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STARTUP DIGEST: Blackstone buys Simplilearn, Lenskart raises $220 mn, Zoom buys Five9 for $15 bn

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There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Monday. Here are today’s stories that made headlines in the startup universe.

STARTUP DIGEST: Blackstone buys Simplilearn, Lenskart raises $220 mn, Zoom buys Five9 for $15 bn
There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Monday. Here are today’s stories that made headlines in the startup universe.
Blackstone acquires controlling stake in Simplilearn for $250 million
Global private equity giant Blackstone has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a controlling stake in online digital skilling platform Simplilearn.
Blackstone is investing $250 million in primary and secondary funding, which, as per sources, will value Simplilearn at $400 million. This is Blackstone's first private equity investment in Asia in a consumer technology space, the company said.
According to Simplilearn, this investment will enable them to develop partnerships with businesses and universities as the company continues to expand around the world.
The company said it has been profitable for the fourth year in a row, and the platform offers over 100 programs for early to mid-career professionals in digital skills across Cloud, DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, Digital Marketing, Cyber Security and many more.
Lenskart completes $220 mn funding from Temasek, Falcon Edge Capital, others
Lenskart, an omni-channel eyewear retailer has completed a $220 million transaction, led by Temasek and Falcon Edge Capital. The current round also saw participation from Bay Capital and Chiratae.
This round of funding comes a month after it raised $95 million from global investment fund KKR, taking the total transaction size to $315 million, it added.
With this latest funding, Lenskart said it is aiming to grow exponentially in the coming three-four years, expanding its presence in India as well as scaling its growing operations in Southeast Asia and Middle East.
The company is looking to leverage the deep expertise and network of Temasek and Falcon Edge in these respective geographies, it added. The market opportunity for Lenskart in these target geographies is expected to be over $15 billion by 2025, the company noted.
GlobalBees Raises $150 million
Thrasio-style startup GlobalBees has raised a record $150 mn in Series A funding led by FirstCry, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners. The round is $75 million in equity and $75 million in debt.
Vikas Agnihotri, Harsha Kumar, Atul Gupta, Sudhir Sethi and Kshitij Sheth have joined GlobalBees’s board of directors.
Spinny raises $108 mn in funding led by Tiger Global, Avenir Growth
Spinny, an online platform for selling used cars, has raised $108 million in a funding round led by Tiger Global and New York-based Avenir Growth.
The latest round includes a primary capital infusion of $105 million and a secondary sale of $3 million by select angels and early-stage investors, the company said. Tiger Global and Avenir Growth invested $75 million and $20 million, respectively, in the round, it added.
The fresh capital infusion in Spinny comes close on the heels of $65 million funds injected in the company in the Series C round in April this year. As per the company, the overall funds raised by Spinny till date stands at $230 million.
The fresh capital will be utilised in deepening market penetration in existing markets, expanding geographic footprint, scaling up manpower and strengthening technology and product capabilities, among others, Spinny said.
Captain Fresh raises $12 million in Series A
Captain Fresh, the B2B tech marketplace for seafood, has raised $12 million in a Series A round led by Accel Partners and existing investor Matrix Partners India. Ankur Capital and Incubate Fund also participated in the round.
The funding round also saw participation from angel investors, including Jitendra Gupta (Jupiter), Asish Mohapatra and Ruchi Kalra (OfBusiness), Souvik Sengupta (Infra.Market), Rajesh Yabaji (BlackBuck), Revant Bhate (Mosaic Wellness), Ramakanth Sharma (Livspace), and Amrish Rau (PayU).
This is the third funding raised by Captain Fresh in eight months, and the startup will use the capital to continue making deeper investments on the supply-side tech, expand distribution globally, and invest in its team, the company said.
Light Microfinance raises $10 million
Micro lender Light Microfinance has secured $10 million in series-A funding from European impact investors Incofin (Belgian), Nordic Microfinance Initiative (Norwegian) and Triple Jump B V (Dutch).
