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Startup Digest: Ixigo gets Sebi nod for Rs 1,600 cr IPO, Apple seeks dismissal of India apps market antitrust case, Cult.fit acquires equipment brands

Startup Digest: Ixigo gets Sebi nod for Rs 1,600 cr IPO, Apple seeks dismissal of India apps market antitrust case, Cult.fit acquires equipment brands
Travel firm Ixigo gets Sebi nod for Rs 1,600 crore IPO
Le Travenues Technology, which operates travel platform Ixigo has received capital markets regulator Sebi's approval to raise Rs 1,600 crore through an initial share-sale. The IPO comprises fresh issuance of shares worth Rs 750 crore and an offer of sale of equity shares to the tune of Rs 850 crore by existing shareholders.
As a part of the OFS, Saif Partners India IV will offload shares worth Rs 550 crore, Micromax Informatics will sell shares for Rs 200 crore, and Aloke Bajpai and Rajnish Kumar will divest stakes worth Rs 50 crore each. Proceeds of the fresh issue will be used to fund the company's organic and inorganic growth initiatives and for general corporate purposes. Bajpai currently holds a 9.18 percent stake in Ixigo, Kumar 8.79 percent, SAIF Partners 23.97 percent and Micromax 7.61 percent.
Snapdeal to file DRHP, to raise Rs 1,250 crore in fresh issue: Report
Snapdeal is all set to file a draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) to raise Rs 1,250 crore in fresh issue through an initial public offering (IPO), according to Moneycontrol.
The draft documents which broadly outline a company’s reasons to raise money, use of funds and risks is ready and would be filed with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) during the late evening. In the unlikely circumstances it may get delayed by a day.
The IPO will see Softbank, Snapdeal’s lead investor, reduce its shareholding from 34 percent to 24 percent. The company has appointed Bank of America, besides Axis Bank and JM Financial, for the public listing.
Apple seeks dismissal of India apps market antitrust case, cites tiny market share
Apple has asked antitrust watchdog to throw out a case alleging abuse of market power in the apps market, saying it is too small a player in the South Asian country where Google is dominant, a filing seen by Reuters shows.
The filing was made after the Competition Commission of India (CCI) started reviewing allegations that Apple hurts competition by forcing app developers to use its proprietary system which can charge commissions of up to 30 percent on in-app purchases.
Apple denied the allegations in its filing to the CCI and stressed that its market share in India is an "insignificant" 0-5 percent, while Google commands 90-100 percent as its Android operating system powers most other smartphones. "Apple is not dominant in the Indian market ... Without dominance, there can be no abuse," Apple said in the submission dated November 16 which was signed by its Chief Compliance Officer, Kyle Andeer.
"It has already been established that Google is the dominant player in India," it added. The complainant in the case, a little-known non-profit group called "Together We Fight Society", said that Apple with iOS dominates the market for non-licensable mobile operating systems. Apple countered that in its filing, saying the entire smartphone market - which includes licensable systems like Android - is the market that should be taken into consideration.
Apple also described the Indian complaint as a "proxy filing" in its CCI submission, saying that the complainant was "likely acting in concert with parties with whom Apple has ongoing commercial and contractual disputes globally and/or that have complained to other regulators."
The US tech company did not give any evidence in its submission to support its claim. The non-profit told Reuters that Apple's remark was "made to prejudice the mind" of the CCI "without any iota of proof." In the coming weeks, the CCI will review Apple's response to the allegations and could order a wider investigation or dismiss the case altogether if it finds no merit in it.
Cult.fit acquires RPM Fitness, 3 other equipment brands
Fitness & wellness startup Cult.Fit has acquired at-home cardio equipment brands - RPM fitness, Fitkit, and Onefitplus in a single transaction. The deal size was not disclosed. Cult is also making a foray into outdoor bicycles business with acquisition of brand Urban Terrain.
"The brands were built and scaled by Mohit Mathur and his team at Shoora Retail, who are all joining Cult to further expand the business…Combined scale is about $20 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) with 100,000 units of annual sales,” the company said in a statement. Cult is also getting the manufacturing capability for bicycles and service network that extends to over 19,000 pin codes in the country, it added.
