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STARTUP DIGEST: Facebook blames 'faulty configuration change' for outage, Ola acquires GeoSpoc, Byju's launches an innovation hub

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 Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

STARTUP DIGEST: Facebook blames 'faulty configuration change' for outage, Ola acquires GeoSpoc, Byju's launches an innovation hub
Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
Facebook blames ‘faulty configuration change’ for nearly six-hour outage
Facebook has blamed a "faulty configuration change" for a nearly six-hour outage on Monday that prevented the company's 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media and messaging services such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.
The company, in a blog post, did not specify who executed the configuration change and whether it was planned.
Several Facebook employees who declined to be named had told Reuters earlier that they believed that the outage was caused by an internal mistake in how internet traffic is routed to its systems.
The Facebook outage is the largest ever tracked by web monitoring group Downdetector.
The outage was the second blow to the social media giant in as many days after a whistleblower on Sunday accused the company of repeatedly prioritising profit over clamping down on hate speech and misinformation.
Ola acquires GeoSpoc to build next-generation location technology
Ride-hailing giant Ola has acquired GeoSpoc, a provider of geospatial services in an undisclosed deal.
Following the buyout, GeoSpoc co-founder Dhruva Rajan and his team of scientists and engineers are expected to join Ola to develop technologies that will make mobility accessible, sustainable, personalised, and convenient across shared and personal vehicles, Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said in a blog post on Tuesday.
According to Aggarwal, accurate and rich maps with high user context should be available to the population beyond the first 100 million users.
“Multi-modal transportation options will need geospatial intelligence to understand the unique benefits of each option and provide suggestions accordingly,” Aggarwal added.
Maps will also have to consider a three-dimensional view of the world as aerial mobility models become more mainstream. Real-time satellite imagery will have to be incorporated to provide better understanding of road quality, the post added.
The Ola-GeoSpoc deal comes at a time when the Bengaluru-based startup is looking to launch an initial public offering (IPO) early next year.
GlobalBees acquires femtech startup andMe
Thrasio-style investment venture GlobalBees has acquired women health startup andMe for an undisclosed amount.
Recently, GlobalBees had announced the acquisition of home care products company The Better Home. In July this year, GlobalBees raised $150 million (about Rs 1,123 crore) in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners as well as FirstCry and a few of its investors.
This marks the foray of GlobalBees into the femtech sector that was valued at over $22.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2 percent from 2021 to 2027.
The founders and the over 15-member team of andMe will become a part of GlobalBees and continue to strengthen its product portfolio and focus on reaching broader women communities both in India and globally, it said.
andMe, launched in 2017, offers plant-based, preservative and chemical-free products. Around 70 percent of the company's sales come from outside the top five cities, including small towns in eastern India.
GlobalBees is looking to associate with 30 to 35 brands from various D2C (direct to customer) categories, including fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), sports, home organisation, and lifestyle, among others, the company said.
BYJU’S announces launch of innovation hub
Edtech giant BYJU’S on Tuesday announced the launch of BYJU’S Lab- an innovation hub based out of the UK, the US, and India.
BYJU’S Lab will redefine the role of technology in learning and transform powerful ideas into solutions. It will create an exciting and fulfilling environment for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) professionals, both experienced as well as new graduates, the company said in a statement.
To date, Byju’s has announced 10 acquisitions in the edtech space including Tynker, Gradeup, TutorVista, Edurite, Math Adventures, Osmo, Whitehat Jr, Aakash Education Services, Epic, and Great Learning.
Zostel plans to take Oyo IPO complaint to Sebi: Report
Just after Oyo has filed its DRHP for an IPO, Zostel is planning to move the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), asking it to put the proposed $1.2 billion IPO on hold, Economic Times reported.
Zostel is expected to send a letter to Sebi after the Delhi High Court hears their ongoing dispute on October 7. Zostel plans to tell Sebi that Oyo is seeking a share sale while an arbitration award is pending in court, in violation of listing regulations, the report added.
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.
Dairy.com enters India with acquisition of Mr. Milkman: Reports
American dairy services provider Dairy.com has acquired dairy-tech startup Mr. Milkman, the investment marking the debut of Dairy.com in India.
The company has acquired a 100 percent stake in Mr. Milkman to strengthen its integrated supply chain solution offerings. According to reports, the deal could be valued at $10-15 million. Dairy.com could be looking at other targets in dairy-tech and agri-tech spaces as well.
The companies said they will use combined expertise in agribusiness and development resources to enable and innovate last-mile dairy supply chain solutions for India, North America, and European markets.
Mr. Milkman works with large and mid-sized dairies, milk brands, and individual milk suppliers using an online SaaS platform.
Shadowfax launches delivery SuperApp
Logistics startup Shadowfax has launched its delivery SuperApp. The app's primary goal would be to accelerate growth of delivery partners by empowering them to access multiple opportunities via a single platform, the company said.
With this app, riders can access all companies through one app without having to register themselves individually with each company. This process is time-saving, convenient and seamless and provides access to complete information, thus increasing their earning shots, the company added.
For the sellers, the platform will be a personalised engine to upsell, cross sell and increase customer connect through tech-enabled last-mile delivery.
Shadowfax claims to have 5,000 employees with 100K+ daily active users (delivery partners) in more than 600+ cities in India, fulfilling 500k+ orders per day.
