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Startup Digest: Freshworks lists on Nasdaq, Facebook spent over $13 bn on safety, security since 2016

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Here are the top headlines from the startup space:

Startup Digest: Freshworks lists on Nasdaq, Facebook spent over $13 bn on safety, security since 2016
Here are the top headlines from the startup space:
Freshworks lists on Nasdaq after billion-dollar IPO
Freshworks has become the first Indian SaaS startup to list on the Nasdaq stock exchange, raising over $ 1.03 billion from investors through its IPO at a market cap of $10.13 billion.
The San Mateo-based startup sold 28.5 million shares at a price of $36, up from the marketed range of $32-$34 the company announced earlier this week. It is a SaaS company focused on customer relationship tools. It has products like Fresh Desk Fresh Service and Fresh Sales, which provides tools to help you interact with your customers, and with sales sales as well as marketing. Founded in 2010 in a tiny warehouse in Chennai, Freshworks today has put the India SaaS on the global technology map.
Unicorns Unacademy, Udaan, CRED top 2021 LinkedIn Top Startups India list
Learning platform Unacademy has topped the 2021 LinkedIn Top Startups India list followed by B2B e-commerce platform Udaan, and fintech firm CRED, as a predominantly remote reality during the pandemic accelerated digital transformation for firms and consumers alike. Determined by the actions of more than 76 million professionals in India on the platform, the annual LinkedIn Top Startups list reveals 25 young, emerging companies where India wants to work now.
Unacademy took the pole position on the list, with its valuation soaring to $3.44 billion as the platform explored new learning paths for upskilling, hiring, and creator-led courses.
Following suit was India's largest B2B e-commerce platform Udaan at the second place, and CRED (3rd), an Indian fintech company that aims to simplify payments for credit card holders and various e-commerce transactions.
Others in the top 10 include upGrad (4th), Razorpay (5th), Meesho (6th), Skyroot Aerospace (7th), boAt (8th), Urban Company (9th) and Agnikul Cosmos (10th).
The report further noted that amid the digital boom, India remained bullish on upskilling, which reflects across the list with Unacademy, upGrad, and Lido(19th) featuring as the top ed-tech and mentorship players.
The list also captures the rise of fintech players as the top three contactless payment solutions featured on the list include CRED, RazorPay, and FamPay (24th).
While edtech, fintech, and cloud-based platforms lead the show, increased digitisation and investor interest have promoted the expansion of agri-tech startups such as nurture.farm (14th) and Ninjacart (22nd).
AI-driven customer service startups Cogno AI (17th) and Verloop.io (20th), and space-tech players Skyroot Aerospace, boAt, and Agnikul Cosmos also debut on this year's list.
Eupheus acquires ClassKlap for $19M to expand footprint: Reports
B2B edtech startup Eupheus Learning has acquired student personalization startup ClassKlap in an all-stock deal at a valuation of $19 million (approximately ₹140 crore).
The combined entity will now have a reach of 18,000 schools, as per reports.
ClassKlap, which also operates in the B2B edtech segment, is a school-based personalized curriculum programme adopted by more than 800 affordable private schools across India.
While Eupheus Learning has been focused on premium schools, ClassKlap has been dominant in affordable private schools with a technology application to personalize learning for school children.
Eupheus Learning last week raised $10 million in a Series C funding from private equity firm Lightrock India.
Veeba launches a new plant protein and jaggery-based Health Food Drink for kids ‘Provee’
B2B Sauce and Condiments company Veeba Food has announced the launch of their new health food drink (HFD) brand for kids - ‘Provee’.
With Provee, Veeba aims to bring the Indian superfoods to mainstream thus the inclusion of ingredients like Jaggery, Ragi and Badam, the company said in a statement.
Provee is made in collaboration with Indian mothers and has 21 essential nutrients to support the ABC of nutrition. The product will be available across Delhi/NCR, Kolkata, and Karnataka, as per the company. Veeba currently has a presence across 450+ cities in the country and offers a wide range of sauces, spreads, dips, nut butter, desserts toppings to the Indian market across General Trade, Modern trade and QSRs.
Gig workers move SC alleging violation of rights to social security by Ola, Uber, Zomato, Swiggy
The trade union of ‘gig workers’ has moved the Supreme Court alleging violation of fundamental ‘Rights to Social Security’ by Ola, Uber, Zomato and Swiggy.
The Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT), which comprises mobileapp-based transport workers and delivery workers across India, has moved the apex court against four platforms - Ola, Uber, Zomato, and Swiggy.
