homestartup NewsSTARTUP DIGEST: Byju’s in talks for US SPAC listing, Rebel Food’s $150 mn investment in India and abroad, Purplle acquires Faces Canada & Musk is Time Person of the Year

STARTUP DIGEST: Byju’s in talks for US SPAC listing, Rebel Food’s $150 mn investment in India and abroad, Purplle acquires Faces Canada & Musk is Time Person of the Year

STARTUP DIGEST: Byju’s in talks for US SPAC listing, Rebel Food’s $150 mn investment in India and abroad, Purplle acquires Faces Canada & Musk is Time Person of the Year
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By Aishwarya Anand  Dec 18, 2021 2:46:56 PM IST (Published)

Startup Digest brings you news from all the movers and shakers in this space.

Here a wrap of the top headlines from the startup universe this week.Byju

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Byju's gets offer for US SPAC listing at $48 bn valuation
Edtech major Byju's has received an offer for a SPAC listing in the United States that could value the company at $48 billion, sources told CNBC-TV18. SPAC refers to a special purpose acquisition company that raises capital from an IPO only to acquire private companies to take them public.
Byju's has received a term sheet from Churchill Capital, an SPAC set up by former Citi executive Michael Klein, sources said. Byju's will raise between $4-5 billion through the SPAC. Bloomberg first reported the development.
The company has not finalised on the offer from Churchill Capital yet, and is also currently in talks with two other SPAC entities for a listing in the US. The edtech company wants to list in 2022 and is looking to complete the listing process in the 8-12 months.
Sources also added that Byju's could also consider an India listing.
Edtech unicorn UpGrad aims to list in the next 24 months: Report
Edtech unicorn UpGrad is looking at an initial public offering (IPO) over the next 18-24 months, according to an ET report.
The company has no immediate plans to raise capital even as it is seeing inbound interest from funds, Ronnie Screwvala, chairman and cofounder of UpGrad, told ET. However, sources said the company was stitching up a larger round of $300-$350 million, likely valuing the firm at around $3-$3.5 billion.
The company is currently clocking an annualised revenue run rate of $250 million and that is expected to reach $500 million by FY23, which is when it will look to list, the report added.
Rebel Foods to spend $150M to buy and scale new food brands in India & Abroad
Rebel Foods, which runs a chain of internet restaurants, has said that it plans to invest $150 million (nearly Rs 1,140 crore) to acquire and scale new food brands in India and globally.
The investment pool will be used in the next few quarters, to scale up existing and new partnerships with over 40 Indian and international brands, the company said in a statement.
The foodtech unicorn which operates over 450 kitchens globally around 70 cities in over 10 countries, said it plans to further grow its presence to 100 cities around the world.
Mamaearth’s parent company to offer ESOPs worth Rs 20 crore
D2C player Mamaearth’s parent company Honasa Consumer has distributed stocks worth Rs 20 crore, in addition to the ESOPs previously allocated.  This option will be a top-up component over and beyond the employee CTC.
This initiative will include all the current employees, irrespective of their role, seniority and tenure. The personal care brand said it will provide stock appreciation rights to all the future employees as well.
The Sequoia-backed D2C startup has so far raised $73.3 million and had recorded a revenue run rate of over Rs 500 crore.
Urban Company valued at $2.8 bn after ESOP sale
Home services marketplace Urban Company has recorded a 33 percent jump in firm valuation to $2.8 billion in the employee stock sale programme concluded recently.
The company raised Series F funding of $255 million in June, led by Prosus Ventures, Dragoneer and Wellington Management, with participation from Vy Capital, Tiger Global and Steadview, at a valuation of $2.1 billion.
Urban Company shared that it has concluded the sale of ESOPs (employee stock ownership plan), worth $7.3 million (Rs 54.6 crore) that were allocated to 770 employees comprising shares of around 390 former employees.  The ESOPs sold in this transaction have largely been purchased by existing institutional investors of the company.
Supreme Court agrees to hear gig workers’ plea; issues notice to Zomato, Swiggy, Ola, Uber
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a plea by gig workers challenging "violation of fundamental right to social security" by aggregator applications such as Zomato, Swiggy, Ola, and Uber.
A bench comprising Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice BR Gavai issued notice to Zomato, Swiggy, Ola and Uber, seeking their reply on the plea filed by the "Indian Federation Of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT)".
The plea by IFAT claims an employer-employee relationship between workers and platforms. "Big platforms refer to them as independent contractors," it said. The plea highlights that Uber drivers in the UK and the US have been held to be workers while the company is called an employer.
The trade union of gig workers had moved SC alleging violation of fundamental right to social security by Ola, Uber, Zomato, and Swiggy, and also accused them of exploitation through forced labour.
The court will hear the case in January 2022.
Flipkart's Shopsy launches e-grocery in 700 cities
As e-grocery platforms pick up momentum in India, Flipkart's social commerce offering Shopsy announced that it has started offering grocery as a category on its platform.
Leveraging the Flipkart Group's supply-chain infrastructure and tech capabilities, Grocery on Shopsy will cater to consumers across 700 cities, spanning over 5,800 PIN codes.
Grocery on Shopsy will host over 6,000 products across 230 categories -- ranging from staples, FMCG, and other dry groceries; matching the selection and range available on Flipkart Grocery.
