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Startup Digest: DealShare set to become unicorn, Mensa Brands picks majority stake in 10 digital-first consumer brands & White House says reforms should happen given concerns about Facebook

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Here are the top stories that made headlines in the startup universe.

Startup Digest: DealShare set to become unicorn, Mensa Brands picks majority stake in 10 digital-first consumer brands & White House says reforms should happen given concerns about Facebook
DealShare set to become unicorn with new funding
Social e-commerce startup DealShare is set to turn into a unicorn with a new round of funding that will value the company at $1.7 billion, as per sources.
DealShare is raising over $150 million at a valuation of $1.7 billion and the round is expected to close soon.
With this, Dealshare's valuation will more than treble and will catapult the company into the unicorn club. The company was last valued at under $500 million in July when it had raised $144 million in its Series D round. It counts among its investors, Tiger Global, WestBridge Capital, Alpha Wave Incubation, & Z3Partners, partners of DST Global, Matrix Partners India & Alteria Capital. It is not clear who the new investors in the new round will be.
Paytm in talks with ADIA, BlackRock, GIC and Nomura for IPO stakes: Report
Paytm is in talks with sovereign wealth funds and financial firms to become anchor investors in its upcoming blockbuster initial public offering (IPO), Bloomberg News reported. State-backed wealth investors Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Singapore’s GIC are among those weighing bidding to participate in the Paytm IPO.
Global financial firms such as BlackRock and Nomura Holdings are also in discussions to bid, the report added. Paytm is considering seeking a valuation of $20-22 billion based on initial investor feedback, they said. There are already more than enough bids to cover the shares allocated for anchor investment in the IPO.
Zostel to lodge complaint with SEBI against Oyo IPO as Delhi HC adjourns hearing: Report
While the draft preliminary prospectus was filed in July, it is still awaiting approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The Delhi High Court on October 7 adjourned the hearing of the ongoing dispute between the IPO-bound Oyo and Zo Rooms to October 21.
Following this, Zostel has decided to approach SEBI against Oyo's IPO with immediate effect. It is finalising and will send the complaint either on October 7 or 8, Zo's legal counsel told Moneycontrol. The issues between the two companies date back to 2015 when Zo Rooms, the budget hotel accommodation chain owned by Zostel Hospitality, was shut down after the merger talks between the two, which could have resulted in Zo Rooms getting a seven percent stake in Oyo, failed.
In March, this year, a Supreme Court-appointed arbitrator had finally said that Oyo was in breach of its agreement for the acquisition of Zo Rooms, adding that the latter can proceed to execute the definitive agreement. However, while Zo claims that it is entitled to a stake of seven percent in Oyo, the latter denied the claim stating that the tribunal had granted no specific relief to Zostel in terms of receiving ownership in Oyo.
Mensa Brands picks majority stake in 10 digital-first consumer brands
E-commerce rollup startup Mensa Brands started by former Myntra CEO Ananth Narayanan, has acquired a majority stake in 10 brands across fashion, home and beauty. Among the brands acquired include Karagiri (high-end, designer sarees), Priyaasi (traditional and contemporary jewellery brand), Dennis Lingo (men's casual wear brand), Ishin (women's ethnic wear brand), Hubberholme (affordable men’s casual wear brand), Anubhutee (women’s ethnic wear brand), Helea (smart home-device brand), and Villain (men’s personal care company).
These brands cater across five cities and serve millions of customers in India and around the world. Post this deal, founders of these brands and their teams will be a part of Mensa, the company said. Mensa targets digital-first brands that have revenue between $1 million and $10 million and claims to close end-to-end acquisitions within 4-6 weeks.
Bounce to acquire 22 Motors; enter EV manufacturing
Scooter rental startup Bounce is planning to enter electric scooter manufacturing by acquiring 22 Motors. According to Entrackr, Bounce is in the last leg to acquire 22 Motors in a cash and stock deal. The terms of the deal are almost finalised and likely to be in the range of $7-10 million. The report added that 22 Motors co-founder Farhaan Shabbir along with the team of 25-30 people are set to join Bounce. Bounce had raised its last equity round worth $105 million in January 2020.
