Startup Digest brings you a quick wrap of all the news that matters.
Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
Ola to invest Rs 4000 Cr in Asia's largest EV battery R&D unit in Bengaluru
SoftBank Group-backed Ola Electric is planning to invest around Rs 4,000 crore ($500 million) to set up Battery Innovation Center (BIC) in Bengaluru to develop a futuristic and localised cell technology.
Spanning across half a million square feet, BIC will be one of the world's largest cell R&D centres and will recruit top industry talent, including 500 PhDs and engineers at full strength, Ola said in a statement.
The Battery Innovation Center will be the largest cell R&D facility in Asia, claims the Bangalore-based company. The unit will be up and running next month.
As part of its broader electrification push, the firm plans to invest in companies with advanced cell and battery technology, alongside the 50 Gwh battery plant.
Flight booking platform Cleartrip suffers customer data breach
Flipkart-owned Cleartrip, a flight booking platform, has said that its internal systems were breached by unnamed perpetrators. In an email sent to customers, Cleartrip said, “This is to inform you that there has been a security anomaly that entailed illegal and unauthorised access to a part of Cleartrip’s internal systems.”
The company also informed that apart from a person's profile, "no sensitive information pertaining to your Cleartrip account has been compromised as a result of this anomaly of our systems". The firm did not provide any further details on the nature of the hack their systems suffered or who the hackers were. However, they advised people to reset their passwords as a precautionary measure.
This is the first significant data breach that has come to light ever since the directions of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) came to force in late June.
India needs global support to implement crypto ban: Nirmala Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has registered its concern over the adverse effect of cryptocurrencies on the economy and recommended prohibiting them by framing regulations.
"Given the concerns on the destabilising effect of cryptocurrencies on a country's monetary and fiscal stability, the RBI has recommended framing of legislation on this sector. The RBI is of the view that cryptocurrencies should be prohibited," she said in a written response to a question in the Lok Sabha.
The government, however, has viewed a need for a global collaboration for any effective regulation or ban, given the borderless nature of these currencies.
According to Sitharaman, RBI said that cryptocurrencies couldn't be considered a currency because every modern currency needs to be issued by either a central bank or government. Moreover, the value of cryptocurrencies rests solely on the speculations and expectations of high returns that are not well anchored.
WayCool launches tech company Censa to offer its tech stack to global food supply chains
B2B food and agritech platform WayCool has launched a venture for technology-based solutions to global food supply chains, for an investment of $20-40 million.
With a 200-member tech team, the new venture offers technology products such as customisable SaaS solutions across six verticals, which cover the complete food and agri-supply chain: farm, processing, distribution, retailer, consumer, and finance, the firm said. These solutions seek to address supply chain-related problems, ranging from crop health protection, disease detection and management to digital lending, among others.
The Chennai-based company plans to invest the amount over the next three years in ‘Censa,’ it said in a statement. “We have accelerated this launch based on the positive feedback and queries received from over 100 potential global clients when we showcased our solutions at Expo 2020 and other global events,” said Avinash Kasinathan, CEO, Censa.
10-minute delivery platform Zepto partners Zypp Electric
Zypp Electric, an e-logistic service provider, has partnered Zepto, a e-grocery startup, to facilitate last-mile deliveries.
At present, the partnership has a fleet of over 1,500 e-two-wheelers enabling more than 20,000 deliveries per day in Delhi, which will now be expanded to Bengaluru and Mumbai in the next four months.
Zypp is currently serving 50 Zepto hubs in Delhi-NCR and plans to grow its partnership by 10 times in the next 12 months by doubling its fleet and areas of servicing nationally.
"In this first leg of our partnership, we have collectively helped reduce 1.62 lakh carbon emissions and facilitated more than half a million for Zepto so far, all via electric vehicles," said Akash Gupta, Co-Founder and CEO, Zypp Electric.
With a EV-driver fleet of over 1,500, both the startups are enabling more than 20,000 deliveries per day in Delhi and is also going to expand to Bengaluru and Mumbai in the next four months.
Slice fundraising on hold after RBI note on PPIs: Report
Fintech platform Slice's ongoing fundraising has come to a halt following the RBI’s circular last month barring prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) from loading credit lines, according to a report by the Economic Times.