The three funds follow an investment strategy aimed at creating social or environmental impacts in addition to financial gains, the company said.
Light Microfinance's Chief Executive Officer Rakesh Kumar said the investment will boost the lender's expansion plans in Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The investment will strengthen the lender's balance sheet and will enable further expansion of loan book to over Rs 1,000 crore, the company said.
Healthtech startup Eka.Care raises $4.5 million
Healthcare startup Eka.Care has raised seed funding of $4.5 million from a clutch of leading angel and early-stage investors.
These include Deep Kalra (Founder, MakeMyTrip), Ashish Kashyap (Founder, INDMoney), Rajesh Magow (Co-founder, MakeMyTrip), Kunal Shah (Founder, Cred), Abhishek Begerhotta (Founder, 314e Corporation), Sujeet Kumar (Co-founder, Udaan), Gaurav Munjal (Co-founder, Unacademy), Shashank Kumar (Co-founder, Razorpay), Phanindra Sama (Founder, redBus), Prakash Sangam (CEO, redBus), Anshuman Bapna (Founder, Terra.do), Abhishek Goyal (CEO, Tracxn), Aakrit Vaish (CEO, Haptik), among others.
The round also witnessed participation from early-stage venture capital firms – 3one4Capital, Eximius Ventures, and Speciale Invest.
The company will use the fresh funds for hiring, product development, marketing and assisting doctors in setting up their digital clinic.
Uvi Health raises $330K in pre-seed round
Digital health startup for women,Uvi Health has raised $330K in a pre-seed round of funding led by Titan Capital and other marquee groups of investors.
The funding round saw participation from 9Unicorns, AngelList, and a clutch of angels, including Ghazal Alagh (Co-Founder of Mamaearth), Aarti Gill, and Mihir Gadani (Founders of Oziva).
The company said it will utilise the funding to build a mobile platform and further scale up its PCOS program.
Edvizo raises $1 mn in pre-Series A round
Edtech startup Edvizo has raised $1 million in pre-Series A round led by Inflection Point Ventures.
According to the company, the funds will be used for enhancing the technology stack, acquire more users, strengthening the tech and sales team, and expand to more cities.
“The current fundraise comes at a crucial point in our journey as we are seeing significant traction - both on the students and courses providers' side. The funds raised will help us grow our capabilities both from a tech and business perspective and also enable us to scale exponentially. We are fortunate to have such ambitious, visionary investors on board with us,” said Ravi Nishant, Founder and CEO, Edvizo.
LetsVenture closes H1 2021 with 97 investments
Investment platform LetsVenture has announced that it has closed 97 startup investments in H1 of 2021.
The network has also closed 61 startup investments in Q2 (April-June) as compared to 40 investments in Q1 (January - March) 2021 the company added. 15 percent investments in Q2 were co-invested alongside VC firms - India Quotient, General Catalyst, Jungle Ventures, Mayfield India.
LetsVenture claims it has completed 105 transactions in 2020, witnessed a 100 percent growth YoY from 2019. It has also on-boarded 647 new investors in Q2.
In addition to this, LetsVenture also completed the first cohort of the Women Investor Network with 34 angels. The company also announced its co-investments partnership with 100X.VC and Brigade REAP.
Razorpay acquires digital lending platform TERA Finlabs
Financial solutions company Razorpay has acquired AI-based risk tech SaaS platform TERA Finlabs for an undisclosed sum.
TERA Finlabs is an Indian subsidiary of GAIN Credit, a leading UK digital lender which was launched in 2018 to expand their global footprint in digital lending. This marks the company's third acquisition after foraying into the B2B SME lending space with the launch of Razorpay Capital in 2019.
Razorpay Capital, along with TERA Finlab's technology capabilities, will be able to service the credit needs of over 10,000 businesses in India by the next year, the company said.
EaseMyTrip offers full refund medical policy for domestic air travel
EaseMyTrip has launched a full refund policy to allow customers to claim refund of the entire amount in case medical emergencies force domestic air ticket cancellations.
