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Startup Digest: No layoffs for now, but hiring freeze: LinkedIn CEO, Darwinbox plans IPO in 3 years & Binance pledges to create crypto industry recovery fund

Startup Digest: No layoffs for now, but hiring freeze: LinkedIn CEO, Darwinbox plans IPO in 3 years & Binance pledges to create crypto industry recovery fund

Startup Digest: No layoffs for now, but hiring freeze: LinkedIn CEO, Darwinbox plans IPO in 3 years & Binance pledges to create crypto industry recovery fund
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By Aishwarya Anand  Nov 14, 2022 10:48:23 PM IST (Updated)

Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

No layoffs for now, but hiring freeze across parts of the company soon: LinkedIn CEO

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The world is in the midst of companies announcing hiring freezes and layoffs. Recently Facebook’s parent company Meta announced that it would lay off 11,000 employees and put in place a hiring freeze. After Musk took charge of Twitter, the company fired 3,000 employees, while Microsoft too carried out a massive layoff exercise, which has affected almost 1,000 employees.
On the layoff trend Ryan Roslansky, CEO of LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, told CNBC-TV18 that the company is not planning any layoffs but a hiring freeze will soon be seen across some verticals of the company.
“We haven't announced ... any kind of layoffs. We have put ourselves inside of a hiring freeze right now for various parts of the company. But again, like every other leader, we're just continuing to navigate the global strategy that we need to keep the company going to create this platform,” said Roslansky.
For the quarter ended September 30, 2022, LinkedIn’s revenue increased 17 percent from the corresponding period a year ago. Roslansky mentioned in terms of growth in India the revenue has climbed 50 percent year-on-year.
“When we take a look at India, it's outpacing that the revenue in India is growing at 50 percent year over year in north of 84 percent year over two year, we're closing in on nearly having 100 million members in India,” he said.
Ghost Kitchens acquires Where's The Food in share swap deal
Restaurant tech company Ghost Kitchens has acquired F&B tech products firm Where's The Food in a share swap deal for an undisclosed sum.
With this deal, the firm plans to expand its business operations following this transaction, including partner scrutiny on-boarding, inventory intelligence, and financial reconciliations, among other things.
“The products are first in the market and will give tangible value to our partners to increase their revenue & profits. We are building the only product in the restaurant tech industry that solves for both operational gaps as well as demand generation for restaurants,” said Karan Tanna, Founder and CEO, Ghost Kitchens.
As per a statement, Co-founder at Where’s The Food, Harshendar Reddy, will join Ghost Kitchens as its chief technology officer (CTO) and lead the development of a B2B app for the restaurant tech platform.
Onmove acquires Transin Logistics
Truck aggregator Onmove has acquired Transin Logistics, a Hyderabad-based trucking aggregation platform for an undisclosed capital.
The acquisition will boost its southern India’s footprint, besides making room for its foray into port logistics business, the firm said in a statement.
Transin is a 100% asset light technology enabled trucking solution business operating in the Port ecosystem of India, with an annual revenue rate of Rs 200 crores. As Onmove has a revenue of Rs 400 crore, the combined revenue of the both now will be Rs 600 crore, the statement added.
“This acquisition is our move towards creating a peerless tech-powered truck aggregation platform in India. Onmove intends to use inorganic growth as an active strategy to achieve expansion. This is Onmove’s first acquisition, and we intend to evaluate many such opportunities in the future,” said Praveen Jain, Co-Founder, Onmove.
SaaS unicorn Darwinbox plans IPO in 3 years
HR tech company Darwinbox, may go for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the next three years, co-founder Rohit Chennamaneni said.
Chennamaneni added that the firm is expected to achieve profitability by 2025 with Indian operations becoming profitable by next fiscal.
The company has opened a new global headquarters in Hyderabad and plans to hire around 300 employees in the next six months, taking the total workforce in the city to 1,000.
“The new 1000-seat site spanning 75,000 ft. will empower the brand’s consistent business growth globally while enabling it to further tap into local talent,” said Chennamaneni during the virtual media meet.
“The new workforce will be added over the next six months and they will mostly be in the areas of product and engineering, we will also look to hire more people in the design and data science spaces,” he added.
FUNDING NEWS
Lentra raises $60M in Series B round from Bessemer and others
Cloud lending platform Lentra on Monday raised $60 million in its Series B round led by existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners and SIG Venture Capital, with participation from Citi Ventures.
The company said it will use the funds for products and platform strengthening and also for global expansion, including the US.
"We see a massive opportunity for ourselves in the retail assets and business banking areas worldwide. Ten-fold revenue growth and some of the biggest retail banks as our clients now, act as markers of our solution architecture," said D. Venkatesh, Founder and CEO, Lentra.
Yulu gets $9M from US International Development Finance Corporation
Yulu, shared electric Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) player, has raised $9 million in debt financing led by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), the United States government’s Development Financial Institution (DFI).