This is the second acquisition in the space by Cult.fit after the acquisition of Tread, a smart fitness-bike startup last year. Cult also recently completed a $150 million series F fundraise and had entered the unicorn club. The startup is looking to build a house of fitness D2C (direct to consumer) brands in India.
Classplus launches “ReSOP” policy for 700+ employees
Edtech startup Classplus has announced an ReSOP policy for all its employees.
Under this policy, the company is offering stock options with a faster vesting schedule as referral bonus to the employees who refer suitable candidates for open positions at Classplus, it said in a statement.
The ReSOPs will vest fully in just one year, 400 percent times faster than the normal stock options. More than 700+ Classplus employees are eligible for this policy for referring candidates from entry to senior level positions, the startup stated.
Classplus claims to have grown rapidly after raising 4 rounds of funding and enabling a digital identity for 100k educators who use the platform to teach over 20 million students across more than 1500+ cities in India.
The mobile-first SaaS platform raised $65 million in a Series C round led by Tiger Global in June. The platform facilitates content distribution for not just academic educators, but also non-academic instructors, trainers, and coaches.
Blinkit halts services in areas without 10- minute delivery
Online delivery firm Blinkit, which was previously known as Grofers, has announced that it will close down delivery in areas that does not have its 10- minute service delivery. The Blinkit delivery services will only be available in customer locations where services can be delivered within 10 minutes, the company said. It added that the business decision will impact 75,000 of its 2,00,000 daily customers.
"We are singularly committed to instant delivery -- focusing on areas where we are serving within 10 minutes and deprioritizing everything else," the startup said. Blinkit has plans to open a store every four hours and "accelerate the pace even further". The company also said it is a temporary lack of service and all affected customers will be served after four weeks.
Customers can update their exact location on the Blinkit app to find out if they are currently unserviceable. Grofers had changed its name to Blinkit amid rising competition in the quick commerce space. The company has also outlined its plans to hire new employees as it takes on the fast-growing competition in the market. Blinkit is also in talks to raise $500 million in a fresh round of funding from existing investor Zomato.
Smallcase integrates ICICIdirect as newest broker partner
Wealth management startup smallcase has integrated with ICICIdirect as its 14th broker partner. The latest partner in the smallcases ecosystem will enable its client base to purchase curated baskets of stocks or ETFs called smallcases with an ICICIdirect brokerage account, the firm said.
ICICIdirect customers can get an in-depth overview, the respective methodologies, factsheets, and relevant ratios and graphs (with comparisons) to make an informed decision on choosing smallcases. Following the integration, they can also fulfil the end-to-end transactions via their existing ICICIdirect trading and demat accounts.
The smallcase integration makes it easier for ICICIdirect clients to invest in well-researched portfolios, it further claimed. "This partnership with ICICIdirect is a big step towards making simple, transparent & differentiated investment products available to every investor,” said Vasanth Kamath, founder and CEO, smallcase.
Omnivore launches agrifood life sciences-focused initiative OmniX Bio, first investment in BioPrime
Agritech venture capital firm Omnivore has launched OmniX Bio, an initiative to back early stage agrifood life sciences startups. OmniX Bio is aimed at supporting entrepreneurs who work in the fields of agricultural biotechnology, novel farming systems, bioenergy and biomaterials, as well as innovative foods, including alternative protein, the firm said in a statement.
The initiative will provide venture funding, mentorship from global agrifood life sciences leaders, institutional partnerships, and business development support to access domestic and export sales channels, Omnivore said. The VC firm said OmniX Bio has already backed a startup named BioPrime, which develops biological crop inputs that enhances yields without harming the environment or the health of farmers and consumers. The venture capital firm did not give details of the investment.
SecureKloud Technologies partners with Dubai-based Cognicx
SecureKloud Technologies, a cloud-native player and a partner of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google has announced its partnership with Dubai-based Cognicx IT Solutions to expand its footprints in the Middle East region.
