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Startup Digest: BigBasket, 1MG employees get access to Tata Digital's super app, Ola Cars to hire 10,000 people & Trump launches 'TRUTH' social media platform

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Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

Startup Digest: BigBasket, 1MG employees get access to Tata Digital's super app, Ola Cars to hire 10,000 people & Trump launches 'TRUTH' social media platform
Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
BigBasket, 1MG employees get access to Tata Digital's new super app
As the Tata Group begins the rollout of Tata Digital's new super app TataNeu among employees, the app is now also accessible to employees of BigBasket and 1MG, companies that were acquired by the group earlier this year, sources told CNBC-TV18.
The app is being rolled out to employees from earlier this month and Tata Group plans to roll it out to all five lakh employees in India in the next 2-3 weeks.
TataNeu has onboarded BigBasket, 1MG, Curefit, Croma, Taj Hotels, and is also in the process of onboarding other Tata Group brands onto the platform.
"This is a soft launch of the TataNeu super app to test it among employees first," a source said.
Reports suggest that the official launch of the super app has been delayed due to the impending e-commerce rules, the draft of which had proposed that e-commerce platforms cannot sell their own group brands and labels on the platform.
Tata Digital has been on an acquisition spree to boost its super app, having paid over $1 billion to acquire a majority stake in both BigBasket and 1MG. Tata DIgital also invested in Curefit for a minority stake and brought on Curefit cofounder Mukesh Bansal as president.
Ola Cars eye $2Bn in GMV, to hire 10,000 people
Mobility giant Ola plans to hire 10,000 new people, as it eyes a market leadership position with $2 Billion Gross Merchandise Value for its vehicle commerce platform Ola Cars over the next 12 months.
Ola Cars has already sold 5,000 pre-owned cars in its first full month of operation, the company said in a statement. Ola has already commenced pre-owned vehicle sales in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad and will also expand to Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kolkata and Indore by end of this week, it added.
Over the next two months, Ola Cars will be operational in 30 cities and expand to 100 cities by next year. Ola Cars offers innovations such as doorstep test drive, 7 days no questions asked return of a purchased vehicle.
As part of Ola Cars, Ola is also setting up service centres across the country paired with advanced telematics, AI and Vision based systems that ensure high quality repair work and advanced robotic paint shops will provide paint work that will match OEM factory finish, as well as the promise of genuine auto parts.
The company said it will open this platform for new vehicles from other automotive brands as well, providing them a seamless, trusted platform with unprecedented reach and understanding of consumers and their mobility needs.
Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal joins Unacademy’s board of directors
Food delivery giant Zomato’s CEO and co-founder, Deepinder Goyal has joined the board of directors of edtech platform Unacademy.
Goyal invested in the edtech unicorn’s Series H funding which was announced in August. OYO boss Ritesh Agarwal had also participated in the round. Unacademy had raised $440 million led by sovereign wealth fund Temasek for a valuation of $ 3.4 billion.
“I am thrilled to join the Unacademy board. I think it’s one of the best product companies being made in India, and I am looking forward to learning from Gaurav and the team,” said Deepinder Goyal, Founder & CEO, Zomato.
Gaurav Munjal, Co-Founder & CEO, Unacademy Group said that Goyal has been an advisor for several years and it was only a matter of time before that association transformed into a formal partnership.
“His experience with building and scaling a successful consumer technology company will help us tremendously as we build the country’s largest learning platform,” Munjal added.
The development comes months after Goyal joined the board of Magicpin as an independent director.
Cars24 converts into a public entity; MS Dhoni exits partially: Report
SoftBank-backed Cars24 has converted into a public company. According to an Entrackr report, Global Car Group Pte. Ltd has been converted to Global Car Group Limited.
This is the second Indian company registered in Singapore that has converted into a public company recently. A month ago, Pine Labs had changed its status from private to public.
Several shareholders in Cars24 have offloaded their holdings partially in a secondary share sale transaction. Moore Strategic venture has picked up shares worth $1 million from Asia Venture Group and $275,000 from the company’s brand ambassador Mahendra Singh Dhoni, separate regulatory filings show. Dhoni also sold $50,000 worth shares to Ankur Shah, the report added.
Cars24 is mulling an initial public offering (IPO) in the next 18-24 months.
Scaler Academy acquires Coding Minutes for $1M
Edtech upskilling platform Scaler Academy has acquired online learning platform Coding Minutes for $1 million in an all-cash deal.
This is the second acquisition for the edtech startup. In August, Scaler had acquired Coding Elements to accelerate business growth, leading to the launch of their Data Science & Machine Learning vertical.
With the acquisition of Coding Minutes, Scaler will focus on building specialised content that effectively engages beginner-level tech aspirant, the company said in a statement. To date, the edtech brand has focused on upskilling existing tech talent. This acquisition allows Scaler to tailor content towards students and professionals who want to enter the tech industry and have no background in coding or programming.
