdoor and print advertisements, television commercials as well as social media platforms and other online forums. We also market our games through our extensive network of cybercafé partners who have installed our Gcafé management and billing system, or Gcafé system. We customize the user interface of each computer in the cybercafé to prominently display our games.|
|·||Game Hosting and Servicing. Our games are hosted on servers in our leased data centers managed by major domestic and international data center service providers, as well as on cloud servers. The network of local and cloud servers and infrastructure in each of the markets that we operate in helps to ensure faster connections and a seamless game experience. The architecture we developed for the network of servers is designed to work effectively in a flexible cloud environment that is highly scalable. Moreover, through our strong on-the-ground support teams, we provide localized customer service and technical support via telephone or online.|
|·||Managing Local Regulatory Matters. We help our game developer partners navigate the complex and diverse legal regimes in our region. In particular, we often manage the legal and regulatory matters in our region relating to government approvals for game launch and new content release, intellectual property rights protection for the games, and other local legal compliance matters relating to the games. On occasion, we customize and modify the games in order to comply with local regulations. Our familiarity with local regulatory requirements make us a valuable partner for game developers.|
We distribute PC online games through our Garena desktop application, which can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. We distribute mobile games through our own Garena App, the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Cybercafés are also a key part of our PC online game distribution and user acquisition strategy. As home PC and residential broadband penetration rates remain low in many parts of our region, many game players in our region rely on cybercafés to access online games. We have established strong relationships with a wide network of cybercafés in our markets and have installed our Gcafé system on their computers. The Gcafé system is software we provide to cybercafés to manage software downloading and updating as well as customer billing. The Gcafé system gives us the ability to influence what the cybercafé users see on their computer screens and to provide them easy access to our games through our Garena desktop applications installed together with the Gcafé system.
Monetization and Payments
Our game monetization model is a “freemium” model that allows our users to download and play fully functional games for free. We generate revenue primarily by selling our game players in-game items, which include in-game virtual items such as digital representations of functional or decorative items, as well as season passes. Digital representation of functional or decorative items include clothing, weaponry or equipment, which players can purchase and utilize within the game environment to enhance their gameplay experience. Players that purchase season passes can receive additional in-game virtual items upon satisfying certain conditions. Players who choose to purchase in-game items benefit from being able to accelerate progress, enhance social interactions, and enjoy a more personalized game playing experience.
We offer multiple methods for users to purchase in-game items, including through our AirPay platform, other online payment gateways, bank transfers, credit cards, debit cards, mobile phone billing, and prepaid cards, including our own prepaid cards, which are sold through agents. We work with developers to set prices for in-game items for each individual market and aim to price our in-game items to optimize revenue generation without negatively impacting user engagement.
We believe that Garena is the leading catalyst of the growth of eSports in our region, as we organize hundreds of eSports events annually and operate the largest professional league in our region. We organize eSports competitions that range in size from relatively small-scale village tournaments to widely-publicized and promoted eSports events that rival the size of popular professional athletic events.
For example, Garena World 2018, which was held in Thailand in April 2018, had an attendance of approximately 240,000, attracted over 10.6 million views online and more than 11,000 teams’ participation. Garena was also one of the organizers of the Arena of Valor World Cup held in Los Angeles in July 2018 and organized a series of tournaments across our region leading to the final. In our markets, the Arena of Valor World Cup competitions attracted over 33 million views online in aggregate across all streaming platforms, with the final attracting over 5 million views. Since late 2018, we have also been rolling out our first global eSports tournament for Free Fire, the Free Fire World Cup.
Some of our users have become full-time professional eSports athletes that compete for prize money in tournaments and sponsorships from large corporations that often also sponsor professional sports. The tournaments and leagues that we organize often include live events held in stadium-sized venues that can accommodate tens of thousands of spectators. As a result, we believe our eSports operations generate strong user engagement for our games as well as promote user acquisition and retention.
Shopee E-commerce Platform
Our Shopee e-commerce platform is a mobile-centric, social-focused marketplace with integrated payment and logistics infrastructure and comprehensive seller services. It is a highly scalable marketplace platform that provides users with a convenient, safe, and trusted shopping environment. Shopee was the largest in our region in 2018 by GMV and total orders according to Frost & Sullivan. Our Southeast Asian markets contributed approximately 70% of our total GMV in 2018. According to App Annie, Shopee was the most downloaded app in the Shopping category in Southeast Asia and Taiwan in 2018.
Leveraging our region’s growth in the number of smartphone users, we adopted a mobile-first approach by launching the Shopee App in all seven markets beginning in June 2015, followed by Shopee websites in 2016. Shopee provides users with a convenient, safe, and trusted shopping environment that is supported by integrated payment, logistics, fulfilment, and other value-added services. We monetize Shopee by offering sellers cost-per-click advertising services in all our markets, charging handling fees, transaction fees or seller commissions for certain transactions in select markets, charging seller commissions for cross-border transactions, and charging sellers for certain value-added services.
Shopee’s marketplace model allows it to scale rapidly. Increases in the number of buyers on a marketplace platform tend to attract a larger number of sellers, which increases the volume and variety of products available and in turn attracts even more buyers. This creates a virtuous cycle resulting in accelerated platform growth. In addition, we leverage our operating experience from Garena to introduce gamification elements into Shopee which we believe enables us to increase organic user acquisition. The table below sets forth certain of our operating metrics for the periods indicated.
|For the three months ended|
At the culmination of the Shopee 11.11 Big Sale and 12.12 Birthday Sale campaigns, Shopee achieved new records in daily order numbers with over 11 million orders and over 12 million orders recorded on the platform over 24 hours on November 11, 2018 and December 12, 2018, respectively. These represented approximately 4.5 times and approximately 5.0 times the numbers recorded on the same dates in the previous year.
While we primarily operate as a marketplace, we also purchase products from manufacturers or third parties directly and sell on our Shopee platform under our official store to meet buyers' demand for such products. Bulk purchasing and direct product sales for specific product categories also enable us to offer better product assortment and more competitive prices to our buyers.
Our buyers are individuals and households in our region, who mainly purchase from sellers that are within the same market. Shopee also enables buyers to make cross-border purchases from selected sellers in China, Taiwan, South Korea, and other markets in our region.
Shopee sellers are primarily individuals, small and medium businesses, as well as brands and large retailers, who view Shopee as an efficient and reliable way of managing the selling process while maximizing customer needs. On Shopee, each seller has an online storefront on which they list their products, communicate with buyers, and complete transactions. In October 2016, we launched “Shopee Official Shops,” which we rebranded as “Shopee Mall” in August 2017. Shopee Mall hosts brands and large retailers, prominently features their distinct logos, and offers a premium shopping experience to a broad base of buyers.
We offer the following key value propositions to buyers:
|·||Anytime and Anywhere Shopping. From the convenience of their smartphones, buyers can access products on Shopee anytime of the day and anywhere in their market. Moreover, due to the under-development of retail infrastructure in some of the markets in our region, the product offerings available on traditional shopping channels are limited, especially in rural areas. With Shopee, buyers have the ability to buy products that might otherwise not be available to them through traditional shopping channels.|
|·||Convenient Shopping and Discovery Across a Wide Product Assortment. Buyers can browse and find products easily through categorized product listings, user-friendly keyword search functions, multi-layer filtering systems, and display ranking mechanisms. We also provide users with personalized recommendations, allowing them to discover items they may be interested in more efficiently, with insights from our data analytics.|
|·||Reliability and Security. Given that many consumers in our region are new to e-commerce, reliability and security are critical in convincing buyers to make their initial purchases on Shopee. Shopee addresses this concern by providing buyers the “Shopee Guarantee,” under which payment to the seller is made only after the ordered product is received or deemed to have been received by the buyer. Moreover, our seller rating system allows buyers to score and comment on the individual sellers and the shopping experience, including responsiveness, product quality, and speed of product dispatch. Each seller has an overall rating shown on its storefront. As a result, buyers can compare products and sellers based on product reviews and seller ratings from other buyers before deciding what to purchase and from whom.|
|·||Seamless Payment Options. Shopee enables buyers to make payments using different means, including credit cards, cash-on-delivery in selected markets, bank transfers and our own e-wallet. Shopee Guarantee is available for all transactions executed through the Shopee platform.|
|·||Integrated Logistics Solutions. We work with a number of local and cross-border logistics partners to connect buyers and sellers in our markets. Leveraging the large transaction volumes of our platform, we are able to establish strong relationships with a network of logistics partners that help to reduce delivery costs, improve efficiency, and enable better delivery status monitoring by both buyers and sellers.|
|·||Social Commerce Experience for Better Services and a Stronger Sense of Community. The Shopee platform includes a live chat function, and we encourage sellers to provide timely responses to buyers’ inquiries. In addition, by allowing sharing on social media and introducing other social-media functions, such as the “like” and “follow” features, we offer buyers a greater sense of community. We also organize online and offline community events for buyers based on demographics and interests. This strong emphasis on chat and social media functionalities caters to our target markets and user groups, which sets Shopee apart from the competition.|
We offer the following key value propositions to our sellers:
|·||An Online and Cost-Effective Marketplace Providing a One-stop E-commerce Solution. Opening a physical shop in some of the markets in our region, especially in less developed cities and rural areas, often entails significant upfront costs yet yields low customer flows due to infrastructure limitations. It is also difficult for individual and small-business sellers to create an online presence on their own. Moreover, the social media platforms some online sellers use lack even basic commercial functions to facilitate the completion of an online transaction. We provide sellers a centralized, standardized, and popular e-commerce platform accessible on smartphones and PCs with no initial setup charge. We empower individual and small-business sellers to reach potentially anyone in their markets with an internet connection. The Shopee platform offers sellers an integrated platform for conducting e-commerce business, combining a large and growing buyer base with an easy-to-use interface, powerful seller tools, and convenient access to payments and logistics networks.|
|·||Service by Shopee. Under “Service by Shopee,” we offer a range of value-added services to sellers, including inventory management, online store operations, and fulfillment services. These value-added services allow us to support and strengthen long-term relationship with sellers, lower logistics and operation costs, and achieve better pricing and product availability for our buyers, which in turn increases buyer engagement and loyalty that also benefits sellers.|
|·||Technology Support. Leveraging our technical capabilities developed by operating immersive, multiplayer games with high technology requirements, we are able to provide stable and reliable technical support to our sellers. We believe our technology support is superior to that of general social media platforms or blog shops used by some online sellers because ours is designed for e-commerce. We offer sellers useful tools on mobile and web-based interfaces to help them manage their e-commerce business through a “Shopee Seller Center.” Using the Shopee Seller Center, sellers can easily create and manage listings, interact with customers, complete transactions, and track and manage their revenue and orders real time. Our tools also allow sellers to easily review and analyze their sales histories to identify trends and buyer preferences to more efficiently manage their business.|
|·||Seller Training and Community-Building Programs. We offer sellers offline trainings under the program of “Shopee University” to help improve their ability to run their businesses and serve customers on the Shopee platform. Trainings offered through Shopee University cover basic courses, such as how to use the various tools in the Shopee Seller Center, as well as more advanced courses, such as customer communication skills, revenue improvement, and marketing. We also promote online community activities on social media platforms and organize offline social and knowledge-sharing events for our sellers to build up a strong and supportive community and interact with buyers face-to-face to forge stronger customer relationships, which in turn helps to attract and retain sellers.|
E-commerce Platform Operations
Product Category Focus
We use targeted seller engagement and product placement to attract sellers and bring products to our platform. We leverage our deep understanding of local market conditions and user preferences to prioritize product categories that we believe have higher realization rates and profitability for our sellers. We currently focus on long-tail high-margin categories, such as fashion, health and beauty, home and living, and baby products. Meanwhile, we continue to focus on expanding categories to include an increasingly diverse range of products.
Seller Support and Service by Shopee
We offer strong support to sellers on the Shopee platform through large on-the-ground teams with deep local knowledge. Our local teams also offer fast and localized operational and technological assistance in using business management tools. Moreover, an extensive network of logistics and payment solution providers are integrated into the platform to provide users with a one-stop solution. For example, our account management teams provide sellers with personalized assistance and answer questions relating to store setup and daily operations. Sellers can contact our local teams at any time to get assistance. We also offer sellers integrated payment, logistics, fulfillment, and other value-added services.
Under “Service by Shopee,” we offer a range of value-added services to sellers, including inventory management, online store operations, and fulfillment services. Depending on sellers’ needs and preferences, we may help sellers manage inventory and fulfill orders from warehouses leased and operated by us, operate stores on our platform, or purchase products from sellers for reselling on our platform. “Service by Shopee” is currently available to sellers in all of Shopee’s markets.
We take the user experience beyond a traditional online marketplace environment, making online shopping truly seamless. We believe that these efforts help to streamline the whole online business operation from store setup to selling, inventory and revenue management, delivery and payment collection for our sellers, empowering them to achieve greater success in their commercial activities.
We focus on creating a secure and reliable shopping environment for our buyers and have developed robust consumer protection policies and procedures, including the following measures:
|·||Seller Verification. Everyone that registers to become a seller on the Shopee platform is subject to our verification process and must agree to our standard terms of service before opening a seller account.|
|·||Shopee Guarantee. We provide Shopee Guarantee, a free service to facilitate transactions on the Shopee platform. Under Shopee Guarantee, we hold payments made by buyers in certain designated Shopee Guarantee account held by us until the ordered products are received or deemed to have been received by the buyer. After this, we release the payment to the seller. If the purchased products are never delivered to or received by the buyer, we will return the funds to them. Shopee Guarantee is available for all transactions executed through the Shopee platform. We believe that Shopee Guarantee reduces settlement risks and improves transaction efficiency and security.|
|·||Dispute Resolution. We have on-the-ground teams to help resolve disputes between buyers and sellers. In the case of a dispute, a buyer may submit supporting evidence through our dispute resolution system and seek compensation from the seller.|
Shopee Communication Tool
The Shopee platform offers a live chat function enabling real-time communication between buyers and sellers. Buyers typically use the chat function to clarify product-related details, while sellers typically use the function to confirm payment and delivery information. We believe this communication tool has significantly improved the efficiency and security of transactions and the overall shopping experience.
Integrated Logistics Services
Logistics is critical for the development of e-commerce in our region since many markets have terrain that is difficult to navigate and underdeveloped infrastructure. The logistics service providers which we cooperate with include some of the largest and most reliable service providers in our region. Because of the large amount of transactions from our platform, we are typically able to negotiate preferred terms with these service providers for our users. Although sellers are not required to use these service providers, they often choose to do so due to the reliable service quality and favorable pricing offered through us. In certain markets, we have made strategic investments into local logistics partners in order to enhance our logistics service offerings to both buyers and sellers.
Moreover, on our Shopee platform, sellers and buyers can track the delivery status of their packages and provide feedback on logistics services. We evaluate and provide feedback to logistics providers to improve the level of services provided to our users, including average delivery times.
Payment on Shopee
As transactions on Shopee are protected by Shopee Guarantee, buyers make payments to Shopee’s designated Shopee Guarantee account which are then released by Shopee to the sellers upon buyer’s receipt or deemed receipt of the goods. Depending on the market, sellers and buyers can choose from a number of payment options to complete transactions on Shopee, including credit cards, bank transfers through ATM or over the internet, and cash payments upon delivery or at designated convenience stores. Additionally, we are in the process of integrating AirPay, our own digital financial services, into our Shopee platform to improve convenience and expand payment options. Shopee has already integrated its payment processing system with AirPay’s payment infrastructure in almost all of our markets. We have also introduced our integrated e-wallet solution on Shopee in certain markets. Buyers can use the funds they top-up to their Shopee e-wallet account to pay for purchases on Shopee.
Marketing and Promotions
We undertake both online and offline marketing efforts to maximize our brand awareness and attract new users. Our online efforts mainly include online advertisements through major web portals, search engines, and social media. Our online advertisements focus on promoting campaigns such as Shopee 11.11 Big Sale and 12.12 Birthday Sale, as well as attracting new users by promoting awareness of the convenience, cost effectiveness, and reliability of e-commerce and Shopee. Our offline marketing efforts include display advertisements in locations with high traffic and are carried out by our local teams. Moreover, we conduct targeted promotional campaigns to incentivize buyers and sellers to use our platform. We believe that our investment in marketing and promotions has contributed to our GMV and market share growth, which in turn strengthens our pricing power and enables us to monetize at higher rates.
As part of our strategy to enhance user engagement and social activity on the Shopee platform, we have introduced a number of social gamification features on Shopee. For example, users can win Shopee Coins from participating in such activities and then use Shopee Coins to offset the cost of purchase from eligible sellers. Users may also earn additional Shopee Coins by inviting their friends to participate, which we believe further encourages social activity on the platform. We believe gamification allows us to increase our organic user acquisition.
We have been focusing on building the scale and liquidity of our marketplace, and will increasingly focus on monetization as our GMV and market share continue to grow. We monetize Shopee by offering sellers cost-per-click advertising services in all our markets, charging handling fees, transaction fees or seller commissions for certain transactions in certain markets, charging seller commissions for all cross-border transactions, and charging for certain value-added services.
Revenue from Shopee also include revenue of products sold by us. We purchase products from manufacturers or third parties directly and sell on our Shopee platform under our official store to meet buyers' demand for such products.
AirPay Digital Financial Services Platform
AirPay, our digital financial services business, is a leading digital payments provider in our region and an important payment infrastructure supporting our Garena and Shopee platforms. Through AirPay, we are able to reach a large consumer population, including the unbanked population, and process their payments on our Garena and Shopee platforms as well as third-party merchant partners.
AirPay was launched in Vietnam in April 2014, in Thailand in June 2014, and has limited operations in the other markets in our region. Through our AirPay e-wallet services, our users can make payments for a wide variety of products and services, such as food, entertainment, transportation, mobile telecommunications, and bill payment.
In addition to using AirPay as a cost-effective payment solution for our digital entertainment and e-commerce businesses, we have also integrated our AirPay platform with third-party merchants and cover an increasingly broad set of consumption use cases such as food, entertainment, transportation, mobile telecommunications, and bill payment. This, in turn, attracts a large and growing number of consumers to our platform. Moreover, by integrating with local, regional, and global banks and third-party payment gateways, we have built AirPay into a one-stop payment platform facilitating online transactions, which is integrated with local commerce infrastructure and designed to lower transaction costs for us and for our merchant partners.
AirPay provides payment processing services to Shopee in almost all of our markets, which, depending on the operational arrangement in each specific market, may include payments from buyers to Shopee accounts under Shopee Guarantee as well as outgoing payments from Shopee accounts to Shopee seller accounts that are operationally handled by AirPay. We plan to continue to focus our efforts on building up the AirPay infrastructure to support our existing platforms, including an integration with our Shopee platform, and to improve user experience.
Platform Participants and Operations
AirPay App Users
Through the AirPay App, anyone may use their connected mobile device as an e-wallet to participate in online transactions. Consumers use the AirPay App for a broad array of online transactions, such as purchasing tickets for entertainment events and transportation, ordering meals, buying insurance products, making payments for utility bills, mobile top-up, purchasing or topping-up prepaid game credits, as well as accessing e-vouchers and promotion codes for offline products and services.
Consumers using the AirPay App do not need a credit card or a bank account as the AirPay App accepts account top-up payments in cash through any of our AirPay counters in addition to direct bank transfers. For consumers with a bank account, AirPay is connected to almost all major banks in the markets it operates in, facilitating a more seamless way for consumers to connect their bank accounts. The user interface of the AirPay App in each market is localized to reflect local use cases and user preferences.
An AirPay counter is a physical over-the-counter retail location that maintains a balance in its AirPay e-wallet account, which is used to purchase electronic and physical goods and credits, such as prepaid game credits and mobile top-ups, food, beverage and other convenience store items, from suppliers or service providers. The AirPay counter then sells those electronic and physical goods and credits to consumers who pay the counters in cash. AirPay counters also provide utility bill and other payment forwarding services to consumers for cash payments. AirPay counters can be found at a variety of convenient locations in Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, including cybercafés, small local shops, book stores, food and beverage merchants, sim card stores, accommodation providers, and convenience stores. AirPay counters also serve as important cash access points for the platform. By allowing consumers to pay cash to top up their accounts on the AirPay App, AirPay counters act as a “reverse ATM” providing important avenues for the AirPay App to reach the large unbanked population in our region.
