October 20, 2021

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InMobi to acquire Appsumer, says report; Deepa Malik appointed to OYO’s board






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InMobi to acquire UK-based Appsumer: Report

Adtech firm InMobi has signed a definitive agreement to buy UK-based performance insights platform for mobile app advertisers Appsumer, for an undisclosed amount.

As per ET, the acquisition of Appsumer extends InMobi’s recent enterprise expansions. Last month, the company launched InMobi Telco to help mobile carriers and handset makers optimise their customer experiences and diversify their revenue streams.

Shumel Lais, Founder and CEO of Appsumer, will join InMobi and continue to lead the division, along with his full team. Appsumer will continue operating independently as a subsidiary within the global InMobi organisational structure, the report added.

VerSe Innovation acquires social networking app GolBol: Reports

VerSe Innovation, parent company of news aggregators Dailyhunt and short-form video app Josh has acquired social networking app GolBol. The financial details of the deal remain undisclosed.

As a part of the acquisition, VerSe Innovation will be bringing GolBol’s entire team including Co-Founders Shanu Vivek, Karandeep Singh Gujral and Kaushik Mahato to help multiply the impact of Josh, according to reports.

The GolBol team will focus their efforts on enhancing Josh Cam — a mobile video editing app designed exclusively for users and creators of the short-video ecosystem. The team will also drive efficiencies in AI & ML to build UGC discovery initiatives so that users on Josh enjoy authentic content experiences, reports added.

GolBol marks VerSe’s third acquisition this year. Previous acquisitions made by the company in 2021 include Bengaluru-based Cognirel Technologies Pvt Ltd to improve its AI capabilities; and video-sharing app Vebbler, to increase creator offerings on Josh.

The acquisition also comes just two months after VerSe raised $450 million from marquee global investors including Siguler Guff, Baillie Gifford, affiliates of Carlyle Asia Partners Growth II and others, valuing the startup at nearly $3 billion.

OYO appoints Paralympian Deepa Malik as independent director

IPO-bound hospitality firm OYO has appointed Paralympian Deepa Malik as an independent director on the company’s board.

“We are delighted to welcome Malik to OYO’s board of directors. We have been working on making our company and the board more inclusive over the last couple of years. Malik’s experience and her passion for travel and adventure would be invaluable for OYO for years to come,” OYO Founder and Chairman Ritesh Agarwal said.

On the development, in a tweet, Deepa Malik said, “Proud to join the board of OYO that has shown its commitment to SMBs & holds high standards for workforce diversity, with strong environmental, social & governance agenda.”

Malik joins the board of OYO that has three other independent directors and one nominee director, besides Ritesh Agarwal being the chairman, the statement said.

D2C brand Plum opens first offline store in Mumbai; to add 50 more over two years

Homegrown beauty and personal care brand Plum on October 13 opened its first offline store in Mumbai.

The opening of exclusive stores reflects the company’s strategy to develop an omni-channel approach, it said in a statement.

The clean beauty brand, which currently retails on Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa and Myntra apart from being available via retail chains such as Health & Glow, plans to open 50 stores in the country by 2023 to expand its reach beyond its digital-first operations.

Plum started out in 2014 and has since built distribution in over 225 towns and cities in the country, through over 750 assisted retail outlets, and over 10,000 unassisted retail outlets. Plum counts three million shoppers as part of its customer base, the company said. It serves nearly three lakh shoppers monthly.

SecureKloud’s arm Healthcare Triangle gets approval for Nasdaq listing

Healthcare Triangle (HCTI), a subsidiary of cloud solutions platform SecureKloud Technologies, has received the approval for an overseas listing in the US. It will become the second Indian-origin company to be listed on NASDAQ after Freshworks.

Through this IPO, HCTI plans to raise a total of $15 million including an over-allotment of $2 million. The IPO proceeds will be utilised for potential acquisitions, working capital, research and development, and general corporate investments, as per the company.

“Our goal is to become among the top 10 healthcare IT companies in North America and we believe, this will unlock significant value over the next few years,” said Suresh Venkatachari, Chairman & CEO, SecureKloud and HCTI.

EF Hutton, a Benchmark Investments, LLC division, acted as sole book-running manager for the offering. Healthcare Triangle operates in the healthcare cloud industry with a total addressable market of $300 billion.

A Bloomberg business report estimates that the global market for healthcare data science and analytics will be $40 billion by 2025 with a CAGR of 23.5 percent.

To capitalise on this opportunity, HCTI said it will focus growth through our software as a service (SaaS) subscription model for CloudEz, DataEz and Readabl.AI platforms.”

Healthcare Triangle is primarily a healthcare technology platform company and is counted among the top 80 Premier Partners of AWS and an audited next-generation MSP. They are a leading partner of Google Cloud and a Gold Partner of Microsoft Azure Cloud.

ADA acknowledges healthtech startup Breathe Well-being’s diabetes management programme

Healthtech startup Breathe Well-being’s Diabetes Management Program (BDMP), has been verified by American Diabetes Association (ADA).

