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Southeast Asia’s news hub Coconuts to cease operations on 31 December

Coconuts.co, a decade-long regional news website, will cease operations on 31 December, citing financial sustainability challenges.

At its peak, Coconuts had offices situated in major cities such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore, and Yangon.

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THAILAND: Established in Bangkok in 2011, Coconuts.co, a regional news website covering Southeast Asia, including Singapore, will cease operations on 31 December after over a decade of delivering news and insights.

In an announcement made on Tuesday (19 Dec) by Mr Byron Perry, the founder and chairman of the media outlet, the decision to halt operations was attributed to the challenge of maintaining financial sustainability.

“From our humble founding in Bangkok in 2011, we grew the Coconuts audience to millions of unique visitors per month, with dozens of journalists covering eight cities at our peak. ”

“We also won numerous journalism and entertainment awards, and our stories were frequently cited by the biggest media companies in the world.”

“But these editorial and audience achievements have not converted into commercial success for the publication. Like many other independent news publishers, we have found financial sustainability to be incredibly elusive despite our best efforts. ”

Mr Perry expressed that the decision was made “with a mixture of pride, nostalgia and sadness”.

In his letter, Mr Perry extended gratitude to his employees for their invaluable contributions.

“I also personally want to thank all of the staff — past and present — who have put so much time, effort, drive, creativity and intelligence into making Coconuts great.”

“I am truly grateful for your service and I wish you the best in your careers.”

“We want to give a profuse and heartfelt ‘thank you’ to our readers. Our core mission was always to inform and entertain you, and we hope that we’ve succeeded in that regard for the last 12 years.”

Assuring readers, Mr Perry mentioned that Coconuts’ archives would remain accessible indefinitely.

Although Coconuts as a news outlet is discontinuing, Coconuts Media will persist as a business.

Other websites such as BK Magazine, focusing on lifestyle content covering the best places to eat and visit in Bangkok, and Soimilk, a Thai youth-centric website, will continue operations. Additionally, the in-house brand studio, Grove, remains active.

Mr Perry concluded the letter by expressing hope for a potential relaunch of Coconuts in the future.

During its peak, Coconuts had offices situated in major cities such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bali, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore, and Yangon.

The website covered diverse topics encompassing news, lifestyle, culture, and travel.

One of its recent reports on Singapore, dated Tuesday, highlighted an incident involving a fishing hook discovered in frozen squid at a Bukit Batok supermarket.

In March, Coconuts’ Hong Kong office announced the discontinuation of its operations, citing “increasing journalistic and commercial challenges that have made it difficult for us to continue publishing regularly in Hong Kong.”

According to Hong Kong Free Press, the closure of the Hong Kong office coincided with the appointment of Mr Vim Shanmugam as the general manager and chief marketing officer.

This transition occurred after Mr Perry’s relocation to the United States, assuming the role of Coconuts Media chairman.

SPH Media to acquire technology media company Tech in Asia

Coconuts.co exemplifies the challenges faced by alternative media in the region in recent years, navigating competitive landscapes and the broader economic environment.

In contrast, Singapore’s media conglomerate, SPH Media, unveiled on 1 Nov its acquisition plans for Tech in Asia Pte. Ltd. (TIA).

TIA is a technology media company dedicated to fostering and nurturing Asia’s tech and startup community, and SMT planned to finance this acquisition using its existing resources.

SPH Media, fully owned by Singapore Media Trust (SMT), publishes titles such as The Straits Times and The Business Times.

In 2021, SMT underwent a restructuring process, transitioning from Singapore Press Holdings to establish itself as a not-for-profit entity.

Subsequently, it was slated to receive S$900 million in public funds spread over a five-year period. The announcement regarding this funding was made in February 2022.

WP MP Louis Chua raises concern over agglomeration risks within the local media industry

On 23 Nov, Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information (MCI), asserted that the takeover of TIA by SMT aligns with the entity’s overarching mission, which includes its transformation.

“As a commercial entity, SMT will have to undertake independent and sound decisions to carry out its mission, including how best to bring about its transformation,” said Minister Teo in a written answer to a Parliamentary question filed by Mr Louis Chua, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Sengkang GRC on Wednesday (22 Nov).

She emphasized the government’s non-involvement in such commercial decisions, acknowledging that the acquisition “supports SMT’s transformation and is aligned with the intent of Government funding.”

“We also note that SMT and TIA will not be disclosing the financial terms of this transaction, in view of market sensitivities.”

Mr Chua’s queries included whether the Government imposes any restrictions on the utilization of the S$180 million annual funding allocated to SMT, particularly concerning transactions involving Mergers and Acquisitions.

Additionally, he asked if the Government has access to information regarding the price paid by SMT for its acquisition of the independent technology media company.

Mr Chua also inquired about the measures in place to mitigate agglomeration risks within the local media industry.

In response, Minister Teo said funding for SMT is earmarked for three key focus areas – namely, Technology Development, Talent Development, and the Preservation of Vernacular Media.

“To ensure prudent use of public funds, the MCI has been closely monitoring SMT’s performance and its utilisation of funding in support of these areas.”

While Mr Chua raised concern over agglomeration risks in the local media industry, Minister Teo dismissed the notion, claiming that people “should take a broader and more updated view of the media landscape.”

“With the advent of social and digital media, the media industry has seen increasing fragmentation and intense competition both globally and locally, with diverse forms of content offered across a wide range of online and offline platforms, “she said.

Nonetheless, as with other industries, Minister Teo affirmed that the Government will continue to protect consumers and prevent anti-competitive practices, and will take measures to promote fair and efficient market conduct where necessary.

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gbye. i barely knew them.

but for SPH… if they so privatised, why we still throwing tax money at them again???

So the Empire must be sick of being Green and White so Now changing colour like your Bloomberg pal?!?

This coconut.co news must be as HOT as the CoCo cane Drinks … Every thing increase and wayang 1% discount. Such hypocrisy! Wonder which CoConut Overlords running the empire!???

Last edited 2 months ago by Chresa

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