Merchants are providers of the products or services that our users can purchase through the AirPay platform. Merchants on our AirPay platform currently include telecommunications companies, online and offline entertainment service providers such as game operators, movie theaters, and amusement parks, utility service providers, food delivery service providers, credit card issuers, banks, insurance companies, and car leasing companies. As we increase the number and type of merchants on the AirPay platform, we are able to offer mobile payment solutions for a wider range of products and services to meet the daily needs of our users and attract more users to the platform. With a larger and growing base of active users, we in turn will be able to attract more merchants to the AirPay platform.
We offer certain key value propositions to each of our platform participants. The key value propositions we offer to AirPay App users are convenient, fast, and reliable mobile payment solutions and a broad array of use cases. The value we offer to AirPay counters include potential increases in counter revenues, electronic payments and inventory management, and low setup and operating costs. Our value propositions to merchants include professional payment solutions facilitating fund collections, access to broader consumer and retailer bases, and convenience for the merchants’ customers.
Currently, our digital financial services business primarily generates revenue from commissions charged to merchants for transactions settled using the AirPay platform. Each merchant pays a commission, which is either a percentage of the transaction value or a fixed fee per transaction. For transactions completed using our AirPay App, we are entitled to the entire amount of the commission, less any banking or credit card fees. For transactions transacted over an AirPay counter, a portion of the commission is shared with the counter operator. We also extend small loans to small businesses on our AirPay platform in some markets, for which we receive revenue from interest payments.
The financial services industry is heavily regulated and we are required to obtain and maintain certain licenses in the jurisdictions in which we provide financial services. As of the date of this annual report, we have obtained the licenses and governmental approvals necessary to provide electronic money services in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, and to provide loans in Thailand. As we expand our digital financial services business to additional markets, we will need to obtain additional licenses and permits in order to comply with local laws. See “—Regulation” and “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We may fail to obtain, maintain or renew the requisite licenses and approvals.”
Technology is key to our success as it enables us to operate our business more efficiently, improves the user experience and supports innovation. Our technology team is composed of highly-skilled engineers, computer scientists and technicians whose expertise span a wide range of areas. We have an engineering and data analysis team engaged in building our technology platform and developing new online and mobile products.
Our network infrastructure utilizes our private data centers and cloud services that are linked with high-speed networks. We have established local servers and infrastructure in each of the markets that we operate in to ensure faster connections and a seamless user experience. We have developed our architecture to work effectively in a flexible cloud environment that has a high degree of elasticity. Our automatic provisioning tools have enabled us to increase our storage and computing capacity in a short period of time in response to increasing demand for online game services. We operate at a scale that routinely delivers massive amounts of content to tens of millions of users across our platforms. We believe that this will represent the largest concurrent user capacity of all games in our region. Our technology architecture has been designed to scale horizontally to accommodate the large amounts of data our network generates. This allows our distribution, operations, and payments teams to cooperate with each other and the product and research and development teams to design, deliver and share innovations.
Our proprietary network application protocols also ensure fast and reliable mobile communications under different network conditions in our region. The aim is to provide a consistent user experience across different mobile and PC devices, operating systems, carriers, and network environments.
Our infrastructure enables us to store and process large datasets and deploy our services to our users across a wide region. As our user base grows and the level of engagement and activities on our platforms increase, we will continue to expand our technology infrastructure to maintain and improve the quality of our user experience.
We process large volumes of data related to gameplay, e-commerce, and payment processing. Our proprietary multi-dimensional data analysis engine collates and structures our data in a variety of ways for use in ad-hoc analysis, real time in-line analysis, and standardized reports. Our data analysis generates visualized results that can be filtered according to numerous performance metrics, enabling us to locate key performance drivers and non-performing virtual items. Data mining generates invaluable insights on user needs, preferences, and behaviors, through which we improve our services and user experience, enhance effectiveness of cross-promotions, and discover opportunities for improving user retention and increasing user life-time value. Moreover, our data science technology serves various types of data-intensive computational needs, including high-volume batch processing and multi-variable and multi-dimensional real-time analytics. Data mining as well as transaction, payment, and behavioral data science capabilities are used extensively in numerous applications such as search and online marketing on our marketplaces, and credit profiling and risk management of our emerging small and medium-sized enterprises loan business. We also make available some of our data analysis to our Shopee sellers, allowing them to easily review and analyze their selling histories to identify trends and efficiently manage their businesses through our system.
We have developed a proprietary technology platform with strong data analysis capabilities that integrate and track every aspect of our online game business operations, including game redesign and localization, distribution, payment channel management, user research, virtual goods merchandizing, marketing, cross-promotion, and game services.
We use sophisticated algorithms to determine the likelihood of user engagement with specific content recommendations and we use this data to match the most relevant content to each of our users based on the user’s profile and game play history. Moreover, our servers and the software development kit (SDK) modules embedded in our mobile game applications, jointly support various functions within our games, including analysis of user and game data, central management of user accounts, account security, payment gateway connectivity, user communication, social connectivity, and cross-promotion functions.
We believe Shopee is one of the largest and fastest mobile content delivery networks in our region. The technology underlying Shopee accelerates the loading of millions of product photographs and descriptions on web pages delivered to millions of users and offers them a fast and smooth mobile shopping experience.
Our proprietary database management system is one of the largest database systems for mobile online transaction processing in our region. It runs on servers and can be scaled up to hundreds of nodes to achieve scalability. Moreover, it plays a critical role in supporting transaction processing in our marketplaces in a cost-efficient manner.
We provide data to Shopee sellers on a real-time basis to enable them to better understand key trends to target and acquire customers. For buyers, we use our data to create a better shopping experience by personalizing search results and shopping recommendations. We also leverage our data to help our logistics partners improve their fulfillment and delivery systems, processes, and resource allocation.
Digital Financial Services
We strive to continually improve our digital financial services technology and in particular our e-wallet and payment processing technology to enhance the customer experience and to increase efficiency, reliability, and security. A substantial portion of our development efforts are focused on creating specialized software that enhances our internet-based customer functionality and we have developed intuitive user interfaces, customer tools, and transaction processing, database and network applications that help our users to reliably and securely complete transactions on our sites.
With a view to managing our incremental technology costs, our payment processing services rely on the same technological infrastructure as our online games and e-commerce services, which is scalable and customizable. Our payment processing platform consists of a database, a processing system, and interfaces for consumers, content providers, telecommunications service providers and distribution partners. The interfaces are connected to the processing system through secure protocols, namely secure sockets layer (SSL), and transmission control protocol / internet protocol (TCP/IP). In order to reduce the risk of a virus spreading through our entire network, our terminals are not connected to each other.
Our integrated application programming interface (API) enables the content providers, telecommunications service providers and online merchants, respectively, to verify the authenticity of e-vouchers that we issue. We use a platform for global credit card payment processing and domestic alternate payment processing. We do not store the credit card information of our users.
We have a dedicated customer service team across our region. We believe our customer service team is well-trained in assisting our users with issues they encounter on our platforms, gathering feedback on how to improve our services and receiving member complaints and suggestions. Moreover, we have adopted systematic internal procedures to quickly respond to and resolve customer complaints.
Our business is based significantly on the acquisition, creation, use, and protection of intellectual property. Some of this intellectual property is in the form of software codes, patented technology, and trade secrets that we license from game developers, or that we created to localize the games and to enable them to run properly on multiple platforms. We also create audio-visual elements, including graphics, music, story lines, and interface designs, which are sometimes required during the localization process. Free Fire, our self-developed game, is one of our key intellectual properties. Other forms of this intellectual property include the technology and know-how that we developed and use to operate our e-commerce and payment products.
As of December 31, 2018, we had approximately 200 registered trademarks, 50 registered copyrights, and applications for the registration of 100 trademarks. In addition, as of December 31, 2018, we had approximately 120 registered domain names that are material to our business.
We believe the protection of our trademarks, copyrights, domain names, trade names, trade secrets, patents, and other proprietary rights is critical to our business and we protect our intellectual property rights in various jurisdictions across our region by relying on local laws and contractual restrictions. More specifically, we rely on a combination of trademark, fair trade practice, copyright, and trade secret protection laws in our region and other jurisdictions, as well as confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions, to protect our intellectual property rights. Moreover, we enter into confidentiality, proprietary rights assignment, non-compete, and non-assignment agreements with our employees, and have confidentiality arrangements with our business partners. We also actively engage in monitoring and enforcement activities with respect to infringing uses of our intellectual property by third parties.
While we actively take steps to protect our proprietary rights, such steps may not be adequate to prevent the infringement or misappropriation of the intellectual property created by or licensed to us. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights.” Also, we cannot be certain that the games that we license, our redesign of these games or our e-commerce and payment processing services do not or will not infringe on the valid patents, copyrights or other intellectual property rights held by third parties. We may be subject to legal proceedings and claims from time to time relating to the intellectual property of others, as discussed in “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We are subject to risks related to litigation, including intellectual property claims, consumer protection actions and regulatory disputes.”
Each of the online game, e-commerce, and e-wallet industries in our region is highly fragmented. We face competition in each of our lines of business in each market where we operate. Some of our competitors, particularly those based outside of our region, may have greater access to capital markets, more financial and other resources, and a longer operating history than we do.
We compete on the basis of a number of factors, including user base, game portfolio, quality of user experience, brand awareness, and reputation, relationships with game developers and access to distribution and payment channels. Our competitors for publishing primarily include companies with a presence in just one or a few markets in our region. Our competitors for game development include global developers targeting global emerging markets.
We face competition principally from regional players that operate across several markets in our region and global players that expand into our region by building local platforms or making their existing platforms accessible to users in our region. We also face competition from single-market players in our region. We compete to attract, engage, and retain buyers based on the variety and value of products and services listed on our marketplaces, overall user experience and convenience, online communication tools, integration with mobile and networking applications and tools, quality of mobile applications, and availability of payment settlement and logistics services. We also compete to attract and retain sellers based on the number and engagement of buyers, the effectiveness and value of the marketing services we offer, commission rates, and the usefulness of the services we provide, including data and analytics for potential buyer targeting, cloud computing services, and the availability of support services including payment settlement and logistics services.
AirPay competes primarily with credit card and debit card service providers, banks with payment processing offerings, other offline payment options, and other electronic payment system operators. AirPay competes with these companies primarily on the basis of transaction processing speed, convenience, network size, accessibility, reliability, and price. We believe the combination of AirPay’s numerous physical service counters and the AirPay App is a significant competitive advantage because of the strong demand in our region for convenient forms of payment processing.
We do not have property, business interruption, general third-party liability, product liability or key-man insurance. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We have limited business insurance coverage.”
This section sets forth a summary of the significant regulations or requirements in the jurisdictions where we conduct our material business operations, namely Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. The primary laws and regulations to which we are subject relate to foreign investment, dividend distributions, foreign exchange controls, game operating, e-commerce, payment processing, data protection, intellectual property rights, anti-money laundering and terrorism financing and employment and labor.
Regulations on Foreign Investment
The Law No. 25/2007 regarding Investment issued on April 26, 2007, or the Indonesia Investment Law, states that all business sectors or business types are open to foreign investment, except those over which the Indonesian government has expressly prohibited or restricted from foreign investment. Under the Indonesia Investment Law and the Negative Investment List promulgated by the Indonesian government applicable at the time of establishment of our Indonesia operating entities, foreign investors can own up to 100% of the equity in game distribution and e-commerce marketplace businesses in Indonesia. We have obtained the investment in-principle license and the business license required for foreign investment companies engaging in game distribution and e-commerce marketplace businesses in Indonesia issued by the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board. In addition, Indonesian investment laws render void any agreements containing statements by Indonesian shareholders that they hold shares in an Indonesian company for the benefit of a foreign beneficiary.
Regulations on the Use of Rupiah
On June 28, 2011, the government of Indonesia enacted Law No. 7 of 2011 on Currency, or the Indonesia Currency Law, which took immediate effect. Furthermore, on March 31, 2015, Bank Indonesia enacted Bank Indonesia Regulation No. 17/3/PBI/2015 on the Mandatory Use of Indonesian Rupiah within the Territory of the Republic of Indonesia, or the Indonesia Currency Law Implementation Regulations. Bank Indonesia also enacted Bank Indonesia Circular Letter No. 17/11/DKSP on June 1, 2015 as the implementing guideline to the Indonesia Currency Law Implementation Regulations. The implementation rules of the Indonesia Currency Law require the use of Indonesian rupiah for all transactions conducted within Indonesia including transactions for payment, settlement of obligations and other financial transactions, except for certain exemptions provided under the Indonesia Currency Law Implementation Regulations. Failures to comply with any provisions under the Indonesia Currency Law Implementation Regulations may subject the person to administrative, criminal or monetary sanctions of up to IDR1 billion (US$69,056).
Regulations on Dividend Distributions
Dividend distributions are regulated under Law No. 40 of 2007 on Limited Liability Companies, or the Indonesia Companies Law. A decision to distribute a dividend needs to be made by a resolution of the shareholders at the annual or general meeting of shareholders upon the recommendation of the board of directors of a limited liability company. A limited liability company may only declare dividends if it has positive retained earnings at the end of a fiscal year. Furthermore, the Indonesia Companies Law allows a limited liability company to distribute interim dividends prior to the end of a financial year so long as it is permitted by its articles of association and provided that the interim dividend does not result in the limited liability company’s net assets becoming less than the total issued and paid-up capital and the compulsory reserves fund. Such distribution shall be determined by the limited liability company’s board of directors after being first approved by the board of commissioners. If, after the end of the relevant financial year, the limited liability company has suffered a loss, any distributed interim dividends must be returned by the shareholders, and the board of directors and board of commissioners of the limited liability company will be jointly and severally responsible if the interim dividend is not returned. A limited liability company is required to reserve a certain amount from its net profit each year as a reserve fund until such fund amounts to at least 20% of its issued and paid up capital.
Regulations on Foreign Exchange
Indonesia has limited foreign exchange controls. The Indonesian rupiah is generally freely convertible within or from Indonesia. The Indonesian Investment Law stipulates that foreign investors are allowed to make capital contributions and repatriate dividends, profits and other income in foreign currency without obtaining prior approvals from governmental authorities and/or Bank Indonesia, the central bank of Indonesia. The conversion of foreign currency into Indonesian rupiah for capital contribution purposes does not require any governmental approvals.
On September 5, 2016, Bank Indonesia issued Bank Indonesia Regulation No. 18/18/PBI/2016 on the Foreign Exchange Transactions against Rupiah between Banks and Domestic Parties and Bank Indonesia Regulation No. 18/19/PBI/2016 on Foreign Exchange Transactions against Rupiah between Banks and Foreign Parties, or the Indonesia Foreign Exchange Regulations. According to such regulations, a party wishing to convert Indonesian rupiah to foreign currency exceeding certain thresholds set forth in the Indonesia Foreign Exchange Regulations is required to submit certain supporting documents to the bank handling the foreign exchange conversion, including the underlying transaction documents and a duly stamped statement confirming that the underlying transaction documents are valid and that the foreign currency will only be used to settle the relevant payment obligations. For conversions not exceeding the threshold set forth in the Indonesia Foreign Exchange Regulations, the person only needs to declare in a duly stamped letter that its aggregate foreign currency purchases have not exceeded the monthly threshold set forth in the Indonesian banking system.
Regulations Relating to Game Business
A game operating platform in Indonesia is subject to the Regulation No. 11 of 2016 on Classifications of Electronic Interactive Games, or the Rating Regulation, promulgated by the Ministry of Communication, Information and Technology, or MOCIT. The Rating Regulation allows game developers, producers, or operators to self-rate the games that they have created, produced or published in Indonesia, regardless of whether such game has been rated in its country of origin. This self-rating will be evaluated by the Games Classifications Committee appointed by and reports to the MOCIT. The evaluation conducted by the Games Classifications Committee will be made based on reports from or information available to the public, periodically, or on a random basis.
The Rating Regulation classifies games into five categories which are intended to guide parents and other users to choose games that are appropriate for the age group of the users. Based on the amount of sensitive content, games are classified into the following age-groups: over three years old, over seven years old, over 13 years old, over 18 years old, and all ages. Games that have been rated by developers, producers or creators, will be included in the Recommended Games Register maintained by the Directorate General of Information Technologies Applications under MOCIT, or DGITA. On the other hand, if a game contains pornographic material, promotes gambling using real or virtual money, or contradicts prevailing laws, such game will not be rated and will not be included in the Recommended Games Register. DGITA may, based on a recommendation from the Games Classifications Committee, adjust the rating of a game if the operator of the game fails to give an appropriate rating. In addition, such operator could face claims from the public should its rating be deemed to mislead users or parents, and DGITA may adjust the rating accordingly. The games that have been classified are displayed on igrs.id, the official site maintained by DGITA.
Regulations on E-commerce
Control of Internet Websites Containing Negative Content
Pursuant to MOCIT Regulation No. 19 of 2014 on Controlling Internet Websites Containing Negative Content, or the Negative Content Regulation, an internet website is not permitted to display negative content, which includes pornographic content and other illegal activities that offends public decency, involves gambling, humiliation, extortion, or defamation, contains misleading information, or intends to incite violence against an individual and/or a particular ethnic, religious, or racial group. Internet websites containing negative content will be included in the Trust-Positive List maintained by the government. Once included, internet service providers in Indonesia are obligated by the government to block access to such websites. Upon removal of the negative contents, the internet website owner or the public may petition the government to lift the block on the website.
Limitations and Liabilities of Platform Operators and E-commerce Merchants
On December 30, 2016, MOCIT issued MOCIT Circular Letter No. 5 of 2016 on Limitations and Liabilities of Platform Operators and E-commerce Merchants, or the Platforms and Merchants Liabilities Circular Letter. The Platforms and Merchants Liabilities Circular Letter specifically addresses the various goods and/or services which may not be traded through user-generated-content platforms, or UGC platforms, and the obligations and responsibilities of platform operators, users and online merchants.
The Platforms and Merchants Liabilities Circular Letter sets out two groups of products which may not be traded through UGC platforms such as our Shopee e-commerce marketplace. The first group contains products with negative content, such as pornography or gambling-related materials. The second group contains products with illegal content, such as weapons, explosives or prohibited drugs.
We are required to provide terms that clearly set out the types of content that can be uploaded by merchants onto the Shopee e-commerce marketplace, and to actively evaluate and monitor various commercial activities carried out by users or merchants on our Shopee e-commerce marketplace. We are also required to remove, delete and block any banned content that we discover through our monitoring activities and pursuant to reports by our Shopee users. Online merchants will be held responsible for all uploaded content that contravene the terms and conditions that we establish for our Shopee e-commerce marketplace. As implementation of the amendment to the Electronic Information and Transaction Law in 2016 commenced on January 3, 2018, MOCIT has deployed a new team to monitor negative contents on a website which employs automated web-crawlers. If we fail to employ active monitoring measures or to act in a timely or effective manner in response to user reports relating to listings or sales of negative or illegal content on the Shopee e-commerce marketplace, we may be subject to sanctions in the form of a temporary or permanent block.
Provision of Applications and Content Services through the Internet
On March 31, 2016, MOCIT issued Circular Letter No. 3 of 2016 on Provision of Applications and Contents Services through the Internet, or the OTT Circular Letter, which regulates provision of virtually all over-the-top services or services provided over the internet, or the OTT services. The definition of OTT services includes online messaging, online games, webpages and e-commerce platforms. The OTT Circular Letter has extraterritorial reach and shall be applicable to any OTT services providers serving the Indonesian market. OTT services providers are required to employ data protection measures, conduct filtering, screening, and censorship functions, use national payment gateways and Indonesian IP addresses and provide manuals in the Indonesian language. Furthermore, a foreign OTT services provider is required to establish a permanent establishment in Indonesia in accordance with Indonesian taxation laws and expected to comply with all Indonesian laws and regulations. Due to the broad coverage of the OTT Circular Letter, we are subject to this circular letter and therefore must adhere to all of its requirements.
Regulations on Personal Data Protection and Information Security
In December 2016, MOCIT enacted MOCIT Regulation No. 20 of 2016 on Personal Data Protection, or the Personal Data Protection Regulation, which sets out the rules governing the protection of personal data that are stored in electronic form. The regulation requires any action taken in relation to personal data, including acquisition, processing, storage, transfer, disclosure and access, and erasure, to secure prior consent of the owner of such personal data. Further, under the Personal Data Protection Regulation, the electronic system providers are imposed with a comprehensive set of obligations, including: (i) certification of their electronic systems, (ii) adoption of internal data protection policies, (iii) provision of the option to the owner of personal data to choose whether or not such personal data may be used and/or revealed to third parties, (iv) using legal software, (v) designation of dedicated contact person for data protection matters and (vi) pre and post notification to MOCIT for overseas transfer of personal data. Electronic system providers are also required to notify the personal data owner in the case of any breach involving his/her personal data no later than 14 days subsequent to the occurrence of the breach.
