Check out all the interesting happenings in the startup ecosystem across the world.
The top startup stories of the week:
Walmart-owned Flipkart is set to invest Rs 1,500 crore in Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail (ABFRL) for a 7.8 percent stake.
As part of the deal, ABFRL will issue shares on a preferential basis to Flipkart at Rs 205 per share, a 37 percent premium over the last closing price.
ABFRL has entered into a commercial agreement with Flipkart for the sale, distribution of various brands of the company.
The deal gives the much-needed fund to ABFRL to reduce debt and a strong global partner, while for Flipkart, it provides a portfolio of established fashion brands and a strong local partner.
2. SAIF Partners rebrands as Elevation Capital; closes new early-stage fund of $400 million
One of India’s leading early-stage investors, SAIF Partners, has unveiled its new brand identity, will now be known as Elevation Capital. The V.C. firm has closed its seventh fund at $400 million. Fund VII will invest in Global SaaS, consumer, e-commerce, content, gaming, ed-tech startups.
With a focus on consumer internet, consumer brands, B2B technology, and financial services, Elevation (SAIF Partners) has invested in more than 100 companies in India like Urban Company, Meesho, No Broker, ShareChat, Treebo, and Ixigo.
The early-stage investor backs unicorns like Paytm, Swiggy, Unacademy, Rivig, and Firstcry, among others. Some of its early bets are in publicly listed - Makemytrip, JustDial, and IndiaMart.
Besides Adusumalli, the investments would be led and managed by Elevation’s five Managing Directors - Deepak Gaur, Mayank Khanduja, Mridul Arora, Mukul Arora, and Vivek Mathur.
3. Indian app developers meet Google, ask for lower PlayStore fees
Several Indian app developers asked Google to lower its 30 percent fee on in-app purchases of digital goods, in a meeting with the global team of Google Play on Wednesday, as per sources.
Google on Wednesday held its first industry meeting with Indian app developers and founders on the raging issue of its PlayStore billing policy, after weeks of strong backlash by the Indian startup community, which also approached the IT Ministry and the Competition Commission of India on the matter.
4. Govt issues warning to Twitter; conveys strong disapproval over map misrepresentation
The government has shot-off a stern letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, conveying its strong disapproval over misrepresentation of the Indian map and asserted that any attempt by the micro-blogging platform to disrespect the country’s sovereignty and integrity is totally unacceptable.
In a strongly-worded letter, IT Secretary Ajay Sawhney has warned the platform that such attempts not only bring disrepute to Twitter but also raises questions about its neutrality and fairness as an intermediary. IT Ministry sources told.
5. Amazon in line of fire of Parliamentary Jt Committee
The head of the joint parliamentary committee on data protection bill Meenakshi Lekhi told the media today that Amazon had refused to appear before the panel on October 28 as per and that it would amount to a breach of privilege, according to news agency PTI.
Amazon has not responded to queries so far.
The parliamentary committee is meeting with tech companies on the data protection bill, with Facebook officials appearing before the panel on Friday, and Twitter, Google, and Paytm slated for next week.
A Facebook spokesperson said - “We deeply appreciate the opportunity to discuss data regulation issues with the Hon’ble Members of Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill. We believe that India’s data protection law has the potential to propel the country’s digital economy and global digital trade, and we wholeheartedly support this effort. That is why we deeply appreciate being a part of this discussion and will continue to work alongside governments and regulators to find the right solutions which not only protect users’ privacy but are also interoperable with other major global privacy regulations.”
6. Maharashtra invites Tesla after Musk hints entry into India
India’s richest state Maharashtra has invited U.S. electric-car maker Tesla Inc weeks after its Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk suggested entering the country next year.
In a tweet on Thursday, state tourism and environment minister Aaditya Thackeray said he and industries minister Subhash Desai held a video call with Tesla executives earlier in the day to invite them to the state.
Earlier this month, Musk said,” Next year for sure” on Twitter in reply to a post with a photograph of a T-shirt with the message:” India wants Tesla.”
Tesla’s entry into Asia’s third-largest economy could come at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is increasingly focusing on promoting the use of electric vehicles.
7. Festive season sale: Report Card
As Flipkart’s The Big Billion Days 2020 draws to an end, this year, The Big Billion Days saw 1.5X number of transacting sellers compared to last year, amongst whom more than 35 percent witnessed 3X more sales vis-a-vis TBBD 2019.