Coding Minutes will become a part of Scaler and will continue to bring pocket-friendly specialised courses for beginners as part of the acquisition, the firm added.
Coding Minutes claims to have 50,000 plus beginner coders and amassed 6 million minutes of watch time across their courses. The e-learning platform is projected to hit an ARR of ₹1 crore in the current financial year.
Stripe marks its first India acquisition with Recko
Global fintech giant Stripe has acquired enterprise financial software firm, Recko for an undisclosed amount. This marks Stripe’s first acquisition in India.
The San Francisco-based said in a blogpost that the acquisition of Recko will help the company include payment reconciliation within its infrastructure. Recko's team will join Stripe's remote engineering hub, helping to build and scale Stripe's products globally. This acquisition comes amid Stripe's increased investment in India, including updated data locality architecture and rapid local hiring, the company said in a statement.
"Payments reconciliation shouldn't be a mild headache that balloons into a migraine as a company grows-it should be an easy, highly automated process," Will Gaybrick, Stripe's Chief Product Officer said.
The latest acquisition by Stripe will help it expand beyond the payments acceptance, thereby bringing millions of users another tool to manage and grow their revenue alongside the company's other products like Stripe Revenue Recognition, Stripe Billing, Stripe Invoicing, etc.
Founded in 2017, Recko has recently started working with various banks, NBFCs, and insurance companies and is currently running successful pilots with them. Earlier this year, the platform raised $6 million in Series A funding.
LetsVenture launches ‘LV Fuel’- a founders' syndicate to invest in new startups
Online investment platform LetsVenture has launched LV Fuel, an investment syndicate comprising of founders from the early-stage investment platform's portfolio companies to bet on new entrepreneurs.
LV Fuel will enable LetsVenture founders to give back to the ecosystem via capital, experience and skills and empower new founders from idea to scale up stages, said LetsVenture in a statement.
The syndicate currently has a cohort of over 40 founders, and it aims to have more than 200 founder investors in the next two years, it added.
As per the firm, founders part of LV Fuel will invest $30,000-$2 million in startup across sectors and stages. It aims to invest in at least 20 startups initially and will look to allocate at least 20% of the investments towards women entrepreneurs and founders from smaller towns and cities.
LetsVenture has a portfolio of over 350 companies including fintech firm Khatabook, social commerce platform Trell, and edtech startup Classplus.
WareIQ launches Shipment Tracking Platform for D2C brands
Y-Combinator backed e-commerce fulfillment and shipping company WareIQ has launched a ‘Shipment Tracking Platform’ for D2C brands.
This feature aims to assist clients in providing the best post-purchase experience to their customers. The branded tracking page feature will help brands create their own unique customized tracking links and convert them into a profitable marketing channel, the company said in a statement. Shipment Tracking Platform aims at creating cross-sell/up-sell opportunities, driving repeat, and educating customers, it added.
“With our branded tracking pages, we have witnessed brands experiencing a ROI ranging between 10-20X,” said Harsh Vaidya, Founder and CEO of WareIQ.
WareIQ lets brands start as small as a single rack or a pallet with no minimum-security deposits, and utilise their pan-India network of warehouses in a plug-and-play manner. The startup works with new-age D2C brands like Kama Ayurveda, Lotus Herbals, Setu.in, Just Herbs and others.
Twitter announces first community in India for cricket fans; launches live scorecard for cricket
Twitter has introduced its Communities feature to India with the launch of a Cricket-focused community called Cricket Twitter-India that will enable users to talk all things cricket in multiple Indian languages.
The micro-blogging site is also introducing live cricket scorecards that will provide users the latest updates on its platform. This is Twitter's first non-US community after the social media firm launched the product in September 2021.
The feature is now live on the web and the iOS and Android apps. It currently has 25 members in total and interested users can follow this link to join the group.
Jacada becomes part of Uniphore Technologies as acquisition closes
Conversational AI startup Uniphore has completed the acquisition of Israeli contact centre automation provider Jacada.
With the transaction closing, the Jacada team and products has become a part of Uniphore and will look to deliver industry-leading products and services for global customers. Uniphore’s advanced conversational AI for sentiment, intent and emotion analysis, together with Jacada’s workflow and desktop automation empower agents with the most comprehensive agent-assist solution, U-Assist, the company said in a statement.
Uniphore’s U-Self Serve, a conversational self-service solution is enhanced with the addition of Jacada’s multimodal and visual IVR (Interactive Voice Response) capabilities. With the successful close of the Jacada acquisition, Uniphore said it will continue to expand globally including enhancing its centers.
“The power of the two platforms coming together, along with our future innovations in the conversational automation space will truly transform the customer experience in a range of industries, from sales and marketing, to education, HR, healthcare and beyond,” said Umesh Sachdev, CEO and Co-founder of Uniphore.
