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Startup Digest: Flipkart sees strong quarter, says Walmart, Ola goes hiring after slew of exits, Twitter opens the gates for app developers, Elon Musk & Tesla under the spotlight

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Here’re the top stories from the startup and technology space

Startup Digest: Flipkart sees strong quarter, says Walmart, Ola goes hiring after slew of exits, Twitter opens the gates for app developers, Elon Musk & Tesla under the spotlight
Here’re the top stories from the startup and technology space:
India Startup News
Flipkart doubles fulfilment capacity YoY, sees strong quarter, says Walmart
Ecommerce major Flipkart doubled its fulfilment capacity versus last year preparing for the festive season, with dozens of new fulfilment centres, more than 1,000 last mile delivery hubs and expanded relationship with kirana partners, Walmart said during its Q3 earnings call on Tuesday.
"Festive season was off to a good start for Walmart with Big Billion Days in India," CEO Doug McMillon said.
"Flipkart had another strong quarter, with strong sales and favourable trends in monthly active users,' the Walmart management said during the call, adding that Flipkart, China and Mexico saw strong growth during the September quarter.
Walmart International net sales were $23.6 billion, a decrease of $5.9 billion, or 20.1%, negatively affected by $9.4 billion related to divestitures, the company said. Changes in currency exchange rates positively affected net sales by approximately $1.3 billion.
However, without the divestitures, Walmart saw international sales growth of 10% in constant currency terms, led by India, China and Mexico. International Profit was up 17.5% excluding divestitures, the company said.
Ola strengthens leadership team following a series of exits
Ride-hailing platform Ola on Tuesday announced the joining of P V Harinarayan as vice-president (lending) at Ola Financial Services. V Ramesh has joined as the head (operations) at Ola Future Factory and Priteesh Mahajan has been named as head of two-wheeler programme management and product planning at Ola Electric.
Ahead of its IPO, Ola has also seen a number of exits of senior executives, including that of Swayam Saurabh (Ola Chief Financial Officer) and Gaurav Porwal (Chief Operating Officer) and Sandeep Chowdhury (General Counsel).
MoneyControl has reported that Ola Electric has let go of its Head of Quality Assurance Joseph Thomas, after hiring him barely a year ago. His exit comes amid delays in its scooter delivery schedule.
However, the Bengaluru-based company has made many appointments as well, including that of Arun Sirdeshmukh (Ola Cars CEO) and Vinay Bhopatkar (head of delivery business). Ola, in its statement, said it has also accelerated hiring across all levels to build a deep bench strength of talent and leadership pipeline.
Thrasio-style G.O.A.T Brand Labs acquires kids clothing brand Frangipani
Tiger Global and Flipkart Ventures-backed G.O.A.T Brand Labs has acquired Mumbai-based kids clothing brand Frangipani. The company has also acquired a women's lifestyle brand and an inner wear or loungewear brand but did not disclose the names of the targets, according to MoneyControl.
Rishi Vasudev, Co-founder and CEO of G.O.A.T Brand Labs, which stands for Greatest Of All Time, said, “Each of our acquisitions is special and strengthens G.O.A.T Brand Labs as a D2C accelerator platform.”
He also added that GOAT will be looking to scale at least 25 D2C brands to Rs 100 crore in the next 3-4 years. Further, the company aims to grow Frangipani at least 5x in the next 2 years.
G.O.A.T Labs is modelled on the lines of New York-based e-commerce player Thrasio, which acquires small merchants and brands listed on Amazon marketplace and provides them with technology, digital marketing, and sales chops to accelerate growth.
Yulu launches ‘Yulu Max Network’ to accelerate electric 2W adoption
E-mobility service provider Yulu has launched a network of battery-charging and swapping stations named ‘Yulu Max Network’.
The Max Network will help users swap their batteries with zero downtime and enhance range of two-wheeler EVs.
The first batch of 10 Yulu Max stations was launched in Bengaluru and will be swiftly expanded to 100 stations in the next three months, the company statement said.
Yulu plans to create a network of 500 Max Stations in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi NCR by mid-2022 to facilitate the adoption of electric 2-wheelers in India.
The Max Networks will increase the initial battery charging & swapping capacity from 10,000 battery swaps per day to 25,000 battery swaps per day by the end of next quarter, the company said. It is targeting more than 2,000 Max Stations and 150,000 battery swaps per day by the end of 2022.
Locus and NextBillion.ai Announce Strategic Partnership to Transform Supply Chain
Locus, a global technology platform that solves logistics challenges using proprietary algorithms, has announced its strategic partnership with NextBillion.ai, an enterprise Map Data and AI platform.
For NextBillion.ai’s customers, the strategic partnership will power use-cases like — AI-fueled route optimization, on-demand dispatch planning, last-mile optimization, on-demand deliveries, pooling and order batching, and emergency services dispatch.
This new partnership will help Locus provide its clients customer-specific routing preferences, road restrictions and routing behavior of individual vehicle types. The logistics automation platform will also be able to offer fast map updates and integrated turn-by-turn navigation.
“Our shared vision of providing full stack solutions and scalable enterprise tech solutions in logistics is a key driver of our partnership with NextBillion.ai. We are confident that with NextBillion’s data layer and Locus’ AI & ML application capabilities we will unlock new supply chain solutions and empower enterprises in this space”, said Nishith Rastogi, Founder and CEO of Locus.