If we fail to comply with the Personal Data Protection Regulation, we may be subject to sanctions in the form of warnings or written reprimands, temporary suspensions, or may be blacklisted.
Regulations on Consumer Protection
Consumer protection in Indonesia is regulated under Law No. 8 of 1999 on Consumer Protection, or the Consumer Protection Law, which became effective on April 20, 2000. It is the first comprehensive law devoted to protecting the rights of and promoting the recourses available to, users of both goods and services. The law details activities and circumstances that are prohibited such as disclosing incorrect and unclear information regarding the services rendered or promoting false advertising. Violations of the Consumer Protection Law may result in an administrative and/or criminal sanction such as monetary compensation or an imprisonment sanction.
Regulations on Intellectual Property Rights
Trademark and Geographical Indication Law
Before the end of 2016, the Indonesian House of Representatives enacted the Law No. 20 of 2016 on Trademark and Geographical Indication, or the Trademark and Geographical Indication Law. The new Trademark and Geographical Indication Law has expended the scope of trademark protection and adopted the Madrid protocol provisions, which cover the trademarks of our Indonesian entities.
The Trademark and Geographical Indication Law shortened the trademark registration process from 12 to 18 months to eight months. In addition, the Trademark and Geographical Indication Law recognizes two types of international trademark registration application: an application originating from Indonesia to an International Bureau which is filed through the Directorate General of Intellectual Properties under the Minister of Law and Human Rights, or an application addressed to Indonesia as the receiving office from an International Bureau. To be able to file an application in Indonesia for the international registration of a trademark, the applicant either must have applied for registration of the trademark in Indonesia or already owns the trademark in Indonesia.
Regulations Relating to Copyrights
Copyrights in Indonesia are regulated under Law No. 28 of 2014 on Copyrights, or the Indonesia Copyright Law. Indonesia adopts the declarative system of copyright protection whereby a copyright is an exclusive right of a creator of content which arises automatically after a creation appears in a concrete form. The Indonesia Copyright Law protects creations in the field of science, arts and literature, which includes, among others, computer programs, video games, photography, songs or music with or without lyrics, and all forms of art.
Regulations on Anti-money Laundering and Prevention of Terrorism Financing
Prevention and Eradication of Money Laundering
Law No. 8 of 2010 on Prevention and Eradication of Money Laundering regulates the types of transactions which are required to be reported to the Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center, or PPATK, and the entities responsible to report such transactions. Under this law, any party who conceals or disguises the origin, source, location, allocation, assignment, or actual ownership or assets known or reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crimes may subject to monetary sanction of up to IDR5 billion (US$345,280) and imprisonment of up to 20 years. Financial service providers must comply with know-your-customer principles and report suspicious financial transactions that it believes is related to money laundering to the PPATK. The reporting party is required to report to PPATK any suspicious financial transactions, and any transaction entered into with its customers having a minimum amount of IDR500 million (US$34,528), or an equivalent value in other currencies, and/or any financial transaction involving the transfer of funds from and to other countries, no later than 14 business days after the transaction is conducted.
Failure to submit the report may subject the reporting party to administrative sanction(s) which will be imposed by the supervisory and regulatory body in the form of a warning letter, public announcement on the action or sanction and/or an administrative penalty.
Prevention and Eradication of Terrorism Financing
Law No. 9 of 2013 on the Prevention and Eradication of Terrorism Financing was enacted in order to prevent the funding of terrorists. Under this regulation, an act of terrorism financing is defined as direct and/or indirect acts in order to provide, collect, grant, or loan funds to persons that knowingly would use the funds to conduct terrorist acts. Companies that fund terrorism in Indonesia may face large monetary fines, have their assets seized and their permits revoked. Moreover, such companies may also be dismantled or expropriated by the government. Financial service providers must comply with know-your-customer principles and report suspicious financial transactions that it believes is related to terrorism to the PPATK. Failure to do so will result in fines of up to IDR1 billion (US$69,056). Financial service providers that provide fund transfer services must also request the sender of funds to present identification and information explaining the purpose of the fund transfer and must keep a record of all transactions for at least five years. Funds of the alleged financers of terrorism may be frozen upon the request of the PPATK, investigators, public prosecutors, a judge, and other legally designated parties.
Regulations on Labor
On March 25, 2003, the House of Representatives enacted Law No. 13 of 2003 on Manpower, or the Indonesia Manpower Law. Under the Indonesia Manpower Law, we are not allowed to pay our employee wages below the minimum wage stipulated annually by the relevant provincial, regency or municipal government. The minimum wage is set in accordance with the need for a decent standard of living, taking into consideration the productivity and growth of the economy. If we fail to abide by requisite minimum wage regulations in the Indonesia Manpower Law, our directors may be liable to a term of imprisonment of no less than one year and up to four years. Moreover, we may also be subject to a fine of up to IDR400 million (US$27,622).
Indonesia has adopted social protection and social welfare programs for employees who are working in Indonesia under Law No. 24 of 2011 on the Social Security Agency, or the Indonesia Social Security Agency Law. The Indonesia Social Security Agency Law establishes two social welfare programs, namely, the healthcare social security insurance and employment social security. Employment social security covers workers compensation, pensions and life insurance. Under the Indonesia Social Security Agency Law, an employer is required to register itself and its employees as employment social security participants. If an employer fails to comply with this obligation, it will be subject to a written warning, fines and/or exclusion from certain public services. The Indonesia Social Security Agency Law further stipulates that an employer that violates its obligation to provide the requisite financial contributions to healthcare social security insurance and employment social security will be subject to up to eight years of imprisonment and fines of IDR1 billion (US$69,056). In addition, pursuant to the Indonesia Manpower Law, every person, including foreign nationals, who is employed for at least six months in Indonesia, must participate in the social security programs in Indonesia.
Regulations on Foreign Investment
Although there have been significant economic and cultural interactions and relationships established between Taiwan and the PRC, there have been and remain tensions between the governments of Taiwan and the PRC regarding the international political status of Taiwan. Due in large part to these tensions, Taiwan has imposed restrictions on investments by PRC investors.
Investment in Taiwan by PRC investors is governed by the Measures Governing Investment Permits to the People of the Mainland Area, or the Measures, which was last amended on March 13, 2015, and promulgated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Taiwan, or the MOEA. PRC investors refer to PRC individuals, juristic persons, organizations and other institutions and PRC invested companies from other jurisdictions, or collectively, PRC investors. “PRC invested companies from other jurisdictions” refer to those entities incorporated outside of the PRC and invested by PRC individuals, juristic persons, organizations and other institutions that (i) directly or indirectly hold more than 30% of the shares or capital of such entities, or (ii) have the ability to control such entities. Under applicable regulatory guidance, “control” is defined to include: (i) having the ability to hold more than 50% of the voting shares under agreement with other investors; (ii) having the ability to control the financing, operation and personnel appointment and removal of the company according to laws or agreements; (iii) having the ability to appoint or remove more than half of the members of the board of directors; (iv) having the ability to direct more than 50% of the voting power in the board of directors; or (v) other indicia of control as set forth in Statement of Financial Accounting Standards Nos. 5 and 7 promulgated by the Financial Accounting Standards Committee of the Accounting Research and Development Foundation of the Republic of China. PRC investors are required to apply for an approval before engaging in the following investment activities: (i) holding the shares issued by or making capital contribution in the company or enterprise in Taiwan, exclusive of a single or accumulated investment that is less than 10% of the shares in a Taiwanese company that is listed on a stock exchange or traded on an over-the-counter market; (ii) setting up a branch, sole proprietorship or partnership in Taiwan; or (iii) providing loans to the invested companies for more than one year. In addition, PRC investors with military background or military purpose are banned from investing in Taiwan. Certain statutory business categories, such as computer recreational activities, software publication, third party payment and general advertising services, are not listed as permitted in the Positive Listings. PRC investors are not allowed to invest in a Taiwan company that operates businesses in such statutory business categories.
Before investing in Taiwan in accordance with the Measures, PRC investors investing in a Taiwan company that operates businesses in the statutory business categories listed as permitted in the Positive Listings are required to apply for prior approval from the MOEA.
In case of being deemed non-compliant with the above-mentioned laws and regulations, the Taiwan authorities may take a range of actions, including:
|·||imposing fines between NT$120,000 (US$3,920) and NT$600,000 (US$19,601) and further fines if the non-compliance is not rectified as ordered;|
|·||ordering the violator to reduce any direct or indirect ownership or control by PRC investors;|
|·||requesting the violator to divest some or all of its investment or control in its invested entities in Taiwan;|
|·||suspending the rights of shareholders; and|
|·||discontinuing the operations, and revoking the business licenses of its invested entities in Taiwan.|
Foreign investments in Taiwan are governed by the Statute for Investment by Foreign Nationals, last amended on November 19, 1997. Foreign investors may invest by holding shares issued by a Taiwanese company, contributing to its registered capital, establishing a branch office, a proprietary business or a partnership in Taiwan, or providing loans to the invested business for a period exceeding one year, provided that the business items of the invested Taiwanese company are not in a negative list promulgated by the MOEA from time to time.
Financial Support Provided by Offshore Entities
According to the Statute for Investment by Foreign Nationals, last amended on November 19, 1997, offshore entities can provide loans to any Taiwanese companies that such offshore entities do not hold any equity interest in without any approval from government authorities, subject to certain foreign exchange approval requirements in connection with the remittance of foreign currency in excess of certain amount by Taiwanese entities. There is no maximum limitation on the amount of loans a Taiwanese company may receive from an offshore entity. Moreover, based on current laws and regulations, there is generally no limitation on guarantees made by an offshore entity to a Taiwanese company.
Regulations on Foreign Exchange
Foreign exchange matters are generally governed by Taiwan’s Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, last amended on April 29, 2009, and regulated by the Ministry of Finance of Taiwan, and the Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Authorized by the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, the Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has promulgated the Regulations Governing the Declaration of Foreign Exchange Receipts and Disbursements or Transactions, last amended on November 13, 2018, in order to deal with the declaration of foreign exchange receipts, disbursements or transactions involving NT$500,000 (US$16,335) or more or its equivalent in foreign currency.
Under existing laws and regulations, foreign exchange approvals must be obtained from the Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan) on a payment-by-payment basis. A single remittance by a company with an amount over US$1 million shall be reported and documents supporting the accuracy of such report shall be provided. In addition, remittances by a company whose annual aggregate amount exceeds US$50 million may not be processed without the approval of the Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Although such approvals have been routinely granted in the past, there can be no assurance that in the future any such approvals will be obtained in a timely manner, or at all.
Regulations on Dividend Distributions
Dividend distributions by companies incorporated in Taiwan are governed by the Taiwan Company Act. Under the Taiwan Company Act, with respect to corporate entity, dividends shall only be distributed after the 10% of annual net income (less prior years’ losses, if any, and applicable income taxes) is set aside as legal reserve until the accumulated legal reserve equals the paid-in capital of such company. In addition, a foreign company’s Taiwan branch, such as our digital entertainment business entity in Taiwan, is not entitled to distribute dividends or make other distributions and can only remit the profits to its holding company in accordance with foreign exchange control regulations after satisfying the relevant income tax obligation in Taiwan.
Regulations on Information Technology and Intellectual Property Rights
Taiwan does not have a specific statute with respect to regulations governing information technology. The related regulations are mainly dispersed within the Electronic Signatures Act promulgated on November 14, 2011, or the Electronic Signatures Act. The main purpose of the Electronic Signatures Act is to encourage the use of electronic transactions, ensure the security of electronic transactions, and facilitate the development of electronic commerce. According to the Electronic Signatures Act, documents may be maintained in electronic form, and an electronic signature may be used with the consent of the other party. In addition, a non-government agency shall not collect or process specific personal information unless it has a legitimate specific purpose and complies with all of the conditions provided in the relevant laws.
Intellectual property rights are protected primarily through the Copyright Act (last amended on November 30, 2016), the Patent Act (last amended on January 18, 2017), the Trademark Act (last amended on November 30, 2016) and the Trade Secrets Act (promulgated on January 30, 2013) in Taiwan.
Regulations on Imported Games and Game Operations
Operations of online games are regulated by the Regulations on the Rating of Game Software, last amended on April 20, 2018. Game operating companies and agents of game software need to clearly label the rating and warning language on the packaging or webpages of the game according to the rating system under the regulations and register the rating level and plot of such game software in the database of the competent authority to allow for rating level searches prior to the earliest date on which the game is made available for public purchase. In the event the rating level of a game is not labeled properly according to the relevant regulations, the game operating company or agent may be subject to fines, and may be subject to repeated penalties if such non-compliance is not rectified within the stipulated periods.
In addition, according to the Recording of Matters in the Standard Contracts of Online Games promulgated by the Executive Yuan on December 13, 2007 and last amended on October 8, 2018, game operating companies need to label the following information on their game websites and the packaging of their games: (i) the rating level and the age groups that are prohibited or suitable for the game, (ii) the minimum system requirements for running the game, (iii) details regarding the game’s refund policy, and (iv) information and certain warning language regarding in-game activities, rewards and prizes.
Regulations on E-commerce
Under the Act Governing Electronic Payment Institutions promulgated on February 4, 2015, effective as of May 3, 2015 and last amended on January 31, 2018, an “electronic payment institution” means a company approved by the competent authority to accept, through a network or electronic payment platform, the registration and opening of accounts by users to keeps track of their deposit and transfer records, and also uses electronic equipment to convey the receipt or payment information to engage in certain e-commerce businesses in the capacity of an intermediary between payers and recipients, including the following businesses: (i) collecting and making payments for real transactions as an agent, (ii) accepting deposits of funds as stored value funds, (iii) transferring funds between e-payment accounts, and (iv) other businesses approved by the competent authority. However, a company which only engages in the business of collecting and making payments for real transactions as an agent and the total balance of funds it collects/pays and keeps does not exceed NT$1 billion (US$32.7 million) in the average daily amount of a year is not considered an electronic payment institution. Therefore, our Shopee business in Taiwan is not considered an “electronic payment institution” in Taiwan because we merely collect and make payments for real transactions as an agent by cooperating with certain banks in Taiwan and the total balance does not exceed the maximum amount under the Act Governing Electronic Payment Institutions.
Regulations on Data Protection and Information Security
The main regulation governing the protection of personal data in Taiwan is the Personal Information Protection Act, last amended on December 30, 2015. The Personal Information Protection Act governs the collection, processing and use of personal information in order to prevent abuse of personal data by other parties. Companies that seek to collect, process and use personal information need to disclose the name of the party collecting the personal information and the purpose of collecting the personal information subject to the user’s consent, as appropriate. Data subjects should also be informed of their rights under the Personal Information Protection Act and how they can exercise such rights. Our digital entertainment and e-commerce businesses are required to comply with the Personal Information Protection Act while collecting, processing and using the personal information of our users. Failure to comply with the Personal Information Protection Act will give rise to fines and criminal liability.
Regulations on Anti-money Laundering and the Prevention of Terrorism Financing
According to the Money Laundering Control Act of Taiwan, which was last amended on November 7, 2018, the scope of the definition of money laundering includes the following behaviors: (i) knowingly disguises or conceals property or property interests obtained from a serious crime or transfers or changes the specific gain from criminal actions to assist others to escape from criminal indictment; (ii) covers or hides the nature, source, flowing, location, ownership, disposition and other interest of gains of a particular crime; and (iii) receives, possesses or uses the gain of a particular crime. We will continue to closely monitor regulatory developments in order to continue to comply with the anti-money laundering and prevention of terrorism financing regulations.
Regulations on Labor
According to the Labor Standards Act of Taiwan, last amended on November 21, 2018, employers are not allowed to terminate employment contracts without cause. Further, the mere transfer of ownership of a company is not sufficient grounds for laying-off employees. Only when the employer is to be dissolved due to transactions under the Merger and Acquisition Act can such employer terminate the employment agreements with the employees that are not offered employment by the surviving or assigned company. Under the Labor Standards Act and the Labor Pension Act of Taiwan, employers are required to contribute no less than 6% of an employee’s monthly salary into a specific account as part of the employee’s pension. Under the Labor Insurance Law of Taiwan, employers should withhold and pay for the social insurance premium for employees aged between 15 and 65. In addition, under the National Health Insurance Law of Taiwan, employers are required to pay for a certain statutory percentage of the employees’ health insurance premium.
Regulations on Foreign Investment
Foreign investment into Vietnam is regulated by both domestic legislation and international agreements, with the primary regulations being the Law on Investment and Vietnam’s WTO commitments. Foreign investment is divided into three general categories: unrestricted, restricted, and prohibited. With respect to the “restricted” category, restrictions can take the form of a specific foreign ownership ceiling in a foreign-invested company, a general requirement to enter into a joint venture with a Vietnamese party with no mandated maximum foreign ownership ceiling, or the requirement to obtain certain government approvals for foreign ownership with respect to the industries that the Vietnam government has not committed to opening to foreign investment. For example, foreign ownership in companies engaging in online game business may not exceed 49%, and foreign ownership in companies engaging in e-payment or e-commerce business is restricted unless certain government approvals are obtained. We have obtained approvals from the Department of Planning and Investment of Vietnam for direct ownership of equity interests in our online game, e-commerce and e-payment businesses as a foreign investor, including approval for 100% direct ownership in our e-commerce business.
Financial Support Provided by Offshore Entities
Financial support in the form of loans, direct cash injections and guarantees provided by an offshore entity to a Vietnam entity is permitted under Vietnamese laws, including Vietnam’s foreign exchange control regime. Loans provided by offshore lenders to Vietnam entities with a term of more than 12 months must be registered with the State Bank of Vietnam and must satisfy certain conditions with respect to the term, type and purpose of the loan. There is no other restriction or dollar amount limitation imposed on any of the foregoing financial support mechanisms.
Regulations on Foreign Exchange
Vietnam does not possess a fully liberalized foreign exchange control regime, and the use, exchange and remittance of foreign currencies are regulated by the Ordinance on Foreign Exchange Control and its guiding instruments, along with miscellaneous regulations on inward investment.
The use of, and exchange of foreign currencies for, Vietnamese dong, is broadly dependent on whether such foreign currencies are used for capital investment purposes or general transactional purposes. Capital investment comprises both indirect investment and direct investment, with direct investment defined as any foreign investment where the investor participates in the management and operation of the invested company. Foreign currencies and Vietnamese dong are permitted to be used for direct investments and only Vietnamese dong may be used for indirect investments. All capital investments into Vietnam, whether direct or indirect, must be made through specialized investment capital bank accounts, and any dividend distributions and returns of capital from such investments must be made through the same accounts. There are no foreign exchange control or remittance restrictions imposed on amounts held in such investment capital bank accounts, except for the requirement for supporting documents evidencing valid remittances.
Vietnamese dong held in current accounts can generally be freely exchanged for foreign currency and subsequently remitted offshore, provided that the origin of such amounts and the reason for the exchange and remittance are legitimate and legal. Contracts for the supply of goods or services entered into between a Vietnamese individual or company and a foreign company are one of the valid bases for such foreign currency exchange transactions.
Regulations on Dividend Distributions
In Vietnam, a company is allowed to pay dividends at the end of a financial year after it has settled all of its outstanding tax obligations, provided that the payment of the dividends will not result in the company being unable to discharge its debts and other liabilities.
Regulations on Imported Games and Game Operations
According to Circular No.34/2013/TT-BCT, games are permitted to be imported into Vietnam. With regards to the publication of games, including electronic games, Vietnam’s WTO commitments allow foreign investors to provide electronic games only through a business cooperation contract or a joint venture company with a Vietnamese partner which is licensed to provide electronic games. Foreign investment into the joint venture company generally shall not exceed 49%. See “—Regulation—Vietnam—Regulations on Foreign Investment.”
