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    Startup Digest: Oyo IPO may come in early 2023, Ola to lay off at least 500 employees and Google faces heat in India over illegal lending apps: Report

    Startup Digest: Oyo IPO may come in early 2023, Ola to lay off at least 500 employees and Google faces heat in India over illegal lending apps: Report

    Startup Digest: Oyo IPO may come in early 2023, Ola to lay off at least 500 employees and Google faces heat in India over illegal lending apps: Report
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    By Aishwarya Anand   IST (Published)

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    Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

    Oyo IPO may come in early 2023 as firm files fresh financial documents with Sebi
    OYO, the Softbank-backed hotel aggregator is putting its house in order to be ready for an initial public offering in early 2023. The firm has filed fresh financial documents with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), sources told CNBC-TV18.
    They said the firm had filed an addendum to Draft Red Herring Prospectus (DRHP) with Sebi, and the addendum has updated financial numbers for the first quarter of FY23.
    This is not the first time Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal is planning to make a stock market debut. The company had to shelve its IPO plans earlier this year as the travel industry took a hit due to COVID-related restrictions.
    The company had filed preliminary papers with Sebi to raise Rs 8,430 crore through an initial share sale in October last year. Later, reports said the company was preparing to settle for a lower valuation of USD 7-8 billion against the USD 11 billion it initially targeted.
    However, with a recovery in travel and cost-cutting measures aiding its financials, the company is back on track with its IPO plans.
    Ola to lay off at least 500 employees across software teams
    Mobility giant Ola has started handing over pink slips to employees across software teams. Sources told CNBC-TV18 that at least 500 employees are likely to be laid off across different software verticals of ANI technologies.
    Many of these employees are believed to have been working on different aspects of the Ola app. The move comes against the backdrop of declining sales of the Ola Electric scooter.
    Ola, which launched its electric scooter in December last year, has been carrying out a restructuring exercise for the past few months. The company had earlier laid off close to 2,000 employees due to the closure of the pre-owned car business, Ola Cars, and quick commerce business Ola Dash.
    More than 30 senior officials, including members of Bhavish Agarwal's leadership team, have quit in the last two years.
    An Ola spokesperson declined to comment on the number of layoffs. Later, the company told CNBC-TV18 that 200 employees are likely to be impacted.
    In a statement, the firm said, "Ola Electric, India’s largest EV company, has been increasing its focus on non-software engineering domains with a clear focus on building engineering and R&D capabilities across - vehicle, cell, battery, manufacturing and automation, autonomous engineering streams. The company currently has around 2000 engineers and aims to increase its engineering talent pool to 5000 over the next 18 months."
    Google faces heat from Centre to help curb illegal lending apps: Report
    Google has been asked by the Indian government and the central bank to introduce more stringent checks to help curb the use of illegal digital lending applications in India, according to a Reuters report.
    Even though Google doesn't fall under the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) ambit, the US tech giant has been called several times in the last few months to meetings by the central bank and the Indian government and urged to introduce tougher checks and balances that can help in weeding out such apps, according to the report.
    Google said that last year it revised its Play Store developer program policy for financial services apps, including requiring additional requirements for personal loan apps in India effective September 2021.
    "We have removed over 2,000 personal loan apps targeting India from the Play Store for violation of the Play policy requirements," a Google spokesperson told Reuters, adding that such steps are taken if its policies are violated. "We will continue to engage with law enforcement agencies and industry bodies to help address this issue," the spokesperson added.
    Google has also been asked to look at curtailing the rise of such apps via other distribution channels such as websites and other means of downloads, according to another industry source who is directly involved. Google is also starting to act on complaints received from industry bodies.
    Paytm tokenises over 52M cards across VISA, Mastercard and RuPay
    One97 Communications, that owns the brand Paytm, on Monday said that it has now tokenized over 93 percent of the monthly active cards on the Paytm app. With this, the company has made significant progress in the card-on-file tokenisaton initiative by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
    The company has tokenised 52.3 million cards across Visa, Mastercard and RuPay in its effort to make card transactions safer and drive convenience for consumers. This brings with it faster checkouts, as well as success rates that are at par or higher compared to saved cards, the company said in a statement.
    With this, the company said it remains on track to meet RBI’s deadline to purge saved card data ahead of the RBI deadline.
