October 27, 2021

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Oyo to file IPO papers this week, 10Club acquires Skudgear, WhatsApp adds rupee symbol to chats



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Oyo Hotels to file papers for $1-bn IPO this week

 Hospitality startup Oyo will file a DRHP for its IPO this week, sources told CNBC-TV18. This comes amid Oyo’s legal hurdle with rival Zostel.

The proposed Oyo IPO will comprise a fresh issue of shares and an offer for sale from existing shareholders. Oyo has appointed Kotak Mahindra Capital, JP Morgan and Citigroup to manage the issue. Oyo Hotels and Homes is planning to raise $1 billion through an IPO.

The startup had recently raised about $5 million in a strategic investment from Microsoft. The company — backed by Soft Bank, AirBnB, and Grab — also increased its authorised share capital to Rs 901 crore early from Rs 1.17 crore.

Truecaller sets IPO price range

Mobile phone directory and caller identification service Truecaller has said the price range for its planned listing of Class B shares would be between 44-56 Swedish crowns.

Based on the pricing range, the company would have a market valuation between $1.9-2.4 billion after completion of the listing on Nasdaq Stockholm.

The company will start trading on October 8 under the trading symbol ‘TRUE.’

Truecaller counts Sequoia, Atomico, OpenOcean and Kleiner Perkins among its investors, and more than 10 percent of the company is owned by its employees.

10Club forays into sports category with acquisition of Skudgear: Report

Thrasio-style venture 10club has marked its entry into the sports business with the acquisition of fitness equipment maker Skudgear.

10club will now look to make Skudgear a $100-million brand, in line with the aim of the founders, as per reports. For 10club, Skudgear is its second acquisition. Prior to this, 10Club had announced the acquisition of baby products selling brand My Newborn.

WhatsApp introduces new features to make payments simpler

WhatsApp has introduced the rupee symbol ‘ ₹’ in its chat composer to help Indian users make seamless payments through the messaging service.

WhatsApp unveiled the symbol at the Global FinTech Festival (GFF) 2021, and added that it has also added a quick response (QR) scanning support to its camera icon in the message composer page.

“We believe true inclusion is when customers don’t have to navigate their way through their phone to make a payment. An arrival point is when payments just ‘fits’ into a customer’s intrinsic behaviour. Hundreds of millions of customers send WhatsApp messages every day; spend many minutes on WhatsApp; take and send pictures. We want to make sending money as easy and simplified as sending a message,” said Manesh Mahatme, Director, Payments, WhatsApp India.

With the latest updates, WhatsApp looks to make payments more inclusive and intuitive as users can now send money using two of the most iconic and recognisable symbols all within the WhatsApp chat composer, the company said in a statement.

Both the features are expected to be rolled out in the next few weeks.

Payback India launches pay feature to integrate UPI, powered by BharatPe

Payback India, a BharatPe company has announced the launch of a pay feature on its mobile app. It’s an industry-first that integrates QR-based UPI payments and loyalty in a single app, the company said in a statement.

Members of Payback will earn 50 bonus points on the first UPI transaction via Payback Pay and five Payback points thereafter, on every transaction. Additionally, customers will earn 2X points on transactions done at BharatPe QRs. The points will be credited in the customer’s account on a real-time basis.

Furthermore, Payback will next add the feature of redemption of points at BharatPe’s QRs at more than 75 lakh merchant outlets and launch the feature on the ioS app, the firm said.

“Last year Payback drove GMV of $ 8 billion for partner merchants. I would stick my neck out and say the proposition is superior to CRED, MagicPin, FAVE or any other loyalty programme in India today. Payback Pay will put customers in the habit of scanning and paying on UPI QRs. Eventually, all redemption and earning of Payback points will happen automatically at BharatPe QRs. Payback points will be a currency as it will be universally accepted,” said Ashneer Grover, Co-Founder and Managing Director of recently-turned unicorn BharatPe.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX loops in Sanjay Bhargava to lead Starlink’s efforts in India

PayPal veteran Sanjay Bhargava has announced that he is all set to serve tech billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX as Starlink Country Director India starting October 1. On September 29, Bhargava mentioned in a LinkedIn post that he is excited about the new role.

“Super excited to join SpaceX effective Oct 1, 2021, as Starlink Country Director India. Had worked with Elon Musk on the PayPal founding team,” Bhargava wrote.

“Have been in India since 2004 and Starlink and I share a common passion for supporting a transformed India starting with rural India,” he added. Recently, Musk had tweeted that his aerospace company SpaceX could soon launch satellite-based Internet service Starlink in India.

Musk replied to a Twitter post that the company is figuring out how the regulatory approval process in the country would work for Starlink.

Starlink shipped 1,00,000 terminals to customers recently. The project aims to provide global broadband connectivity via a constellation of satellites.

JetSynthesys becomes Warner Music’s India partner

US-headquartered multinational entertainment and record label conglomerate Warner Music Group (WMG) and digital entertainment and technology company JetSynthesys have come together to announce an exclusive strategic partnership.

With this association, JetSynthesys becomes WMG’s official India partner for all things related to music label licensing and acquisition, artist management, event management, original content creation across music, short videos and films, along with mobile gaming and e-sports.

India is one of the strongest emerging markets globally when it comes to entertainment, across formats and verticals. Valued at around Rs 15 billion in 2020, the Indian music industry itself is estimated to reach Rs 23 billion by the end of 2023 according to recent industry reports. JetSynthesys has shown remarkable growth in the last few years, especially in gaming and e-sports and digital products and platforms.