Grofers rebrands itself as Blinkit, focuses on quick commerce
Online grocery delivery platform Grofers on Monday said it is rebranding itself as 'Blinkit' to reflect its pivot to quick commerce.
The Zomato and SoftBank-backed company had started its quick commerce service with a 10-minute delivery promise a few months ago.
"A few months ago, we started on a journey to build the future of commerce with 10 minute delivery of most of the stuff our customers need in their daily lives... We learnt a lot as Grofers, and all our learnings, our team, and our infrastructure is being repurposed to pivot to something with staggering product-market fit -- quick commerce," Blinkit said in a blogpost.
The blogpost added that the company is already processing over a million orders a week, across 12 cities in India under the service.
Ola begins deliveries of electric scooters
Ola on Wednesday commenced deliveries of its electric scooters. The company organised special events in Bengaluru and Chennai to deliver both S1 and S1 Pro trims to the first 100 customers.
To fulfill the overwhelming reservation and purchase response received across the country, priority deliveries are based on an automated scientific approach that decides the delivery handover as per their purchase date, variant, location, colour, and other factors, it added.
The company rolls out the Ola S1 scooter from its Tamil Nadu-based manufacturing plant. The company plans to go public in the first half of 2022.
Netflix slashes India prices, bid to make in-roads in Bharat
Netflix has slashed the prices of its streaming services in India, for the first time since its launch as it moves to better compete with rivals Disney and Amazon.
The streaming giant cut prices by 60%, to Rs 199 from Rs 499 per month, for its basic plan that lets users watch content on a single device, it said in a blogpost.
Meanwhile, the standard tier which offers high-definition (HD) content along with support for two concurrent screens, has been reduced to Rs 499 per month from Rs 649 per month.
The service's most expensive premium tier that offers ultra high-definition (Ultra HD) content with support for four concurrent screens, is now priced at Rs 649 per month, down from Rs 799 per month.
The price of its mobile-only plan which was introduced in India in July 2019 at Rs 199 per month will drop a quarter to Rs 149 rupees, with overall prices of various plans falling 18% to 60%. The new pricing will be applicable from the users' next billing cycle.
India ranks 4th in global scam report: Truecaller
India is the country to receive the fourth highest number of spam sales and telemarketing calls. According to Truecaller Global Scam Report 2021, all categories of sales-related calls make up a vast majority (93.5 percent) of all incoming spam calls.
The report said over 202 million spam calls were made by just one spammer in India this year. That’s over 6,64,000 calls every day and 27,000 calls every hour of every day.
Another interesting insight from the report is that one of the most common scams in the country remains the ever-popular KYC (know your customer) scam where fraudsters pretend to be a bank, wallet or digital payment service, asking for user KYC documents as mandated by the Reserve Bank of India.
Purplle acquires makeup brand Faces Canada
Online beauty retailer Purplle has acquired the India business of cosmetics and skincare brand Faces Canada from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital India.
The brand will join Purplle’s portfolio of owned and acquired beauty brands such as Carmesi, Good Vibes and NYbae, the company said in a statement.
The deal will elevate Purplle’s makeup portfolio, said Manish Taneja, co-founder & CEO, Purplle.
Good Glamm Group acquires MissMalini Entertainment; Expands footprint into Celebrity & Influencer talent management
A content-to-commerce conglomerate, Good Glamm Group has acquired MissMalini Entertainment, a leading celebrity media and influencer talent management network.
This strategic acquisition of a personality-driven company by a content-to-commerce conglomerate will offer Good Glamm Group unprecedented access to a robust network of influencers, celebrities and market know-how strongly enhancing its unique content-to-commerce play in the country.
 Following this acquisition, Mumbai based MissMalini Entertainment will continue to function independently while bringing its expertise to the Good Glamm Group. MissMalini founder Malini Agarwal and co-founders Nowshad Rizwanullah (also CEO) and Mike Melli (also CRO) will continue to lead the company.
Mensa Brands acquires online kidswear firm LilPicks
E-commerce roll-up unicorn Mensa Brands has acquired a digital-first fashion brand LilPicks in the kidswear segment.
With a strategic roadmap towards becoming India’s largest kids apparel brand, coupled with Mensa’s expertise, LilPicks is looking at achieving a gross turnover of Rs 500 crore within the next four years, the company said in a statement.
So far, the six-month-old Mensa Brands has acquired 14 brands including categories such as designer sarees, jewellery, men’s wear, smart devices and personal care.
Adda247 acquires StudyIQ Education for $20 mn
Edtech startup Adda247 has acquired UPSC-focused edtech platform StudyIQ Education for about $20 million in a cash-and-stock deal.
With this acquisition, Adda247 will be able to strengthen its position in the UPSC segment, which has one of the highest ARPUs (average revenue per user) in the test preparation segment, the firm said.
The acquisition of StudyIQ adds strategic value to Adda247's offering in the UPSC and state PSC segment. StudyIQ students will invariably figure among top-10 rankers in most of the state PSC exams, it added.
Open acquires neo-bank Finin for $10 mn
Google-backed business-focused neobanking platform Open has acquired consumer neo-banking startup Finin for $10 million in a cash-and-stock deal.
The acquisition will strengthen Open’s cloud native enterprise offering BankingStack through which it has deployed SME digital banking solutions for 17 banks.