They are alleging that the way these partnership agreements are structured, it leads to exploitation through forced labour.
These workers say that they have a fundamental Right to Social Security and the structure of these arrangements that these partner drivers have with the companies is exploitative and is violative of the fundamental rights.
They point out that whatever term and terminology is used by these platforms, there is no denying the fact that there is an employer-employee relationship between these drivers, gig workers and the platforms and that needs recognition.
The union say that these gig workers should be recognised as workers under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, which would help them avail of benefits under various government schemes.
Karnataka passes bill to ban online gambling
The Karnataka legislative assembly on Tuesday passed a bill to amend the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 to ban all forms of gambling in the state, including online gambling.
The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced by Home Minister Araga Jnanendra and was passed amid the opposition’s scepticism of police’s capabilities in tackling new forms of gambling – including online betting on sports, online gaming and poker. The home minister said that the new law was necessary since it has been increasingly difficult for the police to tackle gambling and betting in the context of a recent order from a bench of the state high court at Dharwad – which has barred the police from carrying out raids on gambling dens.
The bill aims to strengthen provisions of the Karnataka Police Act to make gambling a cognisable and non-bailable offence and “include the use of cyberspace including computer resources or any communication device as defined in the Information Technology Act, 2000 in the process of gaming to curb the menace of gaming through the internet, mobile apps”.
The amended law prescribes a three-year jail term for gambling instead of one year and a fine of up to Rs one lakh. The law exempts only bets on horse races from the purview of gambling.
Amazon spends Rs 8,546 Cr in legal expenses during 2018-20 to maintain presence in India
Ecommerce giant Amazon, which is said to be investigating alleged bribes paid by its legal representatives in India, spent a staggering Rs 8,546 crore or $1.2 billion in legal expenses for maintaining a presence in the country during 2018-20, sources said.
Sources aware of the firm's public account filings said six entities of Amazon – Amazon India, Amazon Retail India, Amazon Seller Services, Amazon Transportation Services, Amazon Wholesale (India), and Amazon Internet Services – paid Rs 3,420 crore in India during 2018-19 and Rs 5,126 crore during 2019-20 towards legal fees.
Amazon is locked in a legal tussle over the takeover of Future Group and is facing a probe by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
While the company declined to comment on the legal fee issue, traders body CAIT claimed that Amazon spending 20 percent of its revenue on lawyers was questionable.
"The whopping amount spent under legal professional fees clearly shows how Amazon and its subsidiaries are misusing their financial muscles to bribe and manipulate Indian government officials," CAIT National Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal wrote to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal.
Without offering any proof for his claim, he demanded a CBI inquiry.
On Monday, a report by Morning Context stated that Amazon has initiated an investigation against some of its legal representatives for allegedly bribing Indian government officials. Its senior corporate counsel has reportedly been sent on leave in this matter.
The company had stated that it takes allegations of improper actions seriously and investigates them fully to take appropriate action. While it did not confirm or deny the allegations, Amazon had said it has "zero tolerance for corruption".
"Which company over the globe while spending more than 20 per cent of its accrued revenue on paying to lawyers is able to sustain in business and that too even making losses year by year but yes it is global e-tailer Amazon in India which is a living example of this mind-boggling acrimony," CAIT alleged on Tuesday.
Khandelwal in a statement claimed that Amazon has spent about "Rs 8,500 crore on legal and professional fees against a turnover of about Rs 45,000 crore in two years (2018-20)".
Amazon also faces a probe by India''s fair trade watchdog CCI for alleged anti-competitive practices, predatory pricing and preferential treatment of sellers.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Facebook spent over $13Bn on safety, security since 2016
Facebook has invested more than $13 billion in safety and security measures since 2016, days after a newspaper reported the company had failed to fix "the platform's ill effects" researchers had identified.
As per Reuters, the social media giant said it now has 40,000 people working on safety and security, compared with 10,000 five years ago.
Facebook played down the negative effects on young users of its Instagram app and had a weak response to alarms raised by employees over how the platform is used in developing countries by human traffickers, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.
"In the past, we didn't address safety and security challenges early enough in the product development process," the company said in a blog post. "But we have fundamentally changed that approach."
Facebook said its artificial intelligence technology has helped it block 3 billion fake accounts in the first half of this year. The company also removed more than 20 million pieces of false COVID-19 and vaccine content. The company said it now removes 15 times more content that violates its standards on hate speech across Facebook and its image-sharing platform Instagram than when it first began reporting it in 2017.