The personalised digital therapeutics programme assists individuals to manage and reverse Type 2 Diabetes. A clinical study was conducted to verify the efficacy of the BDMP digital therapeutics programme, and in addition, long-term health outcomes were tracked for three years. ADA examined the results of this digitally delivered therapeutics programme across cohorts with different age groups and profiles of chronic patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes and certified that the BDMP works to reverse diabetes, the company said in a statement.

The total group of 181 participants were divided into three control groups, the first group of 60 patients treated with the BDMP plus doctor-prescribed medication, the second group of 61 patients treated with the BDMP plus doctor-prescribed medication plus Stress Reduction module and third group of 60 patients were only treated with doctor-prescribed medication, the startup added.

BDMP delivers customised interventions by using a personalised coach-driven, community-first approach through interactive gamification and encourages patients to track their blood glucose level, weight and physical activity.

Altigreen launches its large-format EVs in Kolkata

EV manufacturing company Altigreen has launched its large-format electric three-wheelers in Kolkata. The company has delivered the vehicles to Mahindra Logistics Limited, it said in a statement.

The startup entered the market in eastern India by supplying the first batch of 15 electric three-wheeler delivery vans, the Neev Highdeck, to Mahindra Logistics. The company has already launched in Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai.

The company makes four variants of its electric delivery van Neev — the Neev Flatbed, the Neev Chassis Cabin, the Neev Lowdeck and the Neev Highdeck. Its vehicles have payloads of 500kg and 550kg. The vehicles can be fully charged in 3.5 hours.

At present, the startup is operating at 70 percent utilisation. Since August 2021, it has sold 150 vehicles in eight cities and hopes to sell 1,500 vehicles by year-end.

GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEW

Billionaire Alibaba founder Jack Ma reappears in Hong Kong: Report

Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, largely out of public view since a regulatory clampdown started on his business empire late last year, is currently in Hong Kong and has met business associates in recent days, sources told Reuters.

The Chinese billionaire has been keeping a low profile since delivering a speech in October last year in Shanghai criticising China’s financial regulators. That triggered a chain of events that resulted in the shelving of his Ant Group’s mega IPO.

While Ma made a limited number of public appearances in mainland China after that, as speculation swirled about his whereabouts, one of the sources said the visit marked his first trip to the Asian financial hub since last October.

Ma, once China’s most famous and outspoken entrepreneur, met at least “a few” business associates over meals last week, Reuters said. The former English teacher disappeared from public view for three months before surfacing in January, speaking to a group of teachers by video. That eased concern about his unusual absence from the limelight and sent Alibaba shares surging.

In May, Ma made a rare visit to Alibaba’s Hangzhou campus during the firm’s annual ‘Ali Day’ staff and family event, company sources have said. On September 1, photographs of Ma visiting several agricultural greenhouses in the eastern Zhejiang province, home to both Alibaba and its fintech affiliate Ant, went viral on Chinese social media.

The next day, Alibaba said it would invest 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) by 2025 in support of “common prosperity,” becoming the latest corporate giant to pledge support for the wealth sharing initiative driven by President Xi Jinping.

Alibaba and its tech rivals have been the target of a wide-ranging regulatory crackdown on issues ranging from monopolistic behaviour to consumer rights. The e-commerce behemoth was fined a record $2.75 billion in April over monopoly violations.

Carl Pei’s Nothing raises $50 mn, partners with Qualcomm

Technology company Nothing, founded by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has raised $50 million from strategic and private investors, and has partnered with US chipmaker Qualcomm.

The company launched its first device — a transparent earbud that comes with active noise cancellation and a retail price of $99 — in August and sold more than 100,000 of those in the first two months.

A tie-up with Qualcomm, whose chips are present in a range of devices from cars to phones, would help Nothing to build future products.

UK-based Nothing’s backers include GV, Tony Fadell, designer of Apple Inc’s iPod, Twitch Co-Founder Kevin Lin and Reddit CEO Steve Huffman. It had raised $15 million in a Series A round led by GV, formerly Google Ventures, in January.

US Senator asks Facebook CEO to retain documents linked to testimony

US Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell has called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to preserve all documents related to a testimony last week from company whistleblower Frances Haugen, as per Reuters.

“The testimony … raises significant concerns about whether Facebook has misled the public, federal regulators, and this committee,” said Cantwell, a Democrat. “This committee will continue its oversight and work to pursue legislation to protect consumers’ privacy, improve data security, and strengthen federal enforcement to address the digital harms that are the subject of these hearings.”

She asked Facebook to preserve and retain internal Facebook research referenced by Haugen and Facebook’s evaluation of the research; ranking or composition systems; experiments or recommendations to change those ranking systems and the impact of Facebook’s platforms on children and teenagers under the age of 18.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in response the company has “absolutely no commercial incentive, no moral incentive, no company-wide incentive to do anything other than to try to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on Facebook.”

Cantwell’s letter cited “the potential danger that social media platforms pose for spreading divisive content was demonstrated, with horrifying consequences, by the role the Facebook platform played in fomenting ethnic violence against the Rohingyas.”