KPIT and ZF to build automotive middleware solution
KPIT Technologies, an independent software development and integration partner to the automotive and mobility industry and ZF Group, a technology company supplying systems for passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial technology have announced that they will cooperate for joint development for an industry leading middleware solution for the mobility ecosystem.
The automotive middleware currently being built by ZF and KPIT addresses the lack of availability of an integrated middleware solution that enables mobility OEMs to manage this increase in software complexity while retaining full control of architecture, the company said in a statement.
KPIT will supply the software, relying on existing assets, tools, accelerators and other core infrastructure. The company will draw on its experience in architecture consulting and software integration, and its strengths in cloud-based connected services.
Meanwhile, the two companies will leverage ZF’s understanding and specialist knowledge of vehicle systems. Other technology firms will be brought on board during the project, including semiconductor specialists, software companies, cloud services and startups.
AiStream and Delinet partners to address the needs of people in underserved broadband markets
UK-based AiStream and Delinet have entered into a strategic partnership to support unconnected and under-served digital markets.
The AiStream content experience and payments hub plug-and-play hotspot is bundled with Delinet's IP-TV to deliver a value added service based on wi-fi enabled appliances at the last mile, the company said in a statement. This partnership will enable deployment of education, health and other citizen centric services-at-scale for service providers without the requirement of a fixed or mobile network infrastructure.
To expand into underserved markets, Delinet and AiStream are planning to initially deploy its edge appliances at 100 challenging locations in the coming quarter, with a major roll out planned over the next 12 months, the firm added.
“The company is working to reach 300 million users in India and other developing countries by 2025." COO and Co-founder of AiStream Peter Abbott said.
Indian short video-app market clocks 3x growth in ad revenue in 6 months: RedSeer Report
After the ban on TikTok and other Chinese short-video making apps, the advertisement revenue from Indian short-form space has been growing at a rapid pace and tripled in the last six months, new data showed.
According to the latest report released by homegrown consulting firm RedSeer Consulting, short-form content has grown 1.37 times in terms of monthly active users (MAU) and 1.1 times in terms of daily active users (DAU) from June 2020 when Chinese app TikTok was banned in India.
While global social media dominates in the top 50 cities, Indian social media platforms and short-form video platforms garner a major chunk of the share. While the growth in overall time spent in social media has been organic at 8 percent, non-social media (short-form video) time has grown at 57 percent, indicating a shift from social media consumption to short-form video, the findings showed.
The monthly active users of the short-form segment in the country are expected to grow more than two times to reach 650 million users by 2025, clocking the second spot after television. This significant growth is largely expected to be driven by the new 300 million Internet users that will be added by 2025.
While traffic has increased, content creation velocity has grown 4.4 times in the last two quarters due to improvement in filter tools leading to users becoming creators at a higher pace.
Both Josh and Moj apps have seen a good jump in user and creator net promoter score (NPS) largely driven by users seeing more personalisation, fresher and more filtered content, and creators having access to new tools, increased reach and more collaboration opportunities.
Low participation among rural women entrepreneurs in e-commerce, but they show willingness to adopt: LEAD Report
The e-commerce market in India is estimated to grow to $200 billion by 2026 primarily driven by rapid internet penetration. In India, on an average, only 42.6 percent of women have ever used the Internet as against an average of 62.16 percent among men, the rural gender divide being even larger, as per a report by LEAD, a research center of IFMR Society.
As per the study, the digitalisation of entrepreneurship will support rural women to take up independent entrepreneurship opportunities and overcome gender-based barriers related to mobility, access to financial services, opportunities for sales and managing financial payment services.
The study also highlighted that women entrepreneurs successfully leverage social-media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram in a few different spaces in India.
As per the report, rural women entrepreneurs are more familiar with digital application platforms such as Google Pay and use this regularly only for receiving money, while many do not use mobile banking.
Findings suggest that there is some awareness among entrepreneurs about the avenues for selling products online, but lack of awareness about onboarding procedures and modalities acts as a barrier. A concern for them is regarding the affordability factor while selling through e-commerce platforms, as per the report.
Factors like the availability and accessibility to adequate digital infrastructure (fast, technology and platform, access to information and Communications Technology (ICT), training for functional, technical and technological literacy, social support play an important role in facilitating the success of digital integration in rural Women Entrepreneurs.
Electronics top searched categories on the internet: Sciative Report
Electronics is one the top searched and compared categories on the internet, and has emerged as the leading e-commerce category recently, with the highest GMV share of total e-commerce sales, as per a report by deep-tech enterprise Sciative.
About 35 percent of internet users looking for a laptop, searched for a piece by a specific brand, instead of putting in a generic query. HP topped the charts, being the most searched brand in both Mumbai and Delhi, and with the highest number of searches at an all-India level. The second spot went to Lenovo in the two major metros, and to Dell at the pan-India level.