The company’s funding round, of which $50 million was raised last month led by Tiger Global, is on hold now as stakeholders wait for clarity, the report added.
Slice was looking to add at least another $50 million to its latest round and was in talks with new and existing investors.
D2C footwear brand Plaeto raises Rs 40 Cr in Series A round
Plaeto, a health focused, D2C footwear brand for children has secured Rs 40 crores in Series A round of funding led by Florintree Advisors, a Mumbai based financial institution and other marquee investors in the D2C space.
The fresh capital will be used to launch new product lines, expand to newer markets and set new benchmarks in the children’s footwear space, a statement said. The brand aims to impact at least 30 percent of the 300 million children in India through their product and programs. It has entered the UAE market, where there is already a large Indian population.
“As a brand we have invested in the right technology and our design and engineering teams in India, US and Italy have developed a host of proprietary design elements that address the needs of Indian children. With the latest round of funding, we will continue to invest in R&D, enter new territories, and touch more lives through our products,” said Ravi Kallayil, CEO & Co-Founder, Plaeto.
Swizzle raises undisclosed funds in its seed round
Swizzle, a new-age alco-bev solutions provider startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from multiple angel investors including Akshay Singhal, Founder and CEO, of Log9 Materials and Monika Rao, Co-founder and CEO, AIFMetrics.
The firm will use the fresh capital to capture a wide market and both B2B and B2C customer base for beverages that still need a kind of solution which Swizzle provides, in addition to increasing the startup’s manufacturing capacity, marketing enhancement and new products’ development, a statement said.
The company is also aiming to increase its customer base by 7x by the end of this fiscal year. Swizzle is also currently in talks with VCs to raise a Series-A investment round and thereby further bolster its pan-India expansion plans, it added.
Sequoia, Tiger Global lead startup funding in April-June: Nasscom report
Venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global led funding in Indian startups during April-June, with the fintech sector attracting most of the $6 billion (about Rs 47,870 crore) investments made during the quarter, industry body Nasscom said in a report.
Fintech firms attracted about 26 percent of the total investments made during the quarter, followed by media and entertainment (19 percent), enterprise tech (16 percent), retail tech (9 per cent), edtech (8 percent) and health tech (5 percent), according to the report.
"Prominent investors Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global, Alpha wave and Accel have done over 6 deals across sectors," it added.
Out of Tiger Global's total investments, 40 percent were in the fintech sector and 20 percent in the enterprise technology domain. For Sequoia, enterprise technology accounted for about 25 percent of the funding, and financial technology (fintech) 20 percent.
Around 60 percent of the investments by Tiger Global and Sequoia were made in the growth stage of the startups.
Mindpeers launches neuroscience game to tackle overthinking
MindPeers, a science-based mental wellness platform, has launched a neuroscience game, ‘My Clear Sky’, that can help users tackle overthinking and anxious thoughts.
The game promises to help its players find clarity of thoughts, write what is worrying them and feel empowered, with a two-step journaling and self-exploration segment.
“In our endeavor to make mental health qualitative, accessible, and most importantly credible, we today have reached our first milestone in the world of neuroscience with games — a healthy engagement that allows positive behavioral changes,” said Kanika Agarwal, Founder, MindPeers.
The WorldGrad announces ‘UK Year 1’ programme to accelerate study in the UK for Indian students
Digital platform for overseas learning, The WorldGrad has announced ‘UK Year 1’ programme in association with the Swiss School of Business and Management (SSBM).
The WorldGrad has partnered with Edge Hill University, Plymouth Marjon University, and De Montfort University to provide seamless enrollment through this program. The company claims that the list will expand further.
Furthermore, this program will fast-track students to complete their 40-week first year of any undergraduate degree in 26 weeks online. The credits acquired will be approved by various UK universities courtesy of the collaboration with the SSBM.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Modsy shuts down, lays off employees
Online interior design services startup Modsy has quietly shut operations and several customers have been left with unfinished renovations and project orders in process.
San Francisco-based Modsy has abruptly ceased offering design services, laid off its designers and left its customers in disarray, reports TechCrunch.
The startup returned some service order charges and promised to refund furniture deliveries to those who filled an online form. "But more than two weeks later, tweets show that many Modsy customers are still awaiting updates," the report said.