Additionally, JetSynthesys, which has a global foray in gaming, digital entertainment, and interest-based social community platforms, will invest Rs 200 crore into the Indian entertainment sector over the next three years to ramp up its foothold in the space further.

Nine non-profits begin incubation journey with NSRCEL, Capgemini

NSRCEL has selected nine ventures in the final phase of the social programme with Capgemini. The programme supports not-for-profit tech-enabled ventures solving social problems and impacting areas of education, employability and environment.

“NSRCEL has been empowering the early-stage ventures with initial handholding to support them in achieving their entrepreneurial goals. The increased attention towards companies focusing on the social sector is extremely crucial to underline the existing problems.” said Anand Sri Ganesh, COO, NSRCEL.

The incubation phase will focus on entrepreneurs getting access to workshops on building their value proposition, impact measurement, leadership capacity building, legal and compliance support, strategic road map for scaling, among others, along with a grant. Capgemini’s Applied Innovation Academy was engaged during the pre-incubation and will continue to do so in the incubation phase for proficiency building activities.

T-Hub signs MoU with Redberri Earth Foundation

T-Hub an innovation ecosystem has signed an MoU with Redberri Earth Foundation, a US-based non-profit organisation under its T-Bridge initiative.

The partnership will aim to understand market opportunities for Indian startups in the US market. T-Hub and Redberri will provide Indian and Chicago startups with business opportunities, market understanding and access to clients in Chicago and India, respectively, the company said in a statement.

The two entities will collaborate in the areas of startup innovation and entrepreneurship. This partnership will help the startups and support T-Hub in creating a strong foothold in Chicago’s startup and innovation ecosystem, the firm added.

T-Hub, in partnership with Redberri, aims to establish structured market access programmes and soft-landing programmes, which will help nurture the startup ecosystem in the US and India.

 GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS

 Facebook could face hefty fine in Russia over banned content: Report

 Russia may seek to fine social media giant Facebook up to 10 percent of its annual turnover in the country for a repeated failure to delete content that Moscow deems illegal, the Vedomosti daily reported on September 30.

Moscow has increased pressure on foreign tech companies over the last year as part of a long-running push to assert greater sovereignty over its segment of the internet, including efforts to make companies store Russians’ personal data on its territory.

 On September 29, Russia threatened to block YouTube after the video-hosting giant removed Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-language channels from its site.

 State communications regulator Roskomnadzor said Facebook’s repeated violations could see it fined 5 percent or 10 percent of its annual Russian turnover, Vedomosti reported.

 Vedomosti cited experts who estimated Facebook’s annual Russian turnover at around 12 billion roubles ($165 million). Roskomnadzor has opened 19 different administrative cases against Facebook this year for failing to delete banned content, Vedomosti said, with 43 million roubles owed in fines and more pending.

Facebook to highlight Instagram’s ‘positive impact’ on kids in US Senate hearing

Facebook under criticism over internal data showing its Instagram app damaged the mental health of teenagers, plans to highlight during a US Senate hearing on September 30 what it argues were more positive impacts, according to the company’s prepared testimony seen by Reuters.

Antigone Davis, global head of safety at Facebook, will detail the company’s previously announced efforts to better protect children and teens online, including defaulting users under the age of 16 to private accounts when they join Instagram, as per the testimony.

“Our research showed that many teens who are struggling say that Instagram helps them deal with many of the hard issues that are so common to being a teen,” Davis’s written testimony says.

Facebook has been under fire for the past week after the Wall Street Journal reported internal documents showed that the social media company was aware that Instagram harmed the mental health of young users.

Ahead of the hearing, Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn said in a statement that “Facebook knows that its services are actively harming their young users.”

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal called the hearing “Protecting Kids Online” following The Wall Street Journal’s reporting.

In a separate hearing, a Facebook whistleblower will testify about the company and how it handles children’s safety online at a Senate hearing featuring Blumenthal and Blackburn. The senators did not disclose any information about the whistleblower.

Google adds visual search features in shopping, video push

Google users can soon combine images and text in search queries, a feature unveiled on September 29, that could help the Alphabet unit expand its role in e-commerce and dominance in online video, according to Reuters.

The new feature will arrive within months through its Google Lens search tool, the company said in its livestreamed Search On conference. Google said in May that advances in artificial intelligence software would make this possible.

Users will be able to run reverse-image searches when surfing on the Google iOS app or the Chrome desktop browser. Selecting an image will pull up similar online visuals, which could help shoppers find where to buy items seen in photos and ultimately lead them to Google Shopping, its rival to Amazon’s marketplace.

Making more items searchable is another priority. Google said it was licensing a free Address Maker app to governments and organisations to map routes and assign addresses to businesses and homes not yet listed on Google Maps. The app could reduce the time it takes governments and organisations to assign addresses for a town from years to weeks, Google said.

Amazon settles with employees allegedly fired for criticising working conditions

Amazon and the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said on September 29 the company had reached a settlement with two former employees who alleged they were fired last year for criticising the working conditions at the e-commerce giant’s warehouses.

Amazon had terminated the employment of Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, who had accused the company of enforcing policies in a discriminatory fashion and instituting rules that “chill and restrain” the staff from exercising rights, according to Reuters.

The NLRB found in April that Amazon illegally fired them after they advocated for better working conditions during the pandemic.

“Amazon will be required to pay us our lost wages and post a notice to all of its tech and warehouse workers nationwide that Amazon can’t fire workers for organising and exercising their rights,” Cunningham and Costa said in a joint statement on September 29.

The US agency said the company had reached a non-board settlement, a private agreement between parties in which terms were not disclosed, with the former employees.

The NLRB regional director, however, is required to review and approve the settlement agreement before allowing the charges to be withdrawn.

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