The operation of electronic games is mainly governed by Decree No.72/2013/ND-CP, which regulates the management, provision and use of internet services and online information, and Circular No.24/2014/TT-BTTTT, which provides further guidance to Decree No.72/2013/ND-CP. These regulations divide electronic games into the following categories: G1 games (simultaneous interactions among various players via a game server), G2 games (simultaneous interactions only between players and a game server), G3 games (simultaneous interactions among various players but no interactions between players and a game server), and G4 games (those downloaded from a network with no interaction among players or between players and the game server). Companies may operate G1 games after obtaining a License to Provide Game Services and, for each game the company offers, it also needs to obtain a Decision to Approve Game Content issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam. Companies may operate G2, G3 and G4 games after obtaining a Certificate of Registration of Game Service Provision and, for each game the company offers, it also needs to obtain an Announcement of Service Provision issued by the Agency of Broadcasting and Electronic Information.
Regulations on E-commerce
E-commerce businesses are mainly governed by the Law on E-Transactions, Decree No.52/2013/ND-CP, or Decree 52, and Circular No.59/2015/TT-BCT, or Circular 59.
According to Decree 52, companies that own e-commerce direct sale websites must notify the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam of their establishment. Companies that own e-commerce service provision websites, including e-commerce marketplace, online auction websites, and online promotion websites, must apply with the Ministry of Industry and Trade for the establishment of such e-commerce platforms.
According to Circular 59, e-commerce mobile applications include applications used for direct sale of goods and applications for provision of e-commerce services. Accordingly, a company with such applications must register to establish an e-commerce service provision website with the Ministry of Industry and Trade if it owns a mobile application with both goods sales and services provision functions, and notify the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the establishment of the mobile application for either the sale of goods or the provision of services.
Our e-commerce business in Vietnam has made the requisite applications and notifications and obtained the requisite approvals for the provision of e-commerce services.
Regulations on E-payment Services
According to Decree No.101/2012/ND-CP, intermediary payment services include the provision of electronic payment facilities (such as financial switch services, electronic clearing services and electronic payment gateway services), payment support services (such as cash collection and cash payment services, support services for wire transfers and digital wallet services), as well as other intermediary payment services prescribed by the State Bank of Vietnam. Non-financial companies that wish to provide intermediary payment services are required to obtain a license for intermediary payment services. To obtain this license, companies must satisfy certain conditions, such as meeting minimum equity capital thresholds (50 billion Vietnamese dong, or approximately US$2.2 million) as well as receiving prior approval for its plan to operate the intermediary payment services.
Our digital financial services business in Vietnam has obtained the license for intermediary payment services for electronic payment gateway services, cash collection and cash payment services and digital wallet services.
Regulations on Data Protection and Information Security
Vietnam does not have a comprehensive data protection law. Instead, data protection provisions are prescribed across various legislation, which include the Vietnam Civil Code, the Law on Protection of Consumers’ Rights, the Law on Information Technology, and the Law on E-commerce, which are all issued by the National Assembly of Vietnam. While there is no unified definition, personal data may generally be defined as information that is adequate to accurately identify a data subject, covering at least one of the following types of information: full name, date of birth, ID number/passport number, profession, title, contact address, e-mail address, and telephone number. A subject’s right to privacy is protected by laws. Any collection, publication, processing, transfer to a third party or any other use of a subject’s personal information requires the consent of such subject.
On November 19, 2015, the Vietnam National Assembly issued the Law on Cyber Information Security, which sets forth regulations on cyber information security. Accordingly, individuals and companies must implement measures to assure the security of cyber information. For example, entities providing information technology services must comply with regulations on the storage and use of personal information, apply blocking and handling measures upon receipt of a notice that sending such information is illegal, and implement measures to allow recipients to refuse the receipt of information.
Regulations on Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual property rights in Vietnam are governed by the Law on Intellectual Property, together with certain international agreements to which Vietnam is a signatory (such as Vietnam’s WTO commitments on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, and the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks).
In order for certain intellectual property rights to be recognized and enforceable in Vietnam, intellectual property owners must register those rights. Copyrights must be registered with the Department of Copyright of Vietnam. Industrial property, such as patents, trademarks and industrial design, must be registered with the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam.
Regulations on Anti-money Laundering and Prevention of Terrorism Financing
Vietnam’s Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering contains the primary anti-money laundering and prevention of terrorism financing regulations in Vietnam. It applies to all financial institutions and certain non-financial institutions engaged in specific business activities, which include offering games for prizes and payment services, such as those operated by our Vietnam VIEs.
The Department of Anti-Money Laundering established under the State Bank of Vietnam monitors and regulates Vietnam’s anti-money laundering regime. Entities subject to the anti-money laundering regime must report certain transactions to the Department of Anti-Money Laundering, including high-value transactions of no less than 300 million Vietnamese dong (US$13,378), suspicious transactions, and transactions involving companies or individuals in the countries and territories on the “black list” published by the Ministry of Public Security. Moreover, apart from the know-your-client procedures required by Vietnamese law, entities subject to the anti-money laundering regime must perform an enhanced due diligence investigation on high-risk parties, which include foreign individuals on the list of “politically influenced persons” published by the State Bank of Vietnam or individuals or entities conducting transactions using new technologies that enable such persons to conduct transactions without meeting in person with a member or staff of the bank.
Regulations on Labor
Vietnam’s Labor Code, along with a number of guiding instruments, regulates the relationship between employers and employees in Vietnam, including both Vietnamese nationals and expatriates. It specifies that an employment contract must be made in writing. There are broadly three types of labor contracts: indefinite term contracts, fixed term contracts, and temporary or seasonal contracts. An employer is only permitted to offer two consecutive fixed term contracts, subsequent to which the employment contract must be an indefinite term contract.
Vietnam has a particularly employee friendly labor law regime. Employees are entitled to statutory benefits payable by the employer, including health, social and unemployment insurance. Compensation in the form of severance pay is owed in most cases to an employee upon the expiration or termination of employment, save for instances of dismissal for cause. Moreover, non-compete, non-solicitation and any other labor contract clauses which may be deemed to interfere in a person’s right to seek employment are difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.
Regulations on Foreign Investment
Foreign investment in Thailand is regulated under the Thai Foreign Business Act, which states that a foreigner is restricted from engaging in certain businesses in Thailand as described in the Thai Foreign Business Act, such as advertising business, sale of food and beverage, and other service businesses which include e-payment services, unless an approval is granted by the Cabinet of Thailand or a foreign business license or a foreign business certificate is granted by the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand or there is an exemption under other specific laws.
The term “foreigner” under the Thai Foreign Business Act covers the following definitions:
|(i)||a natural person who is not a citizen of Thailand;|
|(ii)||a juristic person not established in Thailand;|
|(iii)||a juristic person established in Thailand with half or more of the shares constituting its capital held by (i) or (ii) or half or more of the total capital of such juristic person invested by (i) or (ii); and|
|(iv)||a juristic person established in Thailand with half or more of the shares constituting its capital held by (i), (ii) or (iii), or half or more of the total capital of such juristic person invested by (i), (ii) or (iii).|
The definition of “foreigner” does not include references to relative voting arrangements, control of the management of a company or the economic interests of Thai and foreign nationals. The Thai Foreign Business Act only considers the immediate level of shareholding. As a result, no cumulative or look-through calculation is applied to determine the foreign status of a company when it has several levels of foreign shareholding. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure—Thailand Shareholding Structure” for more details about our shareholding structures in Thailand and “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure—We rely upon structural arrangements to establish control over certain entities and government authorities may determine that these arrangements do not comply with existing laws and regulations.”
Regulations on Foreign Exchange
The legal basis for foreign exchange control in Thailand is derived from the Exchange Control Act, B.E. 2485 (1942), as amended, and Ministerial Regulation No. 13 (B.E. 2497 (1954)).
In order to control the volume of foreign currency in Thailand and promote the stability of the Thai baht, foreign exchange regulations in Thailand state that all foreign exchange transactions, including those involving purchases, sales, exchanges and transfers, shall be conducted through commercial banks and through authorized non-banks, namely authorized money changers, money transfer agents, and companies, that are granted foreign exchange licenses from the Minister of Finance of Thailand. There is no limit on the remittance of foreign currency into Thailand; nevertheless, remittance of foreign currency to outside of Thailand is primarily limited to the value of the underlying transaction. Prior approval from the Bank of Thailand may be necessary if the transaction is beyond what is allowed under the regulations. Failure to comply with the laws and regulations will lead to a fine and/or imprisonment. We only remit foreign currency out of our Thailand operations through commercial banks and authorized non-banks with the requisite licenses and generally do need to obtain separate approval from the Bank of Thailand for such transactions.
Regulations on Dividend Distributions
Dividend distributions by private companies incorporated in Thailand are governed by the Civil Commercial Code and the Revenue Code. Dividends shall only be distributed out of a company’s retained earnings. A company looking to distribute dividend is required to set aside at least 5% of its retained earnings into a legal reserve fund at the time the dividend is paid until and unless the legal reserve fund reaches 10% of the company’s registered capital.
The dividend distributed to a company’s shareholders is subject to a 10% withholding tax. The withholding tax may be exempt or reduced depending on the rules and regulations of the Thai revenue code and the double taxation agreements that Thailand has entered into with other countries.
Regulations on Game Businesses
Digital game and game distributing businesses, either for personal computers or mobile phones, are governed by the Film and Video Act B.E. 2551 (2008), as amended, or the Film and Video Act. Digital games are treated as videos under the Film and Video Act. Digital games to be exhibited, exchanged or distributed in Thailand shall be reviewed and approved by the Thailand Film and Video Censorship Committee. Updates and amendments to previously approved digital games will be regarded as new games and subject to the review and approval by the Film and Video Censorship Committee. Companies engaging in the game distributing business are required to obtain a game distributing license under the Film and Video Act unless the games are offered for free. We have arranged for obtaining the approvals of the games we exhibit and their updated versions from the Film and Video Censorship Committee regularly.
Regulations on E-commerce
Pursuant to the Commercial Registration Act, B.E. 2499 (1956), as amended, or the Commercial Registration Act, and the Notification Regarding Requiring Business Operators to Register their Businesses No. 11, issued by the Ministry of Commerce in 2010, or Notification No. 11, an e-commerce business operators, including the companies engaging in the sale and purchase of goods or services using electronic devices via the internet and e-marketplace, are required to register its business with the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand. We have registered our Shopee e-commerce marketplace business with the Ministry of Commerce.
Pursuant to the Direct Sale and Direct Marketing Act B.E. 2545 (2002), as amended, or the Direct Sale and Direct Marketing Act, companies engaging in direct sales or direct marketing are required to register its business with the Secretariat General of the Office of Consumer Protection or the officer appointed by the Secretariat General of the Office of Consumer Protection. We have made the required registration for our Shopee e-commerce marketplace in Thailand. Under the Direct Sale and Direct Marketing Act, companies that operate an online marketplace are direct marketing companies and are required to ensure that documentation evidencing sales and purchases of goods and services on its online marketplace are provided and delivered to consumers. Such documentation shall be in the Thai language and contain information including due date, place and method of payment, place and method of delivery of goods or services, termination of contract, product return method, product warranty and exchange policy in case of damage or defect. Moreover, consumers have the right to cancel their purchases made on an online marketplace within seven days from the date of receipt of the purchased goods or services.
In addition, direct marketing companies must comply with the relevant ministerial regulations and any applicable laws on consumer protection regarding their advertisements.
Regulations on Consumer Protection
Thailand’s consumer protection laws include the Consumer Protection Act B.E. 2522 (1979), as amended, the Unfair Contract Terms Act, B.E. 2540 (1997), the Product Liability Act B.E. 2551 (2008) and the Consumer Case Procedure Act B.E. 2551 (2008). Such laws aim to promote greater transparency and more accurate disclosures regarding products and services, adequate compensation if consumers are harmed by a product or service and fair transaction terms between sellers and buyers.
Regulations on E-payment Services
In Thailand, electronic transactions and e-payment services are governed by several governmental authorities and regulations including, the Electronic Transaction Commission, or the ETC, the Governor of the Bank of Thailand or his or her designee, the Electronic Transactions Act, B.E. 2544 (2011), as amended, and the Royal Decree Regulating Electronic Payment Services, B.E. 2551 (2008).
Regulated e-payment services businesses include: (i) e-payment services that involve transferring, making or receiving payments via bank accounts and/or credit cards; (ii) e-money or e-wallet services that involve the use of money in electronic form to transfer, make and receive payments; and (iii) substitute payment services through physical counters and websites used to facilitate bill payments and game/mobile phone top-ups.
The ETC is in charge of granting licenses for each type of e-payment service business and has promulgated a notification regarding the Rules, Procedures and Conditions on the Operation of Electronic Payment Service Businesses, B.E. 2559 (2016), or the ETC Notification. The ETC Notification contains many requirements for electronic payment services business operators. For example, such operators must ensure that personal data of the users of their services remain private, even after the cessation of services, unless an exception applies. Moreover, annual inspections must be performed on the information security systems of e-payment services businesses and the results must be reported to the Bank of Thailand. The ETC Notification specifically mandates that if an electronic payment services business operator holds an e-money license, it can only operate (i) within the scope of such license, and (ii) other relevant businesses with the purpose to support such e-payment service business, and it must also keep the money collected from users separate from its own account.
Our digital financial services business in Thailand has obtained e-payment service business licenses for (i) electronic money services, (ii) electronic payment services through any device or network, and (iii) payment services. In addition, we have also obtained an e-money card license from the Ministry of Finance in accordance with the Notification of the Revolution Council No. 58, dated January 26, 1972, or the Notification of the Revolution Council No. 58, which mandated that e-money card service businesses require approval from the relevant authority.
On October 18, 2017, the Payment Systems Act, B.E. 2560 (2017), which governs e-payment services in Thailand, has been enacted and has been in effect since April 16, 2018. An operator seeking to operate a regulated payment system or regulated payment service, which include e-payment services, is required to have a license before operating such business. Under the Payment Systems Act, a business operator who has been granted e-payment business licenses under prior regulations must have filed its application for license or the application for registration with the Bank of Thailand before August 13, 2018. Upon filing such applications within the prescribed period, the operator is entitled to operate the businesses indefinitely until the Minister of the Ministry of Finance or the Bank of Thailand instruct otherwise. In this regard, the Bank of Thailand has issued several regulations regulating businesses operating regulated payment systems and services. As an existing license holder, we filed our application within the prescribed period and have obtained the new license under the Payment Systems Act to operate e-payment services.
Any non-compliance with the regulations regarding the regulated payment system or the regulated payment services will be subject to monetary fines and, depending on the severity of the non-compliance, may result in the suspension or revocation of the relevant licenses obtained under such regulations.
Regulations on Nano Financing
The Ministry of Finance promulgated the Notification Regarding Businesses that Require a Permit According to Section 5 of the Notification of the Revolution Council No. 58 (Nano Finance), or the Nano Finance Notification, which requires a nano finance business operator to obtain an approval from the Minister of Finance through the Bank of Thailand. The Nano Finance Notification also stipulates that loan proceeds from nano financing may only be used for business-related purposes in order to boost opportunities to small business owners. Our subsidiary engaging in digital financial services business in Thailand has obtained the nano finance license from the Ministry of Finance in accordance with the Nano Finance Notification.
We have obtained an approval to operate nano finance business and provide nano financing to selected AirPay counters in Thailand. Our nano finance business is subject to certain restrictions imposed by the Bank of Thailand, the government authority overseeing nano finance businesses. The Bank of Thailand promulgated the Notification No. SorNorSor 1/2558 Regarding the Rules, Procedures and Conditions for the Operation of Nano Finance Businesses. Under such notification, operators of nano finance businesses should take into account the borrower’s ability to repay the loan (which is unsecured) and consider a credit limit for each borrower. The maximum credit limit shall not exceed THB100,000 (US$3,095), and the interest rate, together with fees and penalties, shall not exceed 36% per annum. In addition, the nano finance business operator shall maintain a debt-to-equity ratio of seven times or less throughout its operation.
Regulations on Personal Loans
Personal loan operators are subject to the Notification regarding Businesses that Require a Permit According to Section 5 of the Notification of the Revolution Council No. 58 (Supervised Personal Loan), as amended, and its implementation rules promulgated by the Bank of Thailand, or collectively, the Supervised Personal Loan Notification. According to the Supervised Personal Loan Notification, a company providing uncollateralized personal loans for no specific purpose to individuals is required to obtain a supervised personal loan business license. Our subsidiary engaging in the digital financial services business in Thailand has obtained a supervised personal loan business license from the Ministry of Finance in accordance with the Supervised Personal Loan Notification.
According to the Notification of the Bank of Thailand No. SorNorSor 2/2562 (2019), the Bank of Thailand, as the competent authority under the Supervised Personal Loan Notification, requires that the credit limit for personal loans should not exceed one and a half or five times the average monthly income of the borrower or the average monthly balance in the borrower’s deposit account, in the case where the average income is below or over THB 30,000 (US$929) a month respectively, at a financial institution for the six month period immediately before the date on which the personal loan is granted. Moreover, the interest rate for personal loans, together with fees and penalties, shall not exceed 28% per annum.
Regulations on Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual property laws in Thailand are comprised of the Copyrights Act, B.E. 2537 (1994), as amended, Trademark Act B.E. 2534 (1991), as amended, Patent Act B.E. 2522 (1979), as amended, Trade Secret Act, B.E. 2545 (2002), as amended, and Optical Disc Production Act, B.E. 2548 (2005).
Trademarks registered outside of Thailand are not automatically protected under Thai laws. Protection will be granted to trademarks registered with the Department of Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand. In contrast, original works of authorship will receive copyright protection the moment they are created. Computer software will be protected under the Thailand Copyright Act. An infringement of intellectual property rights may lead to civil and/or criminal liabilities.
Regulations on Anti-money Laundering and Prevention of Terrorism Financing
The key regulation for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing is the Money Laundering Prevention and Suppression Act, B.E. 2542 (1999), as amended, which imposes reporting obligations for any transactions that reach certain thresholds which vary depending on the type of transactions involved. Personal loan business operators are also subject to know-your-customer measures for every transaction, while e-payment and e-money business operators are required to apply the know-your-client measures when the value of a transaction is THB 100,000 (US$3,095) or more. In addition, any e-payment service business needs to have procedures relating to customer due diligence in place to ensure that its services are not being used by members of groups identified as terrorists by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
Regulations on Labor
Labor matters are mainly governed by the Thai Civil and Commercial Code and the Thai Labor Protection Act, B.E. 2541 (1998), as amended, and its subsequent notifications. The laws stipulate relationship between the employer and the employees in essential aspects, including working hours, leaves, wages, employment termination and severance payment, etc. The employment arrangement can be made verbally and is not required in writing.
Under the Thai Labor Protection Act, it’s mandatory for employers to establish work rules when 10 or more employees are hired and it shall cover the following issues: (i) working days, normal working hours and rest period; (ii) holidays and rules governing the taking of holidays; (iii) rules governing overtime and holiday work; (iv) the day and place where wages, overtime pay, holiday pay and holiday overtime pay are to be made; (v) leave and rules governing the taking of leave; (vi) discipline and disciplinary measures; (vii) lodging of grievances; and (viii) termination of employment, severance pay and special severance pay.
Regulations on Dividend Distributions
The governing legislation for the distribution of dividends in Singapore is the Companies Act. Under the Companies Act of Singapore, a Singapore company is only allowed to pay dividends out of profits in compliance with Section 403 of the Companies Act (which prohibits dividends from being paid out of profits applied towards the purchase of the company’s own shares or gains derived by the company from the disposal of treasury shares) and in accordance with the company’s constitution and the generally acceptable accounting principles in Singapore.
Regulations on Information Technology
Regulation of Internet Content
The Singapore Broadcasting Act prohibits the provision of certain broadcasting services, including internet content, in or from Singapore without a license issued by the Infocomm Media Development Authority. The Infocomm Media Development Authority is the regulator of the information, communications and media sectors in Singapore. The Singapore Broadcasting Act sets out an automatic class licensing scheme for computer online services provided by internet content providers. An internet content provider includes a corporation which provides any program for business purposes on the internet.
Internet content providers are in general mandated to be automatically class licensed without any need to make specific applications to the Infocomm Media Development Authority, and are required to comply with the conditions of the class licence and the Internet Code of Practice. As an internet content provider, we are obliged to use our best efforts to ensure that prohibited material (which refers to material that is objectionable on the grounds of public interest, public morality, public security, national harmony, offends good taste or decency, or is otherwise prohibited by applicable Singapore laws) is not broadcast via the internet to users in Singapore, and we are also required to deny access to any prohibited material if directed to do so by the Infocomm Media Development Authority. If we contravene the class license conditions or the Internet Code of Practice, we may face administrative sanctions such as suspension or cancelation of our license, or fines.
