There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Tuesday. Here are the top stories from the startup universe.
Mohalla Tech raises $145 mn, valued at $2.88 bn
Mohalla Tech, the parent company behind social media platforms Moj and ShareChat, has raised $145 million as an extension of its Series F round, at a valuation of $2.88 billion.
The investment has been led by Singapore state investor Temasek, Moore Strategic Ventures (MSV) and Mirae-Naver Asia Growth Fund, which is jointly set up by Mirae Asset and South Korean web portal Naver Corp. This is an additional investment beyond the $502 million raised in April this year from Tiger Global, Lightspeed, Snap and Twitter, and the company had been valued at $2.1 billion at the time.
The company said the investments raised this year including this additional capital infusion will help them double down on strategic priorities of building best in class AI Feed, attracting and incentivising diverse creator base and amplifying the platform's health and safety. The firm has hired senior executives in the AI/ML spaces in recent months in the UK and the US.
Founded in 2015, Mohalla Tech has now raised over $911 million across seven fundraising rounds.
Nium raises over $200 mn; becomes first global B2B payments unicorn from SEA
B2B payments platform, Nium has raised a $200 million plus Series D round led by Riverwood Capital, a US based high-growth tech investor.
Temasek, Visa, Vertex Ventures, Atinum Group of Funds, Beacon Venture Capital, Rocket Capital Investment, and other notable angel investors, including DoorDash executive, Gokul Rajaram; Chief Product Officer at FIS, Vicky Bindra; and, Co-Founder of Tribe Capital, Arjun Sethi, also contributed to the round. Financial Technology Partners (FT Partners) served as exclusive strategic and financial advisor to Nium on its Series D. The new funding values Nium at over $1 billion.
The funding will be used to expand Nium’s payments network infrastructure, drive innovative product development, attract top industry talent, and acquire strategic technologies and companies.
Total money raised by Nium to date stands at nearly $300 million.
MyGlamm raises Rs 355 cr led by Accel
D2C beauty brand MyGlamm has closed its Series C funding at ₹530 crore, raising an additional ₹355 crore in a round led by venture capital firm Accel.
The round also saw participation from existing investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, L’Occitane, Ascent, Amazon, the Mankekar family, Trifecta and Strides Ventures.
MyGlamm will be utilising its latest funding to invest in product development, support data science and technology research, increase offline expansion, fund working capital requirements and expand content creation capabilities and digital reach of POPxo and Plixxo.
As per the company, this is the largest amount of capital raised by any beauty brand in India in its Series C round. The company has raised Rs 650 crore in funding till date.
Trifecta Capital announces first close of late-stage VC Fund at Rs 1,000 cr
VC firm Trifecta Capital has announced the first close of its late-stage venture capital fund - Trifecta Leaders Fund – I, with commitments of over Rs. 1,000 crore (approximately $130 million).
The fund was launched three months ago and has a target corpus of Rs 1,500 crores (approximately $200 million).
The first close saw participation from domestic investors including large corporates, insurance companies, marquee family offices, UHNIs, and entrepreneurs. Existing investors of Trifecta Capital’s venture debt funds have also made significant investments in this fund.
For the balance Rs 500 crore (Rs $70 million), the VC firm is in discussions with several domestic and global institutional investors.
As per the company, Trifecta Leaders Fund – I will invest in a targeted set of category leaders, selected predominantly from Trifecta Capital’s portfolio across its venture debt funds where the firm has proprietary knowledge of the businesses as well as deep relationships with founders and investors.
The fund will invest Rs 100-200 crore ($15–30 million) each in around 10-12 companies for minority stakes, through a combination of primary and secondary positions.
In addition to primary infusions, the VC firm will cater to the needs of late-stage companies by providing off-cycle liquidity to early investors, angels, current and former employees including consolidation of equity cap tables.
Zingbus raises Rs 44.6 cr led by Infoedge ventures
Intercity mobility startup Zingbus has raised Rs 44.6 crore in a funding round led by Infoedge ventures.
The pre-series A round also saw participation from investors from Silicon Valley like Funders Club, Pioneer fund, Anim Fund (Founders Fund Scout), Locus Ventures, and Liquid 2 Ventures. Existing investors AdvantEdge Technology Fund, 9 Unicorns, and Venture Catalyst also invested in this funding round.
The startup will use fresh influx of capital to develop technology for the next leap of improvement in traveler experience and expand the service to new geographies. The startup is also hiring across engineering, product, business, and operations profiles.
Freightify secures $2.5 mn in pre-Series A round
Ocean rate management platform Freightify has secured $2.5 million in Pre-Series A funding led by Nordic Eye Venture Capital with the participation of Tradeworks VC, Venture Catalysts, 9Unicorns, and Blume Founders Fund. Existing investor Vinod Kumar Talreja also participated in the round.
