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Startup Digest: Mu Sigma founder buys out Sequoia & General Atlantic: Report, Zilingo says working closely with major investors, BigBasket's 10-20 min delivery

Startup Digest: Mu Sigma founder buys out Sequoia & General Atlantic: Report, Zilingo says working closely with major investors, BigBasket's 10-20 min delivery

Startup Digest: Mu Sigma founder buys out Sequoia & General Atlantic: Report, Zilingo says working closely with major investors, BigBasket's 10-20 min delivery
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By Aishwarya Anand  Apr 21, 2022 10:55:43 PM IST (Published)

Mu Sigma founder buys out investors Sequoia and General Atlantic: Report

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Data analytics firm Mu Sigma's founder Dhiraj Rajaram has bought back shares held by the company's investors Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic, gaining full ownership of a firm that he founded nearly two decades ago, people familiar with the development told Moneycontrol.
"General Atlantic and Sequoia together put $200-$300 million in Mu Sigma and they would make at least 2.5-3 times on the investment. They have been investors in the company for many years and were looking at an exit," one of the persons cited above said.
Mu Sigma was last valued at $1.5 billion in 2013. A second source said Rajaram has no plans to raise capital from new investors. "He doesn't need to as the firm has been profitable. They might do an IPO in the US in the near future if they need the money."
The buyback will be funded by a mix of cash and debt. The last time around, Rajaram got a $400 million credit line against his shares from Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered, and Credit Suisse to buy out Ambiga's stake, apart from a portion of the company's cash. This credit has been repaid in full, sources said.
Zilingo says it is working closely with major investors after Temasek backs probe
After Temasek backed an investigation into Zilingo's accounting practices, the fashion technology startup said it is working closely with its major investors and an independent firm for the probe.
"The major investors of the company authorised the board to put the CEO, Ankiti Bose, on suspension pending an investigation of the matters raised," Zilingo said in a statement to PTI. However, it did not elaborate on the investigation. "The major investors have hired an independent firm to investigate the matter, and the company is working closely with the major investors and the independent firm for the investigation," it said.
"The major investors have hired an independent firm to investigate the matter, and the company is working closely with the major investors and the independent firm for the investigation," it added. Proper due process has been and will be followed, it insisted.
In a strongly-worded statement, Temasek had on Tuesday stated, "We expect our portfolio companies to abide by the sound corporate governance and codes of conduct and ethics. We are, therefore, in support of the board's investigation into the complaint as a part of good governance to safeguard the interests of the company."
This is the second investment firm that has spoken in the favour of a strong governance framework, days after Sequoia India, also an investor in Zilingo, spoke on the subject. Sequoia Capital India's Shailendra Singh too has stepped down from the board of Zilingo following questioning over the accounting practices of the fashion technology startup.
BigBasket ramps up qcommerce bid with 10-20 min delivery service
Joining the likes of Swiggy, Dunzo, Blinkit and Zepto, Tata group-owned e-grocery seller BigBasket has entered the quick commerce segment through its under-20 minutes bbnow and under 60 minutes bbexpress across cities.
bbnow offers 10-20-minute deliveries within a 1.5-2.5 km radius with access to inventory comprising over 3000 products. Meanwhile, bbexpress offers deliveries within an hour for consumers within a 6-km radius with a choice of over 8000 products, the firm said in a statement.
The online supermarket firm has built a delivery network across India along with a chain of 90 offline operational stores and plans to have about 700 more in place by the year-end. The company aims to cover the entire spectrum of grocery retail including quick-commerce, physical stores, alongside online grocery sales through the main BigBasket platform, the firm added.
"Apart from consumers who plan and buy their monthly groceries from BigBasket, there is a huge user base comprising those who make unplanned purchases, top-ups and impulse purchases. For impulse and emergency purchases, the bbnow service with its 10-20-minute delivery window is a great option, and for unplanned buyers who are not in extreme haste, we have bbexpress delivery within an hour of order placement," said Hari Menon, co-founder and CEO, BigBasket.
HealthifyMe mulls IPO in the next 24 months: Report
Health and wellness platform HealthifyMe is mulling an initial public offering (IPO) in the next 24 months even as it plans to clock an annualised revenue run rate (ARR) of $200 million around the same time, as per a report by the Economic Times.