Regulations on Imported Games and Game Operating
Video Game Classification
Pursuant to Singapore’s Films Act, the Board of Film Censors of the Infocomm Media Development Authority is responsible for classifying films, videos and video games distributed in Singapore. In particular, it administers the video game classification system under the Films Act, which requires businesses importing or distributing physical copies of video games in Singapore to submit the video games to the Infocomm Media Development Authority for rating and classification. However, the video game classification system does not apply to games which are only available via internet download. Since the online games that we offer are available only through online platforms, we in general are not subject to the video game classification system. However, the Infocomm Media Development Authority retains the right to issue a rating and/or classification of any of the online games we offer, should it choose to do so.
The Films Act imposes a regulatory requirement for an organization to hold a license for carrying on the business of importing, making, distributing or exhibiting films. A film is defined to include a video recording for use as a game. The Films (Video Games Exemption) Notification 2008 exempts a video game distributor from having to comply with the abovementioned requirement to obtain a license. There remains some uncertainty with respect to whether the exemption covers an online game operator as the words ‘video games’ are neither defined in the Films Act nor in the said exemption. This is due to the contents of the Films Act and its related regulations not being drafted specifically for the digital age of online games. Further, due to the latter reason, there is uncertainty on whether an online game needs to be submitted to the Board of Film Censors for censorship evaluation prior to distribution. In the opinion of Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP, our counsel as to Singapore law, it is consistent with market practice that we treat our online games as video games and do not apply for the film license or submit our online games for censorship evaluation.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore regulates the issuance of stored value facilities in Singapore under the Payment Systems (Oversight) Act. Stored value facilities are prepaid instruments that can be used for the payment of goods or services up to the amount that has been stored in the instrument. A stored value facility may either be single purpose or multi-purpose in nature. A single purpose stored value facility may only be used to pay for goods and services provided by its holder, whereas a multi-purpose stored value facility may be used to pay for goods and services provided by its holder and other parties. Approval of the Monetary Authority of Singapore is not generally required for the operation of a single purpose stored value facility other than a widely accepted store value facility, and the holder of the stored value facility is required to comply with the Payment Systems (Oversight) Act and its associated regulations.
Pursuant to the Payment Systems (Oversight) Act, holders of single purpose stored value facilities are required to comply with its requirements and provide the Monetary Authority of Singapore with all information relating to the stored value facility as may be requested. While there are obligations imposed on holders of stored value facilities under the Payment Systems (Oversight) Act regarding labeling requirements and limits on the stored value threshold, depending on circumstances, the Payment Systems (Oversight) (Exclusion of Single Purpose Stored Value Facilities) Order and the Payment Systems (Oversight) (Exemption) Regulations exempt such obligations from applying in respect of single purpose stored value facilities.
In addition, the holder of the stored value facility will need to comply with the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Notice PSOA-N02 on the prevention of money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. Pursuant to this and amongst various things, the holder of such stored value facility must perform due diligence measures to establish and verify the identity of the user; notify the Monetary Authority of Singapore at least 10 business days prior to the commencement of operations of the stored value facility, file an annual submission to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and maintain documentation on transactions relating to the stored value facility; implement internal policies to report suspicious transactions to the Suspicious Transactions Reporting Office; and implement internal policies to help prevent money laundering and terrorism financing. A holder of a stored value facility will also need to comply with the regulations issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore under Section 27A of the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act which seek to prohibit dealings with and impose sanctions on designated persons.
The Payment Services Bill which streamlines different payment services in Singapore under a single legislation has been passed by Parliament in January 2019. The Payment Services Act 2019 is however not in force yet and the date of when it will come into force has not been announced, although the various payment services to be regulated thereunder may be “e-money issuance service” and “account issuance service.”
Similar to the PSOA in relation to single purpose stored value facility, “limited purpose e-money,” which includes stored value that may only be used to pay for goods and services of the issuer of the stored value facility, will be excluded from the ambit of the Payment Services Act, and any payment service provided in respect only of such limited purpose e-money will thus not be required to be licensed under the Payment Services Act.
Regulations on E-commerce
There are various general consumer protection laws in place in Singapore, which apply generally to all relevant transactions including electronic transactions, but are not specifically targeted at regulating e-commerce operations. One or more of these laws would be relevant in the context of online game operations or e-commerce operations.
The Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act sets out a legislative framework to allow consumers aggrieved by unfair practices to have recourse to civil remedies before the Singapore courts. The definition of supplier under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act includes persons who promote the use or purchase of goods or services which we do through our digital entertainment and e-commerce platforms. Suppliers may be held liable for engaging in unfair practices in relation to consumer transactions. Unfair practices include, among other things: (i) doing or saying anything which would reasonably deceive or mislead consumers, (ii) making a false claim, (iii) taking unreasonable advantage of a consumer, or (iv) making various forms of misrepresentations to the consumer.
The Consumer Protection (Trade Descriptions and Safety Requirements) Act prohibits the use of false trade descriptions on goods supplied in the course of trade. Trade descriptions include any description, statement or indication that directly or indirectly relates to the fitness for purpose, strength, performance, behavior or accuracy of any goods. This prohibition applies to all persons in the course of business and would be applicable in an e-commerce marketplace. Violations of the Consumer Protection (Trade Descriptions and Safety Requirements) Act are subject to criminal liability.
Regulations on Data Protection and Information Security
Personal Data Protection
The Personal Data Protection Act of Singapore governs the collection, use and disclosure of the personal data of individuals by organizations, and is administered and enforced by the regulator, the Personal Data Protection Commission. It sets out data protection obligations which all organizations are required to comply with in undertaking activities relating to the collection, use or disclosure of personal data. A failure to comply with any of the above can subject an organization to a fine of up to S$1 million (US$748,335) per breach.
An online game operator or e-commerce company is required to comply with the Personal Data Protection Act. Among other things, such company is required to obtain consent from its customers and inform them of the applicable purposes before collecting, using or disclosing their personal data. Moreover, it is also required to put in place sufficient measures to protect the personal data in its possession or control from unauthorized access, loss or damage.
Pursuant to the Personal Data Protection Commission’s Advisory Guidelines on the Personal Data Protection Act for NRIC and other National Identification Numbers that was issued in August 2018, an organisation such as an online game operator or e-commerce company is not permitted to collect, use or disclose an individual’s identification number unless under certain exceptions. Organizations have been given a grace period to comply with such guidelines and the latter will be enforced by the Personal Data Protection Commission from September 2019.
Regulations on Intellectual Property Rights
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore administers the intellectual property legislative framework in Singapore, which includes copyrights, trademarks and patents. Singapore is a member of the main international conventions regulating intellectual property matters, and the WTO’s Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
Pursuant to the Copyright Act of Singapore, authors of protected works enjoy various exclusive rights, including the rights of reproduction and communication to the public. An author will automatically enjoy copyright protection as soon as he creates and expresses an original work in a tangible form. There is no need to file for registration to obtain copyright protection. Copyright works sent over the internet or stored on web servers are treated in the same manner as copyright material in other media. Online games and computer programs would qualify for such copyright protection, for example, as literary works, artistic works and/or cinematograph films.
Singapore operates a first-to-file system in respect of registered trade marks under the Trade Marks Act of Singapore, and the registered proprietor is granted a statutory monopoly of the trade mark in Singapore in relation to the product or service for which it is registered. In the event of any trade mark infringement, the registered proprietor will be able to rely on the registered trade mark as proof of his right to the mark, and the infringement of a trade mark may give rise to civil and criminal liabilities. Statutory protection of a registered trade mark can last indefinitely, as long as the registration is renewed every 10 years.
The Patents Act of Singapore confers protection on patentable inventions on a first-to-file basis in Singapore, provided that the invention satisfies the requirements of novelty, having an inventive step and industrial applicability. Patents are valid for 20 years from the date of filing, subject to the payment of annual renewal fees. During the life of the patent, the owner will have the exclusive right to exploit the invention that is the subject of the patent.
Regulations on Anti-money Laundering and Prevention of Terrorism Financing
The primary anti-money laundering legislation in Singapore is the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, or CDSA, provides for the confiscation of benefits derived from, and to combat, corruption, drug dealing and other serious crimes. Generally, the CDSA criminalizes the concealment or transfer of the benefits of criminal conduct as well as the knowing assistance of the concealment, transfer or retention of such benefits.
The Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, or TSOFA, is the primary legislation for the combating of terrorism financing. It was enacted to give effect to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Besides criminalizing the laundering of proceeds derived from drug dealing and other serious crimes and terrorism financing, the CDSA also requires suspicious transaction reports to be lodged with the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office and the TSOFA requires information about any property belonging to any terrorist or terrorist entity to be reported to the Commissioner of Police. If any person fails to lodge the requisite reports under the CDSA and the TSOFA, it may be subject to criminal liability.
Regulations on Labor
The Employment Act of Singapore generally extends to all employees, with the exception of certain groups of employees. With effect from April 2019, changes to the Employment Act will broaden its scope of coverage such that certain provisions under the Employment Act will apply to all employees regardless of their designation, salary level or type of work performed. It provides employees falling within its ambit certain protections such as minimum notice periods, maximum working hours, maximum amount of deductions from wages, minimum holidays and rest days, maternity/paternity leave, paid childcare leave, sick leave, etc. The Employment Act also applies to employees who are foreigners so long as they fall within the definition of “employee” under the Employment Act. In addition, the employment of foreign manpower in Singapore is also governed by the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act of Singapore. Aside from minimum benefits in respect of the aforesaid terms of employment in the Employment Act, employees in Singapore are entitled to contributions to the central provident fund by the employer as prescribed under the Central Provident Fund Act of Singapore. The specific contribution rate to be made by employers varies depending on whether the employee is a Singapore citizen or permanent resident in the private or public sector and the age group and wage band of the employee. Generally, for employees who are Singapore citizens in the private sector or non-pensionable employees in the public sector, 55 years old or below and that earn more than S$750 (approximately US$561) a month, the employer’s contribution rate is 17% of the employee’s wages.
C. Organizational Structure
Sea Limited is a holding company that does not have substantive operations. We conduct our businesses through our subsidiaries (including branch offices held by our subsidiaries) and consolidated affiliated entities. Our principal operating entities consist of the following (in chronological order based on their dates of incorporation):
|·||Garena Online Private Limited, our subsidiary established in Singapore on May 8, 2009, is an operating entity in our digital entertainment business in Singapore;|
|·||Vietnam Esports Development Joint Stock Company, our VIE established in Vietnam on June 9, 2009, is an operating entity in our digital financial services business in Vietnam;|
|·||Garena Technology Private Limited Taiwan Branch, our branch office established in Taiwan on July 31, 2017 that currently operates our digital entertainment business in Taiwan;|
|·||Vietnam Esports and Entertainment Joint Stock Company, our VIE established in Vietnam on May 10, 2011, is an operating entity in our digital entertainment business in Vietnam;|
|·||Garena Online (Thailand) Co., Ltd., our subsidiary established in Thailand on August 18, 2011, is an operating entity in our digital entertainment business in Thailand;|
|·||PT. Garena Indonesia, our subsidiary established in Indonesia on December 6, 2012, is an operating entity in our digital entertainment business in Indonesia;|
|·||Airpay (Thailand) Co., Ltd., our subsidiary established in Thailand on June 16, 2014, is an operating entity in our digital financial services business in Thailand;|
|·||Shopee (Thailand) Co., Ltd., our subsidiary established in Thailand on February 2, 2015, is an operating entity in our e-commerce business in Thailand;|
|·||Shopee Singapore Private Limited, our subsidiary established in Singapore on February 5, 2015, is an operating entity in our e-commerce business in Singapore;|
|·||Shopee Company Limited, our subsidiary established in Vietnam on February 10, 2015, is an operating entity in our e-commerce business in Vietnam;|
|·||Garena Ventures Private Limited, our subsidiary established in Singapore on February 23, 2015, is our entity for making minority investments in our region;|
|·||Shopee (Taiwan) Co., Ltd., our subsidiary established in Taiwan on March 4, 2015, is an operating entity in our e-commerce business in Taiwan; and|
|·||PT. Shopee International Indonesia, our subsidiary established in Indonesia in on August 5, 2015, is an operating entity in our e-commerce business in Indonesia.|
In November and December 2018, Garena Technology Private Limited Taiwan Branch, a Taiwan branch office wholly-owned by us, took over substantially all of the digital entertainment business and assets held by Garena (Taiwan) Co., Ltd., our VIE established in Taiwan on March 8, 2010, by exercising our option to purchase its assets under the exclusive option agreement between us and the shareholder. The exclusive option agreement was part of our contractual arrangement with Garena (Taiwan) Co., Ltd. and its shareholder, which made us the primary beneficiary of Garena (Taiwan) Co., Ltd. and able to consolidate its financial results in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP since its inception.
In January 2019, upon approval by the relevant Taiwan government authorities, we acquired 100% equity interest in Shopee (Taiwan) Co., Ltd. from its shareholder by exercising our option to purchase equity interest under the exclusive option agreement between us and the shareholder. The exclusive option agreement was part of our contractual arrangement with Shopee (Taiwan) Co., Ltd. and its shareholder, which made us the primary beneficiary of Shopee (Taiwan) Co., Ltd. and able to consolidate its financial results in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP since its inception. See “- Contractual Arrangements among Our VIEs, Their Shareholders and Us” for a description of the contractual arrangement that is substantially the same as what we had with Shopee (Taiwan) Co., Ltd. and its shareholder before January 2019. Upon completion of such share transfer, the contractual arrangement among us, Shopee (Taiwan) Co., Ltd. and its shareholder was terminated.
As of the date of this annual report, we conduct our business operations across 108 subsidiaries (including branch offices held by our subsidiaries) and 27 consolidated affiliated entities.
The chart below summarizes our corporate structure and identifies the principal subsidiaries and consolidated affiliate entities described above as of the date of this annual report:
|_____||Direct ownership (or effective ownership in the case of our Thai entities)|
|- - - -||Contractual arrangements. See “—Contractual Arrangements among Our VIEs, Their Shareholders and Us.”|
|(1)||See “—Thailand Shareholding Structure.”|
|(2)||For each of these entities, 30% of the equity interest is owned by us through a wholly-owned subsidiary in Singapore, and the remaining 70% equity interest is controlled by us through contractual arrangements.|
|(3)||Held through a wholly-owned subsidiary in Singapore.|
Contractual Arrangements among Our VIEs, Their Shareholders and Us
The laws and regulations in many markets in our region place restrictions on foreign investment in and ownership of entities engaged in a number of business activities. For example, in Vietnam, foreign ownership in companies engaging in online game business may not exceed 49%, and foreign ownership in companies engaging in e-payment business is restricted unless certain government approvals are obtained. For a discussion of these restrictions, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Taiwan—Regulations on Foreign Investment” and “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Vietnam—Regulations on Foreign Investment.”
We have two material VIEs established and operating in Vietnam, namely Vietnam Esports and Entertainment Joint Stock Company and Vietnam Esports Development Joint Stock Company. We entered into contractual arrangements with respect to our material Vietnam VIEs because they operate in businesses where foreign ownership is restricted under Vietnam laws or otherwise require approvals from multiple regulatory bodies, which approvals are often discretionary and may entail lengthy waiting periods. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure—We rely upon structural arrangements to establish control over certain entities and government authorities may determine that these arrangements do not comply with existing laws and regulations.” To the extent permissible by law, we will seek approval for obtaining, or enlarging our proportion of, direct ownership in these Vietnam operating entities. As of the date of this annual report, we hold 30% of the equity interest in Vietnam Esports and Entertainment Joint Stock Company, the Vietnam VIE engaging in digital entertainment business, and 30% of the equity interest in Vietnam Esports Development Joint Stock Company, the Vietnam VIE engaging in digital financial services business.
We entered into a series of contracts with each of these VIEs and their respective shareholders, through which we are able to consolidate the financial results of these entities. The current shareholders of our material VIEs in Vietnam are our employees. We have chosen to work with our trusted employees with local nationality as shareholders of our material VIEs in Vietnam. Most of these employees has worked with us for over five years. Through the contractual arrangements, including the relevant powers of attorney, exclusive option agreements and equity interest pledge agreements, we maintain the ability to direct these shareholders to vote at our direction and have the ability to replace each of them as a VIE shareholder.
These contractual arrangements allow us to:
|·||exercise effective control over our VIEs;|
|·||receive substantially all of the economic benefits and absorb losses of our VIEs; and|
|·||have an exclusive call option to purchase all or part of the equity interests in and/or assets of our VIEs when and to the extent permitted by the relevant laws.|
As a result of these contractual arrangements, we are the primary beneficiary of these VIEs and have consolidated their financial results in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP. However, these contractual arrangements may not be as effective in providing operational control as direct ownership and the use of the contractual arrangements in some jurisdictions where we operate exposes us to certain risks. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure.”
The following is a summary of the currently effective contractual arrangements by and among us, our material VIEs in Vietnam and their respective shareholders.
Contracts that Give Us Effective Control of the VIEs
In order to ensure that the shareholders of our material VIEs are able to provide capital to each of these entities in order to develop its business, we have entered into loan agreements with each shareholder. Pursuant to the loan agreements, we have granted loans to the shareholders that may only be used for the purpose of acquiring equity interests in or contributing to the registered capital of these entities. The time and manner for repayment of the loans are at the sole discretion of our lending entity. The loans may be repaid only by the shareholders transferring all of their equity interests in the VIE to us or our designee upon our exercise of the options under the exclusive option agreements. The loan agreements also prohibit the shareholders from assigning or transferring to any third party, or from creating or causing any security interest to be created on, any part of their equity interests in these entities. In the event that the shareholders sell their equity interests to us or our designee at a price which is equal to or lower than the principal amount of the loan, the loan will be interest-free. If the price is higher than the principal amount of the loans, the excess amount will be deemed to be interest on the loans payable by the shareholders to us.
Exclusive Option Agreements
In order to ensure that we are able to acquire all of the equity interests in our material VIEs at our discretion, we have entered into exclusive option agreements with the respective shareholders of these VIEs. Each option is exercisable by us at any time, provided that doing so is not prohibited by law. The exercise price under each option is the minimum amount required by law and any proceeds obtained by the respective shareholders through the transfer of their equity interests in these entities shall be used for the repayment of the loan provided by us in accordance with the loan agreements. During the terms of the exclusive option agreements, the shareholders will not grant a similar right or transfer any of the equity interests in these entities to any party other than us or our designee, nor will such shareholder pledge, create or permit any security interest or similar encumbrance to be created on any of the equity interests. According to the exclusive option agreements, the VIEs cannot declare any profit distributions or grant loans in any form without our prior consent. The shareholders must remit to us in full any funds such shareholders receive from the VIEs in the event any distributions are made by the VIEs. The exclusive option agreements will remain in effect until the respective shareholder has transferred all of such shareholder’s equity interests in the VIE entity to us or our designee.
Powers of Attorney
In order to ensure that we are able to make all of the decisions concerning our material VIEs, we have entered into powers of attorney with the shareholders of these VIEs. Pursuant to the powers of attorney, each shareholder of our material VIEs has irrevocably appointed us as such shareholder’s attorney-in-fact to act for all matters pertaining to such shareholder’s shareholding in the VIE entities and to exercise all of their rights as shareholders, including but not limited to attending shareholders’ meetings and designating and appointing directors, supervisors, the chief executive officer and other senior management members of these entities, and selling, transferring, pledging or disposing the shares of these entities. We may authorize or assign our rights under this appointment to any other person or entity at our sole discretion without prior notice to or prior consent from the shareholders of these entities. Each power of attorney will remain in effect until these shareholder ceases to hold any equity interest in the relevant VIE.