Over 666 million visits on Flipkart were recorded during the Big Billion Days, with over 52 percent of these visits recorded from Tier III cities and beyond.
While the e-commerce marketplace Snapdeal concluded its “Kum Mein Dum” Diwali sale. The 5-day sale saw increasing participation by offline sellers, and 80 percent of Snapdeal’s Diwali shoppers chose regional & local brands. At the end of the “Kum Mein Dum” Diwali Sale, nearly 70 percent of the orders were received by sellers located beyond the top 5 metropolitan areas of the country.
Online retail sales in the first week of the festive month between October 15-21 are expected to have crossed $4.5 billion, as per early estimates from consultancy firm Forrester, a nearly 20 percent growth over the same festive week period last year. Smartphone sales were around $1.7billion, the consultancy firm said, while demand in fashion was muted.
8. Funding of the week
Actor turned entrepreneur Katrina Kaif has now turned investor. The star has signed an agreement to invest an undisclosed amount in omnichannel lifestyle retailer Nykaa through a secondary transaction. The investment comes almost a year after Kaif launched her beauty brand, ‘Kay Beauty,’ in partnership with Nykaa.
Cosmetics brand Sugar Cosmetics has raised $2 million in debt funding led by venture debt fund firm Stride Ventures. According to a statement issued by Stride Ventures, the fund has partnered with a leading private bank for this deal. Sugar will use the funds to meet working capital and inventory requirements and fuel aggressive growth through the peak sales and festive season.
Dukaan, an app that allows offline stores to sell its products and services online, has raised $6 million in seed funding co-led by Matrix Partners India and Lightspeed India Partners. The startup also saw participation from angel investors like Haresh Chawla (Founding CEO Network18, Viacom18), Ryan Hoover (Founder, Weekend Fund and Product Hunt), Jitendra Gupta (Founder, Jupiter), Shashank Kumar (Founder, Razorpay), Sandeep Tandon (Founder, Freecharge), Prabhkiran Singh (Founder, Bewakoof.com) and Kunal Shah (Founder, Cred).
Dhaka, Bangladesh-headquartered startup ShopUp has raised $22.5 million in a round co-led by Sequoia Capital India and Flourish Ventures, making this the largest Series A and the venture funds maiden round in Bangladesh.
9. Jio Platforms, Qualcomm jointly test 5G solutions; achieve over 1GBPS milestone
Qualcomm Technologies and Reliance Jio Platforms, along with its wholly-owned subsidiary Radisys Corporation will join hands to fast-track the deployment of 5G mobile internet based on homegrown technologies, putting India in an exclusive club of nations with the capability to offer superfast speeds of 1 gigabyte per second (Gbps) to users.
With an indigenous network, India will not have to rely on equipment from Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE, thus obviating a potential security threat to crucial national infrastructure.
The two companies also announced that they achieved speeds of 1 Gbps on Jio’s 5G solution using a Qualcomm platform. For illustration, what this means is that it will be possible to download a typical movie with a file size of one gigabyte in just one second
10. ProfitBoard Ventures to infuse $100 million into startups through a consortium
Taxmantra Global has launched its standalone investment banking arm and private investment arm, ProfitBoard Ventures, to back technology-enabled startups in India and South East Asia. Headquartered in Singapore, ProfitBoard Ventures would assist early and growth-stage startups in fundraising through its consortium of investors.
“It has already onboarded a consortium of global investors to inject $100 million funding into selected startups in the next 18 months, it said. Our medium-term three-year goal is to nurture 100-plus startups from India and Southeast Asia, said AlokPatnia, the Managing Partner of ProfitBoard Ventures.
TMG has assisted in 100-plus deals in the last three years, translating to about $180 million funding in its existing portfolio of startups. Founded in 1983, TMG provides advisory, tax, and regulatory services to global businesses with delivery centers in Singapore, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Delhi, it was stated.
11. U.S. Senate committee approves sending subpoenas to Facebook and Twitter CEOs
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted to subpoena the chief executives of Twitter and Facebook after the social media platforms decided to block stories from the New York Post that made claims about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son.
