Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
Paytm to reach operating EBITDA breakeven in next 6 quarters: Vijay Shekhar Sharma
“Importantly, we are going to achieve this without compromising any of our growth plans,” said Sharma in the letter, adding that the estimates were well ahead of those by most analysts.
Sharma said he was “encouraged by our business momentum, scale of monetization and operating leverage” and expects the momentum to continue.
On the fall in the stock price, he said, “Against the backdrop of volatile market conditions for high growth stocks globally, our shares are down significantly from the IPO price.”
Sharma assured the entire Paytm team is committed to building a large, profitable company and creating long-term shareholder value.
“Aligned with this, my stock grants will be vested to me only when our market cap has crossed the IPO level on a sustained basis,” he added.
Zomato may not need CCI nod to merge Blinkit’s India ops, will use ‘De Minimis’ exemption: Report
Food delivery platform Zomato may not need the competition regulator’s nod to acquire online grocer Blinkit as it plans to use the so-called ‘de minimis’ exemption, sources familiar with the development told Moneycontrol.
This will help expedite the deal, giving Blinkit much-needed runway, as it wages a brutal battle for survival in India’s fiercely competitive quick commerce space, the report added.
As it happens, Zomato used the same interpretation of competition law when it acquired Uber Eats India a couple of years ago. But the antitrust regulator later ordered a probe where it looked at two aspects of the deal — one, whether the deal is anti-competitive, thereby hurting consumers, and two, whether the two companies should have notified it about the transaction.
“De Minimis,” is a Latin phrase used to describe something that is not significant or important. According to a circular issued in 2016 by the Competition Commission of India, acquisitions where enterprises whose control, shares, voting rights, or assets are being acquired have assets of not more than Rs 350 crore in India or a turnover of not more than Rs 1,000 crore in India, are exempt from the regulator’s mergers and acquisitions norms for 5 years.
In other words, these M&A deals are “De Minimis”, so the parties involved don’t have to notify CCI or approach it for approval. The Government extended this exemption by 5 more years till March 2027, in a bid to improve the ease of doing business. In this case, sources said Zomato has received a legal opinion that recommends this exemption, as Blinkit’s turnover is less than 1,000 crores.
Competition law aside, the other tangle is Blinkit’s (previously Grofers) domicility. While the startup is based in Gurugram, it is registered in Singapore. To get around this, Zomato will acquire Grofers India Private Limited (GIPL), a subsidiary of the Singapore entity. Acquiring a foreign entity would have made the deal more complicated, thus delaying approvals.
While Zomato and Blinkit have already signed a preliminary term sheet, the next step now is to sign a definitive agreement between both parties.
Raise Financial Services acquires e-learning startup Valuationary
Raise Financial Services, which owns and operates stockbroking platform Dhan, has acquired e-learning platform Valuationary in cash and stock deal. However, the amount of the deal remains undisclosed.
Valuationary is an e-learning platform that helps young professionals in the financial sector to upskill themselves. The startup enables users to upskill through its courses, live sessions, and extensive social media presence where it responsibly simplifies financial news and information.
With this acquisition, Raise aims to strengthen its investment and wealth stack by enabling investors and traders to learn about markets via Valuationary’s courses.
Raise will invest further in Valuationary to launch new products in existing and new formats, which include short-form content, micro-courses, interactive sessions, and more, covering various financial topics including stock markets, trading, insurance, international investing, and more. Valuationary is expected to launch some of its new products and courses in the next few months.
After acquisition, Valuationary’s founders and 15-member team will join and operate from Raise Financial’s headquarters in Mumbai and the company will be a 100 percent subsidiary of Raise.
Flipkart launches new app to help customers order medicines online
The platform would essentially allow customers to get access to medicines and healthcare products and services. Flipkart said the service will serve customers across 20,000 pin codes in India, and they can get “quality and affordable” medicines from independent sellers.