The firm will use the proceeds to expand to the US and Europe. The company also plans to invest in its product ecosystem covering other stakeholders of the container supply chain.
Freightify features a suite of pricing and sales tools for the ocean freight industry and serves customers in over 10 countries.
Immensitas raises Rs 6.30 cr in Pre-Series A round
Data-automation platform Immensitas has raised Rs 6.30 crore in Pre-Series A round led by Artha Venture Fund (AVF), India's first early-stage micro-VC fund. The round also saw participation from Ramakant Sharma’s LogX Ventures.
The funds will be used by Immensitas’ offering – Lemnisk – a Customer Data and Marketing Automation Platform. This investment is AFV's 11th from its recently closed Rs 225 crore micro-VC fund.
Lemnisk has witnessed a 250 percent growth since October 2020, and the platform processes approximately 475 million customer profiles monthly, providing up to a 30 percent lift in digital revenues, the company said.
Teen Focussed Fintech startup Pencilton raises $330K
Pencilton, a teen-focused fintech startup, has raised $330K in a pre-seed round led by Jupiter.
The round also saw participation from many successful founders such as Nilesh Patel & Prashant Singh, Founders of LeadSquared, Ashish Sharma, MD, Innoven Capital, Abhishek Goyal, Founder of Tracxn, Himanshu Sharma, Founder, Aspiring Minds, Kunal Sinha, Founder, GlowRoad, Vignesh Ramanujam, Partner at Spoonfeed & angel investor Tirumalareddy Karri.
The company offers a debit card, PencilCard, to teenagers and students to help them manage their expenses while teaching them the basics of money management.
Re-commerce platform Cashify buys UniShop
Used gadgets marketplace Cashify has acquired UniShop, an omnichannel retail solution platform, for an undisclosed amount.
UniShop will be rebranded as PhoneShop and will continue to help mobile retailers across India, the company stated.
Cashify said the new investment will help it to further diversify its ecommerce offerings by empowering mobile retailers to get a web presence, build their brand, and make more money to compete with ecommerce giants.
Unishop's founder Hitashi Garg, its tech chief Ankit Kushwaha, and its team will now be a part of Cashify.
Uniphore Technologies acquires Israeli firm Jacada
Conversational AI vendor Uniphore has announced a strategic acquisition of Israeli-based process optimization company Jacada for an undisclosed amount.
This acquisition cements Uniphore’s leadership in Conversational AI for the customer service industry, a company statement said.
Jacada’s advanced automation software brings a proven track record of solving complex contact center challenges and empowering the design and implementation of transformational customer experiences quickly and easily, the statement said.
As part of the acquisition deal, the Jacada team, its intellectual property, and its products will become a part of Uniphore.
Uniphore acquired NTT Data’s Robotic Process Automation technology in October 2020 and an innovative emotion AI company – Emotion Research Lab in January 2021.
Locus assigns $4 mn for its ESOP buyback program
Logistics startup Locus said it has designated $4 million for its ESOP buyback with an aim to helps its employees in their wealth creation journey. The buyback is at par with the primary of the Series C fund raise.
According to the company, this is the second buyback in the company. Locus revealed that both current and former employees will be able to vest their stock options. It also claimed that Locus will have a rolling plan to facilitate new buyback for teammates in the future as well.
This development comes in after the company recently raised $50 million in Series C funding from GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, Qualcomm Ventures and existing investors Tiger Global and Falcon Edge.
Nykaa to file DRHP for half a billion dollar IPO in a few days: Sources
Beauty and fashion ecommerce company Nykaa is all set to file its DRHP for IPO, sources tell CNBC-TV18. This could be the first profit-making company from the internet space to hit the bourses.
Nykaa is eyeing a valuation of approximately $4-5 billion and its public offering could be around half a billion dollars.
The IPO issuance will largely be secondary with small portion of primary capital. Nykaa’s investors TPG , Steadview Capital, Fidelity and Sunil Kant Munjal are likely to exit in the IPO.
Founder Falguni Nayar & family will own over 51 percent stake in Nykaa post listing.
Ixigo in final stage talks to close pre-IPO round: Report
Travel app ixigo is in the final stages of sealing a pre-IPO round of around $53 million through a combination of primary and secondary issue of shares as per a Moneycontrol report.
The firm is nearing a deal with a set of investors led by GIC. On April 5, Moneycontrol reported that ixigo was planning to go public in 2021 and was looking to raise Rs 1,500 crores to Rs 1,800 crores via the proposed IPO.
Paytm eyes IPO by October-end
Digital payments firm Paytm expects to launch its IPO at around the end of October, pending regulatory approvals, sources told Reuters.
Paytm, which has filed for Rs 16,600 crore IPO that will likely be the largest ever in India, also expects to break even in 18 months, according to Reuters.
"Hopefully Paytm will be able to go out before Diwali," the report said.
