STARTUP DIGEST: IPO-bound PharmEasy strengthens board, Ola Electric to employ 10,000 women staff


There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Monday. Here’s a wrap of the top startup headlines.

STARTUP DIGEST: IPO-bound PharmEasy strengthens board, Ola Electric to employ 10,000 women staff
There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Monday. Here’s a wrap of the top startup headlines.
PharmEasy strengthens board ahead of IPO
In the run-up to its IPO, online pharmacy PharmEasy has strengthened its board by appointing five independent directors.
With the new appointments, API Holdings’ board strength stands increased to 12 directors. The new appointments to the board include: Vineeta Rai, ex-revenue secretary, Subramanian Somasundaram, former CFO of Titan; Ramakant Sharma, founder and COO of Livspace; Dr Jaydeep Tank, the secretary-general, FOGSI and Deepak Vaidya.
“The fresh appointments bring a great amount of cognitive diversity to the board, with luminaries from the world of public service, technology, pharma, medical fraternity, and the consumer sector," the company said in a statement.
PharmEasy, owned by API Holdings, is planning to file its draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) with market regulator SEBI by October, The Economic Times had reported.
The IPO is likely to hit the market later this fiscal year. The company is aiming a valuation of $9 billion after its IPO and has already hired Morgan Stanley and Kotak Mahindra Capital as advisers for IPO.
IPO-bound Pine Labs converts to a public company: Report
Merchant commerce platform Pine Labs has passed a resolution to convert its Singapore-based holding entity from private to public, Entrackr reported.
With this, the company has been renamed from Pine Labs Pte to Pine Labs Limited, indicating that the company’s IPO preparation has started to gather momentum.
The digital payments service provider is eyeing a listing in the US in the next 18 months.
In conversation with CNBC-TV18 in July, Amrish Rau, Pine Labs CEO said, "Our company is at the size and scale where the public market will appreciate what we build. Over the next 18 months we are looking for an IPO."
Stripe is discussing public listing for 2022 with bankers: Report
Digital payments company Stripe last valued at nearly $100 billion, is in early discussions with investment banks about going public as soon as next year, sources told Bloomberg News.
The 11-year-old company is considering a market debut through a direct listing or initial public offering (IPO). Its plans including the timing could still change, the report added.
Stripe, founded by brothers John and Patrick Collison, is one of the most anticipated listings in years and among the biggest private companies to ever go public. Already, the Collisons each have a net worth of $11.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Stripe had raised $600 million in March at a valuation of $95 billion. That makes it the most valuable US startup and one of the biggest globally alongside TikTok parent ByteDance, according to data provider CB Insights.
Ola Electric to employ 10,000 women staff
As it gears up to commence sales of its maiden electric scooter, the S1, this week, Ola Electric has announced it is employing an all-women workforce at its sprawling ‘Futurefactory’ facility in Bengaluru.
In a blog post, Ola Electric chairman Bhavish Aggarwal announced the Ola Futurefactory will be run entirely by women, and that the company welcomed its first batch of factory workers this week.
“Once the plant reaches full capacity, it will have over 10,000 female employees”, Aggarwal added.
In his post, Aggarwal mentioned that with this, the Ola Futurefactory will become the ‘world’s largest women-only factory’ and also ‘the only all-women automotive manufacturing facility globally’.
Ola Electric is working on training and upskilling women in ‘core manufacturing skills’ so that they are fully in charge of the production process of every vehicle manufactured at the Futurefactory, Aggarwal added.
“Enabling women with economic opportunities improves not just their lives but that of their families and indeed the whole community. In fact, studies show that just providing women parity in the labour workforce can grow India’s GDP by 27 percent. But this requires active and conscious efforts from all of us, especially in manufacturing where participation remains the lowest at just 12%. For India to be the world’s manufacturing hub, we must prioritize upskilling and generating employment for our women workforce”, said Aggarwal.
Flipkart in line for a 50% rise in its annualised GMV at $23 bn: Report
Flipkart Group clocked gross merchandise value (GMV) of around $15 billion last calendar year and is currently on an annualised GMV run rate of $23 billion, according to ET.
Of the current annualised GMV, around $20 billion is estimated to be from Flipkart while the rest is from its fashion focused platform Myntra, the report added.
Separately, a report from wealth management firm Bernstein said Flipkart, excluding Myntra, had clocked GMV of around $12.5 billion in calendar 2020 while Myntra clocked $2 billion. The same report said its rival Amazon India clocked a GMV of around $11.5 billion during the year.
Zomato to stop grocery delivery service from Sept 17; shuts down nutraceutical business
Foodtech company Zomato has decided to stop its grocery delivery service from September 17 due to gaps in order fulfillment, leading to poor customer experience.
The company said that it believes that its investment in Grofers will generate better outcomes for its shareholders than in-house grocery efforts.
In an email to its grocery partners on September 11, Zomato said, "At Zomato, we believe in delivering best in class services to our customers and largest growth opportunities to our merchant partners. We don't believe that the current model is the best way to deliver these to our customers and merchant partners. Hence, we intend to stop our pilot grocery delivery service effective September 17, 2021".
The email mentioned that "store catalogues are very dynamic and inventory levels change frequently. This has led to gaps in order fulfillment, leading to the poor customer experience".
A Zomato spokesperson said, "We have decided to shut down our grocery pilot and as of now, have no plans to run any other form of grocery delivery on our platform. Grofers has found high-quality product-market fit in 10-minute grocery and we believe our investment in the company will generate better outcomes for our shareholders than our in-house grocery effort."
Earlier Zomato had said that it had invested $100 million (around Rs 745 crore) for acquiring a minority stake in grocery delivery platform Grofers.