According to the report, while the company's website remains operational, Modsy has deleted its Twitter and Facebook pages and made its Instagram account private.
UK tribunal quashes Meta-Giphy deal block, regulator to reconsider ruling
Britain's competition regulator said it would carry out another review of Facebook owner Meta's acquisition of Giphy after a tribunal quashed its original decision to block it, Reuters reported.
Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year ordered Meta to sell animated images platform Giphy, which it acquired for a reported $400 million, because of its concerns about a loss of a possible competitor in advertising, and the potential impact on social media rivals.
The CAT said it had quashed the regulator's ruling and referred the matter back for a new decision. In response, the CMA said the tribunal had endorsed its approach to reviewing mergers that might harm innovation, but had agreed to reconsider its ruling.
Russia fines Google $370M for repeated content violations: Regulator
Google was fined 21.1 billion roubles ($373 million) by a Moscow court for a repeated failure to remove content Russia deems illegal, such as "fake news" about the conflict in Ukraine, Russia's communications regulator said.
As per a Reuters report, Moscow has long objected to foreign tech platforms' distribution of content that falls foul of its restrictions. But the simmering dispute has erupted into a full-on battle since Moscow assembled its armed forces before sending them into Ukraine in February.
The regulator, Roskomnadzor, said the Tagansky District Court had fined Google 21.1 billion roubles for repeatedly failing to restrict access promptly to banned materials, and singled out YouTube for particular criticism.
Microsoft president sees 'new era' of stagnating labor pool
US companies are facing a "new era" in which fewer people are entering the workforce and pressure to pay higher salaries may become permanent, Microsoft President Brad Smith told Reuters in an interview.
At the software maker's Redmond, Washington, headquarters, Smith highlighted one source of what he called today's "greater economic turbulence." In his office, he walked over to a wall-sized touchscreen device and pulled up a series of charts, showing how population growth has tumbled in the United States, Europe, China and Japan.
The trend of around 5 million people expanding the US working age population every five years since 1950 has shifted, starting in the period between 2016 and 2020 when growth slowed to 2 million, and is now slowing further, said Smith late last week, citing United Nations data. Major markets overseas have seen outright labor force declines.
Snap introduces web version of Snapchat app
Snap is introducing the web version of its photo messaging app Snapchat, allowing users to chat, snap and video call from their computers, Reuters reported.
The company said that the feature will be exclusive to Snapchat+ subscribers beginning July 18 and will start with subscribers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Snapchat for web will include features like chat reactions and chat reply, along with Lenses, which will roll out soon, the company added.
Dutch central bank fines Binance 3.3 million euros
The Dutch central bank (DNB) has fined Binance, one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, 3.3 million euros ($3.35 million) for offering services in the Netherlands without being registered in the country.
As per Reuters, the fine was issued against Binance Holdings in April 2022, following a public warning issued against Binance in August 2021, DNB said. The bank said in a statement that Binance in June had indicated it would appeal.
The DNB said Binance had been in violation of Dutch money-laundering laws and had enjoyed a competitive advantage against companies that do have a DNB registration during the period it was in non-compliance — between at least May 2020 and Dec. 1, 2021.
A spokesperson for Binance said in an emailed reaction the fine marked a "pivot in our ongoing collaboration" with the DNB. The spokesperson said the company has since set up a local company branch, Binance Nederland BV.
US crypto exchange Coinbase wins regulatory nod in Italy
Major US crypto exchange Coinbase Global has won approval from Italian regulators to continue to serve customers in Italy, it said in a blog.
Coinbase said it had met requirements from the Organismo Agenti e Mediatori (OAM), which oversees financial agents and credit brokers in Italy and implements anti-money laundering controls.
Financial watchdogs across the world are grappling with how to regulate the crypto market, which remains subject to patchy rules. Consumer protection, threats to financial stability and illicit usage of digital coins are among the top issues on regulators' agendas.
The OAM says on its website it can collect and share with anti-mafia and anti-terrorism investigators in Italy data provided by crypto firms on their clients and operations.
"We are in the process of strengthening our presence across Europe," Nana Murugesan, Coinbase's vice president for international and business development, said on the blog. "Our goal is to grow our customer base by launching the Coinbase suite of retail, institutional, and ecosystem products."