This week, the startup ecosystem was buzzing with a lot of new developments.
Here are top startup stories of the week:
1. Amazon to launch online drug sales in Bengaluru
Ecommerce giant Amazon has rolled out an online pharmacy service, starting with Bengaluru, at a time when the rest of the startups in the sector are folding into larger rivals and being acquired. The service, "Amazon Pharmacy", will offer both over-the-counter and prescription-based drugs, basic health devices and traditional Indian herbal medicines, the company said in a statement, without giving a timeline for the launch.
2. IFC invests $10 million in Endiya Partners Fund II
The International Financial Corporation (IFC) has invested $10 million in VC firm Endiya Venture Partners to support product start-ups and drive innovation. The IFC has also committed an additional $10 million for direct co-investments alongside Endiya Fund II. The Partnership with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group will provide Endiya’s portfolio companies with financial and strategic support to push growth and scale.
Endiya Fund II has a corpus target of Rs 500 crore ($65 million) and has completed its first close at Rs 280 crore ($40 million) in May 2019. Financial institutions, corporates, and family offices across India, Endiya Fund II will seek to invest in 16 - 20 start-ups, with an initial cheque size of $500,000 to $1 million in seed or pre-series A rounds and a planned investment of up to $5 million per company.
3. Unacademy eyes IPL title sponsorship rights; to submit bid to replace Vivo
Education technology company Unacademy, which is already one of IPL's sponsors, is eyeing the league's title sponsorship rights now and is set to submit its bid to replace Chinese mobile phone company Vivo this season. A BCCI official confirmed that Unacademy has picked up the bid papers but refrained from making any comments beyond that.
Vivo, which annually paid Rs 440 crore, dropped out as title sponsor this year due to the Sino-India border stand-off. The BCCI is now looking at a lesser value -- between Rs 300 to 350 crore -- for a period of four months and 13 days. The official said Unacademy is a part of IPL's central sponsorship pool with other companies like Dream11 and Paytm.
4. Flipkart launches its first startup accelerator programme
Walmart-owned Flipkart has launched a startup accelerator program called - 'Flipkart Leap' with a focus on innovations for users in metro cities well as those in Bharat - tier 2 and 3 cities. Selected B2C and B2B startups will undergo a 16-week program that will focus on making them market-ready and allow them to win an equity-free grant of $25,000. Flipkart Leap has identified five themes to shortlist relevant high-potential startups -- Design & Make for India, Innovation in Digital Commerce, Technologies to Empower the Retail Ecosystem, Supply Chain Management & Logistics and Enabling Relevant Deep Tech applications.
5. Paytm Money launches stock broking with free delivery trades, intraday trades at Rs 10
Digital payments major Paytm has launched stock trading feature on its, the wealth management subsidiary — Paytm Money. Currently, the offering is in a beta testing mode. Paytm Money is offering a low price on trades, for intraday trades to be at Rs 10 and a completely digital KYC process for customer onboarding.
Varun Sridhar, chief executive officer, Paytm Money said, "With the addition of equities, Paytm Money seeks to drive financial inclusion among investors by removing information gaps and facilitating stock penetration in the country." This new addition will benefit experienced as well as first-time investors to seamlessly invest and trade in stocks in a completely digital & secure environment, the company said.
6. SoftBank makes a come back with $12 billion quarterly profit
Masayoshi Son lead SoftBank group posted a $12 billion quarterly profit after reporting historic losses of $13 billion for its last fiscal year. The recovery is due to higher valuations of its portfolios companies Uber and Slack. The SoftBank Vision Fund, which reported an $18 billion loss last year, recorded an investment gain of $2.8 billion for this quarter. SoftBank Group Corp chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said that it may consider selling its British chip design unit Arm Ltd.
"We are exploring selling part of or all of Arm’s value as an option," said Son. Son's said his strategy for the current environment is a defensive one, "You may see us making risky moves with wild investments under normal times, as was the case during the Lehman (shock). However, we commit to being defensive in a crisis situation."
