Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
Meta preparing large-scale layoffs this week: Report
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Meta Platforms is planning to begin large-scale layoffs this week that will affect thousands of employees, the Wall Street Journal reported, with an announcement planned as early as Wednesday.
Facebook parent Meta in October forecasted a weak holiday quarter and significantly more costs next year wiping about $67 billion off Meta's stock market value, adding to the more than half a trillion dollars in value already lost this year.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said he expects the metaverse investments to take about a decade to bear fruit. In the meantime, he has had to freeze hiring, shutter projects and reorganize teams to trim costs.
The social media company had in June cut plans to hire engineers by at least 30 percent, with Zuckerberg warning employees to brace for an economic downturn.
Twitter fires over 90% of India staff as per a report, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw condemns move
Twitter has fired more than 90 percent of its staff in India over the weekend - part of global reductions by new owner Elon Musk - severely depleting its engineering and product staff in a potential growth market, Bloomberg News reported.
The company employed just over 200 people in India, and the cuts left it with just about a dozen staff.
About 70 percent of the jobs cut in India were from the product and engineering team which worked on a global mandate. Positions were also slashed across functions including marketing, public policy and corporate communications, the report added. Globally, San Francisco, California-based Twitter reduced its headcount by about half or roughly 3,700 workers.
Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has criticised the decision by Elon Musk-run Twitter to sack its employees in India, saying that they should have been given a "fair time for transition".
"We condemn the way Twitter has sacked employees in India," said Vaishnaw, adding that the employees "should have given the employees a fair time for transition".
upGrad to invest $30M to launch 10 global campuses in US, India next year
Edtech unicorn and higher education platform upGrad will invest $30 million and open 10 global campuses in the US, India and other regions next year.
Under a new brand name 'UGDX', the company said it will open three campuses in the US (the San Francisco unit goes live in January), five in India (Delhi and Chennai) and one each in Singapore and Middle-East.
"As part of our goal to be the world's first and largest fully integrated higher edtech company spanning college learners and working professionals from the age of 18 to 60+ years, this is a natural extension as we move to a very scaled blended offline and online model under our own upGrad brand," said Ronnie Screwvala, Co-founder and Chairperson, upGrad.
Under 'UGDX,' upGrad plans to have faculty recruitments in various geographies and will use technology to seamlessly integrate campuses, faculty, and corporates within one ecosystem.
'UGDX' will specialise in AI, machine learning, cybersecurity, Blockchain, connected devices, IoT, quantum computing, digital management, leadership courses and the Cloud, offering certificates, bachelor's, master's and doctoral programmes in these areas. 'UGDX' recently acquired data science, AI, ML-focused offline institute 'INSOFE'.
Buffett, Son's India IPO shares worth $14Bn lockup period ends this month: Report
India’s technology sector faces a key test this month as lock-up periods on $14 billion worth of shares sold in initial public offerings expire, allowing billionaire backers including Warren Buffett and Masayoshi Son to sell, Bloomberg News reported.
Lock-ups end in November for four consumer-focused tech stocks, which have all slumped in the past month. Included are Paytm, and beauty e-retailer Nykaa.
“Investors have become more demanding when it comes to expectations of future profitability from these businesses,” Tom Masi and Nuno Fernandes, co-portfolio managers at GW&K Investment Management, said in an email to Bloomberg News.
Flipkart losses widened to over Rs 7,800 crore in FY22
E-commerce major Flipkart's losses widened to over Rs 7,800 crore in the financial year 2021-22 based on performance of its business-to-business unit Flipkart India and B2C e-commerce unit Flipkart Internet, according to regulatory filings. According to filings, the combined loss of both entities stood at Rs 5,352 crore in the financial year 2020-21.
Flipkart Internet, comprising online business-to-consumer platforms, has reported widening of loss to Rs 4,399 crore in FY22 from Rs 2,907 crore in FY21.
This includes the performance of Fipkart Group firms like Myntra, Instakart etc. The B2B unit, Flipkart India -- earlier called Walmart India -- reported widening of loss to Rs 3,413 crore in FY22 from Rs 2,445.6 crore in FY21.
The net income of Flipkart, however, increased by close to 20 per cent to about Rs 61,836 crore in 2021-22 with Flipkart India contributing Rs 51,176 core and Flipkart Internet registering a revenue of Rs 10,660 crore.
Sanfe bags $1.5M in Series A2 funding from Seeders, LetsVenture and others
Sanfe, a women's grooming brand, has raised $1.5 million in a Series A2 round of funding led by existing investors S Chand Family office, Seeders and LetsVenture.