Equity Interest Pledge Agreements
In order to secure the performance of our material VIEs and their shareholders under the contractual arrangements, each of the shareholders of our VIEs have pledged all of their shares to us. These pledges secure the contractual obligations and indebtedness of such VIE shareholders, including all penalties, damages and expenses incurred by us in connection with the contractual arrangements, and all other payments due and payable to us by the relevant VIE under the exclusive business cooperation agreements, and by the VIE shareholders under the loan agreements, exclusive option agreements, and powers of attorney. Should the VIE or the VIE shareholder breach or default under any of the contractual arrangements, we have the right to require the transfer of such VIE shareholders’ pledged equity interests in the relevant VIE to us or our designee, to the extent permitted by laws, or require a sale of the pledged equity interest and have priority in any proceeds from the auction or sale of such pledged interests. Moreover, we have the right to collect any and all dividends in respect of the pledged equity interests during the term of the pledge. Unless the relevant VIEs have fully performed all of their obligations in accordance with the exclusive business cooperation agreements and the pledged equity interests have been fully transferred to us or our designee in accordance with the exclusive option agreements and the loan agreements, the equity interest pledge agreements will continue to remain in effect.
Spousal Consent Letters
Under the spousal consent letters, each spouse of the married shareholders of our material VIEs unconditionally and irrevocably agreed that the equity interest in the relevant entity held by and registered in the name of their spouse will be disposed of pursuant to the contractual arrangements. Each spouse agreed not to assert any rights over the equity interest in these entities held by their spouse. In addition, in the event that the spouses obtain any equity interest in these material entities held by their spouse for any reason, they agreed to be bound by the contractual arrangements.
All of the contractual arrangements as described above will be terminated once the respective shareholder has transferred all of such shareholder’s equity interests in the VIE entity to us or our designee.
Contracts that Enable Us to Receive Economic Benefits or Absorb Losses from the VIEs
Exclusive Business Cooperation Agreement
In order to ensure that we receive the economic benefits of our material VIEs, we have entered into exclusive business cooperation agreements with these entities under which we have the exclusive right to provide or to designate any third party to provide, among other things, technical support, consulting services, intellectual property licenses and other services to these entities, and these entities agree to accept all the services provided by us or our designee. Without our prior written consent, our material VIEs are prohibited from directly or indirectly engaging any third party to provide the same or any similar services under these agreements or establishing similar cooperative relationships with any third party regarding the matters contemplated by these agreements. In addition, we have exclusive and proprietary ownership, rights and interests in any and all intellectual properties arising out of or created during the performance of these agreements.
Our material VIEs agree to pay a monthly fee to us at an amount determined at our sole discretion after taking into account factors including the complexity and difficulty of the services provided, the level of and time consumed by our employees or our designee for providing the services, the content and value of services and licenses provided and the market price of the same type of services or licenses. These agreements will remain effective unless terminated in accordance with their provisions or terminated in writing by us. Unless otherwise required by applicable laws, these entities do not have any right to terminate these agreements in any event. We have the right to terminate the exclusive business cooperation agreements and/or require these entities to indemnify all damages in the event of any material breach of any term of these agreements by them. These entities agree to indemnify and hold us harmless from any losses, injuries, obligations or expenses caused by any lawsuits, claims or other demands against us arising from or caused by the services that we provide to these entities pursuant to the exclusive business cooperation agreements, except where such losses, injuries, obligations or expenses arise from our own gross negligence or willful misconduct.
Financial Support Confirmation Letters
In order to ensure that our material VIEs have sufficient cash flow to fund their daily operations and/or to set off any losses incurred in such operations, we have entered into financial support confirmation letters with each of these entities. Under the financial support confirmation letters, we pledge to provide continuous financial support to these entities by ourselves or through our designees and agreed to forego our right to seek repayment in the event these entities are unable to repay such financial support or we become liable for the liabilities of these entities. These entities agree to accept such financial support and pledge to only use such support to develop their respective businesses. To the extent permitted by law, the financial support we provide to these entities may take the form of loans, borrowings or guarantees. According to our Vietnam counsel, Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers, there is generally no restriction or dollar amount limitation under Vietnam laws with respect to the financial support provided pursuant to the financial support confirmation letters, except that the financial support in the form of loans with a term of more than 12 months provided by offshore lenders to Vietnam entities must be registered with Vietnam authorities and must satisfy certain conditions with respect to the term, type and purpose of the loan. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Vietnam—Financial Support Provided by Offshore Entities.”
In the opinion of Rajah & Tann LCT Lawyers, our counsel as to Vietnam law:
|·||the VIE structure in Vietnam, currently in effect, do not and will not result in any violation of the laws or regulations currently in effect in Vietnam; and|
|·||the contractual arrangements among us, our VIEs in Vietnam and/or the shareholders governed by the laws of Vietnam, currently in effect, are valid, binding and enforceable, and do not and will not result in any violation of such laws or regulations currently in effect.|
However, uncertainties in the relevant legal system could cause the relevant regulatory authorities to find the current contractual arrangements and businesses to be in violation of any existing or future relevant laws or regulations. In addition, if the VIEs or the shareholders of the VIEs fail to perform their obligations under the contractual arrangements, we may have to incur substantial costs and expend resources to enforce our rights as the primary beneficiary under the contracts. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure.”
Thailand Shareholding Structure
Each of our operating entities in Thailand is established using a tiered structure that maximizes our equity interests in the entity while also complying with the Thai law requirement that each Thai company has at least three shareholders and, without approval from Thai authorities, direct foreign ownership of each entity operating the restricted business under the Thai Foreign Business Act is limited to less than 50%. As Thai laws only consider the immediate level of shareholding, no cumulative or look-through calculation is applied to determine the foreign ownership status of a company when it has several levels of foreign shareholding. Under this shareholding structure, our Thai operating entities are each owned by (i) a Thai entity, or Thai Holdco 1, holding slightly more than half of the shares, (ii) one of our employees holding one share, and (iii) one of our Cayman Islands subsidiaries holding slightly less than half of the shares. Thai Holdco 1 is then owned by (i) another Thai entity, or Thai Holdco 2, (ii) the employee who holds one share in the Thai operating entity, and (iii) our Cayman Islands subsidiary in the same shareholding proportions that our Thai operating entities are held. Thai Holdco 2 is in turn held by (i) one of our employees, who is a Thai citizen, holding preference shares equivalent to slightly more than half of the total number of shares, (ii) the employee who holds one share in the Thai operating entity, holding one share, and (iii) our Cayman Islands subsidiary holding ordinary shares equivalent to slightly less than half of the total number of shares. The preference shares have limited voting rights and the right to receive a fixed, non-cumulative dividend of an immaterial amount in the event a dividend is declared. This structure allows us to effectively control nearly 100% of our Thai operating entities.
In the opinion of Kudun and Partners Limited, our counsel as to Thai law, the shareholding structure of our Thai operating entities is in compliance with applicable Thai law. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure—We rely upon structural arrangements to establish control over certain entities and government authorities may determine that these arrangements do not comply with existing laws and regulations.”
|D.||Property, Plants and Equipment|
Our headquarters and our principal technical development facilities are located in Singapore, where we have leased approximately 11,790 square meters of office space, as of December 31, 2018. We also have local offices in each of our markets of Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia.
The servers we currently use are hosted in leased data centers in different areas across our region, as well as on cloud services. The data centers in our network are owned and maintained for us by major domestic and international data center providers. We generally enter into leasing and hosting service agreements with renewal terms that range from one to three years. We believe that our existing facilities are sufficient for our current needs and we may need to obtain, usually by lease, adequate facilities to accommodate any future expansion plans.
|ITEM 4A.||UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS|
|ITEM 5.||OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS|
You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this annual report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results and the timing of selected events could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth under “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report.
We believe we are the leading internet company in our region based on our number one market share by revenue in our region’s online game market, our number one market share by GMV and total orders in our region’s e-commerce market, and our position as a leading player in our region’s digital payments market, each in 2018.
Sea operates three key businesses—Garena, Shopee, and AirPay. Each of our businesses provides a distinct and compelling value proposition to our users, and each exhibits strong virtuous cycle dynamics. We believe these distinct characteristics support our leadership position and provide a strong foundation for continued growth while creating barriers to entry for our competitors.
We develop, curate and localize the content and services on our platforms to serve a highly diverse population across multiple markets and regulatory regimes. We believe our local knowledge, presence and focus provide us with a home court advantage in addressing the specific and unique opportunities and challenges in our region.
We have achieved significant scale and growth since our founding. Our total revenue increased from US$345.7 million in 2016 to US$827.0 million in 2018, a CAGR of 54.7%. We had gross profit of US$113.1 million, US$87.3 million and US$14.8 million in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. We incurred net losses of US$225.0 million, US$561.2 million and US$961.0 million in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively, due to our investments in expanding our businesses, in particular our e-commerce business.
Major Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations
Our results of operations and financial condition are affected by the general factors driving the digital entertainment, e-commerce, digital financial services and other industries in our region, including demographic and macroeconomic growth, technology adoption trends, and the digital transformation of industries.
Our results of operations are also directly affected by certain factors specific to us, including the following:
Size of Our User Base
Our revenue is largely driven by the number of users and the level of user engagement across our three businesses. In our digital entertainment business, due to our freemium business model, the higher the number of active users in our games, the larger the number of users likely to make in-game purchases. Likewise, in our e-commerce business, the larger the number of sellers and buyers on the platform, the larger the number and value of transactions which over time will drive advertising and commission revenue for us. Finally, in our digital financial services business, the larger the number of paying users and the larger the number of merchants accepting AirPay as a payment option, the greater the potential transaction volumes that drive our commission revenue.
User Engagement and Monetization
As our level of user engagement increases, the potential for user spending and consequently our revenue also increases. A critical component of maximizing the monetization potential of each of our businesses is providing high quality content and services and pricing our content and services correctly. Monetization is also dependent upon our ability to convert active users into paying users, and then increase revenue per paying user. For example:
|·||In our digital entertainment business, our primary source of revenue is the sale of in-game items. We focus on developing and curating the best content and localizing that content to cater to the tastes and preferences of each of our unique markets. We maximize the in-game user experience to keep our users highly engaged and increase the likelihood of in-game spending so as to maximize revenue. To do so, we provide a high-quality entertainment experience, adopt effective pricing strategies for each market and game, and leverage our platform’s cross-selling tools to support long-term user engagement with our games.|
|·||In our e-commerce business, we closely monitor the number of transactions per active buyer. We optimize the assortment of our product categories on our marketplace and build convenient tools to attract sellers. We monetize our e-commerce business by offering sellers cost-per-click advertising services in all our markets, charging handling fees, transaction fees or seller commissions for certain transactions in selected markets, charging seller commissions for all cross-border transactions, and charging sellers for certain value-added services. As our e-commerce marketplace grows, we may consider other monetization methods in order to capture additional revenue streams. We also purchase products from manufacturers and third parties and sell them directly to buyers on Shopee platform.|
|·||In our digital financial services business, we continually expand the number of use cases that accept AirPay as a payment option to create greater convenience for our users. We believe that increasing the variety of use cases, together with our efforts to increase our AirPay App user numbers and engagement, will lead to increases in the number of transactions through AirPay, and in turn the gross transaction value and commission income.|
Benefits of Our Platforms
Our platforms benefit from internal dynamics that allow us to increase our scale and user engagement quickly and in a cost-effective manner. Our businesses enjoy network effects, virtuous cycles and linkages across our platforms.
We benefit from the network effects resulting from the significant social aspects of our digital entertainment and e-commerce platforms. For example, because game players find it highly beneficial to join a platform with a large number of other game players, each new player that joins creates value for the existing community. This encourages current users to invite new users to our platform, which allows us to grow our user base with moderate acquisition cost and increases the likelihood that users will remain active and engaged and therefore spend on our platform.
Each of our three businesses is a multi-sided platform which benefits from virtuous cycle dynamics. Thus, as our platforms grow, they become more valuable to each of our users and this increases their potential spending opportunities. For example, as the number of buyers on our Shopee platform increases, Shopee attracts an increasing number of sellers, resulting in increases in the volume and variety of products available on the platform, which increases the purchasing opportunities for each of those buyers. This results in greater monetization potential as the size of each platform grows.
Finally, linkages among our digital financial services business and each of our digital entertainment and e-commerce businesses allow us to increase our user base and monetization quickly and cost-effectively. As our Garena game players and Shopee buyers increasingly complete transactions using AirPay, our AirPay user base will grow and become increasingly engaged.
Optimization of Our Cost Structure
Our cost and expense structure has several broad components: payment channel costs, which are meaningful in our region; royalties, amortized license fees and hosting costs for our digital entertainment business; sales and marketing expenses, most prominently our customer acquisition and retention expenses in our e-commerce business; employee compensation and welfare costs and expenses, which are spread into different functions; and other costs and expenses across our businesses that are mainly fixed in nature.
By launching AirPay in 2014, we effectively reduced our payment channel costs and captured value that previously went to third-party payment services. Our market leadership position in our digital entertainment business has enabled us to optimize our variable costs, as has our operating scale for e-commerce and digital financial services.
We have made a strategic decision to invest in the growth of our Shopee marketplace by incurring sales and marketing expenses in advance of our monetization efforts. We believe that taking a thoughtful approach to monetization by building our user base and increasing engagement first will allow us to maximize our monetization in the future.
Description of Certain Statement of Operations Items
We currently generate revenue primarily from our digital entertainment business and e-commerce business. The table below sets forth our revenue breakdown.
|For the Year Ended December 31,|
|(thousands, except for percentages)|
|E-commerce and other services||17,675||5.1||47,444||11.4||270,049||32.7|
|Sales of goods||10||0.0||*||1,579||0.4||94,455||11.4|
|*||Less than 0.1%|
Geographically, our revenue in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was generated primarily from Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. The table below sets forth the revenue from external customers based on the geographical locations where the services were provided or goods were sold, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of total revenue for the periods indicated.
|For the Year Ended December 31,|
|(thousands, except for percentages)|
|Rest of the world||31,672||9.2||35,632||8.6||121,895||14.7|
Revenue from Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia increased at a CAGR of 41.1%, 27.4%, 77.4% and 107.4%, respectively, from 2016 to 2018. Our digital entertainment business was a key driver of our revenue growth across our markets from 2016 to 2018, attributable to the success and growth of our new and existing games. The increases in revenue across our markets from 2017 to 2018 were also attributable to the increase in e-commerce revenue arising from the expansion of our e-commerce marketplace, as well as from the products sold by us.
We generate revenue from our digital entertainment business primarily by selling in-game items to our game players. We recognize revenue ratably over the estimated delivery obligation period. Our revenue generated from digital entertainment accounted for 94.9%, 88.2% and 55.9% of our total revenue in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.
The primary driver for revenue growth in our digital entertainment business is the size of our active user base and the level of user engagement. Due to the freemium business model of our immersive games, the higher the number of active users on our games, the greater the likelihood of such users to make in-game purchases. Therefore, we believe QAU is a key metric to help us understand both the active user base and user engagement on our games. For example, our QAUs increased from 50.4 million to 87.8 million and 216.2 million from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the fourth quarters of 2017 and 2018, respectively, which led to an increase in the number of paying users, which in turn contributed significantly to our revenue growth during those periods. User base growth and engagement are primarily driven by the launch of new games, the expansion of existing games into new markets, and the improvement and launch of new content in our existing games. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Our Businesses—Garena Digital Entertainment Business—Ecosystem Participants—Game Players.”
E-commerce and Other Services
E-commerce and other services revenue consists of revenue generated from our e-commerce marketplace services, digital financial services, and other services on our platforms. Revenue from products owned and sold by us on our Shopee platform was recorded under sales of goods revenue as discussed below. Our e-commerce and other services revenue constituted 5.1%, 11.4% and 32.7% of our total revenue during 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.
We monetize Shopee’s marketplace model by offering sellers cost-per-click advertising services in all our markets, charging handling fees, transaction fees or seller commissions for certain transactions in selected markets, charging seller commissions for all cross-border transactions, and charging sellers for certain value-added services. We may also roll out other means of generating revenue to broaden our monetization avenues in the future.
We generate revenue from our digital financial services business primarily from processing payments from our users to merchants on our platform. Users can make payments either through an AirPay counter or by using our AirPay App. We generally recognize our commission from the transactions as revenue, which is a certain percentage of the transaction value flowing through the platform.
Sales of Goods
Sales of goods revenue mainly comes from our e-commerce business. While we primarily operate as a marketplace, we also purchase products from manufacturers or third parties directly and sell on our Shopee platform under our official store to meet buyers' demand for such products. Bulk purchasing and direct product sales for specific product categories also enable us to offer better product assortment and more competitive prices to our buyers.
Cost of Revenue
Our cost of revenue primarily consists of direct expenses in generating revenue from our businesses.
For our cost of revenue for digital entertainment, the largest portion relates to royalties, which are generally paid as a percentage of gross billings from the game. Other costs include channel costs, server and hosting costs, upfront licensing fees, which are fixed and amortized over the shorter of estimated useful life or game licensing period, staff compensation and welfare costs, which include the share-based compensation, and other miscellaneous costs.
E-commerce and Other Services
Our cost of revenue for e-commerce services primarily consists of bank transaction fees for transactions conducted through our Shopee platform, service fees paid to third party logistics service providers, server and hosting costs, staff compensation and welfare costs, which include share-based compensation, and other miscellaneous costs.
Our cost of revenue for digital financial services primarily consists of bank transaction fees for transactions conducted through our AirPay platform, commissions we pay to counter operators, server and hosting costs, staff compensation and welfare costs, which include share-based compensation, and other miscellaneous costs.
Sales of Goods
Our cost of revenue for sales of goods is mainly attributable to the goods we purchase from manufacturers and third parties and sell directly to buyers on our Shopee platform.
Operating Income and Expenses
Our operating expenses consist of sales and marketing expenses, general and administrative expenses and research and development expenses, net of other operating income. The table below sets forth our operating expenses, both in absolute amount and as a percentage of total revenue, for the periods indicated.
|For the Year Ended December 31,|
|(thousands, except for percentages)|
|Other operating income||(2,103||)||(0.6||)||(3,497||)||(0.8||)||(9,799||)||(1.2||)|
|Sales and marketing expenses||187,372||54.2||425,974||102.8||705,015||85.3|
|General and administrative expenses||112,383||32.5||137,868||33.3||240,781||29.1|
|Research and development expenses||20,809||6.0||29,323||7.1||67,529||8.2|
|Total operating expenses||318,461||92.1||589,668||142.4||1,003,526||121.4|
Other Operating Income
Our other operating income consists of sponsorship from partners who participate in our events and tournaments and other miscellaneous income.
Sales and Marketing Expenses
Our sales and marketing expenses consist primarily of online and offline advertising expenses, promotion expenses, and staff compensation and welfare expenses, which include share-based compensation for our employees engaged in sales and marketing functions. We expect to continue to incur significant sales and marketing expenses as we grow our user base and increase user engagement on our platforms and games, and continue building brand awareness.
General and Administrative Expenses
Our general and administrative expenses consist primarily of facilities and other overhead expenses, depreciation and amortization expenses, impairment losses, external professional service expenses, and staff compensation and welfare expenses, which include share-based compensation for our employees engaged in general and administrative functions. We expect our general and administrative expenses to increase for the foreseeable future as we grow our business, as well as to cover the additional expenses associated with being a publicly-listed company.
Research and Development Expenses
Our research and development expenses consist primarily of staff compensation and welfare expenses, which include share-based compensation for our employees engaged in product development functions. We believe continued investment in developing our platforms and content is extremely important to achieving our strategic objectives. As a result, we expect our research and development expenses to increase for the foreseeable future as we grow our business.