Paytm's IPO plan comes at a time when several first-generation homegrown startups in India prepare to go public on domestic bourses, led by food delivery firm Zomato which made a stellar stock market debut last week.
Paytm now lets you order food, medicines & shop online in Bengaluru through its Mini-App Store.
Digital financial services platform Paytm today announced the launch of its first city-specific mini-app ‘Namaskara Bengaluru’. It is the one-stop destination to discover Bengaluru’s popular restaurants, shops, events & news.
Users will be able to avail the best offers & discounts from the listed merchants.
To gain access to the deals and scroll through all of Paytm partner apps, users can visit the Mini-App Store on their Paytm App and click on ‘Namaskara Bengaluru’.
The mini-app store will enable the users to book doctor’s appointments, ride cabs, order products for home delivery, purchase travel & entertainment tickets, and also book slots for COVID vaccinations.
Through the company’s partners, users can order food from Bengaluru’s famous restaurants like Shareif Bhai, Empire Hotel, EatFit, and Nandhana Palace or order anything they want from Mysore Pak, sandalwood oil to coffee, toys, and so much more.
Additionally, the health and wellness store within the Mini-App Store will give users one-click access to a large selection of health supplements, essential vitamins, immunity boosters & ayurvedic medicines through top health tech platforms including 1mg, Netmeds, Apollo 24x7, DocsApp/Medibuddy, Zyla, Mfine, and Credihealth among others.
Grofers enables express delivery in Gurugram
Grofers has launched a 15-minute online grocery delivery service in Gurugram.
Cofounder Albinder Dhindsa wrote in a blog post that the company delivered groceries in over 7,000 households within 15 minutes on Monday.
The company has an “express partner programme” which allows entrepreneurs to own and manage warehouses for Grofers. “These partner-operated dark stores facilitate faster delivery of a higher assortment of products to customers,” Grofers said on its website.
Grofers recently turned unicorn after it received $120 million funding from Zomato and Tiger Global.
Unacademy mulls investment in school chain Orchids: Report
Edtech startup Unacademy is looking to purchase a significant stake in Sequoia Capital-backed K12 Techno Services, which runs the Orchids International chain of schools, according to Economic Times.
Discussions on the deal have begun, with Sequoia likely to exit Orchid after the deal, as per the report. The talks are on for an investment of around $25-30 million by Unacademy and it may become a larger transaction. The discussions are currently in final stages, the report adds.
According to the report, Sofina and Unacademy will invest in K12, and the current management will continue to own a minority stake and run the business.
Mumbai Angels Network successfully exits from DoSelect
Startup platform Mumbai Angels Network has successfully exited DoSelect, a collaborative, data-driven skill assessment platform.
DoSelect was recently acquired by InfoEdge. Mumbai Angels Network had invested in DoSelect along with 3one4 Capital, Aarin Capital, and Mohit Saxena, Co-Founder, InMobi, as a part of its seed funding round.
This marks Mumbai Angels Network’s 13th exit/subsequent round for the current financial year.
“We are happy to announce that we have made a successful exit from DoSelect following its acquisition by InfoEdge. We believe that InfoEdge will provide DoSelect with the required support and resources to grow further with deeper integration with InfoEdge’s services,” said Nandini Mansinghka, Co-Founder & CEO, Mumbai Angels Network.
Exfinity Venture announces partial exit from Mad Street Den
Early-stage VC Fund Exfinity Venture Fund has announced a partial exit from artificial intelligence tech startup Mad Street Den.
While Exfinity has exited partially, MSD will not only return the entire fund but also will provide significant upside over the fund size. The secondaries were purchased by existing investors, FalconEdge, who led the company's Series B.
Amazon eyes potential stake in Indian film, media businesses: Report
Amazon India is in talks with several domestic players in film and media distribution including cinema chain Inox for a potential stake, The Indian Express reported.
Amazon India is planning to expand its content streaming platform Prime Video and is evaluating three to four deals, according to the report.
Inox, however, said the report was "factually incorrect" and there were no discussions between the company and Amazon India.
As per Reuters, shares of the company jumped as much as 14.3 percent to 346.20 rupees after the report, but pared some gains to last trade 6 percent up.
Flipkart moves SC against Karnataka HC order that allowed CCI probe, names Amazon as respondent
Flipkart has moved the Supreme Court with an appeal against the July 23 order of the Karnataka High Court's division bench that allowed a probe against the company as well as Amazon by the Competition Commission of India, as per the Supreme Court website.
The company has also named Amazon as a respondent in the case, along with the Competition Commission of India, Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh and the Confederation of All India Traders.
A Karnataka High Court division bench on July 23 had dismissed writ appeals by ecommerce players Amazon and FLipkart in which they had challenged a June 11 order by a single-judge bench that had allowed the Competition Commission of India to probe the companies over alleged anti-competetive practices.