Under the policy, the online travel agency will return to customers the entire amount, including the deductions made by airlines at no extra cost, the company said in a statement.
With rising uncertainties amid the pandemic, this refund policy offers confidence to travelers as it eliminates the risk of losing money in case of a booking cancellation due to a medical emergency, the company said.
The policy is also aimed to revive the airline, travel and tourism industry which has faced severe disruptions since the onset of the pandemic.
BharatPe offers BMW bikes, gadget package to ramp up hiring; aims to grow its tech team by 3x in Fy22
In a bid to aggressively expand its 'Tech Team' by almost three times by FY22, fintech startup BharatPe is offering several joining and referral perks to techies who would apply.
The perks on offer include a bike package and a gadget package. The former has BMW G310R, Jawa Parek, KTM Duke 390, KTM RC 390 and Royal Enfield Himalayan to choose from, while the gadgets package is offering Apple iPad Pro (with Pencil), Bose Headphone, Harman Kardon Speaker, Samsung Galaxy Watch, WFH desk and chair and Firefox Typhoon 27.5 D bicycle to the employees.
There are also plans to take the entire tech team to Dubai for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in October-November this year.
Ashneer Grover, Co-Founder and CEO of BharatPe said that the company wants to take the lead in tech talent compensation in India. "That’s the only real investment our business needs given the capital efficiency of our model," said Grover.
Last week, BharatPe said that it is planning to scale up its point of sale (POS) business by three times. It set a target of $6 billion in annualised transaction processed value (TPV) by the end of 2021-22.
Zomato co-founder Deepinder Goyal joins Magicpin board
IPO-bound Zomato’s co-founder Deepinder Goyal, Zomato has joined the board of Magicpin as an independent director.
"I am delighted to join the Magicpin board. They are a high-quality team and I am excited about how they are being a driver of growth for local merchants across categories," Goyal said on his appointment.
Magicpin connects hyperlocal merchants and brands with consumers and is backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Waterbridge and Samsung Electronic
Flipkart says probe shouldn't treat it the same as Amazon
Flipkart should not be treated the same as rival Amazon in the antitrust probe by CCI as the evidence against the two firms was "qualitatively different", the ecommerce company argued in a court filing as per Reuters.
In final submissions made to Karnataka High Court, the Walmart unit argued that CCI and the court "confuse the facts" between the case of Amazon and Flipkart, and overlooked that they were "fierce competitors".
To back its arguments, it said that a business agreement examined by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) before ordering its probe was only between Amazon and its sellers, and there was no such evidence against the Walmart unit.
"The allegations and the evidence before the CCI against the Appellant were qualitatively different from those relating to Amazon ... The CCI should have independently examined the case against each of the two platforms," Flipkart said in its 46-page submission, which was not public.
Both Amazon and Flipkart have challenged the CCI in court as they seek revocation of the court's June decision to allow an antitrust probe against them to continue. The companies deny any wrongdoing.
The Central government has called the US firms arrogant and accused them of using legal routes to stall the investigation.
The Karnataka High court is likely to pass a written order on the appeals in the coming days.
Govts need to take steps to hold NSO Group accountable: WhatsApp CEO
WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart has called on governments and companies to take steps to hold the Israeli technology firm accountable following revelation that NSO Group’s ‘Pegasus’ software may have been used to snoop on journalists, politicians and activists worldwide.
“This is a wakeup call for security on the internet. The mobile phone is the primary computer for billions of people. Governments and companies must do everything they can to make it as secure as possible. Our security and freedom depend on it,” Cathcart said in a tweet.
He added that there is a need for more companies, and, critically, governments, to take steps to hold NSO Group accountable. “Once again, we urge a global moratorium on the use of unaccountable surveillance technology now. It’s past time,” he said.
WhatsApp had in 2019 sued the NSO Group, accusing it of using its messaging service to conduct cyberespionage on roughly 1,400 user accounts, including of journalists and human rights activists.