Results of Operations
The table below sets forth a summary of our consolidated results of operations for the periods indicated, both in absolute amounts and as percentages of our total revenue. This information should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this annual report. The operating results in any period are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected for any future period.
|For the Year Ended December 31,|
|(thousands, except for percentages)|
|Selected Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:|
|E-commerce and other services||17,675||5.1||47,444||11.4||270,049||32.7|
|Sales of goods||10||0.0||*||1,579||0.4||94,455||11.4|
|Cost of revenue:|
|Cost of service|
|E-commerce and other services||(47,284||)||(13.7||)||(107,260||)||(25.9||)||(446,281||)||(54.0||)|
|Cost of goods sold||—||—||(1,632||)||(0.4||)||(98,570||)||(11.9||)|
|Total cost of revenue||(232,598||)||(67.3||)||(326,878||)||(78.9||)||(812,210||)||(98.2||)|
|Operating income (expenses):|
|Other operating income||2,103||0.6||3,497||0.8||9,799||1.2|
|Sales and marketing expenses||(187,372||)||(54.2||)||(425,974||)||(102.8||)||(705,015||)||(85.3||)|
|General and administrative expenses||(112,383||)||(32.5||)||(137,868||)||(33.3||)||(240,781||)||(29.1||)|
|Research and development expenses||(20,809||)||(6.0||)||(29,323||)||(7.1||)||(67,529||)||(8.2||)|
|Total operating expenses||(318,461||)||(92.1||)||(589,668||)||(142.4||)||(1,003,526||)||(121.4||)|
|Investment gain, net||9,434||2.7||33,591||8.1||8,603||1.0|
|Changes in fair value of convertible notes||—||—||(51,950||)||(12.5||)||41,259||5.0|
|Foreign exchange (loss) gain||(1,649||)||(0.5||)||(4,215||)||(1.0||)||4,801||0.6|
|Loss before income tax and share of results of equity investees||(196,886||)||(57.0||)||(548,509||)||(132.4||)||(953,880||)||(115.3||)|
|Income tax expense||(8,546||)||(2.5||)||(10,745||)||(2.6||)||(4,088||)||(0.5||)|
|Share of results of equity investees||(19,523||)||(5.6||)||(1,912||)||(0.5||)||(3,066||)||(0.4||)|
|Non-GAAP Financial Measures:|
|Adjusted net loss(1)||(196,114||)||(56.7||)||(480,580||)||(116.0||)||(944,172||)||(114.2||)|
|*||Less than 0.1%|
|(1)||To see how we define and calculate adjusted net loss, a reconciliation between adjusted net loss and net loss (the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP financial measure) and a discussion of the limitations of non-GAAP financial measures, see “—Non-GAAP Financial Measures” below. The 2017 comparative numbers for adjusted net loss were restated due to a change in computation basis in 2018 to exclude impact from changes in fair value of convertible notes.|
Year Ended December 31, 2018 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2017
Our total revenue increased by 99.7% from US$414.2 million in 2017 to US$827.0 million in 2018. This increase was primarily due to increases in revenue from our e-commerce business and digital entertainment business.
|·||Digital Entertainment: Our digital entertainment revenue increased by 26.6% from US$365.2 million in 2017 to US$462.5 million in 2018. This increase was primarily due to the growth of our user base in 2018, as we launched new games and increased the number of paying users.|
|·||E-commerce and other services: Our e-commerce and other services revenue increased by 469.2% from US$47.4 million in 2017 to US$270.0 million in 2018. This increase was primarily driven by the expansion of our e-commerce marketplace. As we deepened our relationships and engagement with our sellers and buyers, and enhanced our e-commerce ecosystem, more users are using our integrated and value-added services, as well as ancillary services we provide.|
|·||Sales of goods: Revenue increased by 5,882.0% from US$1.6 million in 2017 to US$94.5 million in 2018. The increase was primarily due to increase in our product offerings.|
Cost of Revenue
Our total cost of revenue increased by 148.5% from US$326.9 million in 2017 to US$812.2 million in 2018. Our total cost of revenue as a percentage of total revenue increased from 78.9% in 2017 to 98.2% in 2018. This increase was in line with the overall growth of our businesses:
|·||Digital Entertainment: Cost of revenue increased by 22.6% from US$218.0 million in 2017 to US$267.4 million in 2018. The increase was largely in line with revenue growth in our digital entertainment business.|
|·||E-commerce and other services: Cost of revenue for our e-commerce and other services combined increased by 316.1%, from US$107.3 million in 2017 to US$446.3 million in 2018. The increase was primarily due to costs incurred in line with the expansion of our e-commerce marketplace, higher bank transaction fees driven by GMV growth from our e-commerce business, higher costs associated with other ancillary services we provided to our e-commerce platform users, as well as higher staff compensation and benefit costs.|
|·||Cost of goods sold: Cost of goods sold increased by 5,939.8% from US$1.6 million in 2017 to US$98.6 million in 2018. The increase was primarily due to an increase in our product offerings.|
As a result of the foregoing, our gross profit was US$87.3 million in 2017 and US$14.8 million in 2018. We had gross margins of 21.1% and 1.8% in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and our digital entertainment business had gross margins of 40.3% and 42.2% in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Sales and Marketing Expenses
Our sales and marketing expenses increased by 65.5% from US$426.0 million in 2017 to US$705.0 million in 2018. During 2018, sales and marketing expenses relating to our digital entertainment and e-commerce businesses accounted for 9.7% and 85.5% of our total sales and marketing expenses, respectively. The increase in sales and marketing expenses in 2018 was mainly from the marketing efforts of our e-commerce business, which was aligned with our strategy to fully capture the market growth opportunity and was primarily attributable to the ramping up of offline and online digital marketing and other promotions on our platform that were designed to increase our user base and enhance user engagement.
General and Administrative Expenses
Our general and administrative expenses increased by 74.6% from US$137.9 million in 2017 to US$240.8 million in 2018. This increase was primarily due to the expansion of our staff force, the increase in office facilities and related expenses, impairment loss on our assets, as well as the increase in professional fees and other expenses.
Research and Development Expenses
Our research and development expenses increased by 130.3% from US$29.3 million in 2017 to US$67.5 million in 2018, primarily due to an increase in research and development staff force as we expanded and enriched our product offerings.
Other Income, Expenses, Gains and Losses
Our net interest income, interest expense, investment gain, fair value change for convertible notes and foreign exchange gain (loss) was a net gain of US$34.9 million in 2018, compared to a net loss of US$46.2 million in 2017. The net non-operating income in 2018 was primarily due to a fair value gain of US$41.3 million on our 2017 convertible notes, partially offset by interest expenses on our 2018 convertible notes. The net non-operating loss in 2017 was primarily due to a fair value loss of US$52.0 million and interest expenses on the 2017 convertible notes, partially offset by an investment gain arising from the disposal of and a net gain arising from a re-measurement of our investments.
Loss before Income Tax and Share of Results of Equity Investees
As a result of the foregoing, we had loss before income tax and share of results of equity investees of US$953.9 million in 2018, compared to loss before income tax and share of results of equity investees of US$548.5 million in 2017.
Income Tax Expense
We had an income tax expense of US$10.7 million in 2017 and US$4.1 million in 2018 despite a group net loss position in 2017 and 2018, respectively. This was primarily due to withholding tax and corporate income tax expenses incurred on our digital entertainment segment, partially offset by deferred tax assets recognized during the year.
Share of Results of Equity Investees
We had share of loss of equity investees of US$1.9 million in 2017 and US$3.1 million in 2018.
As a result of the foregoing, we had net loss of US$561.2 million in 2017 and US$961.0 million in 2018.
Adjusted Net Loss
Adjusted net loss, which is net loss adjusted to remove share-based compensation expense and fair value change for convertible notes, was US$480.6 million in 2017 and US$944.2 million in 2018. For a discussion of the limitations associated with using adjusted net loss rather than U.S. GAAP measures and a reconciliation to net income, see “—Non-GAAP Financial Measures.”
Year Ended December 31, 2017 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2016
Our total revenue increased by 19.8% from US$345.7 million in 2016 to US$414.2 million in 2017. This increase was due to increases in revenue across all our businesses.
|·||Digital Entertainment: Our digital entertainment revenue increased by 11.3% from US$328.0 million in 2016 to US$365.2 million in 2017. This increase was primarily due to the growth of our user base from QAUs of 50.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 87.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, as we launched new games and expanded our existing games into new markets, which in turn increased the number of our paying users.|
|·||E-commerce and other services: Our e-commerce and other services revenue increased by 168.4%, from US$17.7 million in 2016 to US$47.4 million in 2017. The increase was primarily due to the growth of our digital financial services business, and the start of e-commerce monetization.|
|·||Sales of goods: Revenue was negligible in 2016 and increased to US$1.6 million in 2017 due to the launch of direct product sales on our Shopee platform at the end of 2017, as well as sales of goods in our other businesses.|
Cost of Revenue
Our total cost of revenue increased by 40.5% from US$232.6 million in 2016 to US$326.9 million in 2017. Our total cost of revenue as a percentage of total revenue increased from 67.3% in 2016 to 78.9% in 2017. This increase was in line with the overall growth of our businesses:
|·||Digital Entertainment: Cost of revenue increased by 17.6% from US$185.3 million in 2016 to US$218.0 million in 2017. The increase was primarily due to the increase in royalty payments to game developers as well as in other costs directly associated with our digital entertainment business which were in line with the increased revenue in this segment.|
|·||E-commerce and other services: Cost of revenue for our e-commerce and other services increased by 126.8% from US$47.3 million in 2016 to US$107.3 million in 2017. The increase was primarily due to bank transaction fees driven by GMV growth from our e-commerce business, as well as higher staff compensation and benefit costs.|
|·||Cost of goods sold: Cost of goods sold was negligible in 2016 and increased to US$1.6 million in 2017 in line with the increase in the sales of goods revenue in 2017.|
As a result of the foregoing, our gross profit was US$113.1 million in 2016 and US$87.3 million in 2017. We had gross margins of 32.7% and 21.1% in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and our digital entertainment business had gross margins of 43.5% and 40.3% in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Sales and Marketing Expenses
Our sales and marketing expenses increased by 127.3% from US$187.4 million in 2016 to US$426.0 million in 2017. This increase was primarily due to significant marketing efforts that was aligned with our strategy to fully capture the market growth opportunity and was primarily driven by shipping and other promotions on our platform in order to increase our user base and enhance user engagement. During 2017, sales and marketing expenses relating to our digital entertainment and e-commerce businesses accounted for 14.4% and 79.8% of our total sales and marketing expenses, respectively.
General and Administrative Expenses
Our general and administrative expenses increased by 22.7% from US$112.4 million in 2016 to US$137.9 million in 2017. This increase was primarily due to the expansion of our staff force, an increase in office facilities and related expenses, as well as an increase in professional fees and other expenses.
Research and Development Expenses
Our research and development expenses increased by 40.9% from US$20.8 million in 2016 to US$29.3 million in 2017, primarily due to an increase in research and development staff force as we expanded and enriched our product offerings.
Other Income, Expenses, Gains and Losses
Our net interest income, interest expense, investment gain, fair value change for convertible notes and foreign exchange loss was a net loss of US$46.2 million in 2017, compared to a net gain of US$8.5 million in 2016. This was primarily attributable to a charge of fair value loss of US$52.0 million from the fair value accounting treatment for the 2017 convertible notes and interest expenses on those 2017 convertible notes, partially offset by an investment gain arising from the disposal of an associated company and a net gain arising from re-measurement of our investments in 2017; while an investment gain was recognized in 2016 due to the disposal of an associated company.
Loss before Income Tax and Share of Results of Equity Investees
As a result of the foregoing, we had loss before income tax and share of results of equity investees of US$548.5 million in 2017, compared to loss before income tax and share of results of equity investees of US$196.9 million in 2016.
Income Tax Expense
We had income tax expense of US$8.5 million in 2016 and US$10.7 million in 2017. The increase was primarily due to higher corporate income tax and withholding tax expenses recognized for our digital entertainment segment in 2017 which was in line with the growth of the business.
Share of Results of Equity Investees
We had share of loss of equity investees of US$19.5 million in 2016 and US$1.9 million in 2017. This is primarily due to lower losses following the disposal of an associated company in 2017.
As a result of the foregoing, we had net loss of US$225.0 million in 2016 and US$561.2 million in 2017.
Adjusted Net Loss
Adjusted net loss, which is net loss adjusted to remove share-based compensation expense and fair value change for convertible notes, was US$196.1 million in 2016 and US$480.6 million in 2017. For a discussion of the limitations associated with using adjusted net loss rather than U.S. GAAP measures and a reconciliation to net income, see “—Non-GAAP Financial Measures.”
Our revenue and other operating results may vary significantly from quarter to quarter due to a variety of factors, many of which are outside our control. For a discussion of the factors that may contribute to fluctuations of our quarterly results, see “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—Our results of operations are subject to fluctuations.”
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
To supplement our consolidated financial statements, which are prepared and presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP, we use adjusted net loss, a non-GAAP financial measures, as described below, to understand and evaluate our core operating performance. This non-GAAP financial measure, which may differ from similarly titled measures used by other companies, is presented to enhance investors’ overall understanding of our financial performance and should not be considered a substitute for, or superior to, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP.
Adjusted net loss is defined as net loss excluding share-based compensation expense and changes in fair value of convertible notes. We believe that adjusted net loss provides useful information to investors and others in understanding and evaluating our operating results. This non-GAAP financial measure eliminates the impact of items that we do not consider indicative of the performance of our business. While we believe that this non-GAAP financial measure is useful in evaluating our business, this information should be considered as supplemental in nature and is not meant as a substitute for the related financial information prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP.
The use of adjusted net loss has material limitations as an analytical tool, as adjusted net loss does not include all items that impact our net loss or income for the period and share-based compensation and changes in fair value of convertible notes are recurring significant expenses. In addition, because this non-GAAP measure may not be calculated in the same manner by all companies, it may not be comparable to other similar titled measures used by other companies.
The tables below present reconciliations of adjusted net loss to net loss, the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP financial measure, for the periods indicated.
|For the Year Ended December 31,|
|Add: Share-based compensation||28,841||28,636||58,121|
|Add: Changes in fair value of convertible notes||—||51,950||(41,259||)|
|Adjusted net loss||(196,114||)||(480,580||)||(944,172||)|
The use of adjusted net loss has material limitations as an analytical tool, as adjusted net loss does not include all items that impact our net loss or income for the period and share-based compensation and changes in fair value of convertible notes are recurring significant expenses.
We have three reportable segments, namely, digital entertainment, e-commerce and digital financial services. The chief operating decision maker reviews the performance of each segment based on revenue and certain key operating metrics of the operations and uses these results for the purposes of allocating resources to and evaluating the financial performance of each segment.
Information about segments during the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018 presented were as follows:
|For the Year ended December 31, 2018|
|Operating income (loss)||69,449||(893,489||)||(34,056||)||(62,548||)||(68,124||)||(988,768||)|
|Non-operating income, net||34,888|
|Income tax expense||(4,088||)|
|Share of results of equity investees||(3,066||)|
|For the Year ended December 31, 2017|
|Operating income (loss)||45,637||(452,233||)||(38,038||)||(21,199||)||(36,523||)||(502,356||)|
|Non-operating loss, net||(46,153||)|
|Income tax expense||(10,745||)|
|Share of results of equity investees||(1,912||)|
|(1)||Unallocated expenses are mainly relating to share-based compensation and general and corporate administrative costs such as professional fees and other miscellaneous items that are not allocated to segments. These expenses are excluded from segment results as they are not reviewed by the chief operation decision maker as part of segment performance.|
We are incorporated in the Cayman Islands and our primary business operations are conducted through our subsidiaries and our consolidated VIEs. Under the current laws of the Cayman Islands, we are not subject to tax on income or capital gains.
Our subsidiaries incorporated in Singapore are subject to the Singapore corporate tax of 17% in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Garena Online was granted a five-year development and expansion incentive by the Singapore Economic Development Board, or the EDB, commencing from January 1, 2012, which grants a concessionary tax rate of 10% on qualifying income, subject to certain terms and conditions imposed by the EDB. When this incentive expired in 2016, Garena Online was awarded an additional five-year development and expansion incentive starting from January 1, 2017, subject to certain terms and conditions and amendments thereof.
Subsidiaries incorporated in other jurisdictions are subject to the respective statutory corporate income tax rates of the jurisdictions where they are resident.
Domestic statutory corporate income tax rate in Malaysia and Vietnam reduced from 25% to 24% and from 22% to 20%, respectively, with effect from the financial year 2016.
Domestic statutory corporate income tax rate in Taiwan increased from 17% to 20% with effect from the financial year 2018.
B. Liquidity and Capital Resources
Cash Flows and Working Capital
Our principal sources of liquidity have been investments from our shareholders through private placements, cash generated from operating activities, proceeds from our initial public offering in 2017 and issuances of convertible notes in 2017 and 2018.
On January 1, 2018, we adopted ASU No. 2016-18, Statement of Cash Flows (Topic 230): Restricted Cash, whereby restricted cash is now included within cash and cash equivalents in our consolidated statement of cash flows for the year ended December 31, 2018. The comparative disclosure was restated to conform to the current year presentation as required under the ASU.
As of December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, we had US$190.8 million, US$1,445.0 million and US$1,259.3 million, respectively, in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash. Cash and cash equivalents consist of cash on hand and demand deposits and money market funds placed with banks or other financial institutions which are unrestricted as to withdrawal and use and have original maturities of three months or less. Restricted cash comprises deposits pledged with banks as security in relation to the utilization of certain bank services, monies received and held in escrow in connection to our e-commerce business and advances received from customers in connection with our digital financial services business. Our cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash are primarily denominated in U.S. dollars as well as in local currencies of the markets where we operate. We intend to finance our future working capital requirements and capital expenditures from cash generated from operating activities and funds raised from financing activities. We believe that our current available cash and cash equivalents will be sufficient to meet our working capital requirements and capital expenditures in the ordinary course of business for the next twelve months.
Our working capital position (which is the difference between current assets and current liabilities) was US$46.1 million, US$1,083.0 million and US$524.2 million as of December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively, mainly due to increases in cash from our financing activities, including the issuance of convertible notes in 2017 and 2018 and the net proceeds from our initial public offering. The major factor for our lower working capital position in 2018 was deferred revenue relating to our game business which would be recognized as revenue in subsequent periods and the expansion of our businesses.
The following table sets forth a summary of our cash flows for the periods indicated:
|For the Year Ended December 31,|
|Net cash used in operating activities||(101,821||)||(259,228||)||(495,220||)|
|Net cash used in investing activities||(29,931||)||(118,614||)||(224,528||)|
|Net cash generated from financing activities||199,622||1,623,843||546,628|
|Effect of foreign exchange rate changes on cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash||(1,410||)||8,153||(12,546||)|
|Net increase (decrease) in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash||66,460||1,254,154||(185,666||)|
|Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at beginning of year||124,364||190,824||1,444,978|
|Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at the end of the year||190,824||1,444,978||1,259,312|
Net cash used in operating activities amounted to US$495.2 million in 2018. This was primarily attributable to a net loss of US$961.0 million, more cash used for prepaid expenses and other current assets of US$159.0 million, increase in accounts receivable of US$38.5 million and adjustments for US$41.3 million of changes in fair value of convertible notes. These were partially offset by an increase in accrued expenses and other payables of US$354.9 million and an increase in deferred revenue of US$204.2 million, US$58.1 million of share-based compensation, US$23.8 million for amortization of intangible assets and US$54.9 million for depreciation of property and equipment.
Net cash used in operating activities amounted to US$259.2 million in 2017. This was primarily attributable to net loss of US$561.2 million, more cash used for prepaid expenses and other current assets of US$107.8 million and adjustments for US$23.9 million for net gain on disposal of investments and US$10.9 million for gain on re-measurement of our previously held equity interests investment. These were partially offset by an increase in accrued expenses and other payables of US$183.4 million, increase in deferred revenue of US$125.1 million, adjustments for US$52.0 million of changes in fair value of convertible notes, US$28.6 million of share-based compensation, US$17.6 million for amortization of intangible assets and US$23.4 million for depreciation of property and equipment.
Net cash used in operating activities amounted to US$101.8 million in 2016. This was primarily attributable to a net loss of US$225.0 million, more cash used for prepaid expenses and other current assets of US$25.3 million largely attributable to higher working capital needs to support the expansion of our business operations. These were partially offset by an increase in accrued expenses and other payables of US$47.2 million and adjustments for US$28.8 million of share-based compensation, US$21.6 million for amortization of intangible assets, US$19.5 million for share of results from equity investees, US$18.0 million for depreciation of property and equipment and US$14.7 million for net gain on disposal of investments.
Net cash used in investing activities amounted to US$224.5 million in 2018. This was primarily attributable to the purchase of property and equipment of US$177.3 million, and purchase of investments of US$69.6 million. These were partially offset by proceeds from the disposal of investments of US$22.7 million.
Net cash used in investing activities amounted to US$118.6 million in 2017. This was primarily attributable to the purchase of property and equipment of US$67.4 million, purchase of intangible assets of US$12.4 million, purchase of investments of US$23.4 million and acquisition of businesses of US$18.1 million.
Net cash used in investing activities amounted to US$29.9 million in 2016. This was primarily attributable to the purchase of investments of US$19.9 million, the purchase of property and equipment of US$17.0 million for the expansion of our businesses and our staff forces, and the purchase of intangible assets of US$7.6 million for our new licensed games from game developers. These were partially offset by proceeds from the disposal of investments of US$18.5 million.