7. Uber and Lyft to classify drivers as employee
A California judge has ordered that Uber and Lyft must classify their drivers as employees in a preliminary injunction. The order will take effect after 10 days giving Uber and Lyft the opportunity to appeal the decision. Both companies said they would appeal the ruling immediately.
8. Facebook sets up a new financial unit - Facebook Financial
Facebook has created a new unit devoted to financial services to harmonise payment systems on its platform called Facebook Financial. The subsidiary will handle management and strategy for all payments and money services across the company's platform like Facebook Pay and WhatsAppPay. Facebook has roped in Stephane Kasriel as the Facebook Pay head, while Marcus will directly run Novi said David Marcus in a tweet.
9. Twitter expressed interest in buying TikTok's US operations
Twitter Inc has approached TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance to express interest in acquiring the US operations of the video-sharing app, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters, as experts raised doubts over Twitter's ability to put together financing for a potential deal.
It is far from certain that Twitter would be able to outbid Microsoft Corp and complete such a transformative deal in the 45 days that US President Donald Trump has given ByteDance to agree to a sale, the sources said on Saturday.
The news of Twitter and TikTok being in preliminary talks and Microsoft still being seen as the front-runner in bidding for the app's US operations was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.
10. Facebook cracks down hate speech and terrorism content
Social media network Facebook released its Sixth edition of Community Standards Enforcement Report from April 2020-June 2020. Facebook witnessed proactive detection rate for hate speech increased 6 points from 89 percent to 95 percent.
In turn, Facebook removed 22.5 million posts of hate speech in Q2, an increase from 9.6 million in Q1. Talking about Instagram, proactive detention rate for hate speech increased 39 points from 45 percent to 84 percent and the amount of content removed increased from 808,900 in Q1 2020 to 3.3 million in Q2. The social media network also took action against terror content, by removing 8.7 million of terror content in Q2, an increase from 6.3 million in Q1.
Facebook is also updating its policies to more specifically account for certain kinds of implicit hate speech, such as content depicting blackface, or stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world. Since October 2019, Facebook has conducted 14 strategic network disruptions to remove 23 different banned organizations, over half of which supported white supremacy.
11. WeWork gets new $1.1 billion commitment from SoftBank
The We Company, owner of WeWork, told employees on August 14 that it cut its cash burn rate almost in half to $671 million from the end of last year and obtained a $1.1 billion (840 million pounds) commitment in new financing from majority owner SoftBank. WeWork said in an e-mail to employees discussing its second-quarter results that it continues to execute on its five-year plan and it has $4.1 billion in cash and unfunded cash commitments, including the new SoftBank funds. The e-mail was seen by Reuters.
12. Scribd acquires LinkedIn's presentation service SlideShare
Microsoft LinkedIn has announced that it is selling its presentation-sharing service SlideShare to Scribd. The terms of the deal remain undisclosed. "We are excited to announce that SlideShare and Scribd have now come together to offer millions of users around the world great content to fuel their curiosity and learning,’ LinkedIn announced via a blog post. SlideShare was launched in 2006 and has been a part of LinkedIn since 2012. Its services include allowing users to upload and share presentations, infographics, documents, etc.
Scribd, on the other hand, offers over a million professionally published ebooks, audiobooks, podcasts, sheet music, and magazines, alongside over 100 million documents uploaded by the community. These documents include information and educational resources like study guides, business templates, academic papers, public court filings, etc."Our acquisition of SlideShare is a major step towards creating the world's largest digital library," Scribd CEO and co-founder Trip Adler said in a statement.
13. Apple must pay $500 million in damages over 4G patent violations, US court rules
A Texas court has ordered Apple to pay more than $500 million in damages and interest for 4G patent infringements held by intellectual property company PanOptis. The US tech giant -- now worth almost $2 trillion -- vowed to appeal Tuesday's decision. "We thank the jury for their time but are disappointed with the verdict and plan to appeal," Apple said in an email response to an AFP inquiry.
"Lawsuits like this by companies who accumulate patents simply to harass the industry only served to stifle innovation and harm consumers," Apple said. PanOptis, which specialises in licensing patents, took Apple to court in February last year, claiming it refused to pay for the use of 4GLTE technologies in its smartphones, tablets and watches.
First Published: IST