It will aim to rival popular platforms like Apollo 247, Tata 1mg, and more. Flipkart had launched Flipkart Health+ after acquiring a major stake in Sastasundar.com in November 2021.
The company explains that the app has been designed and developed with a “user-friendly interface” that would appeal to customers irrespective of their technological adeptness.
The platform has over 500 independent sellers who have a network of registered pharmacists for validation of medical prescriptions and accurate dispensation of medicines.
The company claims it has put in “quality checks and verification protocols” to facilitate the delivery of genuine medicines and healthcare products from independent sellers to the customer’s doorstep. In the coming months, Flipkart Health+ plans to onboard third-party healthcare service providers who will offer other value-added healthcare services like teleconsultation and e-diagnostics to the customers.
Hero Electric to supply e-scooters to last-mile delivery provider Shadowfax
Electric two-wheeler maker Hero Electric has partnered with Shadowfax Technologies for supplying its e-scooters for last-mile deliveries.
As part of the association, Hero Electric will convert around 25 percent of Shadowfax’s 100,000-strong delivery fleet into electric vehicles (EVs) with its NYX HX e-scooters across delivery centres, the firm said.
Shadowfax, a crowdsourced platform for last-mile delivery, had recently announced converting 75 percent of its fleet to EVs by 2024.
The logistics and the last-mile delivery segments are growing at an unprecedented pace and make for an appropriate reason for a green mobility shift to cut emissions. With the government’s push to convert combustion engine vehicles used in the delivery segment to EVs, Hero Electric has been fronting the switch through multiple B2B partnerships, it added.
Expanding the EV ecosystem, the company will continue such collaborations to attain mission ‘Zero Emission,” Hero Electric said. “This association will aid us in enabling carbon-free mobility in the logistics market and cater to consumer needs of last-mile delivery offered by Shadowfax,” said Naveen Munjal, Managing Director, Hero Electric.
BluSmart Mobility launches EV intercity rides from Delhi NCR to Chandigarh, Jaipur
Electric ride-hailing platform BluSmart Mobility has launched its first EV intercity rides from Delhi NCR to Chandigarh and Delhi NCR to Jaipur.
The company said that it will offer MG ZS EV to its customers for these intercity rides. BluSmart Mobility also said that the intercity rides are currently available for Blu Prive members, a loyalty program by the company and added that it plans to make it available for all its customers in a few months.
The ride hailing company said that it has been setting up charging infrastructure in Delhi NCR to aid EV fleets. With the launch of intercity ride, BluSmart aims to debunk the range anxiety and create charging infra along major national highways for private and public EV owners so as to promote EV adoption, it said.
Currently, BluSmart Mobility operates a fleet of 1000+ electric cars in Delhi NCR ranging from Tata, MG and Mahindra. It said that it ensures no ride cancellations and no surge pricing. As per the firm, it has completed over 1 million all-electric trips so far and has covered more than 35 million clean km since launch.
Locus partners with LocoNav to enable digital transformation in the logistics industry
Logistics SaaS platform Locus has announced a strategic partnership with LocoNav, an AI-driven full-stack fleet tech company.
Through this partnership, both LocoNav and Locus will enable digital transformation in the logistics industry by automating supply chain operations, a statement said.
As per an IMARC Group Report, the global logistics market is pegged to reach $6.55 trillion by 2027.
“We are looking forward to adding more value for enterprise customers with our last-mile optimization platform. This collaboration will help us empower our enterprise clients with a world-class fleet visibility tool,” said Pranjal Swarup, director of partnerships, Locus.
LocoNav’s fleet management solution (FMS) will help Locus optimize and operate multiple vehicles with ease on a single platform. FMS includes offerings like track & trace, fuel monitoring, on-board diagnostics with real-time alerts, rich analytics, customized reports, and more.
Sleepsia announces new manufacturing facility post $2M funding
Sleepsia, a manufacturer-to-consumer (M2C) brand, has announced a new manufacturing facility in Manesar, Gurugram.
