April 14, 2024


Unlimited Technology

IPO-bound Snapdeal strengthens board, Chalo acquires Shuttl, BharatPe moves Delhi HC against PhonePe’s PE trademark

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Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

Snapdeal strengthens Board with ESG Directors ahead of IPO

SoftBank-backed Snapdeal has strengthened its board ahead of Rs 3,000 crore ($400 million) IPO by appointing ESG focussed Directors.

To join Snapdeal’s board are – Kaushik Dutta, Chairman of Zomato and is on the Boards of Policy Bazaar & HCL Infosystems and Richa Arora who is the MD & CEO for ESG Stewardship Services at ECube Investment Advisors and has also been on the Board of Tata Group’s e-commerce venture.

The company is considering filing a DRHP in the next few months, joining a growing list of startups preparing to tap capital markets as the nation’s digital economy booms

Snapdeal, which operates India’s leading Value E-commerce Platform counts BlackRock, Temasek, Foxconn, Premji Invest, Intel Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Ratan Tata and could be valued at around $2.5-3 billion.

Chalo acquires Shuttl, accelerates plan for International expansion

In a strategic move, public transport technology company Chalo has acquired Shuttl, the app-based office commute bus aggregator for an undisclosed amount.

This acquisition will enable Chalo to accelerate its plans for international expansion as Shuttl already has a presence in Bangkok, and enter large Indian metro cities that Chalo was not present in so far.  Shuttl addresses the premium bus services market targeted at office-goers looking for a more comfortable commute, and is therefore a natural extension for Chalo’s stage carriage city buses business.

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Lastly, Shuttl’s technology platform, which caters to point-to-point premium office commute buses, augments Chalo’s city buses-focused technology platform, providing a complete solution for all forms of bus services.

The acquisition news comes days after Chalo’s announcement of its Series C funding of about $40 million.

BharatPe moves Delhi HC; opposes PhonePe’s trademark over ‘PE’ usage in Devanagari

Fintech unicorn BharatPe, which recently launched a ‘buy now pay later’ app under the trademark “postpe” has taken the clash with rival PhonePe to Delhi High Court, seeking to cancel the latter’s registration on the Devanagari script of ‘Pe’.

BharatPe said that its holding company Resilient Innovations has filed six cancellation actions against multiple registrations held by PhonePe before the Intellectual Property Division of the Delhi High Court.

“By taking on a trademark for the ‘PE’ device mark in Devanagari script in classes relating to payment services in a country like India, where Hindi is the primary language of the masses, PhonePe has acted against the larger public interest, and Resilient is committed to undoing this,” Resilient Innovations said on Tuesday.

This development comes after PhonePe filed a petition in the Bombay High Court on October 22 against BharatPe’s usage of ‘Pe’ in name of their new Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform PostPe. It withdrew the petition after the court observed that the usage of ‘Pe’ cannot be judged independently as per law and that the terms PhonePe and PostPe must be compared as a whole.

The hearing on the admission of the petition is slated for November 8 in the Delhi HC.

Byju’s eyeing $500M debt for more acquisitions: Report

Edtech decacorn BYJU’s is planning to raise $500 million (Rs3,700 crore) in debt to acquire more businesses, the Mint reported.

The startup has already hired investment banks like JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley to raise the debt through Term Loan B in the US. Several institutional investors as well as hedge funds will be looking to invest in this opportunity. The company has also appointed JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley as investment banks to structure the deal, the report added.

BYJU’s will primarily use the funds for acquisitions and some will also be deployed as working capital.

Eka Care facilitates creation of Health ID under govt’s Digital Health Mission

Healthcare platform Eka Care has facilitated the creation of Health ID under Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission (ABDM).

Under this scheme, a unique Digital Health ID will be provided to the people, which will link with all the health records of the individual.

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“To support this initiative, we are also offering free storage up to 10GB to each individual, to store their health records,” said Vikalp Sahni, CEO and Co-founder, Eka Care.

With over 270 million chronic patients in the country, Eka Care’s storage of health records can be a game-changer, the company said. Teleconsultations will also take a big lead with this initiative as doctors would be able to access records remotely while consulting with patients, the firm added.

Muvi announces Flex Streaming solution to help businesses undergo digital transformations

Muvi, a streaming platform has rolled out Muvi Flex, a SaaS platform under its parent hosting software solution.