T-Hub shortlists 21 startups for T-Angel accelerator
T-Hub, a start-up ecosystem enabler, has shortlisted 21 start-ups for the second edition of T-Angel. As many as 10 startups from the accelerator will get an investment of Rs 50 lakh each during the 45-day accelerator programme
“We have vetted 250 applications to select the 21 start-ups, representing fintech, manufacturing, healthcare and education,” Ravi Narayan, CEO of T-Hub, has said. “T-Angel focuses on mentoring the start-ups to make them reach their full potential and ready to raise funds,” he added.
The list of shortlisted for the accelerator include Vityasa, Opstech, KarryNow, Self Charging evs, Signasis Technologies, Hueristic Devices and Fidelis Consulting Engineers.
Nothing launches Nothing Ear (1)
Carl Pei’s consumer tech company, Nothing that was founded in January 2021 has launched its first product - Nothing Ear (1).
The highly anticipated true wireless ear buds features a transparent design and promises a premium user experience. With up to 34 hours playtime with the case, a powerful 11.6mm driver and leading specs including Active Noise Cancellation, Nothing ear (1) claims to deliver a pure sound experience at just Rs 5,999.
Nothing ear (1) will be available in India from 17th August 2021 on Flipkart.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
EU gives Google 2 months to improve hotel, flight search results
The European Commission and EU consumer authorities have given Google two months to improve the way it presents internet search results for flights and hotels and explain how it ranks these or face possible sanctions.
"EU consumers cannot be misled when using search engines to plan their holidays. We need to empower consumers to make their choices based on transparent and unbiased information," EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said.
The agencies also told Google to revise the standard terms of its Google Store because some cases showed that traders have more rights than consumers.
If Google's proposals are not sufficient, the agencies will discuss the issue further with the company and may impose sanctions.
In a statement, Google said "We welcome this dialogue and are working closely with consumer protection agencies and the European Commission to see how we can make improvements that will be good for our users and provide even more transparency."
Bezos offers NASA $2 bn in exchange for moon mission contract
Fresh off his trip to space, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has offered to cover up to $2 billion in NASA costs if the US space agency awards his company Blue Origin a contract to make a spacecraft designed to land astronauts back on the moon.
In a letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Bezos said Blue Origin would waive payments in the government's current fiscal year and the next ones after that up to $2 billion, and pay for an orbital mission to vet its technology. In exchange, Blue Origin would accept a firm, fixed-priced contract, and cover any system development cost overruns, Bezos said.
NASA in April awarded rival billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2024, rejecting bids from Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics. Blue Origin had partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and Draper in the bid.
"NASA veered from its original dual-source acquisition strategy due to perceived near-term budgetary issues, and this offer removes that obstacle," Bezos wrote.
The GAO's decision is expected by early August, though industry sources told Reuters that Blue Origin views the possibility of a reversal as unlikely.
WeChat suspends new user registration for security compliance
Tencent's WeChat has temporarily suspended registration of new users in mainland China as it undergoes a technical upgrade "to align with relevant laws and regulations”.
"We are currently upgrading our security technology to align with all relevant laws and regulations," the company said in a statement to Reuters.
"During this time, registration of new Weixin (WeChat) personal and official accounts has been temporarily suspended. Registration services will be restored after the upgrade is complete, which is expected in early August," it added.
US-listed Chinese Cos must disclose govt interference risks -SEC official
Chinese companies listed on US stock exchanges must disclose the risks of the Chinese government interfering in their businesses as part of their regular reporting obligations, a top US Securities and Exchange Commission official said on Monday.
Democratic commissioner Allison Lee's comments are the first by an SEC official since Chinese regulators launched a massive cyber probe of ride-hailing giant Didi Global last week, just days after its $4.4 billion New York listing, wiping 25% off its share price.
"Public companies must disclose significant risks which, for China-based issuers, may sometimes involve risks related to the regulatory environment and potential actions by the Chinese government," Lee, who served as acting head of the SEC from late January to mid-April, told Reuters in an interview.
Lee declined to comment on whether the SEC had opened a probe of Didi for potential disclosure failings.
Chinese authorities have cracked down on other US-listed Chinese companies and may require tutoring firms to become non-profits, according to a Bloomberg report, including New York-listed TAL Education Group and Gaotu Techedu.
Facebook sets up new team to work on the 'metaverse'
Facebook is creating a product team to work on the "metaverse," a digital world where people can move between different devices and communicate in a virtual environment, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Monday.
The team will be part of the company's virtual reality organization, the group's executive Andrew Bosworth said in a Facebook post.
"You can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content - you are in it," CEO Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge in an interview last week.
Facebook, the world's largest social network, has invested heavily in virtual reality and augmented reality, developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and working on AR glasses and wristband technologies.
First Published: IST