The round also saw participation from angel investors, including Abhay Tandon, Yash Kotak. Last year, Sanfe raised $1 million in a Series A funding round which takes the total funding to $2.5 million.
The startup intends to use the additional funding raised to enter the offline market and control the femcare market. Sanfe claims that its online business has grown by 100 percent in the current quarter, and the brand has achieved over 240 percent growth annually.
“With the additional funding, we will be entering the salons and parlours to create a new category in the body care, shaving, and hair removal market in response to rising demand. The purpose is to strengthen the brand positioning and develop trust among women for the brand. Sanfe has collaborated with well-known brands like Looks, Affinity, Urban Company, Yes Madam, etc., and we will be able to serve women through beauty salons in their vicinity. Also, we are looking to tap 500+ salons in the upcoming year across metro cities,” said Archit Aggarwal, Co-Founder, Sanfe.
Dhiway raises $1M in a pre-seed funding round
Dhiway, a blockchain startup, has raised $1 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Cornerstone Venture Partners Fund, SUNiCON Ventures and existing shareholders.
“The equity we have raised will address market expansion and continuous strengthening of the product road map. As India’s first Enterprise Blockchain infrastructure, we are currently working with large institutions in the areas of governance infrastructure and allied commercial applications while we continue to scale our business at a rapid pace targeting new domains and use cases.” said Pradeep K P, Co-Founder and CEO, Dhiway Networks.
The company currently works with large public and private institutions in the areas of Governance, Identity, Payments, Digital commerce, Skills, Education and workplace solutions in their journey to adopt emerging Web3 technologies.
Sanchi Connect and SCL Fund to back deeptech startups
Sanchi Connect, a specialised community for deeptech startups, enterprise buyers and investors, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Supply Chain Labs (SCL Fund).
SCL Fund will invest up to Rs 8 crores in each selected startup. The selection process involves multiple stakeholders including other VC, corporates, and domain experts, and selects as steep as 1 percent of the startups that apply. Every year they run two cohorts of approximately 5 startups each, a statement said.
“This association with Supply Chain Labs will open many more such avenues where startups solving for specific sectors will get fast tracked funding and business growth support, said Dr Sunil Shekhawat, CEO, Sanchiconnect.
Sanchiconnect previously announced plans to facilitate investment of $50 million in Indian startups through its partner channel by the end of 2023, using its deeptech only platform.
NSRCEL and Yunus Social Business Fund join hands to support social businesses from Rural India
NSRCEL, the innovation and entrepreneurship hub of IIM Bangalore, has partnered with Yunus Social Business Fund Bengaluru to support social businesses from Rural India.
NSRCEL’s Impact Orbit Incubation Vertical recently launched its first-ever Rural Entrepreneurship Incubation program. The program aims to identify, nurture and scale social innovations in rural India, a statement said.
NSRCEL will support nine early-stage startups in scaling their revenues through specialised businesses and investment-readiness training through this program. The goal of this incubation program is to support at least 25 percent of the cohort to double their revenue and to directly impact 500-700 livelihoods, and indirectly benefit 2500-3000 lives, the statement added.
While NSRCEL is leading the incubation program, YSBFB will facilitate modules on investment readiness, working capital management, and exposure to different forms of funding, including an opportunity for two ventures to raise debt from the fund.
Zomato Intercity head Siddharth Jhawar quits
Foodtech major Zomato’s vice-president Siddharth Jhawar who was in-charge of its recent foray into intercity food delivery service, has left the company.
Jhawar in a LinkedIn post said he is headed to Tiger Global-backed adtech unicorn Moloco where he will run the company’s India operations.
“Zomato gives opportunities that are extraordinary. No mountain can be too high to climb and your past credentials don't limit the size of your opportunity. I got mine to build a new business from scratch - it was so much fun, especially because of the people around me,” Jhawar said.
Meanwhile, Kamayani Sadhwani, a director at Zomato-owned quick commerce company Blinkit, has taken over from Jhawar as the head of the intercity food delivery service.
Kochi Open Mobility Network expands statewide, to be powered by ONDC
Kochi Open Mobility Network (KOMN), the pilot initiative by the Kerala government's transport department, will expand its network to the entire state through its integration with Open Network For Digital Commerce (ONDC).
The project is implemented under the aegis of the Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority (KMTA), with the support of the FIDE Foundation. With the development, users can buy mobility besides grocery items and F&B on the network, providing single-window access to goods and services, a statement said.