Net cash generated from financing activities amounted to US$546.6 million in 2018, primarily attributable to net proceeds from issuance of convertible notes of US$564.9 million.
Net cash generated from financing activities amounted to US$1,623.8 million in 2017, primarily attributable to net proceeds from issuance of convertible notes of US$674.3 million and net proceeds from issuance of ordinary shares, including our initial public offering, of US$960.9 million.
Net cash generated from financing activities amounted to US$199.6 million in 2016, primarily attributable to net proceeds of US$194.6 million from the issuance of series B preference shares.
We issued a convertible promissory note in the principal amount of US$230 million to Hillhouse GAR Holdings Limited (formerly HH RSV-XVI Holdings Limited) in January 2017, a convertible promissory note in the principal amount of US$100 million to Tencent in March 2017, and eight other convertible promissory notes in the aggregate principal amount of US$345 million to private investors in March, April, May and July 2017. These 2017 convertible notes will mature on the third anniversary of their issuance dates. Unless otherwise converted or redeemed, we will repay the full outstanding and unpaid principal amounts in full on the maturity dates. Interest accrues on the outstanding unconverted and unpaid principal amounts at the rate of 5% per annum compounded annually until the first to occur of, (i) April 17, 2018, which is the last day of the lockup period related to the initial public offering, (ii) the date of any conversion of the 2017 convertible note in full, and (iii) the date of any other repayment or redemption of the 2017 convertible note in full. The principal amounts of the 2017 convertible notes may be converted, in whole or in part, into our Class A ordinary shares at a conversion price calculated based on an agreed formula (which stipulates a discount to the initial public offering price based on a discount rate and the period between the issuance date of the 2017 convertible notes and the pricing date of our initial public offering), subject to certain anti-dilution adjustments. Subsequent to January 31, 2019 (the latest practicable date of our share count disclosure in this annual report), note holders of an aggregate principal amount of US$417.5 million have elected to convert their 2017 convertible notes, representing approximately 31,369,287 Class A ordinary shares, which included conversion of the full principal amount of the convertible notes held by Hillhouse and Tencent. As of the date of this annual report, we have outstanding 2017 convertible notes in the aggregate principal amount of US$207.5 million.
In June 2018, we completed an offering of 2.25% convertible senior notes in an aggregate principal amount of US$575 million, including US$50 million sold to Tencent. These convertible notes were offered to qualified institutional buyers pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act, and certain non-U.S. persons in compliance with Regulation S under the Securities Act. The notes will mature in June 2023. Note holders have the right, at their option, to convert the outstanding principal amount in whole or in part in integral multiples of US$1,000 principal amount (i) upon satisfaction of one or more of the conversion conditions as defined in the indenture prior to the close of business day immediately preceding January 1, 2023; or (ii) anytime on or after January 1, 2023 until the close of business on the second scheduled trading day immediately preceding the maturity date. Unless otherwise converted or redeemed, we will repay the full outstanding and unpaid principal amounts in full on the maturity date. The notes may be converted, in whole or in part, into our Class A ordinary shares at an initial conversion price of 50.5165 ADSs per US$1,000 principal amount (equivalent to US$19.80 per ADS), subject to certain anti-dilution and make-whole fundamental change adjustments. Upon conversion, we have the right, at our option, to pay or deliver, either cash, ADSs, or a combination of cash and ADSs to converting holders.
Following the closing of our initial public offering, the ADSs representing the underlying Class A ordinary shares became publicly traded and the conversion option is bifurcated and subject to derivative accounting. We have elected to use the fair value option which would require the hybrid instrument to be measured at fair value with any changes in fair value recognized in earnings. For the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2018, with the assistance of an independent third party valuation firm, we recorded a loss of US$52.0 million and a gain of US$41.3 million respectively, as changes in fair value of 2017 convertible notes in our consolidated statement of operations. In addition, in 2018, we recognized total interest expense for coupon interest and amortization of discount on the liability component of US$6.9 million and US$14.2 million, respectively, for the 2018 convertible notes.
Our capital expenditures amounted to US$24.5 million, US$79.7 million and US$178.4 million in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. In the past, capital expenditure was incurred for purchases of property and equipment and intangible assets, such as game licenses and other intellectual property rights. The increase in our capital expenditure in 2018 was mainly attributable to the additional investment in servers due to the growth of our e-commerce business and digital entertainment business, as well as the leasehold improvements due to the expansion of our business. We will continue to make capital expenditures to meet the expected growth of our business and expect that cash generated from our operating activities and financing activities will meet our capital expenditure needs in the foreseeable future.
Holding Company Structure
Sea Limited is a holding company that does not have substantive operations. We conduct our operations in the markets in our region primarily through our subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities. As a result, our ability to pay dividends depends upon dividends paid by our subsidiaries. If our subsidiaries or any newly formed subsidiaries incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing their debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends to us.
In addition, as determined in accordance with local regulations, our subsidiaries and VIEs in certain of our markets may be restricted from paying us dividends offshore or from transferring a portion of their assets to us, either in the form of dividends, loans or advances, unless certain requirements are met and regulatory approvals are obtained. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in Our Region—The ability of our subsidiaries to distribute dividends to us may be subject to restrictions under the laws of their respective jurisdictions.” Even though we currently do not require any such dividends, loans or advances from our entities for working capital and other funding purposes, we may in the future require additional cash resources from them due to changes in business conditions, to fund future acquisitions and development, or merely to declare and pay dividends or distributions to our shareholders.
Certain of the markets in which we have significant subsidiaries, including Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand, require those subsidiaries to establish and fund statutory reserves. Indonesian laws require a limited liability company to reserve a certain amount from its net profit each year as a reserve fund until such fund amounts to at least 20% of its issued and paid up capital. Thailand regulations require a private limited liability company to allocate at least 5% of its retained earnings into a legal reserve fund at the time the dividend is paid until and unless the legal reserve fund reaches 10% of the company’s registered capital. The legal reserve is not available for dividend distribution. Taiwan laws require a limited liability company to set aside 10% of annual net income (less prior years’ losses, if any, and applicable income taxes) as legal reserve until the accumulated legal reserve equals the paid-in capital of such company before such company can distribute any dividend.
The table below sets forth the respective revenue contributions of (i) our company and our subsidiaries and (ii) our VIEs for the periods indicated as a percentage of total revenue:
|For the Year Ended December 31,|
|Our company and our subsidiaries||54.4||%||51.4||%||58.5||%|
|Our VIEs (2)||45.6||%||48.6||%||41.5||%|
|(1)||The percentages given exclude inter-company transactions among Sea Limited, our subsidiaries and our VIEs.|
|(2)||For the purpose of this table, our digital entertainment entity and e-commerce entity in Taiwan are included as VIE as they remained as VIEs during 2018.|
The table below sets forth the respective asset contributions of (i) our company and our subsidiaries and (ii) our VIEs as of the dates indicated as a percentage of total assets:
|As of December 31,|
|Our company and our subsidiaries||86.1||%||80.0||%|
|Our VIEs (2)||13.9||%||20.0||%|
|(1)||The percentages given exclude inter-company balances among Sea Limited, our subsidiaries and our VIEs.|
|(2)||For the purpose of this table, our digital entertainment entity and e-commerce entity in Taiwan are included as VIE as they remained as VIEs during 2018.|
Critical Accounting Policies
We prepare our financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP, which requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect our reporting of, among other things, assets and liabilities, contingent assets and liabilities and revenue and expenses. We regularly evaluate these estimates and assumptions based on the most recently available information, our own historical experiences and other factors that we believe to be relevant under the circumstances. Since our financial reporting process inherently relies on the use of estimates and assumptions, our actual results could differ from what we expect. This is especially true with some accounting policies that require higher degrees of judgment than others in their application. We consider the policies discussed below to be critical to an understanding of our audited consolidated financial statements because they involve the greatest reliance on our management’s judgment.
We recognize revenue from sales of our goods and services upon transfer of control of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which we expect to be entitled to for those goods or services. Revenue is measured based on the amount of consideration that we expect to receive reduced by discounts, incentives and rebates. Revenue also excludes any amounts collected on behalf of third parties, including sales taxes and indirect taxes.
We evaluate revenue from services and sales of goods to determine if we control such services and goods to be the principal (i.e., report revenues on a gross basis) or agent (i.e., report revenues on a net basis). The key indicators that we evaluate in determining gross versus net treatment include, but are not limited to, (i) which party is primarily responsible for fulfilling the promise to provide the specified good or service; (ii) which party bears inventory risks before the specified good or service has been transferred to a customer; and (iii) which party has discretion in establishing the price for the specified good or service.
We distribute online games, including self-developed games and licensed online games from game developers, through our PC-based and mobile-based applications as well as certain app stores. We offer many ways for users to purchase in-game virtual items, including the AirPay and Shopee platform, other online payment gateways, bank transfers, credit cards, mobile phone billing and prepaid cards, including our own prepaid cards, which are sold through agents. As we control the service of providing games to the users and have a direct contractual arrangement with our paying users and have the right to determine the price to be paid by such users, the gross proceeds collected from these channels represent revenue to be recognized, while the amounts retained by these channels based on a predetermined percentage represent our cost of revenue to be recognized.
Proceeds from these sales are initially recognized as “Advances from customers” and are subsequently reclassified to “Deferred revenue” when the users make in-game purchases of the virtual currencies or virtual items within the games that we operate and such in-game purchases are no longer refundable.
For the licensed games, we record revenue inclusive of the royalties payable to game developers, which are based on revenue-sharing ratios, as we control the service of providing the games to the users, and is primarily responsible to the customers and has latitude in establishing the pricing of the virtual items.
Revenue is recognized when services are provided to the users. For purposes of determining when the services are provided to the users, we have determined that an implied obligation exists to the paying users to continue providing access to the virtual items purchased within the online games over an estimated delivery obligation period. Such delivery obligation period is determined in accordance with the estimated average lifespan of the virtual items sold, estimated average lifespan of the paying users or the estimated game licensing periods of the said games or similar games.
|·||Item-based revenue model. Virtual items have different lifespan patterns: time-based, consumable and durable. Time-based virtual items are items with a stated expiration time, for which revenue is recognized ratably over the period based on the time unit of the virtual items. Consumable virtual items are items that can be consumed by a specific user action and have limitations on repeated use. Revenue attributable to consumable virtual items is recognized upon consumption. Durable virtual items are items that provide the user with continuing benefits over an extended period of time. Revenue attributable to durable virtual items is recognized ratably over their average lifespan, which is estimated based on users’ historical usage patterns and playing behaviors for the virtual items. We assess the estimated average lifespan of durable virtual items on a quarterly basis.|
|·||User-based revenue model. We track paying users’ activeness within each game where the user-based revenue model is used to estimate paying users’ average lifespan. Paying users are defined as inactive in a game when they have reached a period of inactivity for which it is reasonable to believe that these users will not return to that game. We determine the inactive rate of these paying users and revise the estimated paying users’ average lifespan on a quarterly basis.|
|·||Game-based revenue model. Revenue is recognized ratably over the estimated game licensing periods if there are no better estimation alternatives.|
We believe the current revenue models provide reasonable depiction of the service transferred patterns to the customers and they represent the best estimation of the time period the customers are likely to play the respective games. Determining the estimated service period is subjective and requires management's judgment. Future users’ usage patterns and playing behavior may change and differ from the historical usage patterns and playing behaviour, and therefore the estimated service period may change accordingly in the future.
Digital Financial Services
We earn commissions from merchants when transactions are completed and settled through our digital financial services platform. These commissions are generally determined as a percentage based on the value of the merchandise being sold by the merchants. Commission is recognized in the consolidated statements of operations at the time when the underlying transaction is completed.
Our e-commerce business charges sellers on its marketplace a fixed rate commission fee based on gross merchandise values in selected markets. Fees are charged when the transactions are completed and settled. Such commission fees charged is recognized on a net basis.
Our e-commerce business also provides logistic services to end customers. Revenue from logistic services are recognized over time as the customer simultaneously receives and consumes the benefits provided through our performance of the services.
Our e-commerce business operates a customer loyalty program, where end users who purchase merchandise and participate in activities through Shopee’s platform are given Shopee coins which will entitle them to offset future purchases, participate in activities and redeem vouchers through Shopee’s platform. A portion of the revenue attributable to Shopee coins is deferred until they are redeemed or used. In addition, we provide certain sales incentives, such as coupons, discounts and logistics incentives, to the end users as part of our plan to expand our market share. Sales incentives given to end users as a result of a concurrent sale transacted on Shopee’s platform are recognized as reductions of the corresponding revenue. To the extent the sales incentives exceed revenue, the excess will be recorded in sales and marketing expenses.
We also charge our sellers advertising fees through a paid ads service offered on our Shopee platform. The paid ads service allows sellers to bid for keywords that match their product or service listing appearing in search or browser results on our Shopee marketplace. Their product or service listing will show higher in search rankings when users search for keywords they have bid on. Sellers prepay for paid ads services and the advertising income is recognized based on the number of clicks on the product or service listings during the service period.
Sales of Goods
We also sell certain goods, including prepaid telecommunication cards, through our digital financial services platform and merchandise products, through our Shopee platform. We recognize revenue from sale of goods at the point in time that the customer obtains control of the goods, which generally occurs upon delivery to the customer.
Rendering of Services
We also recognize revenue from other services when the services are rendered.
Consolidation of VIEs
Our consolidated financial statements include the financial statements of Sea Limited, our subsidiaries and our VIEs for which we or one of our subsidiaries is the primary beneficiary. All significant inter-company transactions and balances between us, our subsidiaries and our VIEs are eliminated upon consolidation.
We operate in certain markets that have restrictions on foreign ownership of local companies. For example, in Vietnam, foreign ownership in companies engaging in online game business may not exceed 49%, and foreign ownership in companies engaging in e-payment business is restricted unless certain government approvals are obtained.
To comply with these foreign ownership restrictions, we conduct our digital entertainment and e-payment businesses in Vietnam through VIEs using contractual arrangements, including:
|·||exclusive option agreements;|
|·||exclusive business cooperation agreements;|
|·||financial support confirmation letters;|
|·||powers of attorney; and|
|·||equity interest pledge agreements.|
Despite the lack of technical majority ownership, there exists a parent-subsidiary relationship between us and these VIEs, through the irrevocable power of attorney, whereby the shareholders of each VIE effectively assigned all of the voting rights underlying their equity interest in the VIEs to us. Furthermore, pursuant to the loan agreements, exclusive option agreement and equity interest pledge agreement, we obtained effective control over the VIEs through the ability to exercise all of the rights of the shareholders of the VIEs and therefore the power to govern the activities that most significantly impact the economic performance of the VIEs. In addition, through the financial support confirmation letter and the exclusive business cooperation agreement, we demonstrate our ability and intention to continue the ability to absorb substantially all the expected losses and receive substantially all of the economic benefits of the VIEs. Thus, we are the primary beneficiary of these and consolidate these VIEs and their subsidiaries.
On January 1, 2018 we adopted ASU No 2016-01, Financial Instruments - Overall, (Subtopic 825-10): Recognition and Measurement of Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities, which updates certain aspects of recognition, measurement, presentation and disclosure of financial instruments. There was no adjustment to beginning accumulated deficit. Our investments consist of available-for-sale investments, equity security investments and equity method investments.
In accordance with ASC 320, Investments - Debt Securities, we classify the investments in debt securities as “held-to-maturity”, “trading” or “available-for-sale”, whose classification determines the respective accounting methods stipulated by ASC 320. Dividend and interest income for all categories of investments in securities are included in earnings. Any realized gains or losses, if any, on the sale of the investments are determined on a specific identification method, and such gains and losses are reflected in earnings during the period in which gains or losses are realized. The securities that we have positive intent and ability to hold to maturity are classified as held-to-maturity securities and stated at amortized cost. The securities that are bought and held principally for the purpose of selling them in the near term are classified as trading securities and measured at fair value. Unrealized holding gains and losses for trading securities are included in earnings. Investments not classified as trading or as held-to-maturity are classified as available-for-sale securities. Available-for-sale investment is reported at fair value, with unrealized gains and losses recorded in accumulated other comprehensive loss. Realized gains or losses are included in earnings during the period in which the gain or loss is realized. An impairment loss on the available-for-sale securities would be recognized in earnings when the decline in value is determined to be other-than-temporary.
In accordance with ASC 321, Investments – Equity Securities, for investments in an investee over which we do not have significant influence, we carry the investment at fair value with unrealized gains and losses included in earnings. We have elected to measure its equity security investments without readily determinable fair value at cost minus impairment, if any, plus or minus changes resulting from observable price changes in orderly transactions for the identical or a similar investment of the same investee. We regularly evaluate the impairment of our equity security investments based on the performance and financial position of the investee as well as other evidence of estimated market values. Such evaluation includes, but is not limited to, reviewing the investee’s cash position, recent financing, projected and historical financial performance, cash flow forecasts and current and future financing needs. An impairment loss is recognized in the consolidated statements of operations equal to the excess of the investment’s cost over its fair value at the balance sheet date of the reporting period for which the assessment is made. The fair value would then become the new cost basis of investment.
Investments in equity investees represent investments in (a) entities in which we can exercise significant influence but does not own a majority equity interest or control and (b) limited partnership in which we hold a five percent or greater interest. Such investments are accounted for using the equity method of accounting in accordance with ASC 323-10, Investments - Equity Method and Joint Ventures: Overall. Under the equity method, we initially record our investment at cost and prospectively recognizes its proportionate share of each equity investee’s net profit or loss into our consolidated statements of operations. The difference between the cost of the equity investee and the amount of the underlying equity in the net assets of the equity investee is recognized as equity method goodwill included in equity method investment on our consolidated balance sheets. We evaluate our equity method investments for impairment under ASC 323-10. An impairment loss on the equity method investments is recognized in our consolidated statements of operations when the decline in value is determined to be other-than-temporary.
We discontinue applying equity method if an investment (and additional financial supports to the investee, if any) has been reduced to zero. When we have other investments in the investee that have liquidation preferences more senior than the ordinary shares and the equity-method investment in the ordinary shares is reduced to zero, we continue to report its share of equity losses in our consolidated statement of operations, to the extent of and as an adjustment to the adjusted basis of the other investments in the investee. The order in which the equity losses are applied to the other investments follows the seniority of the other investments in the same investee.
We adopted a share incentive plan in September 2009, last amended in February 2018, or the 2009 Plan. Under the 2009 Plan, we may grant options, restricted shares, restricted share units or share appreciation rights to our officers, employees, directors and other eligible persons of up to 83,000,000 Class A ordinary shares. The maximum number of ordinary shares which may be issued pursuant to all awards under the 2009 Plan will increase on January 1 of each of 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 by 5% of the total number of all classes of our ordinary shares outstanding on that day immediately before such annual increase pursuant to the 2009 Plan. With effect from January 1, 2019, the maximum number of shares which may be issued pursuant to all awards under the Plan increased to 100,129,938 Class A ordinary shares.
Share options, restricted share awards, restricted share units and share appreciation rights granted to employees are accounted for based on the grant date fair value and recognized as compensation expense over the requisite service period (which is generally the vesting period) in the consolidated statements of operations. We have elected to recognize compensation expense using the straight-line method for equity-classified share-based awards granted with service conditions that have a graded vesting schedule.
Prior to 2017, we estimated forfeitures at the time of grant and made revisions, if necessary, in subsequent periods if actual forfeitures differ from initial estimates. Forfeiture rate is estimated based on historical and future expectation of optionee employee turnover rate and are adjusted to reflect future change in circumstances and facts, if any. Share-based compensation expense is recorded net of estimated forfeitures such that expense was recorded only for those share-based awards that are expected to vest. In 2016, we estimated that the forfeiture rate for both the management and non-management employees in each of these years to be nil. Following the adoption of ASU 2016-09 in 2017, we are permitted to make an entity-wide accounting policy election either to estimate the number of forfeitures expected to occur or to account for forfeitures in the compensation costs when they occur. We have elected to account for forfeitures of share-based payment by recognizing forfeiture of awards upon occurrence in 2017. The following table summarizes our employee share option activity as of the dates indicated:
|As of December 31,|
|Number of options granted||245,000||1,915,000||26,500,000|
|Weighted average exercise price (US$)||10.80||14.19||15.00|
|Weighted average grant date fair value (US$)||5.25||5.26||3.02|
We calculated the estimated fair value of the options on the respective grant dates using the Black-Scholes option pricing m