Here are the top stories that made headlines in the startup universe this week.
CCI approves Softbank’s investment in Swiggy
Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved SoftBank Vision Fund II’s investment in food delivery app Swiggy. Moneycontrol had reported earlier that SoftBank will invest $450-500 million in Swiggy at a post-money valuation of close to $5.5 billion.
At a time when Swiggy is preparing to close a billion-dollar fund raise, the food delivery platform has also elevated Phani Kishan Addepalli, its vice-president for strategy and investments, to a co-founder's status.
NRAI accuses Zomato, Swiggy of ‘Exorbitant Commission’ in an additional information filing with CCI
Restaurant industry body NRAI has filed additional information with the Competition Commission of India (CCI), alleging exorbitant commissions charged by aggregators Zomato and Swiggy.
NRAI claimed that Zomato and Swiggy are charging a commission in the range of 25 to 35 percent of the order value in 2020-21, and that delay in payments has affected the entire cash flow of its partners. It also alleged that Zomato and Swiggy are forcing restaurant partners to give discounts on their platforms to maintain good visibility and have shifted the entire cost burden on the restaurants.
WOW! Momo forays into FMCG with Ready-To-Eat Momos
Homegrown QSR Momo chain, ‘WOW! MOMO’ has announced its entry into the ready-to-use food category. The company has unveiled a variety of authentic flavours in the frozen ready-to-eat Momo category.
The all-new category of ready-to-make frozen momos by WOW! Momos will be exclusively available online on Bigbasket in the following 10 cities: Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.
Temasek, IFC buy out Upgrad Esops
Investment giant Temasek and the World Bank arm IFC have invested an additional $29.5 million into online education platform UpGrad by buying out the Esops from 37 employees.
Upgrad in the last week of April got $120 million from Temasek and $40 million from IFC, wherein the promoters divested 25 percent of their equity.
The founder group still owns over 70 percent in the company and has created a large Esop pool of close to 13 percent of the enlarged equity base, Upgrad co-founder and chairman Ronnie Screwvala said.
The two quick rounds of equity infusion of $160 million had valued the startup to over $850 million.
BharatePe targets $6 Bn in POS business FY22
Fintech giant BharatPe expects to hit $6 billion in annual transactions processed value in its POS business by the end of the financial year 2022, the company said.
It also aims to grow its point-of-sale system business — BharatSwipe — at least three folds, by expanding into 80 cities across India by FY22 end, the Delhi-based company added.
BharatPe launched BharatSwipe in the second half of 2020, after which it instantly became a hit because of its zero-rental model.
CarDekho Group launches online pre-owned car retailing service
Automobile platform CarDekho Group on Thursday, July 15, 2021, announced the launch of an online hassle-free pre-owned car retailing service, which enables customers to search over 5,000 certified used cars.
The service is currently available in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Agra, Lucknow and Kanpur, and will soon be expanded to newer markets, the platform said in a statement.
T-Hub, AIM launch second healthtech cohort
T-Hub, a start-up ecosystem enabler, has entered into an agreement with the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the healthcare sector.
10 deep tech startups have been handpicked by T-Hub, AIM and external industry experts. They were selected based on their innovation, go-to market readiness, scalability and team composition, the company said.
Fashion brand Shein set to make a comeback
B2C fashion brand Shein is ready to make a comeback in India after it was banned by the government last year along with several other Chinese apps.
Shein will relaunch in India through Amazon. It will be featured as a seller on Amazon's Indian website for its Prime Day festival in the country later this month, as per reports.
This comes after another Chinese app PUBG Mobile marked its return to the Indian market in the form of Battlegrounds Mobile India, developed by Krafton.
WhatsApp banned 2 M accounts in India in a month, as per transparency report
WhatsApp banned over 2 million accounts of Indian users between May 15 and June 15, as per the Facebook-owned company's first monthly transparency report. This compares to a global monthly average of about 8 million accounts banned/ disabled per month, the company said.
The company has said that over 2 million Indian accounts were banned by WhatsApp in the period 15 May – 15 June 2021, in the interest of "preventing online abuse and keeping users safe on our platform".
WhatsApp also received 345 grievances from users sent to the company's grievance officer, the report said, of which about 200 were about a 'ban appeal'.
Twitter appoints resident grievance officer, releases transparency report
Twitter has released its transparency report and has appointed a Resident Grievance Officer as per the regulations.
Twitter has named Vinay Prakash as its Chief Grievance Officer, as per its website. This comes weeks after the interim grievance officer appointed by the company had quit the position. Twitter has informed the Delhi High Court that it has appointed an interim chief compliance officer.
Twitter on Sunday also released its transparency report for the period of May 26-June 26, highlighting user complaints and action is taken. As per Twitter's report, the company took action on over 130 URLs.
Twitter ‘Fleets’ feature to shut down on August 3
Twitter said on Wednesday it will shut down its ephemeral posts feature called Fleets on August 3 after the product failed to gain traction with users.
The move comes just eight months after the social media platform rolled out Fleets to all its users globally. In a blog, Twitter said it had not seen an increase in the number of new users posting Fleets as it had hoped.