SecureKloud Technologies will offer its suite of solutions through collaboration with Cognicx in the Middle East region, which it believes is witnessing a spurt in cloud adoption, it said in a statement.
"The synergy between the two (SecureKloud Technologies and Cognicx) will bring in a vast and wide experience for implementing cloud computing and digital transformational solutions to businesses with cutting edge technology in the right mix," Anil Kumar, president and cofounder of Cognicx said.
Google launches newsroom leadership program in India
Tech giant Google has announced the launch of its first India-focused Newsroom Leadership program, in collaboration with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The six-month-long program, to be conducted virtually in this edition, aims to enhance the leadership skills and nimble decision-making capacity of newsroom leaders working and living in India, the tech giant said in a blog post.
It will particularly focus on applied technology, audience understanding, design thinking, data applications, emerging business models, and editorial innovation. "We look forward to working closely with the news industry and continuing to support authoritative, high-quality journalism in India,” said Surabhi Malik, program Director at Google News Initiative India Training Network, in the blog post. The application window for the program, starting from April through August, closes on February 15, 2022.
430% increase in female users in 2021, says unicorn apna.co
Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, women representation has improved significantly in the workforce across roles and hierarchies, as per a report by jobs and professional networking platform apna.co.
The unicorn claims to have witnessed a massive 430 percent increase in female users in 2021. The report highlighted that there was a 12X increase in women interviewing on apna’s platform in 2021 as compared to 2020. The report stated that women engaged in 48 million professional conversations during this year and of these, 56 percent of these conversations were by women from Tier-I and Tier-II cities.
Cities such as Pune, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad noted a significant rise in women users on the platform. Maximum female content creators on apna communities hailed from metros such as Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
According to the firm, on an average, women are interviewing at least 8 times a month – 33 percent more times than men. Interestingly, 39 percent of the female users on apna.co are 12th pass or lower.
More popular roles on the platform included tele-callers and BPO, back office, receptionist, front office, teacher, accounts, finance, admin, office assistant and data entry operators. The report also showed an 11x increase in healthcare jobs for women.
Fintech, Edtech & B2B are the break out sectors for 2021: Wizikey report
Ride-hailing giant Ola was the number one newsmaker for creating a consistent buzz in 2021, followed by online gaming company Dream11, due to its presence in IPL and World Cup, according to Newsmaker Report 2021 by Wizikey. Swiggy, the food tech company, ranked third, followed by OYO, and Ola Electric.
In the Fintech sector, BharatPe ranked number one and sixth in overall startup rankings. CRED dominated the second sectorial position but ranked eighth in the overall startup list. This was followed by Mobikwik and Razorpay.
Byju’s made the most news in edtech, followed by Unacademy and Upgrad.
Udaan outran all its competition and ranked one in the B2B e-commerce sector.
This was followed by OfBusiness, Waycool, Ninjacart, and Bizongo.
CoinDCX was a new entrant in the list, at spot 15, due to the crypto boom, followed by Meesho (16), Razorpay (17), Hero Electric (18), Snapdeal (19), and AtherEnergy (20).
InMobi emerged as the hottest startup in enterprise applications. Apna grabbed the second position, and Moglix was ranked third. Delhivery emerged as the leader in the logistic industry, while ShipRocket was at the second rank and Shadowfax was at the third position. Meanwhile, business-to-consumer emerged as the most popular sector contributing to the highest number of startups in the top 100.
E-commerce sets the benchmark for customer service excellence in the call center industry: Ozonetel Study
Indian call centres are responding faster, connecting faster, and answering and resolving more issues compared to 2020, a study by Ozonetel has found.
This indicates that the back-office system coped fine with the sudden surge in demand during the coronavirus, the report claimed.
The study covers both in-bound and outbound calls made on Ozonetel’s platform across various verticals including e-commerce- groceries, e-commerce D2C, restaurants, insurance, fintech, & financial services, banking & broking, healthcare and pharma and real estate call centres.
In outbound calling, may calls dial to busy lines, or go unanswered. Average connection rates indicate how many calls are connected to a contact. The average connection rate this year saw a drastic uptick to 47 per cent as compared to 38 percent in 2020.