    Paytm spokesperson said, “We have made great progress in card-on-file tokenisation, with over 93 percent of monthly active cards on Paytm app tokenised. Being a leader in digital payments, we are aligned with RBI’s initiative to make online card transactions safe and secure for consumers.”
    RBI’s card-on-file tokenisation mandate requires all online platforms to comply with the new initiative and make digital payments secure for citizens.
    FUNDING NEWS
    DotPe raises $58M from Temasek and others, plans to foray into financial services
    Offline-to-online commerce platform DotPe has raised USD 58 million in its series B funding round led by Temasek. The platform, which plans to foray into financial services, currently serves over 7.5 million brands across the country.
    The funding round saw participation from existing investors PayU, the payments and fintech business of Prosus, and InfoEdge Ventures while Mitsubishi & Naya Capital joined as new investors.
    "As we keep democratising opportunities for business growth with our omni-channel solutions and making technology more affordable and accessible, we also plan to foray into financial services and further empower merchants with business loans & credit lines to turbocharge their growth," said Shailaz Nag, Co-Founder and CEO, DotPe.
    The company said that on the enterprise side, it has integration with over 10,000 restaurants and food courts, including leading global and domestic food and beverage brands.
    MoneyPlanned bags over Rs 2.5 Cr in a seed round from Inflection Point Ventures
    Fintech startup MoneyPlanned has raised over Rs 2.5 crore in a seed funding round led by Inflection Point Ventures.
    The round also saw participation from Expert Dojo, Joseph R Saviano (Partner at Dot Capital, Newyork), Sameer Khan (Executive Director Corporate Treasury, DBS Bank, Singapore) along with a clutch of other strategic Angel Investors.
    As per the company, the funds raised will be utilized towards marketing and user acquisition, deepening the tech infrastructure and expanding the tech and business teams.
    MoneyPlanned aims to build a proposed technology in the patent by 2023 to fully personalise and automate financial goals for earning millennials and GenZs in India, a statement said.
    We Founder Circle backs ParkMate through its EvolveX programme
    ParkMate, a startup that delivers smart parking solutions, has secured an undisclosed funding facilitated through EvolveX, the Global accelerator programme by We Founder Circle.
    The brand plans to use the fund in expanding its team and acquiring talent under different profiles. It also intends to use a part of the fresh investment in strengthening the technology backbone of the solution.
    ParkMate parking solution enables end user to enter the destination credentials they want to visit and at the parking arrival, ParkMate’s dedicated parking attendant offers assistance. The ParkMate attendant not only drives the car to the nearest available parking lot but also parks it for the client.
    Baring PE and Inflection Point back new platform focused on deeptech
    Baring Private Equity Fund India and Inflection Point Ventures (IPV) are backing a fundraising and support platform to drive deep tech innovations in India.
    The platform Sanchiconnect, launched by Dr Sunil Shekhawat, former head of product initiatives and deep-tech club at Nasscom, aims to connect emerging tech startups with investors, enterprise buyers, talent and verified business services globally, a statement said.
    Some of the notable VCs and investment networks that have joined the platform are Capital2B (InfoEdge), Pi Ventures, Speciale Invest, Nexus VP, Yournest VC, GrowX, Ankur Capital, and Modular Capital.
    Sanchiconnect will facilitate investments in early-stage as well as growth-stage startups working in the field of AI/ML, Blockchain, Computer Vision, Drone, Renewable Energy and other deep-tech technologies with deal sizes ranging from USD 100,000 to USD 10 million, the statement added.
    “Investments in the space remain low as deep-tech innovations take a long to deliver returns. Despite an impressive compound annual growth rate of 53 percent in the past decade, as per the Nasscom report, startups in the space are still looking for access to seed capital and thematic funds to reach potential customers. Sanchiconnect will strive to facilitate more investments in the segment. We expect over 1000 startups and 300 global investors by the end of March 2023,” said Shekhawat.
    OTHER STARTUP NEWS
    Instagram rewards Jaipur student with Rs 38 lakh for finding a bug
    A student, Neeraj Sharma from Jaipur, has received a reward of Rs 38 lakh from Instagram for saving social media accounts of crores of people from being hacked.
    As per information, Sharma found a bug in Instagram due to which thumbnails could be changed in any user's account without login and password. Sharma apprised Instagram and Facebook about this mistake and after finding it authentic, he was rewarded with Rs 38 lakh for this work.