This latest development is in alignment with Sleepsia’s growth plans after securing a $2 million investment from its parent company Agile Ventures, the firm said.
The new manufacturing facility will primarily cater to Sleepsia’s latest plans to launch a new range of products. This includes pregnancy pillows, couple pillows, baby pillows, baby memory foam pillows, car pillows, chair pillows, comforters, and high-quality microfiber bed sheets, it added.
The company is planning to hire 10 production workers for its new manufacturing plant. “This new location allows us to better align our services with our customer’s demands in a rapidly changing packaging landscape,” says Dheeraj Kapoor, Director of Sleepsia.
“Through strategic production initiatives like these, Sleepsia strives to remain at the forefront of the bedding industry by providing outstanding customer service for both current and prospective partners”, he added.
Koo launches Voluntary Self-verification for all users to drive ‘Authenticity’
Twitter-rival Koo has launched voluntary self-verification for all users, and said the move will empower users to establish authenticity of their accounts on the platform, lending credibility to thoughts and opinions shared by them.
With this, Koo said it has become the first ‘Significant Social Media Intermediary’ to offer this feature in accordance with new IT rules, 2021.
The voluntary self-verification for all users goes far beyond the current industry practice of verification of important or VIP accounts, it said. Koo informed that voluntary self-verification will be granted in the form of a green tick on a user’s profile. Any user can now self-verify their profile on Koo platform, within few seconds by using their government-approved ID card.
IT giants TCS, Accenture, Cognizant lead Indian firms amid digital boom: LinkedIn Report
As digital transformation gets in top gear, IT companies lead the pack and the top 3 firms are Tata Consultancy Services, Accenture and Cognizant, respectively, ramping up IT investments and hiring, a Microsoft-owned LinkedIn report said.
This time, 11 out of the top 25 companies are from the IT and service industry.
To put together the annual ‘Top Companies in India’ list, LinkedIn looked at platform data across seven pillars: ability to advance, skills growth, company stability, external opportunity, company affinity, gender diversity, and educational background.
With 23 out of the 25 top companies having offices in Bengaluru, the city has reinforced its reputation as the “Silicon Valley of India”.
“The companies on the list are at the vanguard of refreshed organizational policies that foster young talent, promote retention by upskilling, and boost women representation in the workforce,” said Nirajita Banerjee, India Managing Editor, LinkedIn.
“By leaning on such policies, India’s top companies are creating more employment and skilling opportunities that aid career progress in today’s disruptive world of work,” she added.
M2P Fintech expands leadership team with key appointments
M2P Fintech, an API infrastructure company, has named two seasoned professionals to key leadership positions. The company welcomed Sriram KS as Head of Engineering and Sujay Vasudevan as Head of Risk & Compliance. These appointments to the leadership team will further strengthen the technology leadership capital of the company and help realize its vision to be a global infrastructure business from India.
Sriram was part of the founding team at M2P Fintech and was instrumental in the development of the platform in the company’s early journey. As Head of Engineering, Sriram will use his extensive experience of having created engineering platforms at firms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), BestBuy to enhance M2P’s stack as the company expands to new frontiers of growth both from product and geographical reach perspective.
Sujay Vasudevan will lead Risk and Compliance functions for M2P Fintech. Sujay brings to the fore his experience across firms like Mastercard, Visa, Citibank to develop strategies by collaborating with key players in the ecosystem, thereby building new models to manage the emerging risk platform-wide and support the thriving fintech ecosystem to be ahead of the curve in managing risk associated with the products.
Snapdeal witnesses 110% growth in the automotive category in FY22
As India starts to commute again, the demand for automotive accessories is also on the upswing. Snapdeal, a value-focused platform, has seen a 110 percent volume growth in the automotive accessories market in FY 22 over the previous year, it said in a statement.