Uniphore enters strategic partnership with worxpertise to offer AI-powered business
Conversational automation platform Uniphore has announced a strategic partnership with worxpertise, a digital business solutions company.
The partnership will enable worxpertise to implement Uniphore’s platform for clients in India, Australia, New Zealand, and the US, the company said in a statement.
With this partnership, worxpertise will deploy Uniphore’s interaction analytics solution, U-Analyze, for client contact centres to drive agent performance and transform customer experiences with rapid solutions derived from real-time insights.
Using Uniphore’s AI and NLP (Natural Language Processing) capabilities, worxpertise’s clients will have access to quality monitoring of and listening to 100 percent of customer conversations, deliver smarter quality management, drive compliance, boost revenue and reduce customer churn, the company added.
worxpertise offers a comprehensive portfolio of services and solutions aimed at enhancing the customer experience and maximizing Customer Lifetime Value for their clients.
Indian gaming market poised to reach $3.9 billion in value by 2025: IAMAI Report
The Indian gaming market is poised to reach $3.9 billion in value by 2025, according to a report by IAMAI in collaboration with OnePlus and RedSeer. The report also highlighted that 40 percent of the gamers pay for their games with an average spend of Rs 230 per month.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the organic growth of digital games as mobile app downloads grew by 50 percent and user engagement went up by 20 percent, the study says. The increased gaming time has spurred the growth of hardcore gamers in India, even as casual games remain the most popular genre.
The report states that the sector is attracting huge investment interest with nearly $1 billion being invested in the sector in the last six months. India is currently home to over 430 million mobile gamers and the number of gamers is estimated to grow to 650 million by 2025.
Currently, mobile gaming dominates the Indian gaming sector, contributing more than 90 percent to the $1.6 billion gaming market. It is expected to further grow to generate $3.9 billion value by 2025, the report added.
Bitcoin hits $50k for first time in four weeks
Bitcoin hits $50k for first time in four weeks
Bitcoin, the world's biggest cryptocurrency by market value, rose above the $50,000 mark for the first time in four weeks on Tuesday, adding to a series of gains since the start of October.
The cryptocurrency fell below that level on September 7 amid a broader selloff in shares of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related firms that day. It continued to fall in September, hitting a low of $40,596 on September 21.
On Tuesday, Bitcoin rose as much as 2.35 percent to hit $50,398.10.
Cryptocurrency investment products and funds recorded inflows for a seventh straight week, as institutional investors warmed to more supportive statements from regulators, data from digital asset manager CoinShares showed on Monday.
Global technology & startup news
Self-regulation in social media not working: White House
Social media platforms have made clear that self-regulation is not working, the White House asserted on Monday, saying reports about efforts to attract young users and negative effects on teenagers' mental health are troubling.
"As we saw the revelations that came out in that interview, in our view, this is just the latest in a series of revelations about social media platforms that make clear that self-regulation is not working. That's long been the president's view and been the view of this administration," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.
Psaki was responding to questions about the revealing interview by Frances Haugen, a former product manager hired to help protect against election interference on Facebook, in this regard.
Meanwhile, Senator Edward Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, wrote to Facebook demanding answers after new research revealed that the company failed to meet commitments it made regarding the promotion of harmful advertisements to teen Facebook users.
According to research conducted by the Campaign for Accountability's Tech Transparency Project, as recently as September 2021, Facebook allowed advertisers to target teen users as young as 13-year-olds with inappropriate and dangerous content, including advertisements promoting "pill abuse, alcoholic beverages, anorexia, smoking, dating services, and gambling."
Amazon and Google set to attend White House forum on quantum technology
Amazon, Google and Microsoft are expected to join a Biden administration conference, focused on quantum technologies as the US government works to head off hacking threats and corner a burgeoning growth industry.
The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is hosting the event that will discuss critical applications of quantum computing, which is expected to operate millions of times faster than today's advanced supercomputers.
President Joe Biden's administration is especially focused on the national security implications of quantum technology, which promises the ability to easily crack encryption standards in use today.
Tesla ordered to pay over $130M to Black former worker over racism: WSJ
A federal jury on Monday ordered Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) to pay more than $130 million in damages to a Black former worker, finding he was subjected to a racially hostile work environment, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The jury determined that the company failed to take reasonable steps to prevent Owen Diaz, a contract worker who was employed as an elevator operator at Tesla's Fremont factory in 2015 and 2016, from being racially harassed, the report said.
In a message to employees that Tesla posted on its website, the automaker noted the trial concerned racial slurs heard on the factory floor and racist graffiti in the bathrooms.
It also said the three times that Diaz complained about harassment, Tesla stepped in and made sure action was taken by staffing agencies.
The jury awarded Diaz $6.9 million in compensatory damages and $130 million in punitive damages, according to WSJ.
"While we strongly believe that these facts don't justify the verdict reached by the jury in San Francisco, we do recognize that in 2015 and 2016 we were not perfect," Tesla said.
Tesla said, in its blog post, that since Diaz worked at the Fremont factory, it had made changes including the establishment of teams dedicated to investigating employee complaints and ensuring employees had equal opportunities at the company.
Last year, the electric carmaker disclosed in its first US diversity report that Black employees make up just 4 percent of Tesla's American leadership roles and 10 percent of its total workforce in the country.
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