There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Monday, which include Byju's has become India's most valuable startup with a valuation of $16.5 billion after the latest funding round; IPO-bound Paytm is in talks with three payment gateway firms for a possible acquisition, merger or stake, according to a news report; B2B marketplace Jumbotail raises Rs 35 cr in debt from Alteria Capital; Glance acquires Shop101 in an e-commerce push; and Bitcoin jumps after Elon Musk says Tesla may use crypto in future. Here are the stories that made headlines in the startup universe today.
Byju's becomes India's most valuable startup at $16.5 bn
Edtech giant Byju's has become the most valued startup in the Indian ecosystem with a $16.5 billion valuation post a fundraise of Rs 2494 crore, as per regulatory filings. The investors in the new round included Zoom founder Eric Yuan, apart from others such as UBS Group, Blackstone, ADQ, and Phoenix Rising, as per regulatory filings
Byju's has surpassed fintech giant Paytm, which was valued at $16 billion in its last round of funding in November 2019.
Byju's valuation has more than doubled since January 2020 when the company was valued at $8 billion.
Byju's has raised nearly $2 billion in funding since January of 2020 from marquee names such as Tiger Global, Mary Meeker's Bond Capital, T Rowe Price, Silver Lake and several others, as per data from Venture Intelligence.
The company has also been on an acquisition spree, having acquired WhiteHat Jr last year for $300 million and Aakash Educational Services this year for nearly a billion dollars. Latest reports suggest Byju's is looking at more acquisitions of players such as Great LEarning and GradeUp.
Initiate CCI probe on Amazon immediately: CAIT to govt
After the Karnataka High Court dismissed the plea by Amazon and Flipkart on the investigation ordered by CCI against them for alleged violation of provisions of competition laws, traders body CAIT on Saturday urged Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to direct CCI to immediately initiate the proceedings.
In a communication to the minister, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) also asked for immediate issuance of a fresh press note of the FDI policy for e-commerce sector with a monitoring mechanism to ensure that law of the land prevails and no one violates it.
Every company indulging into any e-commerce activity through any type of electronic mode has to take a registration number from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said traders across the country will observe June 14-21 as ‘E-Commerce Purification Week’. Reports suggest that trade association delegations will also hold meetings with the Chief Ministers and state Finance Ministers, urging them to set up a monitoring mechanism for e-commerce trade and ensuring strict compliance with the Centre's FDI policy.
It urged the minister “to direct the CCI to immediately initiate the investigation proceedings against Amazon and Flipkart.”
On January 13, 2020, the CCI had ordered a probe against Amazon, Flipkart on alleged anti-competitive practices in a case filed by the Delhi Vyaar Mahasangh under Section 3 of the Competition Act.
B2B marketplace Jumbotail raises Rs 35 cr from Alteria Capital
Jumbotail, a business-to-business (B2B) marketplace for food and grocery products, has raised Rs 35 crore from venture debt provider Alteria Capital.
The venture debt round follows a $25 million equity round that was raised by the company in January. The B2B marketplace plans to use the funds to expand its operations across the country, fund its working capital requirements, and enhance its small, medium enterprises (SME) focused fintech business, it said in a statement.
Jumbotail works with over 50,000 kirana stores with its full-stack B2B ecommerce model. It offers a whole range of services including supply chain logistics, a mobile app for placing orders, and integration with point-and-sales devices, and credit solutions to kirana store owners that can’t easily get loan from banks.
Glance acquires Shop101 in e-commerce push
Glance - which owns video-platform Roposo is all set to acquire full stack ecommerce platform Shop101. This acquisition comes as Glance looks to bolster its position in the influencer-led commerce space in the country.
The buyout’s deal size remains undisclosed. However, it will provide Glance and Roposo end-to-end capability for launching celebrity and influencer-led LIVE commerce.
Glance, backed by Google and Mithril Capital, delivers artificial intelligence-driven personalised content to screen zero of smartphones.
Convosight raises $9 million in Series A round
SaaS platfotm Convosight has raised $9 million in its Series A round led by Singapore-based VC firm Qualgro. Unilever Ventures and Ajay Gupta (ex McKinsey), along with existing backers IvyCap Ventures and Sequoia Capital India’s Surge also participated in the round.
Convosight is building a monetization ecosystem for community creators on platforms like Facebook Groups, Reddit and Discord so that they can partner with brands and sustainably monetize their communities. Convosight has reported 10x user growth within the last 15 months, added the company.