DFC proposed the investment in Yulu through its new e-mobility financing team, as a part of the institution's focus on financing clean and zero-emission transportation solutions in India, the firm said in a statement.
The startup will use the fresh capital to strengthen momentum towards enabling green last-mile mobility for people movement and goods deliveries.
FastJobs.io raises undisclosed amount in Pre-Seed round
Job-Tech platform FastJobs.io has raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-seed round from a clutch of super angel investors including Ashish Hemrajani, Founder & CEO, BookMyShow, Parikshit Dar, Co-founder & Director, BookMyShow, Haresh Chawla Founding CEO, Network18 and Partner, TrueNorth, among others.
The round saw participation from over 30 marquee angel investors and startup executives. The firm will use the funds to expand internationally across USA and SEA regions as also build new SaaS products for Intelligent Recruiting.
In less than 8 months since its inception, Fastjobs.io claims to have placed over 500 job-seekers with over 100 companies. Having delivered jobs worth over Rs 30 crore in this short span, Fastjobs.io said it has turned EBITDA positive successfully already. The job-tech platform currently solves hiring for 100+ startups like Khatabook, Scaler Academy, NoBroker, TrulyMadly and leading enterprise SaaS organisations.
Evocus borrows Rs 10 Cr from Red Fort Capital Finance
Red Fort Capital Finance, which focusses on logistics, industrial parks, and the manufacturing sector, has provided Rs 10 crore finance to Evocus, a black alkaline water manufacturer.
The company said it will use the capital to fuel its global expansion plans. The startup is currently present in over 50 cities and is available across offline and online channels. Evocus is to now aiming to expand globally into 10 countries.
“The company has some aggressive expansion plans to go global and we at Red Fort Capital Finance are always looking forward to backing such high-growth companies," said Parry Singh, CEO, Red Fort Capital Finance.
Waycool backs supply management player AllFresh
Agritech player WayCool Foods has invested an undisclosed capital in supply management player AllFresh to create a Keiretsu in the global food supply chain.
Delhi-based AllFresh supplies apples and citrus-based food, with technology in place to keep the perishables' shelf-life intact. WayCool aims to leverage Allfresh’s capabilities, as well as its network of apple and citrus growers, and farmers in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, among other locations, connecting their output to WayCool’s extensive network of over 1,25,000 retail clients.
The investment will help AllFresh further invest in its capabilities in post-harvest tech to enhance quality and extend shelf life. It will also benefit from increased access to WayCool’s deep and dense distribution network in India and the UAE.
OTHER STARTUP NEWS
Accel launches ‘Decoding Marketplaces’ for entrepreneurs
Global venture capital firm, Accel, has launched Decoding Marketplaces, a digital repository of experiences in backing successful marketplaces.
The initiative is designed to help entrepreneurs identify the building blocks of successful marketplaces and gain experience from their peer group, the company said in a statement.
The Decoding Marketplaces Startup Hunt invites early-stage entrepreneurs who have raised less than $2 million in funding to apply for an opportunity to present their ideas to an Accel investment committee for feedback, along with perks like office hours with any Accel partner, access to the launchpad co-working space and 1:1 mentorship from its portfolio founders, the statement added.
The VC firm claims to have worked closely with atleast 200 firms and has powered over 25 marketplaces on their journeys from seed to scale with an investment of nearly $700 million.
Ecommerce player Coutloot joins ONDC
Coutloot, a non-grocery retail aggregator for non-branded products, has joined the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), a government of India initiative to develop open e-commerce.
“In a bid to enhance our customer outreach, we are joining hands with ONDC. Consumers will find us on the ONDC platform from December this year onwards. We will be launching in two phases, first with the sellers and then with the buyers with product categories like fashion, home, beauty, and personal care. The idea is to dramatically step change ecommerce penetration in India,” said Jasmeet Thind, Cofounder, Coutloot.
The partnership is also expected to mutually benefit the stakeholders of the project and strengthen the vision of ONDC of promoting open networks for all aspects of commerce over digital or electronic networks. The move would make sellers on Coutloot available on the ONDC platform through which they will be able to reach a wider audience.
Crypto exchange Giottus to provide Proof of Reserves
Crypto exchange Giottus has announced that it will publish proof of reserves (PoR) to allay any concerns over misuse of customer assets.
After the collapse of FTX and the alleged misuse of customer assets worth $10 billion by CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, several crypto exchanges have announced plans to publish their PoR. 
“It is high time that all exchanges divulged proof of reserves and that this is the best point for regulators to make proof of reserve declaration mandatory as part of compliance filings,” Vikram Subburaj, CEO of Giottus said in a statement.
PoR is an independent audit conducted by a third party on behalf of a crypto exchange. The auditor looks into the assets in the book held by the exchange on behalf of its customers and matches them with the actual reserves. For this, they use a technique called Merkle Tree, a mathematical data structure that encrypts blockchain data securely. 
Venture Catalysts’s 54 startups cross $50M in valuation in 7 years