This chip of the block is designed to specifically serve businesses, corporates, and individuals with multifunctional and centralized control dashboard, enhanced usability, improved content speed and quick integration functionality, the company said in a statement.

Muvi Flex is aimed at websites and apps that cradle video and audio sections and is set to garner much attention from high-performance players, the startup added. The product is also equipped with enriched DRM protection offering a 360-degree protection to the content including geo-restrictions and content encryption, as per the firm.

Muvi’s Flex is a streaming-as-a-service model that helps global companies establish streaming platforms and capabilities.

India’s first ‘Skill Impact Bond’ launched, fund to benefit 50,000 youth

The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) on Tuesday launched the first-of-its-kind and the largest ‘Impact Bond’ for skilling in India in collaboration with global partners, involving a $14.4 million fund which will benefit 50,000 youth by making them employment ready.

Along with the NSDC, the global coalition comprises of HRH Prince Charles’s British Asian Trust, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), HSBC India, JSW Foundation and Dubai Cares, with FCDO (UK Government) & USAID as technical partners.

“The Skill Impact Bond (SIB) is also the first impact bond involving public, private partners and a public private partnership organisation, NSDC,” a statement said.

CIFF, HSBC India, JSW Foundation and Dubai Cares support the outcome fund.

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NSDC and MSDF are the risk investors that have committed $4 million to provide upfront working capital to the service providers to implement the programme for the lifetime of the impact bond, in this case four years.

“The coalition has brought together a $14.4 million fund to benefit 50,000 young people in India over four years,” the company added.

The target group includes 60 per cent women and girls and the objective is to equip them with skills and vocational training and provide access to wage-employment in Covid-19 recovery sectors including retail, apparel, healthcare and logistics.

The stakeholders will work towards promoting effective interventions, supporting research and enhancing the impact of the skill development programme.

India can attract $150Bn investment with BSFI, Fintech ideas: Aspire Circle Report

Digital Payments, Digital Lending, Insurtech, Consumer Savings Products and Blockchain are some of the top ten investment ideas for financial inclusion and inclusive growth, as per a report by Aspire Circle.

Other investment ideas were Digital Invoice Discounting/Factoring, Digital Finance Ecosystem Actors, Neo-Banking, Agtech funding platforms and Impact Bonds.

The report highlighted that the top 10 emerging investment themes in the sector can collectively attract $150 billion in investment and $350 billion in revenues by 2030 with the potential to create 8 million jobs and impacting 1.1 billion lives.


Bezos’ Blue Origin unveils plans for Business Park in Space

Billionaire Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin has unveiled plans to develop a commercial space station called “Orbital Reef” with Boeing, aiming to launch the spacecraft in the second half of this decade, Reuters reported.

The venture will be built in partnership with Sierra Space, the spaceflight wing of defense contractor Sierra Nevada Corp, and will be backed by Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions and Arizona State University.

Orbital Reef will be operated as a “mixed use business park”, and plans to provide the infrastructure needed to scale economic activity and open new markets in space, Blue Origin and Sierra Space said.

Apple likely to face DOJ antitrust suit- The Information

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has accelerated its two-year-old antitrust probe on Apple in the last several months, increasing the likelihood of a lawsuit, the Information reported.

Lawyers for the DOJ have asked Apple, its customers and competitors questions about how the company maintains its strict control over the iPhone, the report said, citing two people with knowledge of the investigation.

The investigation is very “likely to lead to a lawsuit, though the specifics are still in flux,” according to the report.

Zuckerberg slams recent negative press; paints futuristic vision for Facebook: Report

During Facebook’s earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained his company’s research on how its services affect users, CNBC reported.

The response followed press reports based on leaked documents provided by a former employee. The reports revealed that Facebook had been aware of the ways its own services could negatively impact some users’ mental health, push polarized recommendations to users and spread potentially dangerous misinformation.

“Good faith criticism helps us get better,” Zuckerberg said.

“But my view is that what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company. The reality is that we have an open culture, where we encourage discussion and research about our work so we can make progress on many complex issues that are not specific to just us,” he added.

“These issues aren’t primarily about social media,” Zuckerberg said. “That means that no matter what Facebook does, we’re never going to solve them on our own.”

He said polarization began rising in the US “before I was born” while pointing to unspecified research finding that countries with similar social media use have seen stagnant or declining polarization.