The vote passed along party lines with 12 Republicans approving the motion. The 10 Democrats on the committee were not present for the session over its consideration of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination, which the panel approved.
12. Alibaba to buy controlling stake in hypermarket chain Sun Art in $3.6 billion deal
Alibaba Group to invest $3.6 billion to acquire a controlling stake in hypermarket operator Sun Art Retail Group, gaining further ground in China’s retail market. The e-commerce giant is hoping to further leverage its digital presence to support Sun Art’s 481 hypermarkets and three mid-size supermarkets in China. Alibaba, which already owned 21 percent of Sun Art through a unit, will raise its stake to around 72 percent through the acquisition of a similar stake in ART Retail Holdings, who owns 51 percent of Sun Art.
13. Facebook launches dating service in Europe
Facebook is launching its dating service in 32 European countries after the rollout was delayed earlier this year due to regulatory concerns. The social media company had postponed the rollout of Facebook Dating in Europe in February after concerns were raised by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), the main regulator in the European Union for a number of the world’s biggest technology firms, including Facebook.
Facebook Dating, a dedicated, opt-in space within the Facebook app, was launched in the United States in September last year. It is currently available in 20 other countries.
In a blog post on Wednesday, Kate Orseth, Facebook Dating’s product manager, said users can choose to create a dating profile and can delete it at any time without deleting their Facebook accounts.
14. Ant Group to launch $35 billion IPO after a final nod from China regulator: Reuters
China’s Ant Group has won the final nod from the country’s top securities watchdog for the registration of its Shanghai offering, the regulator said on Wednesday, clearing the last regulatory hurdle for its $35 billion dual-listing.
Ant, the fintech company, backed by Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba Group Holding, plans to list simultaneously in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the coming weeks, sources have said.
The listing could be the world’s largest initial public offering, surpassing the record set by Saudi Aramco’s $29.4 billion floats last December. The IPO would also be the first simultaneous listing in Hong Kong and on the year-old STAR Market in Shanghai.
15. US files landmark antitrust case against Google
The US Justice Department sues Google for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising — the government’s most significant attempt to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago. Other major tech companies, including Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, are under investigation at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
16. Uber offers more than €1 billion to buy Daimler/BMW’s freenow: Manager Magazin
Ride-hailing firm Uber has offered more than 1 billion euros to buy Daimler and BMW’s joint mobility services company Freenow, Manager Magazin said on Wednesday.
While Daimler is ready to sell, BMW’s Chief Executive Oliver Zipse is wavering about selling up, and is instead open to offering Uber a stake, Manager Magazin added.
17. Facebook -CMA row over Giphy
UK’s merger Competition and Markets Authority has warned Facebook that it could go beyond forcing the tech giant to unwind its purchase of image-hosting platform Giphy if the deal is deemed to be anti-competitive according to a report by Bloomberg.
CMA and F.B. have clashed in court over the review of the $400m deal. The regulator issued the warning at a London tribunal hearing where Facebook is arguing that the CMA’s restrictions on the tie-up were unreasonable and disproportionate. Facebook had to pause its integration with Giphy in June after the CMA said it wanted to investigate whether the deal would give the social network too much information on its rivals’ operations.
18. AMAZON: In Headlines
Amazon extends work from home option for employees till June 2021
Amazon to allow employees whose work can be done from home to do so until June 2021, extending the timeline on a return to the office due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon had earlier allowed that option until January 2020.
The development comes less than three weeks after the world’s largest online retailer said more than 19,000 of its United States frontline workers contracted the coronavirus this year.
In May, Twitter became the first major tech company to allow employees who can work remotely to do so indefinitely. Tech giant Microsoft earlier this month said that it would let most employees work remotely for up to half their weekly working hours. Facebook had said it would allow its employees to work from home till July next year, while Google had extended the remote working period for employees who do not need to be in the office till June.
Amazon announces $100 million logistics investment in Mexico: REUTERS
Amazon.com has invested $100 million in opening new warehouses in Mexico, including its first shipping centers outside the populous capital area, in a bid to offer faster deliveries.
The new sites include two so-called fulfillment centers - one near the northern city of Monterrey and another near the central city of Guadalajara - as well as a support building in the State of Mexico, just outside Mexico City.
Amazon also opened 12 delivery stations, bringing its total to 27 across the country.