"We are seeing a change in people’s mindset towards using behavioural change apps like HealthifyMe and we plan to touch $200 Million ARR in 20-24 months. We may think of an IPO when we reach there,” Tushar Vashisht, co-founder of HealthifyMe, told ET. The company plans to achieve $100 million ARR in the next eight months, the report added.
OYO achieves 8 lakh+ bookings; record week second time in a row
Travel technology platform OYO has crossed over 8 lakh bookings this week, a record high for 2022. At its peak, over 950 storefronts (hotels & homes) were sold out with 100 percent occupancy on April 16, the firm said in a statement.
OYO attributes the success of this milestone to its app that provides increased flexibility to today’s travellers with features like ‘Pay at Hotel’. Additionally, on average, 20 percent of the bookings were made by OYO’s Wizard members, India’s second-largest loyalty programme, it said.
Coinbase unveils NFT marketplace in limited beta
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has announced that its non-fungible tokens (NFT) marketplace is now in beta version and accessible to a small set of beta testers who will be invited based on their position. The company said now anyone can check out the first version of Coinbase NFT and explore the vast collection of NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain.
"Beta testers will be able to create a Coinbase NFT profile to buy and sell NFTs using any self-custody wallet, whether that's Coinbase Wallet or something else," said Sanchan Saxena, vice president of product, ecosystem products, in a blog post.
"For a limited time, there will be no Coinbase transaction fees. We will eventually add fees, which will be in line with Web3 industry standards, and we will provide notice before anything changes," Saxena added.
The company said it is starting with a small set of beta testers who will be invited based on their position on the company's waitlist. It will start at the top of the waitlist and open access to more people over time. In the coming weeks and months, the company said it will add more features that will gradually bring the company's vision for a web3 social marketplace to life.
CoverStack partners with Spinny to offer motor insurance to pre-owned car buyers
Insurtech startup CoverStack has partnered with online used car retailing unicorn Spinny, to provide insurance services for used cars at the time of sale.
Coverstack’s API integrations will act as a one-stop solution for Spinny providing them with a single platform where they can initiate an inspection, compare quotes between insurers as well as book a policy, the firm said.
By partnering with Spinny, Coverstack will extend its insurance-providing technology and enable a one-stop-shop for motor insurance. This hassle-free and the time-effective process will give end-to-end support to used car selling from buying up to seamless claiming.
D2C Brand Kapiva to launch operations in the UAE and US; targets Rs 100 crore global revenue in 3 years
Kapiva, a homegrown D2C Ayurvedic nutrition brand, is eyeing global expansion, starting with UAE and US. With this international expansion, the brand has set a target to reach Rs 100 crore global revenue by end of FY 2024-25.
The Ayurveda market is set to grow by $6.81 billion from 2021 to 2026, progressing at a CAGR of 15.32 percent, according to industry reports. As per Kapiva’s market research, the US market showed increasing interest in Ayurveda with the popularity of preventative healthcare in the aftermath of the pandemic which the brand aims to leverage.
Agritech startup AgNext appoints Nitin Kochhar as chief business officer
Agritech startup AgNext has onboarded business veteran Nitin Kochhar as its chief business officer to drive business expansion in domestic and international markets.
With over 16 years of experience, Kochhar has worked across sectors such as edtech, e-commerce, and logistics, among others. Prior to joining AgNext, Nitin Kochharwas working with WhiteHat Jr. as a chief business officer and building new channels to drive the growth of the organisation for global expansion. He has worked with India’s leading companies like ITC Limited, Flipkart, Shopclues, Rivigo, among others.
He will play a critical role in the development and expansion of AgNext’s business verticals, as the company continues to see accelerated demand for its offerings, a statement said.
"As a global leader, Nitin Kochhar will play a pivotal role in steering and leading sales, both in India and overseas. His extensive experience in building start-ups will be instrumental to helping AgNext scale rapidly and take our solutions and services to diverse markets,” Taranjeet Singh Bhamra, founder and CEO, AgNext, said.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Tesla reports $18.76 billion in revenue for Q1
Tesla beat analysts’ expectations on the top and bottom lines for Q1 2022. The world's most valuable automaker said revenue was $18.8 billion in the first quarter ended March 31, versus estimates of $17.8 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. This is up 81% from a year earlier.
Revenue from sales of its regulatory credits to other automakers jumped 31% to $679 million in the first quarter from a year earlier, helping boost revenue and profits. Its earnings per share was $3.22, beatings analysts' estimates of $2.26. The results let Musk meet a hat trick of performance goals worth a combined $23 billion in new compensation.