    He said, 'There was a bug in Facebook's Instagram, through which the thumbnail of the reel could have been changed from any account. All it required was the media ID of the account to change it no matter how strong the password of the account holder is.
    Web3 global asset management platform Heru Finance, launched in India
    Heru Finance, a global platform providing opportunity to invest in Web3 has been launched in India and SEA markets. The platform with over USD 8 million Assets Under Management (AUM) leverages deep technology and a team with a combined experience of 40 years investing in Web3 and Crypto, a statement said.
    “We started Heru because we realised that working professionals want to invest in this new asset class, but neither have time nor enough knowledge to make the right decisions. At best, the options they have available today are buying tokens or index funds on crypto exchanges & other platforms, which by nature are extremely volatile – and can lead to huge losses. Contrary, the investment strategies on Heru are actively managed and have shown upto 50 percent positive returns in last 3 months, compared to capitulation in crypto prices during the same time frame,” said Prashant Malik, Founder and CEO, Heru Finance.
    The platform boasts a strong technology stack including a robo-advisory that profiles every investor and matches them to a unique set of investment strategies. The investment team also uses HQS (Heru Quant Stack) which processes data points from search, social, meta, and content platforms and converts them into actionable trading decisions.
    “Our target audience are working professionals with total investable wealth of more than 1 Cr and a long-term investment perspective. For HNIs/UHNWIs, the platform provides exclusive investment opportunities in hand-picked blockchain & web 3.0 companies who can provide strong returns. Think about investing in Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, just when the Digital Revolution had started!” added Malik.
    Most Indians won't use on-demand printout services like offered by Blinkit: LocalCircles Report
    Only 14 percent of consumers in India would use 10-minute delivery platforms to get print-outs delivered at home, a report said, as Zomato-owned Blinkit recently started printout on demand service in the country.
    Of those willing to avail such a service, 7 percent said it was due to "convenience" reasons, and another 7 percent stated it was both for convenience and the price factor, according to community social media platform LocalCircles.
    On the other hand, 82 percent households stated that they had no plans to switch over to a delivery platform for printing needs either for privacy reasons, or unwillingness to change from the current mode of using home printers or use of services from nearby shops or for both reasons.
    "While platforms like Blinkit have promised to delete the information immediately on completion of the task, consumer concerns are bound to linger," said the report.
    GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
    Bitcoin falls below $19,000 as cryptos creak under rate hike risk
    Cryptocurrencies fell to fresh lows on Monday on regulatory concerns and as investors globally turned shy on risky assets with interest rate rises looming around the world.
    Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency by market value, fell about 5 percent to a three-month low of USD 18,387.
    Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, dropped 3 percent to a two-month low of USD 1,285 and is down more than 10 percent in the last 24 hours. Most other smaller tokens were deeper in the red.
    Amazon halts construction of new warehouses in Spain until 2024: Report
    Amazon has suspended the construction of new warehouses in Spain until 2024, Spanish news website El Confidencial said on Monday, citing unidentified company sources.
    El Confidencial said the US e-commerce giant told its providers and partners to "wait and see" as pandemic-driven online shopping has slowed down.
    Amazon said in an emailed statement to Reuters: "Our commitment to Spain remains."
    "In 2022, we have opened new logistics stations, Amazon Fresh hubs and a logistics centre (in Spain)," the company said, without elaborating.
    Amazon said in June it planned to add 2,000 new jobs in Spain in 2022, taking its total payroll in the country to 20,000.
    Starlink is now active on all continents, says Elon Musk
    Tech billionaire Elon Musk has announced that Starlink, the satellite Internet division of his rocket company, is now active on all the continents, including Antarctica.
    On the microblogging site Twitter, Musk wrote, "Starlink is now active on all continents, including Antarctica". He also said "another batch with lasers reaches orbit" after the deployment of 54 Starlink satellites was confirmed by the company.
    Recently, a report said that the McMurdo Station in Antarctica has nearly 1,000 people living and working there during the summer and they already have satellite internet, which is not reliable in rough conditions.
    There is currently a 17 Mbps link for everyone, according to the US Antarctic Programme. But with Starlink, the internet service will be better and not patchy like earlier, the report had said.
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