The platform is used by consumer brands like Reckitt, P&G, Nestle, Abbott, ITC and D2C brands like Plum to help drive organic customer engagement, adoption and brand consideration through community marketing, giving fuel to community creator earnings.
Over the last 12 months, there has been a 25x jump in earnings for community creators via Convosight - with close to $1 Mn in total payouts, the company claimed.
Dropshop raises Rs 9.3 cr in Pre-Series A funding
FMCG distribution platform Dropshop has raises Rs 9.3 crore in a Pre-Series A round led by Inflection Point Ventures. Existing investors Axilor Ventures and The Chennai Angels also participated in the round.
The funds raised will be used for strengthening the product and scaling up of operations for handling more FMCG brands and enter new markets like Chennai and Hyderabad, said the company.
Currently, Dropshop Network is working with top FMCG companies including ITC, Marico, Reckitt Benckiser, and Godrej Consumer Products and 40+ small and localised brands.
SimpliContract raises $1.8 mn in seed round
SimpliContract, an AI and SaaS-based contract lifecycle management platform, has raised $1.8 million in a seed funding round led by Kalaari Capital. Picus Capital, Arka Ventures, and Digital Sparrow Capital also participated.
This company will use the fresh capital infusion to enhance its engineering, AI research, and marketing.
Power Gummies raises $1 million from 9Unicorns
Nutraceutical start-up Power Gummies has raised $1 million in second bridge round funding led by growing accelerator VC 9Unicorns. The funding round also saw participation from investors such as DSG and Pivot ventures.
The startup raised its first round of seed funding in 2019 via venture capital firm Alfa Ventures. In 2020, the brand had extended a pre-Series A round from DSG Consumer Partners. Power Gummies has also roped in actor Shraddha Kapoor as the brand ambassador and the face of their Hair & Nails Vitamin Gummies.
Functioning on a D2C business model, Power Gummies aims to launch 40-plus variants over the coming years with this latest round of funding.
Paytm in talks with 3 payment gateway firms: Report
IPO-bound Paytm is in exploratory talks with three payment gateway firms — BillDesk, PayU and BSE-listed Infibeam Avenues — for a possible acquisition, merger or picking up a substantial equity stake in these firms, as per The Economic Times.
The Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led Paytm is exploring a deal around the time when it is also looking at raising about $3 billion through an initial public offering (IPO), the report added.
The report quoted sources saying, that talks are still in its initial stage.
Cult.Fit announces free vaccination for its 2 Lakh offline members
Fitness and wellness platform Cult.fit has announced that the company will facilitate free COVID vaccines to their over two lakh offline fitness members.
New and existing Cult.fit users with offline Cultpass subscription are eligible for the vaccine at cult centres and gyms across 20 cities where the company has a physical presence.
The company has partnered with MFine for logistics and operational support. The registration for the vaccine drive will begin from June 16 via the mobile app for Android and iOS, and the inoculations are scheduled to start on June 24, the company said.
Twitter hiring compliance, nodal & grievance officers in India
After a long-drawn battle with the Centre over the new IT rules, Twitter has finally taken steps to comply with the government’s order.
Twitter has posted job openings on Linkedin for the position of chief compliance officer, nodal officer and grievance officer, key requisites as per the new social media rules.
Details of these postings were made available on the company’s career site as well as its LinkedIn page. This comes almost a week after the Indian government recently sent a “final” notice to the microblogging site, seeking complete compliance with the new rules.
PhonePe files formal SEBI complaint against Ventureast Fund
Payments firm PhonePe has filed a formal complaint against Ventureast Proactive Fund-II (VPF) with SEBI.
The company said the complaint is based on alleged violations of SEBI’s code of conduct in relation to what the company said were VPF’s recent "side dealings" with Affle to "scuttle" the OSLabs majority acquisition by PhonePe. CNBC TV 18 had earlier reported PhonePe is in talks to acquire a majority stake in the domestic smartphone operating system IndusOS.
This SEBI complaint in India is in addition to a lawsuit that PhonePe has already filed against Ventureast and Affle in the Singapore High court.
The lawsuit claims that VPF "deliberately deceived PhonePe, by continuing to engage PhonePe and OSLabs on the sale of its shares in OSLabs in favor of PhonePe even though it had sold those same shares to Affle in a side deal without OSLabs and PhonePe’s knowledge on a prior date during a legally binding no-shop period."
Sameer Nigam, CEO and Founder PhonePe, said, “As founders, we are always held to the highest standards of legal and ethical integrity by our investors. But these standards should apply to investors in startups too. I believe in this case, VPF has not only broken SEBI’s code of conduct, but it has also acted in complete negligence of its fiduciary duties as a large shareholder of IndusOS."