KOMN integration on the ONDC network will enable digital discoverability for all transport operators and their services through any digital platform.
3SC Solutions launches end-to-end synchronous supply chain management platform
Supply chain solutions company 3SC Solutions has announced the launch of SCAI, an intelligent supply chain planning and execution platform that will help businesses better manage the supply chains for their products and services.
According to the firm, SCAI is an integrated business planning solution that leverages advanced data analytics to combine finance, marketing, sales, and supply chain data to address planning issues and opportunities for enterprises with revenue ranging from $500M to $1B+ in the North American, European, MEA, and APAC regions.
“SCAI is the latest offering by 3SC Solutions aimed at revolutionizing the supply chain sector for the 21st century. 3SC is exploring the use of modern technologies like AI and machine learning to design smarter supply chain solutions for its customers,” said Sarita Das, Co-founder, 3SC Solutions.
BankSathi adds 3 Indian languages to bring financial inclusion to India’s hinterlands
Kunal Shah-backed financial advisory platform BankSathi has added three new Indian languages to its platform to support and encourage awareness for locals to bolster the growth in the lesser-known financial domain.
Two more local languages will be added to the application in a future version. The venture will benefit 30 lakh customers and 5 lakh advisors, the firm said in a statement.
“By introducing vernacular languages on the platform, we will eliminate language barriers. This is a natural step in our journey to become the one-stop financial advisory platform for the next billion users of India,” said Jitendra Dhaka, Founder & CEO, BankSathi.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Twitter asks some laid off workers to come back: Report
After Twitter laid off roughly half its staff on Friday following Elon Musk's $44 billion acquisition, the company is now reaching out to dozens of employees who lost their jobs and asking them to return, Bloomberg News reported.
Some of those who are being asked to return were laid off by mistake. Others were let go before management realized that their work and experience may be necessary to build the new features Musk envisions, the report said citing people familiar with the moves.
Twitter recently laid off 50 percent of its employees, including employees on the trust and safety team, the company's head of safety and integrity Yoel Roth said in a tweet earlier this week.
Tweets by staff of the social media company said teams responsible for communications, content curation, human rights and machine learning ethics were among those gutted, as were some product and engineering teams.
As Musk focuses on Twitter, his $56 billion Tesla pay goes to trial
As Elon Musk is engulfed in his overhaul of Twitter, the entrepreneur is headed to trial to defend his record $56 billion Tesla pay package against claims it unjustly enriches him without requiring his full-time presence at the carmaker.
A Tesla shareholder is seeking to rescind Musk's 2018 pay deal, claiming the board set easy performance targets and that Musk created the package to fund his dream of colonizing Mars.
Tesla has countered that the package delivered an extraordinary 10-fold increase in value to shareholders.
The trial begins November 14 and will be decided by Kathaleen McCormick on Delaware's Court of Chancery. She oversaw Twitter's lawsuit against Musk that ended last month when he agreed to close his $44-billion deal for Twitter, an acquisition which he financed largely with his Tesla stock.
Apple warns of lower iPhone shipments as COVID curbs hobble China plant
Apple expects lower shipments of premium iPhone 14 models than previously anticipated following a significant production cut at a virus-blighted plant in China, dampening its sales outlook for the busy year-end holiday season, Reuters reported.
Demand for high-end smartphones assembled at Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant has helped Apple remain a bright spot in a technology sector battered by consumer spending cutbacks amid surging inflation and interest rates.
But the Cupertino, California-based vendor has fallen victim to China's zero-COVID-19 policy, which has seen global firms including Canada Goose Holdings, and Estee Lauder Companies shut local stores and cut forecasts.
"The facility is currently operating at significantly reduced capacity," Apple said on Sunday without detailing the scale of the reduction.
"We continue to see strong demand for iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models. However, we now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated," it said in a statement.
Airbnb changes price display on app after customer complaints
Airbnb’s chief executive tweeted that the vacation rental company would make changes in the way it displays prices on its platform after it faced customer complaints.
"I've heard you loud and clear—you feel like prices aren't transparent and checkout tasks are a pain," CEO Brian Chesky tweeted.
Chesky said Airbnb would make four changes starting next month, where guests would be able to see the total price they are required to pay up front.
Customers would now be able to view full price breakdown with Airbnb's service fee, discounts, and taxes, according to Chesky's tweet.
The San Francisco-based company will prioritize the total price instead of a nightly fare in its search ranking algorithm, Chesky said. Chesky also said the company would launch new pricing and discount tools to enable hosts to set more competitive prices.