In FY 22, users bought automotive accessories for three main purposes, including personal safety, automotive care, and regular cleaning and maintenance, the firm added.
Anti-glare glasses for night driving, LED indicators for bikes, fog lights for cars, Balaclava masks, and cotton arm sleeves for UV & pollution protection were amongst the top-selling products in personal safety gear.
Popular products for automotive care included tyre puncture repair kits, flat tyre inflators, lube-based multi-utility spray for moving parts, scratch removers, and dust covers for bikes and cars.
Users also explored and bought a wide range of cleaning products for their cars and bikes —from lint-free microfiber gloves, waterless car shampoos to windshield cleaning tablets, from high-pressure water spray guns to clean the exterior to dust brushes for cleaning AC vents. Other popular products for cars included figurines of deities, mobile phone holders and chargers, mood lighting units, and additional speakers for car stereos, the firm said.
The demand for automotive accessories came from all parts of the country —while bigger cities like Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru with large vehicular populations accounted for a majority of the orders, smaller cities like Kekri (Rajasthan), Junnar (Maharashtra), Tohana (Haryana), Silvassa (Dadra & Nagar Haveli), Palanpur (Gujarat) and many others also accounted growing and diverse demand.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Elon Musk spent $2.64Bn on Twitter shares so far this year: Report
The disclosure came through a 13D filing, which confirms that Musk has intentions to be more active in Twitter’s business. On Monday, the company indicated that Musk had 9.2 percent ownership in the company, but it was via a 13G filing, which points to a passive stake for a holder who isn’t trying to exert control or influence.
Tuesday’s filing said he owns 73,115,038 Twitter shares, or 9.1 percent of the company. At the close of trading, those shares were worth $3.73 billion. Musk crossed the 5 percent threshold on March 14.
The flip to becoming an active investor follows an announcement by Twitter and CEO Parag Agrawal on Tuesday that the company will appoint Musk to its board of directors.
Musk, according to the latest filing, has been purchasing shares in his preferred social media company since January 31, and extending through April 1.
The largest purchase came on February 7, when he bought more than 4.8 million shares worth $176 million. Twitter shares closed at their low point for the year on March 7, at $32.42. They ended January at $37.51.
For as long as Musk is serving on the board, or 90 days after, he can’t own more than 14.9 percent of Twitter’s stock, either as an individual or as a member of a group, according to Monday’s filing.
Twitter to start testing long-awaited edit feature in coming months
Twitter will begin testing a new edit feature in the coming months, surprising its users on the same day it said Tesla boss Elon Musk would join the social media company’s board.
Jay Sullivan, Twitter’s head of consumer products, said in a tweet the company had been working since last year on building an edit option, “the most requested Twitter feature for many years”.
The news, first teased by Twitter on April Fools Day last week, comes as the company faces a broader change in direction with Musk becoming its largest shareholder and joining the board after questioning the social media platform’s commitment to free speech.
Musk began polling Twitter users about an edit button after disclosing his 9.2 percent stake in the company on Monday. As of 6/30 p.m. EST, the poll had more than 4.2 million votes, with 73.5 percent supporting the feature.
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal asked users to “vote carefully” on Monday, though the company on Tuesday tweeted that it did not get the idea for the edit button from the poll.
Sullivan tweeted the feature will take time to fine tune as “without things like time limits, controls, and transparency about what has been edited, Edit could be misused to alter the record of the public conversation”
The company will actively seek “input and adversarial thinking in advance of launching Edit,” he added.
Twitter will start testing the feature within its Twitter Blue Labs premium subscription service in the coming months to “learn what works, what doesn’t, and what’s possible,” it said. Twitter Blue members get exclusive access to premium features and app customizations for a monthly subscription.
Apple’s big annual conference starts June 6, new iPhone software expected: Report
Apple has said that its annual developers conference, WWDC, will begin on June 6, as per a CNBC report.
