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Tencent-Backer invests in Prosus Kuok Meng Ru’s BandLab as music platform accelerates expansion

BandLab, founded by Kuok Meng Ru, son of palm oil billionaire Kuok Khoon Hong, has received investment from Dutch private equity firm Prosus Ventures as the digital platform for music producers accelerates expansion plans.

With investment from Prosus, Singapore-based BandLab raised a total of $65 million from its Series B funding round from investors led by Vulcan Capital—the multi-billion dollar investment arm of Microsoft cofounder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen—in December. An initial $53 million fund was raised, with a maximum target of $60 million for this round.

“Prosus has a record of highly successful investments in some of the world’s most important companies,” said BandLab CEO Kuok Meng Ru. “We are thrilled that they see the merits of our vision.” According to its website, Netherlands-listed Prosus is an investor in Asian tech giants such as India’s Byju’s and China’s Tencent.

The investment round, which values ​​BandLab at $315 million, was also backed by Kuok Meng Ru’s Caldecott Music Group and K3 Ventures, the venture capital firm founded by Kuok Meng Jeong, grandson of Malaysia’s richest man Robert Kuok. K3 Ventures was an early backer of Southeast Asian superapp Grab and tech giant ByteDance.

BandLab will use part of the new capital to acquire ReverbNation, a digital platform that helps music artists distribute their music and collaborate with each other, which it acquired in November. Kuok said the company is using the proceeds to hire an additional 59 new talent this year, nearly doubling its full-time workforce to about 130. The new staff will include software engineers and product developers as the platform aims to introduce features such as artificial intelligence-powered music creation.

“We’re seeing a lot of opportunities in this area and in other areas around the world,” Kuok said in a recent interview. Forbes Asia, He added that BandLab counts Brazil, India, the Philippines and the US as its biggest markets.

BandLab enables musicians to create music on their Android and iPhone mobile devices.

Courtesy of BandLab
Launched in 2015, BandLab aims to provide a mobile-first platform for creating music. Used by more than 40 million music producers and musicians globally, BandLab’s user base has doubled over the past two years as people turned to music and other forms of online entertainment as cities around the world battled COVID-19. Implemented a lockdown to prevent the spread of -19.

“BandLab has created a next generation platform that is democratizing music creation for creators globally,” said Sachin Bhanot, Head of Southeast Asia Investments for Prosus Ventures. “The company has experienced impressive growth while generating solid user engagement. We are thrilled to support the company’s dedication to using innovative technologies like AI to put power in the hands of creators.”

With an estimated total addressable market of over 1 billion people globally, Kuok believes the growth is sustainable. “We’re definitely just scratching the surface.”

In addition to BandLab’s music creation tools, Cook-Through Caldecott Music—also owned by music publications NME and Uncut—and musical instruments retailer Swee Lee. BandLab bought 49% stake in Rolling stone magazine in 2016 but later sold it to Penske Media, which took control of the prestigious publication in late 2017.