She added, “The role of Facebook’s platform in the Rohingya tragedy illustrates the horrible consequences that failing to effectively limit the spread of divisive content on social media platforms can have in inflicting public harm.”

Last week, the Commerce Committee harshly criticised Facebook, accusing Zuckerberg of pushing for higher profits while being cavalier about user safety, and demanded regulators investigate whistleblower accusations that the social media company harms children’s mental health and stokes divisions.

Zuckerberg defended the company, saying the accusations were at odds with Facebook’s goals.

Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook’s civic misinformation team, left the nearly $1-trillion company with tens of thousands of confidential documents.

Apple likely to cut iPhone 13 production due to chip crunch: Report

Apple is likely to slash production of its iPhone 13 by as many as 10 million units due to the global chip shortage, Bloomberg News reported.

The company was expected to produce 90 million units of the new iPhone models by the end of this year. The report said Apple told its manufacturers that the number of units would be lower because chip suppliers, including Broadcom and Texas Instruments, are struggling to deliver components, the report added.

In July, Apple forecast slowing revenue growth and said the chip shortage, which had started hitting its ability to sell Macs and iPads, would also crimp iPhone production. Texas Instruments also gave a soft revenue outlook that month, hinting on chip supply concerns for the rest of the year.

The chip crunch has put immense pressure on industries from automobiles to electronics, leading many automakers to temporarily suspend production.

Twitter debuts new ad features, revamped algorithm ahead of ecommerce push

Twitter has rolled out new ad features and revamped the algorithm that decides which ads users see, as part of an effort to lay the groundwork to launch future ecommerce features, the social networking company told Reuters.

The new features come as Twitter is pushing to grow its performance advertising business, a strategy that aims to quickly generate sales, and constituted just 15 percent of Twitter’s business last year. The effort could help Twitter reach its goal of doubling annual revenue by 2023.

The San Francisco-based company is positioning itself to eventually allow brands to sell products through the service by first improving on its ability to show users relevant ads and increasing the likelihood they will click the ad.

Twitter added that it is working on new tools to let companies run ads to find customers who are more likely to make in-app purchases.

Slide-show ads that feature multiple products can now send users to different websites when they click the ad, whereas previously brands could only choose one destination. This increased the number of clicks by 25 percent on ad campaigns that set a goal of driving website visits, the company said.

Twitter also improved the advertising algorithm, showing the ads to a larger pool of people at the beginning of the campaign so it can better gauge user interest. Those algorithm improvements led to a 36 percent increase in ad campaigns that achieved at least five downloads during the time period that the ad ran on Twitter, the company said.

Binance unit launches $1-Bbn fund to fast-track blockchain tech adoption

Binance Smart Chain, a unit of crypto exchange Binance, said it had launched a $1-billion fund to help fast-track adoption of digital assets and blockchain technology.

A total of $500 million from the fund will be reserved for investments to help grow decentralised computing, gaming, metaverse, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain-based financial services, according to Reuters.

Of the remainder, $300 million will be earmarked for a builder programme and $100 million each for liquidity incentives and talent development.

“With the $1-billion initiative, our focus will be widened to building cross-chain and multi-chain infrastructures integrated with different types of blockchains,” Gwendolyn Regina, investment director of BSC Accelerator Fund said.

BSC has over one million daily active users spread across more than 900 decentralised applications, making it one of the biggest crypto ecosystems.

Cryptocurrencies post eight straight weeks of inflows – CoinShares data

Cryptocurrency products and funds attracted $226.2 million in investments last week, marking their eighth straight week of inflows, a report from digital asset manager CoinShares showed.

Over an eight-week run, total crypto product inflows hit $638 million, with a year-to-date total of $6.3 billion.

Bitcoin, as expected, led the way, nabbing $225 million, for a fourth straight week of inflows, according to data in the week ended Oct. 8.

“We believe the turnaround in sentiment towards Bitcoin is due to constructive statements from SEC chair Gary Gensler, potentially allowing a Bitcoin ETF (exchange traded fund) in the US,” wrote James Butterfill, investment strategist at CoinShares, in the report.

At a Financial Times conference a few weeks ago, US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gensler repeated his support for Bitcoin ETFs that would invest in futures contracts instead of the digital currency itself.

Bitcoin soared to a five-month high of just under $58,000 on October 11, boosted by persistent institutional demand as it gains legitimacy among investors. On October 12, the world’s largest cryptocurrency in terms of market value was last down 3.6 percent at $55,402.

Since a low of $28,600 hit in June, Bitcoin has gained about 88 percent of its value.

Blockchain data provider Glassnode, in its latest research note, said Bitcoin experienced a boost in network activity in the first week of October, suggesting new demand is beginning to enter in the fourth quarter.

Ethereum, meanwhile, saw minor outflows totaling $14 million, data showed, as it continues to lose market share to Bitcoin. Its market share has fallen 1 percent to 24 percent of assets under management in the last week alone.

Other altcoins such as Solana and Cardano posted inflows of $12.5 million and $3 million, respectively, data showed. While other digital tokens, namely Polkadot, Ripple and Litecoin posted outflows.

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