"By deliberately derailing PhonePe’s acquisition of IndusOS, a deal which all three OSLabs founders continue to also believe is in their company’s best long-term interests, VPF has also hurt OSLabs’ long term interests. We believe it’s important to expose such unethical conduct by VPF for the sake of the larger startup ecosystem. We have a very strong case and are confident that we will prevail on both fronts, and hopefully in the process also create a strong deterrent against bad actors trying to bully young startups.’’
Ventureeast is yet to respond to CNBC TV 18's queries.
Muzigal reports 20% growth in remote era
Online music learning platform Muzigal has claimed that it is now growing at 20 percent month-on-month in revenue. The company aims to empower music teachers to scale their music classes globally amid the remote learning times.
Muzigal raised an undisclosed amount of funds from Kalaari Capital in February this year. In a statement, the company said it has conducted over 40,000 classes in subjects ranging from Indian classical to western music.
"The total offline music learning market is around $500 million in India, and Muzigal is establishing leadership in the online segment of this market. We always knew that there is an immense potential in online music learning, which was largely unorganised," said Dr Lakshminarayana Yeluri, founder, Muzigal.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Bitcoin jumps after Elon Musk says Tesla may use crypto in future
Bitcoin price soared again after Tesla CEO Elon Musk indicated that electric carmaker will resume transaction with cryptocurrency.
Musk tweeted on Sunday that Tesla will resume allowing bitcoin transactions when miners who verify transactions use more renewable energy. "When there's confirmation of reasonable (~50%) clean energy usage by miners with positive future trend, Tesla will resume allowing Bitcoin transactions," he said in a tweet.
Musk also said that Tesla sold about 10% of holdings to confirm bitcoin could be liquidated easily without moving market.
Amazon raises minimum pay in Germany to 12 euros per hour
In the wake of a long-running battle with a top labour union, Amazon said it will guarantee an entry-level wage at its German warehouses of 12 euros ($15) an hour, as per a Reuters report. Germany is Amazon's biggest market after the United States, and the Verdi union has been organising strikes at Amazon in the country since 2013 to protest low pay and poor conditions.
The pay hike is effective from July and compares with entry-level pay as low as 11.30 euros per hour for some locations, though pay exceeded 12 euros in other locations.
Amazon's wages exceed Germany's current minimum wage of 9.50 euros per hour. But workers have regularly gone on strike, such as last year to coincide with the $1.6 trillion company's global "Prime Day" promotion event. They were disgruntled that a coronavirus bonus had been scrapped.
A Verdi official told Reuters that the increase was the least that the company could do after "earning a pretty penny in recent months" and that pay still fell short of its demands for many employees.
Amazon - which saw net profit rise to $8.1 billion in the first quarter, more than tripling from $2.5 billion the year earlier - has faced similar criticism over conditions and pay throughout the globe.
GameStop lures Amazon talent with grand plans and no frills
GameStop Corp Chairman Ryan Cohen made a point of doing away with corporate excess such as a company plane and used the allure of rebuilding the videogame retailer to recruit Amazon’s Australia chief Matt Furlong as chief executive.
Cohen wanted the message to be stern, sources told Reuters. The transformation of the ailing brick-and-mortar retailer into an e-commerce powerhouse would require laser-like focus and determination, Cohen told Furlong.
The role would come with no frills, but it would pay off handsomely in GameStop shares if the turnaround was successful. The majority of Furlong's performance-based compensation will be tied to stock awards.
The move represents Cohen's boldest gambit yet in his push to attract talent from Amazon. GameStop's market value has soared to $16 billion from $250 million a year ago, as amateur traders challenged hedge funds betting against the company and turned it into a popular "meme" stock on Reddit and other social media.
Facebook says remote working move could slow jobs growth in Ireland
Facebook still plans to "aggressively" grow staff numbers in its European headquarters in Ireland but a company-wide policy allowing permanent remote work from other countries could slow that growth over time, its Irish chief told Reuters.
Ireland's economy is hugely reliant on multinational firms that employ around one in eight Irish workers and any move to facilitate remote working abroad would add to the challenge already posed by a planned global corporate tax overhaul.
Facebook, which is one of Ireland's largest such employers with around 3,000 full-time staff and another 3,000 contractors, will allow some workers to permanently relocate after more than a year of many working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible employees in Facebook offices in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom will be able to move to another one of those locations. U.S.-based staff can also move to Canada.
First Published: IST