Ackman gives up on Netflix, taking $400 million loss as shares tumble
Billionaire investor William Ackman liquidated a $1.1 billion bet on Netflix, locking in a loss of more than $400 million as the streaming service's stock plunged following news that it lost subscribers for the first time in a decade, Reuters reported.
Ackman's hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management made an abrupt U-turn, selling the 3.1 million shares it had bought just three months ago as Netflix's shares tumbled 35 percent to $226.19.
In January, the investor funneled over $1 billion into the streaming service just days after a disappointing forecast for subscriptions pushed the share price lower. Now the second bout of negative news about subscribers - the company said it had lost 200,000 - prompted the fund manager to turn his back on a company he had showered with praise only weeks before.
In a brief statement announcing the move, Ackman said proposed business model changes, including incorporating advertising and going after non-paying customers, made sense but would make the company too unpredictable in the short term.
Amazon, SpaceX snag NASA space communications contracts
Amazon's satellite venture, SpaceX's Starlink network and other satellite firms have won a combined $278.5 million in contracts from NASA to demonstrate communications in space as the US space agency moves to replace its current satellite network in orbit with privately-built systems.
According to Reuters, NASA is increasingly looking to rely on private space companies for its operations and wants to stimulate more commercial activity in areas from space communications to sending humans to orbit.
Amazon's Project Kuiper, a planned network of over 3,000 satellites built to beam broadband internet to remote regions, won $67 million, while SpaceX's Starlink venture, a larger satellite-internet network with some 2,000 satellites in space already, received $70 million. Each company is expected to complete the development and demonstrations of their satellites under the contract by 2025, NASA said in a statement.
Amazon opens up Prime delivery service to other retailers: Report
Amazon will let other online merchants piggyback on its Prime service to deliver goods quickly to their customers, CNBC reported. The company on Thursday launched a new service, Buy with Prime, that lets third-party merchants use Amazon’s vast shipping and logistics network to fulfill orders on their own sites, while also appealing to Amazon’s 200 million-plus Prime customers.
These websites will be able to put the Prime badge on their websites next to items that are eligible for free two-day or next-day delivery. Prime members will use the payment and shipping information stored on their Amazon accounts to place an order. Buy with Prime won’t be free for sellers, and pricing will vary depending on payment processing, fulfillment, storage and other fees.
Russia fines Google over Ukraine 'fakes', far-right content: TASS
A Russian court has fined Google 11 million roubles ($137,763) for failing to delete what it terms "fake" information about the conflict in Ukraine and YouTube videos produced by Ukrainian far-right groups, TASS reported.
Russia's communications watchdog said earlier this month that it was taking steps to punish Google for "spreading fakes" on YouTube, and has previously warned the U.S. company that it would be fined if it failed to comply, part of a wider battle with foreign tech firms and media to control information flows.
Google was found guilty of committing administrative violations and fined 4 million roubles and 7 million roubles in two cases, Moscow's Tagansky District Court said.
Uber's Mideast unit says it's in talks with Saudi to ease ride-hailing restrictions
Uber subsidiary in the Middle East, Careem, says it is in talks with authorities in Saudi Arabia to ease restrictions, including those that have limited driver numbers and led to long waits for rides, as per Reuters.
The oil-rich kingdom in recent years has restricted driver jobs on ride-hailing platforms to citizens, while also limiting the types of cars that can be used, introducing new fees and hitting the companies with large retroactive tax bills.
Careem chief executive Mudassir Sheikha said that, due to the changes there, the Dubai-headquartered firm could not attract enough drivers to meet demand in the kingdom but he was confident a solution would be found relatively soon.
Judge rejects 'gag order' for Elon Musk
Elon Musk will not be subjected to a "gag order" preventing him from discussing a lawsuit claiming he defrauded Tesla shareholders by tweeting in 2018 about taking his electric car company private, a federal judge ruled.
US District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco agreed with Musk and Tesla that the proposed temporary restraining order appeared overbroad because it prevented Musk from speaking to "anyone" about the case, as per a Reuters report.
Chen also found no proof that letting Musk, the world's richest person according to Forbes, talk publicly posed a "clear and present danger" or "serious and imminent threat" to a trial.
But the judge also said he plans to tell jurors at the scheduled January 2023 trial he had already ruled that Musk's tweets were false, and made with sufficient knowledge they were false.
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