In the air-conditioner space, Mumbai resident looked more for 1-ton ACs, while searches in Delhi and the rest of India were focused on 1.5-ton ACs. In terms of televisions, brand preference is consistent across India, with Samsung, LG, and Sony ranking higher in online searches.
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Former US president Donald Trump launches 'TRUTH' social media platform
Former US President Donald Trump will launch his own social media app, TRUTH Social, that he said would "stand up to Big Tech" companies such as Twitter and Facebook that have barred him from their platforms.
TRUTH Social will be created through a new company formed by a merger of the Trump Media and Technology Group and a special acquisition company (SPAC), according to Reuters.
“We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American President has been silenced. This is unacceptable," Trump said.
The social network, set for a beta launch next month and full rollout in the first quarter of 2022, is the first of three stages in the company's plans, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts.
In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon's AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.
Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms banned Trump from their services after hundreds of his supporters rioted at the US Capitol on January 6.
PayPal in talks to but Pinterest for $45Bn
PayPal Holdings has offered to buy digital pinboard site Pinterest for $45 billion, a combination that could herald more financial technology and social media tie-ups in e-ecommerce.
Acquiring Pinterest would allow PayPal to capture more of that e-commerce growth and diversify its income though advertising revenue.
PayPal has offered $70 per share, mostly in stock, for Pinterest, sources told Reuters. The online payments provider hopes to successfully negotiate and announce a deal by the time it reports quarterly earnings on November 8.
It would be the biggest acquisition of a social media company, surpassing Microsoft’s $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn in 2016, according to Reuters.
The deal talks come as internet shoppers increasingly buy items they see on social media, often following "influencers" on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
Palestinians urge PayPal to offer services in West Bank and Gaza
Palestinian activists have accused PayPal Holdings of discrimination for not allowing Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip to link their bank accounts to its digital payment platform, Reuters reported.
Local entrepreneurs said they have lost opportunities after foreign clients learned they could not use PayPal to receive money transfers, a service the payments giant offers to Israeli bank account holders, including settlers in the West Bank.
While Palestinians can use other means to receive money from abroad - Apple Pay is available locally, and Palestinian banks are part of SWIFT, the global system for cross-border payments - PayPal is the world's leader in e-commerce payment processing, according to the 7amleh group.
"Without the international brand recognition and versatility of PayPal, Palestinians are still lacking the necessary access to financial markets to improve their economic situation," it said in a report.
Changing Facebook's name will not deter lawmaker or regulatory scrutiny, experts say
Renaming Facebook is unlikely to enable the tech giant to distance itself from regulatory and public scrutiny around the potential harms caused by its social media apps, marketing and branding experts told Reuters.
Tech publication The Verge reported on Tuesday that Facebook is planning to change its corporate branding to reflect that as well as owning the social media platform that made it a global household name, it also now includes other thriving businesses like Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus.
Facebook is battling intense scrutiny after a whistleblower leaked thousands of internal documents that showed it contributed to increased polarization online when it made changes to its content algorithm, failed to take steps to reduce vaccine hesitancy, and was aware that popular social media app Instagram harmed the mental health of teenage girls.
The US Senate held a hearing earlier this month into the effect of Instagram on young users.
Renaming can be an effective strategy to allow subsidiary brands to maintain their own reputations, said Marisa Mulvihill, head of brand and activation at Prophet, a branding and marketing consultancy. But the media and regulators "are not going to stop investigating or creating reforms just because you rebranded," she added.
The new parent company name could reflect Facebook's focus on building the 'metaverse,' The Verge reported, referring to a proposed digital world where people can use different devices to move and communicate in a virtual environment.
Facebook signs copyright agreement with some French publishers
Facebook has signed a preliminary copyright agreement with a French news publishers' lobby group, paving the way for it to pay for news content on its platforms in France.
As per Reuters, the accord takes the form of a "term sheet" of a few pages, a source close to the matter said, and follows months of talks with Alliance de la presse d'information generale (APIG), a lobby representing leading dailies such as Le Monde, Le Figaro and Les Echos.
The preliminary deal lists the main principles of the accord and the copyright fees due to each of its members. The "term sheet" will soon be followed by a framework agreement that will allow APIG's members to sign individual licences with Facebook.
Facebook News will be launched in France in 2022, the company said.
US consumer watchdog to query tech giants over financial data: Report
The US consumer watchdog is expected this week to query tech giants including Facebook, Amazon and Google on how they handle consumer financial data as part of a broader effort to boost consumer protections and financial sector competition, sources told Reuters.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) plans to send the companies a 55-page request for information about how they collect, use and market consumer financial data.
"The regulator's questions will pay special attention to what it is firms are collecting, how they're collecting it and what they're using it for," said one of the sources.
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