Google ends unlimited group video calling for free accounts on Meet
Google has ended unlimited group video calls facility for free accounts on its video calling app Meet, and the users will now get only an hour time for group calls.
According to an update on Google support page for Meet users, at 55 minutes, everyone gets a notification that the call is about to end.
However, Google Workspace individual subscribers can host one-on-one calls and group calls with three or more participants for up to 24 hours.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Xiaomi trumps Apple to become world's No. 2 smartphone maker
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi overtook Apple in the second quarter to become the world's No. 2 smartphone maker, market research firm Canalys said.
Xiaomi took the second spot for the first time with 17% share of worldwide smartphone shipments.
Xiaomi’s shipments grew 12% in the second quarter, led by Samsung Electronics with a 19 percent share, and Apple in third place with a 14 percent share.
China announces on-site Didi cybersecurity investigation
China's cyber-watchdog on Friday announced an on-site cybersecurity investigation of ride-hailing service Didi, stepping up scrutiny after earlier criticism of its handling of customer information caused the company's New York-traded shares to tumble.
The on-site inspection comes two weeks after the regulator said it would probe the ride-hailing company over concerns about national security and data security. That came days after Didi raised $4.4 billion and went public.
SoftBank Vision Fund invests $1.7 bn in S.Korean travel firm Yanolja
SoftBank's Vision Fund has invested $1.7 billion in Yanolja, the South Korean travel and leisure firm as it seeks to build on rapid pandemic-induced growth in Southeast Asia, India and Africa, Reuters reported.
The deal is expected to represent a large increase over its previous valuation of more than $1 billion in 2019 when Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and US firm Booking Holdings invested $180 million.
Facebook and Instagram will invest over $1 bn in content creators
Facebook will invest over $1 billion to support content creators through the end of 2022, Reuters reported.
The investments will include bonus programs to pay creators who hit certain milestones on its apps, including photo-sharing network Instagram, and fund users to produce content, Facebook said.
On Facebook, video creators and online gamers will receive a monthly bonus if they hit milestones for earnings Stars.
Instagram’s bonus programs will include incentives to use Reels.
Bezos gives $200 M donation to Smithsonian
Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos will donate $200 million to the Smithsonian, the largest gift in the history of the institute, the Associated Press reported.
As per report, a $70 million portion of the donation will support the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum while $130 million will launch a new education center to be named after the world's wealthiest person.
Richard Branson buys stake in space tech fund Seraphim
British billionaire Richard Branson has bought a stake in space tech fund Seraphim Space Investment Trust as part of a $246.99 million IPO.
Airbus SE also participated in the IPO and was among other parties to buy shares of the company, according to an emailed statement by Seraphim, which is set to commence trading this week on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.
Branson takes off first in space tourism race
British billionaire Richard Branson flew into space aboard his own winged rocket ship on Sunday.
Branson and five crewmates reached an altitude of about 88 kilometres over the New Mexico desert and then safely glided back home.
Branson became the first person to blast off in his own spaceship, beating Jeff Bezos by nine days.
France fines Google 500 M euros over copyright row
France's antitrust watchdog has slapped a 500 million euro ($593 million) fine on Google for failing to comply with the regulator's orders on how to conduct talks with the country's news publishers in a row over copyright.
As per Reuters, the US tech giant must now come up with proposals within the next two months on how it would compensate news agencies and other publishers for the use of their news. If it does not do that, the company would face additional fines of up to 900,000 euros per day.
Google said it was very disappointed with the decision but would comply.
EU watchdog rejects call to ban Facebook from processing WhatsApp user data
A European Union privacy watchdog has rejected a call by Germany's lead data protection regulator for an EU-wide ban on Facebook's processing of personal data from its WhatsApp subsidiary, but told the social network's lead EU regulator in Ireland to investigate.
Uber reaches agreement in California sexual assault data request
Uber on Thursday reached a preliminary agreement with a California regulator for sharing data on sexual assault and harassment claims on its platform while protecting victims' privacy and avoiding a $59 million fine, Reuters reported.
Under the proposal outlined in a regulatory filing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the penalty would be reduced to $150,000, but Uber would pay $9 million to support a state victims' fund and help create industry-wide safety and reporting standards.
The CPUC fined Uber in December after the company refused to share victims' detailed information, including full names and contact information.
Google boss says internet freedom under attack
Google CEO Sundar Pichai has warned that the free and open internet is under attack in countries around the world.
In an interview to BBC, Google boss stated that many countries are restricting the flow of information, and the model is often taken for granted.
TikTok tells staff to return to office for three days a week
Popular short-video app TikTok told its employees on Monday that some will be offered the option to work remotely for up to two days a week after they return to office, according to an internal message seen by Reuters.
TikTok will also give employees the choice to work remotely from a domestic location based on manager approval, according to the message. This policy applies to full-time employees and interns in the United States, the UK and Ireland, with other markets to follow.
The company is currently working fully remote and is yet to set a return-to-office date. TikTok hired "thousands of colleagues" during the pandemic, according to the message.
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)