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    STARTUP DIGEST: Here’re top 10 startup stories of the week

    STARTUP DIGEST: Here’re top 10 startup stories of the week

    STARTUP DIGEST: Here’re top 10 startup stories of the week
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    By Palak Agarwal   IST (Updated)


    The biggest news of the week came in from Google, as it launched a 10 billion dollar digitization fund for India. Google will also invest $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms as part of its commitment to drive digitization in India.

    The biggest news of the week came in from Google, as it launched a 10 billion dollar digitization fund for India. Google will also invest $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms as part of its commitment to drive digitization in India.
    The lockdown has helped e-commerce companies reduce cash burn as cost of acquisition comes down. In fact, value online retailer Snapdeal even turned a profit at the company level in June.
    On Young Turks, co-founder and CEO Kunal Bahl said that the e-commerce sector has seen a V-shaped recovery post the lockdown, with categories such as fashion seeing increased demand despite the pandemic.
    The week also saw Walmart investing $1.2 billion in Flipkart along with other existing investors.
    Here’s a roundup of the top startup stories this week:
    #1. Google announces $10-billion fund to drive digitisation in India
    Technology giant Google will invest INR 75,000 crore, or approximately $10 billion, into India over the next 5-7 years via the India Digitization Fund, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said.
    The investments will focus on four areas important to India’s digitization.
    First, enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, whether it’s Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi or any other. Second, building new products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique needs.
    Third, empowering businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation and fourth, leveraging technology and AI for social good, in areas like health, education, and agriculture, he said.
    Pichai also interacted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi
    #2. Google invest $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms
    Tech giant Google invest $4.5 billion (Rs 33,737 crore) in Jio Platforms taking a 7.73 percent stake in the company, pending regulatory review in India. This is the first investment from the Google For India Digitization Fund announced, which aims to accelerate India’s digital economy over the next five to seven years through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments.
    #3. Key announcements at the Reliance AGM and their impact on startup space
    Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani during the 43rd Annual General Meeting said, “No better partner for Indian startups than Jio and they are ready to help startups them reach their full potential and will play a leading role in India’s growth into a digital society”
    The recently-launched JioMeet, a high definition video conferencing application, crossed over 5 million users since the launch, said Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani.
    Reliance Jio also launched its latest innovation, Jio Glass, a new mixed reality headset, which will enable holographic video calling.
    JioMart and Facebook-owned WhatsApp will together create new opportunities, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani said Wednesday during the conglomerate’s 43rd annual general meeting. JioMart has led to over 2.5 lakh orders a day since its launch.
    Reliance Jio has also developed a Made-in-India 5G platform, said Mukesh Ambani. The new platform developed from scratch will enable Jio to launch a world-class 5G service in India, Ambani said while addressing the first-ever virtual annual general meeting of Reliance Industries.
    Announcements made by Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani at the 43rd Annual General Meeting has been lauded by the startup ecosystem.
    #4. Flipkart raises $1.2 billion at $24.9 billion valuation from Walmart, other existing investors
    Flipkart's majority shareholder, Walmart, has invested $1.2 billion in the e-commerce platform along with other existing investors valuing the firm at $24.9 billion. This is a $3.9 billion jump from 2018, when Walmart invested $16 billion in the company to acquire a majority stake.
    The investment will be done in two tranches till the remainder of the year.
    #5. Vedantu raises $100 M in Series D funding led by US-based Coatue
    Online LIVE tutoring company, Vedantu has raised $100 million as part of its Series D funding round. The funding was led by US-based investment firm Coatue with participation from existing investors - GGV Capital, Tiger Global, Omidyar Network and WestBridge Capital. Rahul Kishore, Managing Director, Coatue will also join Vedantu's board.
    With this round, Vedantu’s valuation jumps to $600 million making it the second most valued company in the Indian edtech space.
    #6. Unacademy invests $5 million in Mastree
    Ed-tech platform Unacademy has invested 5 million dollars in K-12 startup Mastree. The strategic investment will strengthen Unacademy’s presence in the K-12 segment.
    With this investment, Mastree will join the Unacademy Group, which consists of Wifistudy, Kreatryx, PrepLadder, and CodeChef.
    In addition to the investment, Unacademy has provided Blume Ventures an exit.
    #7. Amazon asks sellers to display Country of Origin by August 10
    Amazon has asked all sellers on its platform to start displaying the country of origin for all new and existing product listings, following pressure from the government on e-commerce companies to comply with the legal metrology rules.
    CNBC TV 18 had reported last week that e-commerce companies had begun working with sellers to ensure these details are updated.
    E-commerce companies are mandated to display the country of origin for products listed on the platform, as per the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Amendment Rules, 2017
    #8. Flipkart introduces ‘Part Payment’ to reduce product returns, but cash may still be king
    Flipkart has introduced a new payment method called ‘Part Payment’ to allow customers to make partial payment at the time of placing the order and the rest at the time of delivery.
    In a letter sent to sellers, Flipkart said the move will help reduce order cancellations and returns by customers.
    “Although prepaid transactions lead to fewer customer cancellations and returns, most buyers will choose to go for Cash on Delivery. This sometimes results in cancellations and return of products,” the e-commerce company said in the mail to sellers, which CNBC TV 18 has seen.
    Flipkart said it has launched the new payment feature for a few categories to begin with.
    The new payment method will let customers either pay a pre-paid amount and pay the rest on delivery, or pay the total amount in two prepaid transactions in a staggered manner.
    #9. Twitter silences some verified accounts after wave of hacks
    A series of high-profile Twitter accounts were hijacked on Wednesday, with some of the platform's top voices - including US presidential candidate Joe Biden, reality television show star Kim Kardashian, former US President Barack Obama, billionaire Elon Musk, and rapper Kanye West, among many others - used to solicit digital currency.
    Nearly two hours after the first wave of hacks, the cause of the breach had not yet been made public. In a sign of the seriousness of the problem, Twitter took the extraordinary step of preventing at least some verified accounts from publishing messages altogether.
    It was not clear whether all verified users were affected but, if they were, it would have a huge impact on the platform and its users. Verified users include celebrities, journalists, and news agencies as well as governments, politicians, heads of state, and emergency services.
    Twitter did not offer clarification but said in a statement that users "may be unable to tweet or reset your password while we review and address this incident."
    #10. India replies to US probe on 'Google Tax', says it stands firm on 2% digital tax
    Confirming CNBC-TV18's newsbreak, India on Friday said it stands firm on its decision to levy two percent digital services tax and justified its position by replying to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) as probe launched under Section 301 of the US Trade Act.
    According to the written response by India, "In complete good faith and transparency, with a view to explain and clarify the underlying policy rationale and implementation of the equalisation levy. The levy does not discriminate against non-resident e-commerce operators."
    "The underlying policy objective and application of India's equalisation levy, is to ensure that neutral and equitable taxation is applicable to e-commerce operators that are resident in India or have a physical presence in India and those that are not resident in India. The purpose is to ensure a level-playing field with regard to e-commerce activities undertaken in India," New Delhi said.
    Globally the startup ecosystem also saw some major developments. OTT platform Netflix added 10.09 million paid subscribers in Q2 as audiences’ binge-watched content from home. While revenue rose 24.9 percent to $6.15 billion the company has predicted that paid subscribers would dip below estimates in the third quarter, in an early sign that the lockdown boost to streaming may be waning.
    While reports suggest that home rental platform Airbnb has started to see business return from the lows of the lockdown as bookings rebound according to reports. CEO Brian Chesky told employees that its IPO plans are back on track - “We’re not committing to going public this year, but we’re not ruling it out, either,” he said.
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