Average agent-speed of answer or pick-up time is the average time a call centre agent takes to answer inbound calls. The average agent speed of answer in 2021 was at 8 seconds, the same as in 2020.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
SenseTime relaunches $767 million Hong Kong IPO after US investment ban
Chinese artificial intelligence start-up SenseTime Group relaunched its $767 million Hong Kong IPO on Monday, a week after pulling the listing in the wake of the company's inclusion on a US investment blacklist. SenseTime retained its target of selling 1.5 billion shares for between HK$3.85 and $HK3.99 each, according to Reuters, with the final price to be set on Thursday.
However, it will now rely on cornerstone investors to buy about $511 million, or around 67 percent, of shares, up from $450 million, or 58 percent, of shares previously. SenseTime said its inclusion on the US blacklist did not impose any restrictions on its business operations, but added the resulting lack of US investors could impede its ability to raise capital in the future and reduce trading liquidity.
Musk says he will pay over $11 billion in taxes this year; Tesla faces investor lawsuit
Electric-car maker Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that he will pay more than $11 billion in taxes this year. Earlier this week, Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren took to Twitter to say that Musk should pay taxes and stop "freeloading off everyone else" after Time magazine named him its "person of the year". Musk responded by saying that he "will pay more taxes than any American in history this year".
Meanwhile, Tesla was hit by a lawsuit over Musk's social media posts including his Twitter poll on stock sales that pulled down its stock prices. As per Reuters, Tesla investor David Wagner called for access to internal documents to investigate whether Tesla and Musk violated an agreement with the US securities regulator and its board members failed to adhere to their fiduciary duties.
The lawsuit, filed with the Delaware Court of Chancery on Thursday, seeks to obtain records and books related to his tweets, including documents to identify whether the stock sales tweets were reviewed or pre-approved in advance. In March, another shareholder sued Musk and its board in March, accusing him of violating his 2018 settlement with the SEC and exposing shareholders to billions of dollars of losses.
Zoom executive says hybrid work will continue to drive growth after the pandemic: Report
Zoom will continue to be relevant after the pandemic even when people return to the office, according to an executive from the video communications company. More organizations are moving toward a hybrid work model in which employees work both in the office and from home each week. "I think there are three big shifts that are happening post-pandemic that businesses are investing in and that’s spurring our growth and relevance,” Ricky Kapur, head of Asia Pacific at Zoom, told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia."
First, companies are thinking about creating inclusive, collaborative and hybrid work environments for staff, he said. "Employees are demanding flexible work arrangements and the ability to work frictionless, irrespective of where they are,” Kapur added. Zoom’s revenue rose by 35 percent from a year earlier in the quarter ended October 31, down from 54 percent growth in the quarter before.
But Kapur remains optimistic that as people move into a hybrid setting, they will continue to look for flexibility in the way they communicate.
Facebook pays fines to Russia over banned content: Report
Facebook has paid 17 million roubles ($229,643) in fines owed in Russia for failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal, the Interfax news agency reported, but with the threat of a potentially larger fine looming. Facebook parent Meta, along with Alphabet's Google, faces a court case next week for suspected repeated violations of Russian legislation on content and could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue in Russia.
Russia in October sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles in fines imposed on Facebook. Interfax said there were no more enforcement proceedings against the company. Interfax said messaging app Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines.
Google's YouTube TV reaches deal to restore access to Disney channels
Alphabet’s YouTube began restoring access to Walt Disney channels on its platform, after the companies reached a distribution agreement to end a two-day blackout. YouTube tweeted that "we've reached a deal with Disney and have already started to restore access to channels like ESPN and FX."
Neither company disclosed the financial terms of deal.
YouTube warned last week that it would only renew its agreement with Disney if the company offered "equitable terms" and announced that it was cutting the monthly price for YouTube TV by $15, from $64.99 to $49.99, as per Reuters.
YouTube said a monthly subscription had reverted to $64.99, but affected users would receive a one-time $15 discount. "We appreciate Google's collaboration to reach fair terms that are consistent with the market," Disney said in a statement.
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