The NSO, however, has said that it sells its technologies solely to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of vetted governments for the sole purpose of saving lives through preventing crime and terror acts.
WhatsApp encrypted cloud backups being tested for Android
Instant messaging platform WhatsApp is testing the technology to independently encrypt chat backups in the cloud.
The Facebook-owned service revealed that the system has been enabled in its most recent Android beta update.
According to WABetaInfo, opting in for the beta build should keep chat history and media securely backed up, with the significant caveat that if a user forgets their passcode or loses the 64-digit recovery key, then they'll be locked away permanently because even WhatsApp can't get in then. Those who are ok with being on their own in that aspect, can get in the beta test group or wait for this to be available to everyone.
WhatsApp is also reportedly testing a version that works across multiple devices, maintaining end-to-end encryption whether or not you have a phone involved.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Zoom to buy cloud-based call center operator Five9 in $15 bn deal
Zoom has announced a $14.7 billion all-stock deal to buy cloud-based call center operator Five9 in its largest-ever acquisition, as per Reuters.
The acquisition is expected to help enhance Zoom’s presence with enterprise customers and allow it to accelerate its long-term growth opportunity by adding the $24-billion contact center market, the company said.
The acquisition will complement Zoom Phone service, an alternative to legacy phone offerings, by adding Five9's business customers and combining its contact centre software to optimize customer interactions across channels, it added.
Five9 will become an operating unit of Zoom and its chief executive, Rowan Trollope, will become the president of the company, staying on as chief of the unit after the deal, which is expected to close in the first half of 2022.
The company’s focus shifted to its two-year-old cloud-calling product Zoom Phone and conference-hosting product Zoom Rooms as bigger players Facebook and Google amp up their video products.
Tencent to buy British video game company Sumo in $1.3 billion deal
Chinese tech giant Tencent will buy video game company Sumo Group in a deal that values the British firm at $1.3 billion.
According to Reuters, the purchase will boost Tencent’s presence globally and will bring together Sumo's racing and snooker games with Tencent's more high-profile range of games that includes Call of Duty's mobile version.
The deal comes days after China's market regulator decided to block Tencent's plans to merge videogame streaming sites, Huya and DouYu, on antitrust grounds.
Robinhood seeks up to $35 bn valuation in mega US IPO
Robinhood Markets is targeting a valuation of up to $35 billion in its initial public offering in the United States, Reuters reported.
The listing plans come just months after the online brokerage found itself at the center of a confrontation between a new generation of retail investors and Wall Street hedge funds in late January.
Robinhood was aiming for an IPO valuation of up to $40 billion, Reuters had previously reported.
Nearly 55 million shares are being offered in the IPO to raise over $2.3 billion. Nearly 2.63 million of those shares are being offered by the company's founders and chief financial officer, the filing showed. Proceeds from those will not go to Robinhood.
Facebook says it should not be blamed for US failing to meet vaccine goals
Facebook has defended itself against US President Joe Biden's assertion that the social media platform is "killing people" by allowing misinformation about coronavirus vaccines to proliferate, saying the facts tell a different story.
"The data shows that 85 percent of Facebook users in the US have been or want to be vaccinated against COVID-19," Facebook said in a corporate blog post by Guy Rosen, a company vice president.
"President Biden’s goal was for 70 percent of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4. Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed," he added.
The company has introduced rules against making specific false claims about COVID-19 and vaccines for it, and says it provides people with reliable information on these topics.
Binance stops selling 'stock tokens' after regulatory scrutiny
Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance has said that users can no longer buy digital tokens linked to stocks, a day after Italian regulators joined a string of financial watchdogs to crackdown on the platform "Effective immediately, stock tokens are unavailable for purchase on Binance.com," the exchange said on its website, adding that it would cease all support in October.
The move comes after growing scrutiny of the exchange by regulators from the United States to Europe and Asia.
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