Burgrill India and Greenest launch plant-based chicken burger – The Green Meat Pounder
Burgrill India, which serves gourmet grilled burgers and other healthier alternatives has launched The Green Meat Pounder in association with Greenest Foods. As per the company, with this launch, Burgrill becomes the first homegrown QSR Chain to introduce plant-based meat burgers for their patrons in India.
The Green Meat Pounder will be at par with animal-based meat on the nutritional level while being better for the environment. The plant-based patty ingredients consist of isolated soy protein, chickpea protein and a blend of plant-based fibers, and much more to replicate the aroma and taste of chicken, the company said. The company aims to capture the Indian market in the next 4-5 years.
55% of India's employed professional report feeling stressed: LinkedIn
More than 55 percent of India's employed professionals are feeling stressed at work as well-being measures become a luxury for many, said a report by LinkedIn. The Workforce Confidence Index revealed that India’s overall workforce confidence remained steady with a composite score of +55 from July 31 to September 24, 2021, despite drastic transformations in the world of work.
But keeping up with these times of change for the last 18 months has adversely affected the mental health of working professionals in the country.
"These stressful times of change have impelled the need for greater flexibility and work-life balance among professionals. But our survey reveals a wide gap between what employees need and what employers are offering to cope with stress," said Ashutosh Gupta, India country manager, LinkedIn.
Most professionals cited ‘balancing work with personal needs' (34 percent), 'not making enough money' (32 percent), and ‘slow career advancement (25 percent) as the top three stressors at work. However, 1 in 3 professionals were also seen drawing optimism from the availability of jobs (36 pecent) and improved control over expenses (30 percent).
The findings indicate that flexibility and work-life balance will serve as critical talent drivers across the Indian professional landscape going ahead. While nearly half of (47 percent) employed professionals wish to end work at reasonable hours, only about one-third (36 percent) were actually able to do so. And while 41 percent planned for time-off, only 30 percent could take time off in the past two months. Findings reveal that millennials were 2x more likely to take time-offs, while Gen Z professionals were 1.5x more likely to take breaks during the day when compared to baby boomers.
Massive e-commerce growth in last 3 years; boom during the festive season: EasyEcom Report
The total e-commerce sales for the year 2021 are estimated to clock anywhere in the range of $67-$84 billion, a report by EasyEcom, an omnichannel Inventory Management and e-commerce solution provider stated. This is a significant increase from the total e-commerce sales of last calendar year which touched a mark of $52.57 billion.
Despite a multi-month lockdown, e-commerce retail sales are expected to clock between $11-14 billion during this festive season. Compared to last year, online sales during this festive season are likely to grow anywhere between 32-68 percent, the report added.
The findings showed that e-commerce saw a whopping 66 percent retail hike during the festive season last year. In 2019, the total e-commerce festive sales accounted for $5 billion, which escalated to $8.3 billion in 2020, owing to limited offline services during the first series of nationwide lockdowns.
Fintech startup EKO forays into lending space; aims to onboard 1M sellers & disburse $1 billion worth of loans in 3-5 years
Fintech platform EKO has forayed into the lending ecosystem by creating the 'first time credit’ module for sellers.
By dispensing close to $1 billion of loans with flexible repayments infrastructure, the company wants to provide affordable capital and AI-backed services to MSMEs, allowing them to instil digital transformation within their operations, it said in a statement. The fintech platform uses the ‘micro-credit approach’ in its services and designs them to fulfil the same. Its daily repayment infrastructure capability allows sellers to repay loans daily in part or full.
"A World Bank study estimates a $380 billion financing gap for small & medium businesses in India. Given their role in the country’s development, something needs to be done to empower MSMEs to achieve their true potential. By leveraging top-notch technology and a sturdy infrastructure, we aim to become a one-stop platform for small businesses that welcomes them into the world of credit, allowing them to drive their operations digitally and bolster their balance sheets,” said Abhishek Sinha, co-founder, Eko. The platform is currently seeing over 50K sellers’ sign-ups each month, eyeing a target of 1 million sellers and a loan book of $200 million in the next 3-5 years, the company said in a statement.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
White House says reforms should happen given concerns about Facebook
The White House said more needs to be done and reforms should happen given privacy and trust concerns raised about Facebook Inc. White House press secretary Jen Psaki made the comments a day after former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen testified before Congress about concerns that the social media company harms children's mental health and stokes divisions. Facebook has denied wrongdoing.