Incubator and venture capital firm Venture Catalysts, has announced that about 54 of its portfolio startups have crossed $50 million valuation this year.
As per a company statement, despite challenging times that led to a 70 percent decline in funding this year, Venture Catalysts grew substantially, housing more than 33 soonicorns and over 100 minicorns.
The group has a combined portfolio of over 300 startups whose consolidated valuation is pegged at around $10 billion thus making it the country’s largest early to growth stage investing platform. The company also aims to close 100 exits and up-rounds by the calendar year 2022.
“Most of our portfolios have done extremely well in the last two years and we see at least 3-4 turning Unicorns next year,” said Dr Apoorva Ranjan Sharma, Co-founder, Venture Catalysts Group.
CheQ looks hire 100+ employees to expand its technology team
B2C credit management platform CheQ has announced that it is going to hire over 100 employees in the near term and plans to expand its engineering and product teams, as it gears up for the public launch of its flagship product in January 2023.
The firm said it will be aggressively hiring for software engineers, engineering managers, technical leads, product managers, among others.
“We are a diverse team united with a powerful purpose and excitement of building a large consumer brand. Our selection process revolves around the candidate experience. We promise tremendous speed in the hiring process, along with exposure to our leadership, industry competitive compensation and finally a smooth integration into the exciting world of fintech,” said Aditya Soni, Founder and CEO, CheQ.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Binance pledges to create crypto industry recovery fund, calls for regulation
Binance chief executive Changpeng Zhao said the cryptocurrency exchange plans to launch a fund to help crypto projects facing a liquidity crisis as the collapse of rival FTX ricochets through the industry.
The recovery fund will help "reduce further cascading negative effects of FTX," Zhao said in a tweet on Monday, targeting projects that are "otherwise strong, but in a liquidity crisis".
The crypto industry is reckoning with the collapse of rival exchange Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX, which filed for bankruptcy on Friday after users rushed to withdraw $6 billion in crypto tokens in just 72 hours.
Earlier on Monday, Zhao called for new but stable and clear regulations for the industry, in light of recent developments and participants "cutting corners".
"We're in a new industry, we've seen in the past week, things go crazy in the industry," Zhao told a gathering of G20 leaders at a summit in Bali. "We do need some regulations, we do need to do this properly, we do need to do this in a stable way."
Crypto.com says balance sheet strong, exchange not in trouble
Singapore-based crypto exchange Crypto.com's chief executive said the firm will prove all naysayers wrong on the platform being in trouble, and that it has a robust balance sheet and took no risks.
Chief executive Kris Marszalek took questions in a livestreaming YouTube address, and also said the platform always maintained reserves to match every coin customers held on its platform.
"We will just continue with our business as usual and we will prove all the naysayers and there is (sic) many of these right now on Twitter over the last couple of days," Marszalek said.
"We will prove them all wrong with our actions. We will continue operating as we have always operated. We will continue being the safe and secure place where everybody can access crypto."
An audited proof of reserves report will be published within weeks, he said, and that the exchange did not engage in any "irresponsible lending products".
The 'AMA' (ask-me-anything) came after investors took to twitter over the weekend to question a transfer of $400 million worth of ether tokens to another exchange called Gate.io on Oct. 21.
Elon Musk says 'I have too much work on my plate'
Billionaire Elon Musk said he was working "at the absolute most amount...from morning til night, seven days a week" when asked about his recent acquisition of Twitter and his leadership of automaker Tesla.
"I have too much work on my plate that is for sure," Musk said by videolink to a business conference on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali.
When asked about the complexity of industrial supply chains "decoupling" from China and the risks from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Musk returned to how busy he was.
Responding to an observation that many business leaders in Asia wanted to be the "Elon Musk of the East," Musk said: "I'd be careful what you wish for. I'm not sure how many people would actually like to be me. They would like to be what they imagine being me, which is not the same thing as actually being me. The amount that I torture myself is next level, frankly."
German antitrust watchdog widens Amazon probe under new regulation
Germany's antitrust watchdog said it had expanded two probes into US e-commerce giant Amazon making use of new regulation allowing it to prohibit any anti-competitive behaviour at an earlier stage.
"We are examining in both proceedings whether and how Amazon impedes the business opportunities of sellers that are active on the Amazon marketplace and compete with Amazon’s own retail business," Federal Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt said in a statement.
Changes to Germany's antitrust laws for digital corporations, which came into effect last year, give the cartel office more power in identifying and prohibiting some companies' dominant positions.
According to the cartel office, Amazon operates the most important marketplace in e-commerce, giving it a key position in that area that allows it to set the rules for competition on its platform.
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