Bill Gates' green tech fund bets on Silicon Valley farming robots
Iron Ox, a Silicon Valley startup that believes robots can grow produce more sustainably, said it raised $50 million (roughly Rs. 370 crores) in a funding round led by Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy Ventures, according to Reuters.
Iron Ox uses robots that are integrated with a hydroponic system consuming 90 percent less water than traditional farms, said CEO Brandon Alexander.
The company is putting that system to work at a 10,000-square foot (930 square metre) greenhouse in Gilroy, California, where a self-driving robot named Grover moves pallets of Genovese Basil and a robotic arm system lifts the pallets for inspection. Sensors check the water for nitrogen and acidity levels for healthy growth.
Iron Ox grows Thai basil and strawberries and is working on cilantro, parsley, and tomatoes. The company is also building a new 535,000-square-foot greenhouse in Lockhart, Texas, 30 miles (48km) south of Austin.
The funding round included investors from Crosslink Capital, R7 Partners, and Pathbreaker Ventures, among others. Iron Ox declined to comment on its valuation.
DiCaprio invests in cultivated meat startups Mosa Meat, Aleph Farms
US actor Leonardo DiCaprio is investing in and joining the advisory boards of two cultivated meat startups Aleph Farms and Mosa Meat, Reuters reported.
"Mosa Meat and Aleph Farms offer new ways to satisfy the world's demand for beef, while solving some of the most pressing issues of current industrial beef production," DiCaprio said in a statement.
"I'm very pleased to join them as an advisor and investor, as they prepare to introduce cultivated beef to consumers," DiCaprio added.
Adobe’s recurring revenue figures barely top Street view
Adobe has reported third-quarter net income of $1.21 billion, or $2.52 a share, compared with $955 million, or $1.97 a share, in the year-ago period.
Adjusted earnings were $3.11 a share, compared with $2.57 a share a year ago. Revenue rose to a record $3.94 billion from $3.23 billion in the year-ago quarter.
“Adobe had another outstanding quarter as Creative Cloud, Document Cloud and Experience Cloud continue to transform storytelling, learning and conducting business in a digital-first world,” said Shantanu Narayen, president and chief executive of Adobe, in a statement.
Annual recurring revenue, a software-as-a-service metric that shows how much revenue the company can expect based on subscriptions, for digital media was $11.67 billion. Analysts had forecast $11.65 billion.
Adobe expects fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of about $3.18 a share on revenue of about $4.07 billion, while analysts forecast earnings of $3.08 a share on revenue of $4.04 billion.
Toast sells shares in IPO at $40, topping range & valuing restaurant-tech company at $20Bn
Restaurant-technology vendor Toast priced its IPO on Tuesday at $40 a share, CNBC reported. The offering was above the expected range and values the company at about $20 billion.
Toast had expected to sell shares at $34 to $36 a piece, after raising the range from $30 to $33. The company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol “TOST.” Toast’s IPO comes after a roller-coaster stretch in the pandemic during which revenue initially sank by 80% as restaurants closed and cities across the country shut down. The company slashed half of its workforce in mid-2020 and took desperate measures to stay afloat.
Google to buy more office space in NYC as big tech swoops down on real estate
Google plans to buy an office building in Manhattan for $2.1 billion, as the company’s search engine giant joins fellow technology companies in investing in prime real estate, even as hybrid work models become common. The deal for St. John's Terminal site in New York City, which Google currently leases, will complete in the first quarter of next year, Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat said in a blog post on Tuesday.
The space is expected to open by mid-2023.
Google's latest investment "builds upon our existing plans to invest more than $250 million this year in our New York campus presence," Porat said.
The investment comes at a time when most of its employees are working remotely and it has extended its voluntary return-to-office policy through January.
Netflix buys the entire catalog of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ author Roald Dahl
Netflix has acquired the entire catalog of Roald Dahl, the beloved children’s author known for works including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Matilda.”
The US streaming giant announced on Wednesday that it has bought the Roald Dahl Story Company, which manages the rights to the British novelist’s characters and stories. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Excited to announce that the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC) and Netflix are joining forces to bring some of the world’s most loved stories to current and future fans in creative new ways,” Netflix said in a tweet, which featured a chocolate bar being unwrapped to reveal a golden ticket, in reference to the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
It comes three years after Netflix signed a deal to create a slate of new animated productions based on the works of Dahl, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Matilda” and “The BFG.”
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