In July Zomato CFO Akshant Goyal had said, "It (grocery) is a large opportunity. The online grocery is nascent right now but is growing rapidly not just in India but across the world..."
Zomato had launched the pilot grocery delivery service in July in select markets offering grocery delivery within 45 minutes to its customers.
After shutting down its grocery delivery service, online food delivery firm Zomato has pulled the plug on another business - Nutraceutical. Zomato had ventured into the nutraceutical business last year with the launch of health and fitness products.
According to a Moneycontrol report, the company has decided to shut it at a time when the government is trying to get stricter about private label norms for marketplace businesses in the country.
DigitalOcean taps into serverless computing with Nimbella acquisition
Cloud infrastructure company DigitalOcean has acquired serverless startup Nimbella in a bid to enhance its capabilities into the rapidly growing function-as-a-service (FaaS) market.
However, the companies did not share the terms of the deal. With Nimbella, the company is getting a platform for building serverless applications that is built on the open source container orchestration platform Kubernetes and Apache OpenWhisk, which is itself an open source serverless development platform.
DigitalOcean is best known for its infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform that helps software developers deploy and scale applications across multiple cloud servers. Fresh from its IPO, the New York-based company has been on a tear over the past six months, hitting a market cap of nearly $8 billion last week — 80 percent over its valuation in March.
DigitalOcean said the acquisition will complement its current PaaS and IaaS offerings and will eventually integrate Nimbella’s serverless compute tooling with its other core services and products.
“Serverless computing is the next evolution of cloud that further removes the need for developers to manage complex infrastructure,” DigitalOcean CEO Yancey Spruill said.
Peopleworks partners with MediBuddy; to provide healthcare benefits to over 200 corporate clients
Peopleworks, a HRM solution company, has partnered with digital healthcare platform MediBuddy, to provide comprehensive healthcare benefits.
Through this partnership, MediBuddy will be providing doctor consultations, health check-ups, lab tests, medicine delivery, and many more services available on their platform to over 200 corporate clients and close to 2 lakh employees that Peopleworks caters to.
Recipients will be able to access healthcare benefits seamlessly anytime and anywhere without any hassle, the company said in a statement.
China plans to break up Ant's Alipay and force creation of separate loans app - FT
Beijing wants to break up Alipay, payments app owned by Jack Ma's Ant Group, and create a separate app for the company's highly profitable loans business, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
The plan will also see Ant turn over the user data that underpins its lending decisions to a new credit scoring joint-venture, which will be partly state-owned.
State-backed firms are set to take a sizeable stake in Ant's credit-scoring joint venture for the first time, three people told Reuters last week.
The partners plan to establish a personal credit-scoring firm wherein Ant and Zhejiang Tourism Investment Group will each own 35% of the venture, while other state-backed partners, Hangzhou Finance and Investment Group and Zhejiang Electronic Port, will each hold slightly more than 5%, said one of the people.
According to the FT report, Ant will not be China's only online lender affected by the new rules.
In April, Chinese regulators asked Ant to conduct a sweeping business overhaul, include turning Ant itself into a financial holding firm, and fold its two lucrative micro-loan businesses Jiebei and Huabei, into the new consumer finance firm.
Chinese regulatory authorities have been targeting Ant Group and other internet "platform" giants in a wide-ranging crackdown encompassing antitrust and privacy issues, user data and cryptocurrencies.
In fresh regulatory move, China tells tech giants to stop blocking rivals' links
China fired a fresh regulatory shot at its tech giants on Monday, telling them to end a long-standing practice of blocking each other's links on their sites or face consequences, Reuters reported.
The comments, made by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) at a news briefing, mark the latest step in Beijing's broad regulatory crackdown that has ensnared sectors from technology to education and property and wiped billions of dollars off the market value of some of the country's largest companies.
China's internet is dominated by a handful of technology giants which have historically blocked links and services by rivals on their platforms.
Restricting normal access to internet links without proper reason "affects the user experience, damages the rights of users and disrupts market order," said MIIT spokesperson Zhao Zhiguo, adding that the ministry had received reports and complaints from users since it launched a review of industry practices in July.
"At present we are guiding relevant companies to carry out self-examination and rectification," he said, citing instant messaging platforms as one of the first areas they were targeting.
The MIIT did not name any companies, but the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported on Saturday that Alibaba Group and Tencent were among the firms told to end the practice by an unspecified time last week, the report said.
'Fortnite' creator Epic Games to appeal ruling in Apple case
"Fortnite" game maker Epic Games has said in a legal filing that it plans to appeal a ruling in its antitrust case against Apple after a federal judge on Friday handed down a mixed decision.
As per Reuters, the judge on Friday said Apple would have to loosen some rules on developers. But the ruling favored Apple on many counts, including allowing the iPhone maker to continue its prohibition of third-party, in-app payment systems.
It also allowed Apple to continue to charge commissions of 15% to 30% for its own in-app payment system.
Epic had said it would continue its legal fight. Analysts said the impact may depend heavily on how Apple chooses to implement the judge's decision. Apple's critics and rivals said they are more likely to turn to legislators, rather than courts, to pursue the changes they seek.
ViacomCBS to restructure Paramount Pictures - WSJ
ViacomCBS is revamping the operations of its Paramount Pictures movie and television production unit under a broader management shake-up, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The realignment will see Paramount Television expected to focus primarily on making content for its sister cable and streaming networks, the report added.
Paramount Television creates content for media platforms such as Apple TV+ platform and Netflix.
The new structure, expected to be unveiled on Monday, will have the movie and television arms run as separate entities.
Nickelodeon chief Brian Robbins will oversee films while David Nevins, a long-time ViacomCBS television executive, will head the Paramount television unit, the report said.