The company will hold a launch event on the first day of the conference. Apple usually unveils new iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and Mac software at a presentation featuring its CEO, Tim Cook, on the first day of WWDC.
WWDC 2022 will be virtual and streamed on Apple’s website. The event runs through June 10. Apple has held virtual events since 2020.
The software revealed at WWDC is distributed in beta form over the summer before being widely released alongside new iPhone models in the fall. This year, Apple’s iPhone software will likely be called iOS 16.
WWDC is focused on Apple’s software developers who build apps for the company’s platforms. Much of the conference, after the first-day presentation, is dedicated to sessions where developers get coaching and tips from Apple employees on how to make better apps and use the company’s software.
But it’s also the first time that the public gets a peek at the major new software features that Apple plans to release over the year.
Amazon signs massive rocket deal with 3 firms, including Bezos’ Blue Origin, to launch internet satellites: Report
Amazon has announced what it says is the biggest rocket deal in the commercial space industry’s history, signing on with three companies for up to 83 launches of its Project Kuiper internet satellites.
The technology giant signed contracts for 38 launches with United Launch Alliance (ULA) — a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin; 18 launches with European company Arianespace; and 12 launches with Blue Origin, with an option for as many as 15 additional launches with the private venture that’s owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, CNBC reported.
Project Kuiper is Amazon’s plan to build a network of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit, to provide high-speed internet to anywhere in the world. The FCC in 2020 authorized Amazon’s system, which the company has said it will “invest more than $10 billion” to build.
Amazon is set to begin testing a pair of Kuiper prototype satellites with a launch scheduled for late this year, launching on ABL Space’s RS1 rocket, before moving on to launch operational satellites. Although Amazon has not said when the Kuiper launch campaign will begin, FCC rules require the company to deploy half of its planned satellites within six years — meaning about 1,600 in orbit by July 2026.
The terms of the contracts announced Tuesday were not disclosed.
German consumer group acts against Google over cookie banners
A German consumer office has submitted a legal complaint against Google over its use of cookie banners, which the office argues are designed in a way that violates data protection rules, Reuters reported.
Rejecting cookies, which collect data on users for targeted advertisements, requires more steps than consenting to them on Google’s search engine websites is in violation of European and national law, said North Rhine-Westphalia’s consumer office.
A Google spokesperson said the company would soon be making changes to its consent banner and cookie practices across Europe, including Germany, to comply with regulators’ guidance.
Canada introduces legislation to compel Facebook, Google to pay for news
Canada has laid out details of a proposed legislation that would compel platforms like Facebook and Google to negotiate commercial deals and pay news publishers for their content, in a move similar to Australia’s ground-breaking law passed last year.
“The news sector in Canada is in crisis,” Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said at a news conference, introducing the bill put forward by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.
As per Reuters, the “Online News Act,” or House of Commons bill C-18, will require digital platforms that have a bargaining imbalance, measured by metrics like a firm’s global revenue, with news businesses to make fair deals, that would then be assessed by a regulator.
If such deals do not meet a set of criteria detailed in the act, the platforms would have to go through mandatory bargaining and final offer arbitration processes overseen by the Canadian Radio‑television and Telecommunications regulator.
Facebook and Google have voluntarily agreed to invest around C$1 billion each, over three years, on journalism initiatives globally. Rodriguez said the government held discussions with both firms.
Will Smith-backed venture capital firm, Paris Hilton invest in blockchain network Boba
Ethereum blockchain scaling platform Boba Network raised $45 million in its series A round, with participation from investors including Will Smith-led Dreamers VC, Paris Hilton and husband Carter Reum and cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com, Reuters reported.
The funding round gives Boba a valuation of $1.5 billion, with former football quarterback Joe Montana and crypto funds Hypersphere and Infinite Capital also making investments.
The company plans to use the funds to expand Web3 offerings and invest in projects built on its ecosystem, founder Alan Chiu said.