There were several development in the startup space during the day on Wednesday. Here are important startup updates of the day:
TikTok scales down India operations; read full text of mail to staff
ByteDance, the company which owns the app TikTok, said today that it was scaling down its India operations. This follows the Indian government banning many Chinese apps, including TikTok, last year.
“We simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while our apps remain un-operational,” TikTok CEO Vaness Pappas, and the company’s Vice President Blake Chandlee, said in a jointly signed mail to its 2000-odd employees in India.
It is not clear how many employees have been let go.
Funding of the day
• Vista Rooms raises Rs 10 cr driven by booming demand for staycations
Hospitality brand Vista Rooms that manages a network of curated holiday home rentals across India, has raised RS 10 crore in Pre Series A funding. The round was led by DSG Consumer Partners, with participation from investors including CA Holdings, Artha India Ventures and Anand Ladsariya.
With fresh funds, the venture is looking to scale its network of properties to over 1,000 within the next 18-24 months. The growth enabled by the funding will be fourfold - launching new locations, building team, improving technology and furthering brand awareness.
• VenWiz raises $3 mn in Seed funding from Accel and Nexus Venture Partners
Industrial services platform VenWiz has raised $3mn in seed round led by Accel India and Nexus Venture Partners with participation from other investors including Titan Capital, Anand Chandrasekaran(Five9), Rajendra S Meht(ex-Reliance).
The funds will be used for talent acquisition, strengthening technology and business expansion.
• Zouk raises an undisclosed amount in Seed funding
Vegan Lifestyle Brand Zouk has raised an undisclosed amount in Seed funding. The funding round is led by investors, including Titan Capital and founders of Beardo and Mamaearth.
With this fresh round of investment, the company plans to expand its operations across India and abroad and optimize supply chain.
Pine Labs launches AllTap App for small merchants to accept contactless payments via their smartphones
Merchant commerce platform Pine Labs has today launched an AllTap app with am aim to accelerate digital payments adoption in India. Specially designed for small merchants, this free to download app can enable the user to immediately start accepting digital payments without the need of any additional hardware. As of now the app Pine Labs AllTap app is available on Google Play Store
What’s OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s next venture? Nothing
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei tweeted this month that he is planning to unveil his “new brand on the 27th”. Pei has revealed details about this ‘top-secret’ brand today and it’s called Nothing.
According to an official statement Nothing is “a new forward-thinking consumer technology company based in London.”
“It’s been a while since anything interesting happened in tech. It is time for a fresh breeze of change,” said Carl Pei, CEO and founder of Nothing. “Nothing’s mission is to remove barriers between people and technology to create a seamless digital future. We believe that the best technology is beautiful, yet natural and intuitive to use. When sufficiently advanced, it should fade into the background and feel like nothing.”
This announcement comes shortly after a $7 million round in seed financing in December 2020 from a clutch of high-profile investors including notable tech leaders and investors such as Tony Fadell, Casey Neistat, Kevin Lin, Steve Huffman and Josh Buckley. The most recent addition to this list was Kunal Shah, founder of CRED who has also backed Nothing.
Walmart plans to fill online orders with help from robots at some US stores
Walmart will add small robot-staffed warehouses to dozens of its stores to help fill orders for pickup and delivery, as Americans shift their spending online amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The robots will work behind the scenes, picking frozen and refrigerated foods as well as smaller general merchandise items from inside the warehouses, or local fulfillment centers, that will carry “thousands of frequently purchased items.”
Google revives Australia news platform launch amid content payment fight
Google is reviving plans to launch its own news website in Australia within weeks, according to a local media outlet contracted to provide articles for the venture, as the search giant fights world-first proposed laws on content payments.
The launch of the News Showcase product as early as next month is Google’s latest tactic in a high-profile campaign against the Australian government’s planned legislation to make the company pay local news providers for content that appears in its search engine.
Twitter acquires newsletter startup Revue
Twitter has acquired email newsletter startup, Revue, as the microblogging platform seeks to attract users who want to make money from their followers.
Twitter, which did not disclose the deal value, said it would make Revue’s premium features free for all users starting Tuesday and lower the paid newsletter fee to help writers retain more of the revenue generated from subscriptions.
Following the takeover, Revue will operate as a standalone service and expand its team by hiring for key roles across engineering, design, research and data science.
SoftBank ties up with Iris Ohyama to recharge robotics ambitions
SoftBank Group Corp’s robotics unit has announced a joint venture with Japanese electronics maker Iris Ohyama, as the conglomerate looks to juice up its robotics business.
SoftBank Robotics, whose Pepper robot is a symbol of the company and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son’s grand technological ambitions, is an outlier, as the group eschews operating businesses in favour of investing.