He said Facebook often needs to choose between a host of trade-offs, such as providing encryption versus supporting law enforcement investigations.

Zuckerberg also announced a new strategic vision for the future of the platform. He said that rather than make Facebook a place that caters to the greatest number of people, it will now place a greater focus on young adults, ages 18-29.

The changes include refreshing Facebook and Instagram to put an emphasis on video and leaning into its Reels short video product, would make the platform more similar to TikTok and go after an important part of its user base. Zuckerberg pointed to TikTok as one of the most formidable competitors it’s seen.

Facebook invests billions in metaverse efforts as ad business slows

Facebook will start publishing the financial results of its augmented and virtual reality labs as a separate unit, where it is investing billions in its ambitions to build the “metaverse” and as it reported that its main advertising business faces “significant uncertainty.”

According to Reuters, Facebook, which reported third-quarter profit up 17%, warned that Apple’s new privacy changes would weigh on its digital business in the current quarter. The social media company reported quarterly revenue below market expectations, which Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told analysts was due to the iOS changes.

David Wehner, Facebook’s chief financial officer, said the company expected its investment in its hardware division, Facebook Reality Labs, to reduce overall operating profit in 2021 by approximately $10 billion.

Uber forays into Europe’s rapid grocery delivery market with 15-minute service in Paris: Report

Uber is taking on Europe’s buzzy grocery delivery start-ups with a service in Paris that ships essential items to shoppers’ doors in as little as 15 minutes, as per CNBC.

The US ride-hailing and food delivery company said it has expanded a partnership with French supermarket chain Carrefour to debut the service, which is called Carrefour Sprint. It will be available on the Uber Eats app from Tuesday.

Rather than sending couriers to Carrefour stores, Uber is relying on a network of so-called dark stores — small warehouses where pickers and packers prepare orders for delivery — operated by French start-up Cajoo.

Uber said its new partnership with Carrefour will let users order from almost 2,000 daily essentials including fruit and vegetables, dry goods and cleaning supplies. The items are stocked by Cajoo at nine of its dark stores in the French capital.

In Paris, Uber will go head-to-head with Getir, Gorillas, UK startup Zapp and Russian tech giant Yandex.

Tesla zooms past $1 trillion market cap on bet that the EV future is now

Tesla has surpassed $1 trillion in market value after landing its biggest-ever order from rental car company Hertz, a deal that reinforced the electric car leader’s ambitions to top the entire auto industry in sales over the next decade.

Tesla shares surged as much as 14.9% to $1,045.02, making it the world’s most valuable automaker according to Reuters calculations based on its latest filing.

Even Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk expressed surprise at the velocity of the surge.

“Strange that moved valuation, as Tesla is very much a production ramp problem, not a demand problem,” Musk tweeted in reply to a comment by Ross Gerber, co-founder of the investment fund Gerber Kawasaki and a Tesla shareholder.

“Wild $T1mes!” Musk wrote in a separate tweet.

Tesla is the first carmaker to join the elite club of trillion-dollar companies that includes Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

TikTok to be in congressional hotseat over school-trashing content

TikTok will face questions about content that may have led children and teens to steal from or vandalize school bathrooms and other facilities when it and other large social media companies appear before Congress.

According to Reuters, in setting a hearing focused on TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat, the Senate Commerce Committee said the popular apps have “been misused to harm kids and promote destructive acts, such as vandalism in schools, deadly viral challenges, bullying, eating disorders, manipulative influencer marketing, and grooming.”

In his prepared testimony, reviewed by Reuters in advance of the hearing, Michael Beckerman, head of public policy for the Americas at TikTok, said that the company’s moderation teams work to quickly take down any such content known as “devious licks.”

The “devious licks” trend on TikTok pushed students to steal from schools or vandalize them.

The hearing is the latest part of a lengthy inquiry into what lawmakers from both parties see as Big Tech’s increasingly negative influence on competition, society and children.

China targets online retail sales of $2.66 trillion by 2025

China’s commerce ministry said that it aims to see online retail sales in the country rise to 17 trillion yuan ($2.66 trillion) by 2025, from 11.8 trillion yuan in 2020, outlining its 14th five-year plan for the e-commerce industry, Reuters reported.

The Ministry of Commerce said that it also aims to see the e-commerce industry, and other related sectors, employ 70 million people by 2025, up from 60.2 million in 2020.

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