Locus’ solutions include route optimization, real-time tracking and analytics, sales beat optimization, territory planning, vehicle allocation and network design. The company claims that its platform has resulted in more than $150 million of savings in logistics costs, over 70 million kilometer reductions in distance traveled, and 17 million kilograms reduction in GHG emissions across its clientbase, which includes like Nestle, Mondelez, Unilever, BigBasket, Bluedart, Bukalapak, The Tata Group, and many others.
Edtech startup Mindler acquires Immrse to provide virtual internships
Mindler Education has acquired Immrse - a virtual internship platform, according to an Economic Times report. The financial details remain undisclosed.
Through this deal, Mindler will be focusing on making virtual career internships accessible to school and college students via schools/institutions, career counsellors and edtech partners, said the report.
Global Technology & Startup News
Twitter expands free data access for app developers
Twitter has said that it will expand free access to the social networking site's data to help software developers create tools and products that could promote safer online conversations or curate content, Reuters reported.
The move is part of Twitter's growing effort over the past year to decentralize the company, a vision that aims to give users more control over what content they see in their Twitter feed or have new ways of sharing content on the site, Amir Shevat, Twitter's head of product for the developer platform, said in an interview.
The effort to increase developer access also comes as Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies are facing global scrutiny over how their algorithms surface certain content and their role in allowing misinformation or hate speech to spread.
Developers can access data on up to 2 million tweets per month through Twitter's application programming interface (API) at no cost, according to Reuters.
The company also changed its API policy to allow for more use cases, including removing restrictions on competing with Twitter, Shevat said.
Google commits $740 million to Australia months after threatening pull-out
Google will spend $736 million in Australia over five years, the tech giant said, just months after it threatened to pull its services from the country in response to tougher government regulation, according to a Reuters report.
The main operating unit of Alphabet said it planned to expand cloud infrastructure, set up a research hub staffed by Australian researchers and engineers and partner with science agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva, who earlier this year threatened to block Google’s search engine in the country, said the spending plan would bring significant technology resources and investment.
Silva threatened during hearings in Australia’s parliament in January to block Google’s search engine to avoid laws forcing the company and social media operator Facebook to pay news outlets for content posted to their websites.
However, the law went ahead and Google backed away from its threat. Both Google and Facebook instead struck licensing deals with most of Australia’s main media companies.
Tesla's Elon Musk sells $930 million in shares to cover stock option tax
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sold $930 million in shares to meet tax withholding obligations related to the exercise of stock options, US securities filings showed on Monday.
Musk sold 934,091 shares after exercising options to buy 2.1 million stocks at $6.24 each on Monday. Tesla shares closed at $1,013.39. He is required to pay income taxes on the difference between the exercise price and fair market value of the shares, according to Reuters.
This is the second time in a week that the billionaire has exercised his stock option. Last Monday, he sold another 934,000 shares for $1.1 billion after exercising options to acquire nearly 2.2 million shares.
The two options-related sales were set up in September via a trading plan that allows corporate insiders to establish preplanned transactions on a schedule, the filings said.
On Nov. 6, Musk polled Twitter users about selling 10% of his stake, pushing down Tesla's share price after a majority on Twitter said they agreed with the sale. It was not clear how or whether the trading plan related to Musk's Twitter poll.
JPMorgan sues Tesla for $162 million in warrants dispute
JP Morgan Chase filed suit against electric vehicle maker Tesla in a dispute over warrants, according to court filings out Monday. The bank is seeking $162.2 million plus interest, attorneys’ fees and expenses.
JP Morgan alleges that Tesla has breached the terms of a contract that the companies signed pertaining to re-pricing the warrants.
Tesla was supposed to deliver shares, or cash, if its share price went above a contractually set “strike price” by a certain expiration date, the complaint says.
But a dispute arose when JP Morgan made adjustments to the value of the warrants when Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted in August 2018 that he was considering taking the company private for $420 a share, and again when he rescinded the idea of privatizing Tesla a few weeks later.
JP Morgan claims it had a contractual right to make those adjustments, while Tesla said in a letter that they were “unreasonably swift and represented an opportunistic attempt to take advantage of changes in volatility in Tesla’s stock,” according to the filing.
Grab's ride-hailing services disrupted in Southeast Asian countries
Southeast Asia’s Grab on Tuesday said it was experiencing a disruption to its services, with customers and drivers in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia complaining that they were having trouble using the app’s ride-hailing functions.
“Some of our services are not accessible at the moment,” Grab posted on its Facebook page.
“We are looking into this and we will update when the app is back up and running.” Grab operates Southeast Asia’s most popular “super app”, which provide ride-hailing, food and grocery delivery and payments in over 400 locations in eight countries.
“We are experiencing some technical difficulties with the app and our engineers are working to recover the issue,” Grab said.
British electric truck startup Tevva raises $57 million in funding
British electric truck startup Tevva has raised $57 million in its latest funding round to ramp up production at its new London plant and deliver its first vehicles to customers by the end of 2022, according to Reuters. Tevva has now raised more than $90 million.
The British truck maker will have two zero-emission 7.5 tonne (7,500 kg) models available for customers - a battery electric model with a range of 160 miles (257 km), and an electric truck with a small reserve hydrogen fuel cell to boost its range to 310 miles if needed.
Tevva Chief Executive Asher Bennett told Reuters the backup hydrogen fuel cell would provide customers with greater flexibility in the event any of their trucks need to travel further.
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