According to the firm, the deal will also enhance its no-code embedded finance platform Zwitch, through which it enables fintechs and non-fintechs to launch innovative digital banking services.
EaseMyTrip acquires YoloBus to expand non-air business
Online travel platform EaseMyTrip on Thursday said it is acquiring YoloBus, a next-generation premium intercity mobility platform, for an undisclosed amount to expand its non-air business.
The acquisition includes the brand name of YoloBus, its technology, team, running business and data expertise, the company said in a statement.
EaseMyTrip will leverage YoloBus' full-stack technology-enabled platform to offer an enhanced and superior bus travel experience with safe, clean, comfortable and connected buses for seamless intercity travel, it added.
Musk named Time Person of The Year 2021
Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk has been named Time 2021 Person of the Year.
Time gave Musk the award for his "dreams of Mars as he bestrides Earth, square-jawed and indomitable".
This year, pop star Olivia Rodrigo was named Artist of the Year and four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles was selected as Athlete of the Year. The title of Heroes of the Year, previously known as "Guardians," went to the scientists behind the mRNA covid-19 vaccine, specifically Katalin Kariko, Barney Graham, Kizzmekia Corbett and Drew Weissman.
Apple delays return to corporate offices indefinitely: Report
Apple told corporate staff this week that it is delaying a planned return to US offices until an undetermined date, according to reports from Bloomberg News and NBC News reporter Zoe Schiffer.
A memo from Apple CEO Tim Cook said workers would get advance notice a month before a new return date is set, and that each employee would receive $1,000 in order to outfit their home for remote work.
Apple previously planned for most employees to return to offices on February 1.
Apple closes in on $3 trillion market value
Apple’s market value hovered just shy of the $3 trillion mark on Monday, following a stunning run over the past decade that has turned it into the world's most valuable company.
As per Reuters, the company’s shares fell just over 2% on Monday to close at $175.74, reversing earlier gains that saw them approach the $182.86 price needed to record a $3 trillion market value.
The iPhone maker's march from $2 trillion to near $3 trillion in market value took 16 months.
Alibaba pledges overseas e-commerce focus as its China growth slows
China’s Alibaba told its investors on Friday that overseas e-commerce would be a key focus as it looks for new sources of growth after a difficult year at home.
Earlier this month, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd restructured its e-commerce business into separate China and international divisions, with the latter to be led by Jiang Fan, head of Alibaba’s flagship Taobao and Tmall marketplaces.
Alibaba Deputy CFO Toby Xu, making his first major public remarks since being named this month to take over as CFO, said that international e-commerce “will become one of the key growth drivers”, adding that 57% of revenue for Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics unit, comes from overseas.
Earlier in the two-day investor event, Alibaba said it had set a target of $100 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) for Lazada, its e-commerce service for Southeast Asia.
China allows Tencent to publish app updates again after suspension
Chinese regulators have given Tencent Holdings approval to publish updates to nine of its mobile apps including QQ Music and WeCom.
Chinese media outlet The Paper reported that the updates had appeared in the Apple App Store. Last month, China required Tencent to submit any new apps or updates for inspection after a number of its apps were found to have infringed users' rights and interests
Tencent confirmed to Reuters that the nine apps had been reviewed and given the green light by regulators to resume regular updates in the app stores.
Uber looking to sell Didi, China market has little transparency, CEO says
Uber Technologies is looking to sell stakes in non-strategic assets including its holding in Beijing-based Didi Global.
According to Reuters, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also described the China market as a tough one with little transparency.
The US firm pulled out of China in 2016 after burning through more than a billion dollars a year due to a price war with Didi. It eventually sold its China operations to Didi in exchange for a stake.
Social media platform Reddit files for US IPO
Social media platform Reddit has confidentially filed for a proposed initial public offering (IPO) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Reddit, known for its message boards that became the go-to destination for day traders during this year's meme stock frenzy, was looking at a valuation of more than $15 billion, Reuters had reported in September.
The company was valued at $10 billion in a private fundraising round earlier this year. The San Francisco-based company reported $100 million in advertising revenue in the second quarter, an almost threefold jump from the same period last year.
Facebook exposes mercenary spy firms that targeted 50,000 people
Facebook owner Meta Platforms is calling out half-a-dozen private surveillance companies for hacking or other abuses, accusing them in a report published Thursday of collectively targeting about 50,000 people across its platforms.
Meta is already suing NSO in a US court. Nathaniel Gleicher, Meta's head of security policy, told Reuters that Thursday's crackdown was meant to signal that "the surveillance-for-hire industry is much broader than one company".
Meta's report said it was suspending roughly 1,500 mostly fake accounts run by seven organisations across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Meta said the entities targeted people in more than 100 countries.
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