A big name in Asian banking has resurfaced at a “unicorn breeder”

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Former Deutsche Bank managing director Alan Hellawell, who stepped down last year as chief strategy officer of Singaporean internet firm Sea, has resurfaced at a VC fund that invests in tech startups.

Hellawell, who spent most of his career as a high-profile Asian tech analyst, has joined Alpha JWC Ventures’ Singapore office as a venture partner, according to his online profile. Alpha is headquartered in Jakarta and was founded in 2015 to invest primarily in early-stage Indonesian tech businesses, a strategy that earned it the moniker of ‘unicorn breeder’ in a March 2019 Forbes article.

Hellawell was with Singapore-based Sea, which operates Southeast Asia’s biggest gaming platform and also has financial services and e-commerce arms, from October 2017 (the month of its IPO) to November 2018. He was in charge of corporate strategy and investor relations, but his departure followed widening losses at the company in the third quarter of last year.

In moving to Sea, Hellawell became part of the ongoing movement of banking professionals to in-house strategy roles at Asian tech firms, a trend which started about three years ago and which includes Chinese giants like Alibaba and Tencent. His return to finance (albeit to the buy-side) shows that these moves don’t always work out as planned.

Prior to Sea, Hellawell worked for Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong for more than 10 years as an MD-level research analyst covering the telecoms, media and technology (TMT) sector. He latterly managed a team of 25 Asia TMT analysts and was himself ranked as the firm’s number one analyst (across all industries) for four years running, according to his profile.

From 2002 to 2007 Hellawell was co-head of research and head of Asia TMT research at Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong, where he helped build an 80-person equity research team across Asia.

As an ex-banking professional Hellawell is in good company at Alpha JWC Ventures. Will Ongkowidjaja, one of the firm’s three co-founders, was a director at UBS between 2011 and 2014. His fellow co-founder Chandra Tjan worked for Credit Suisse and Citi.

Image credit: Yuri_Arcurs, Getty

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