Amazon sued by warehouse workers over COVID-19 screening pay
Amazon has been accused of violating Colorado state law by failing to pay warehouse workers for time spent undergoing COVID-19 screenings before clocking in at work, Reuters reported. Jennifer Vincenzetti, who worked at two Amazon warehouses in Colorado Springs, filed a proposed class action in Colorado federal court on Tuesday claiming the company made workers wait in long lines to answer questions and have their temperatures checked.
The proposed class includes more than 10,000 people at five Colorado warehouses.
"Amazon appears fine making efforts to keep its workers safe, so long as the workers are the ones footing the bill," David Seligman of nonprofit Towards Justice, which brought the suit, said in a statement. The complaint says that beginning in March 2020 Amazon required employees at Colorado warehouses to arrive early, wait in lines outside the facilities, and then answer questions and check their temperature once they were inside. The process generally took 20 to 60 minutes, according to the lawsuit. That time is compensable under Colorado law, which says workers must be paid when they are required to be on their employer's premises or on duty, according to the suit.
Amazon has argued in a similar lawsuit in California federal court that because the screenings primarily benefit workers, they do not amount to compensable time under federal wage law. Walmart has raised the same defense in a proposed class action in Arizona federal court claiming the retail giant's failure to pay employees for time spent in COVID screenings violated state law.
Amazon's Twitch hit by data breach due to configuration error
Amazon’s live streaming e-sports platform Twitch has blamed "an error" in server configuration change for a data breach and said it was still assessing the impact. An anonymous hacker claimed to have leaked Twitch data, including information related to the company's source code, clients and unreleased games, according to Video Games Chronicle.
Twitch said there was no indication login credentials of users have been exposed. The company added it does not store full credit card details. The Twitch hacker's motive was to "foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space," according to the Video Games Chronicle report.
About 125GB of data was leaked, including information on Twitch's highest-paid video game streamers since 2019, such as a $9.6 million payout to the voice actors of the popular game "Dungeons & Dragons" and $8.4 million to Canadian streamer xQcOW, the report said. Facebook had also blamed a "faulty configuration change" due to an error during routine maintenance on its network of data centres for the nearly six-hour outage earlier in the week that prevented the company's 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media and messaging services.
Twitter to sell mobile ad unit MoPub to AppLovin for $1 billion
Twitter has agreed to sell mobile ad company MoPub to AppLovin Corp. for $1.05 billion in cash, as the microblogging platform looks to focus more on advertisements on its own app and website, as per Reuters. MoPub, which generated about $188 million in annual revenue for Twitter last year, allows companies to keep track of ad inventory in real-time, similar to Google's DoubleClick.
"The sale of MoPub positions us to concentrate more of our efforts on the massive potential for ads on our website and in our apps," Twitter chief financial officer Ned Segal said. Twitter said it will focus on its core business by accelerating the development of new products and features to achieve its goal of doubling its revenue in 2023 to $7.5 billion.
The MoPub deal comes months after Apple updated the mobile operating system that powers iPhones and iPads to make it hard for digital advertisers, including social media platforms and mobile game developers, to track users on Apple mobile devices. The sale will allow Twitter to invest in "the core products that position it for long-term growth," Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey said on Wednesday.
Google rivals want EU lawmakers to act via new tech rules
DuckDuckGo and three other search engine rivals to Google on Thursday urged EU lawmakers to take action against the Alphabet unit via new tech rules, saying they have yet to see positive results from an antitrust ruling against Google. As per Reuters, the European Commission in 2018 levied a record 4.24- billion-euro ($5 billion) fine on Google for unfairly using Android to cement the dominance of its search engine and ordered it to ensure a level playing field for rivals. Google subsequently made changes and four months ago said it would let rivals compete for free to be the default search engine on Android devices in Europe.
US search engine DuckDuckGo, Germany's Ecosia and French peers Qwant and Lilo said lawmakers should use tech rules drafted by EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager called the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to ensure competition. They said a preference menu that let users choose their search default when setting up an Android device is not available on Chrome desktop or on other operating systems, and that it is only shown once to users. The DMA may come into force in 2023 once it gets the green light from EU lawmakers and EU countries.
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