Decoding the e-Conomy SEA 2023 Report with Sapna Chadha and Florian Hoppe

Decoding the e-Conomy SEA 2023 Report with Sapna Chadha and Florian Hoppe
Sapna Chadha from Google and Florian Hoppe from Bain & Co break down and share the key highlights of the e-Conomy SEA report 2023.

Fresh out of the studio, Sapna Chadha, vice president of Google Southeast Asia, and Florian Hoppe, partner at Bain and Company shared the key takeaways from the Google e-Conomy SEA 2023 report. Sapna and Florian discussed how start-ups are navigating the current declines in venture capital funding and introduced how high-value users presented a new way of visualizing what goes behind the digital economy in Southeast Asia. Last but not least, they discuss what great looks like for businesses in Southeast Asia.

"I think in the past, we've looked more at inclusion and access, but actually we've made so much inroads over the past years. Now again, we're talking about participation because what we're seeing is that 30% of the highest spending customers who we call high-value users (HVUs) - they make up over 70% of the digital economies' transaction value. So 30% Are leading to 70% of the digital economy. We want to make sure that we don't leave users behind and we continue to drive growth and drive their participation. So we need to make sure that we are not ignoring this very important group that presents a 1.9x growth opportunity of that of high-value users. And for this reason, it's really important for us to talk about digital participation." - Sapna Chadha


  • Introduction: Sapna Chadha, Vice President, Google Southeast Asia (LinkedIn) and Florian Hoppe, partner at Bain and Company (LinkedIn)
  • As we had Florian and Stephanie (Sapna’s predecessor) here last year for the e-Conomy SEA report 2022 report, my first question is to Sapna: can you give an introduction of yourself and your role and coverage for Google?

The Google e-Conomy SEA 2023 Report with Sapna Chadha & Florian Hoppe

  • Let’s head straight into the report. We have major macroeconomic headwinds with high interest rates, a moderate inflationary environment and business cutting costs. What are the key takeaways from the report this year?
  • How do you characterise the region’s performance against global macroeconomic headwinds, specifically which verticals are growing and which verticals are declining?
  • What is the one interesting data point you find most interesting about the e-Conomy SEA report 2023 that very few know about?
  • Specifically for the startup ecosystem, as we understand that SEA private funding has declined to its lowest level in 6 years, does this align with global shifts in venture capital funding?
  • In your perspective, how should startups deal with a challenging funding environment? In other words, will the high-quality investments be able to secure funding in the Southeast Asia region?
  • Does the funding decline cut across all stages (Seed/Series, Series B/C and Series D/E+) or differentiated by different countries, for example, the top 6 economies (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, The Philippines and Indonesia)? [Florian]
  • With startups now struggling for funding, do the investors face challenges in returning capital to the investors?
  • What will be the recommendations for Southeast Asia digital businesses need to do to survive this funding winter?
  • Do we see a focus on monetization accelerating across the digital economy with the investors now wanting to see company profitability?
  • Has the data indicated that some startups with over-priced valuations will either collapse or be re-priced similar to the US and other parts of the world?
  • Based on the report this year, the financial services industry is at an inflexion point, given the high-interest rates and cash is no longer king, what is happening with the digital natives and traditional finance?
  • Are lending and adoption of digital insurance possible avenues for growth for fintech companies?
  • One major addition to the report is the concept of high-value users (HVUs), given the need for businesses to pursue an accelerated path of profitability, can you describe what constitutes a high-value user, and how they are defined in the context of the report?
  • What are the key trends about HVUs and what are their spending patterns compared to non-HVUs?
  • Is the 2030 goal of $1 trillion GMV within reach for the SEA economy?
  • While we are in a challenging year, what would success look like for businesses in Southeast Asia in the next few years, given we are seeing more geopolitical conflict?
  • What do you most look forward to seeing in 2024?


  • Any recommendations that have inspired you recently?
    • Sapna's recommendation: AI 2041 by Lee Kaifu and Chen Qiufan
    • Florian's recommendation: Essays and little books written by children in school that emit positivity in the current world in which we live.
    • Bernard's recommendation: Google Bard
  • How does my audience find you? 

Podcast Information: Bernard Leong (@bernardleongLinkedin) hosts and produces the show. Proper credits for the intro and end music: "Energetic Sports Drive" and the episode is mixed & edited in both video and audio format by G.Thomas Craig (@gthomascraigLinkedIn).