There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Thursday. Here are the top stories from the startup universe:
IPO-bound Paytm extends deadline for shareholders to submit documents
Fintech major Paytm has extended deadlines for for shareholders, employees and former employees to submit their documents by June 30, if they wish to sell their shares in the planned Paytm IPO.
In a notice to its shareholders, Paytm said "In the interest of providing additional time to our shareholders—due to the ongoing situation—to process all the documentation shared and dispatch them to us, we are extending the last date to submit documents for participation in the offer from June 22, 2021, to June 30, 2021.”
The equity shareholders had previously expressed concern about inability to meet the deadline, as per the report.
CNBC TV18 had earlier reported that One 97, which operates a slew of financial services under the Paytm brand, is planning an IPO during Diwali this year.
Classplus raises $65 mn from Tiger Global, others
E-commerce enablement platform Classplus has raised $65 million in a Series C round led by Tiger Global. Edtech focused fund, GSV Ventures along with existing investors Alpha Wave Incubation (backed by DisruptAD and managed by Falcon Edge), Blume Ventures and RTP Global also participated in the round.
This is the fourth round of funding raised by the B2B edtech startup in the last 15 months. Sequoia Capital’s Surge and Times Internet are also the early backers of Classplus.
As per company reports, the overall profitability of educators has increased by 2x to 3x within 6 months of getting onto the platform and has over 80% of the user base from Tier-2 India and beyond. BCCI President Sourav Ganguly has also invested in the company and also serves as the brand ambassador for them.
Wealthdesk raises $3.2 mn in Pre Series A round
Technology platform, has raised funding from former Blackstone Partner and co-head of India PE, Mathew Cyriac, in his personal capacity. With this final tranche, WealthDesk has closed its Pre Series A round at $3.2 million.
Earlier this year, WealthDesk had raised the first tranche of their pre-Series A funding from individual investors including senior leaders from global banks, market participants and other top corporates.
The company plans to use the fresh funds to hire great talent, invest in R&D and further build out the technology to expand business.
WINDO raises $500K in seed round led by Unicorn India Ventures
Social commerce startup WINDO has raised $500K in a seed round led by Unicorn India Ventures. The round also saw participation from prominent angels like Meena Ganesh, CEO of Portea, Aravind Sanka, CEO of Rapido, Srinivas Anumolu of GrowthStory and Vivek Bhargava, a digital media expert and Co-founder of ProfitWheel.
The company plans to use the funds for product development, enhancing customer experience while growing and for achieving product market fit, apart from venturing into regions outside India.
WINDO is an Instagram commerce-focused tech startup which helps small businesses and solopreneurs capitalise on consumers flocking to Instagram. WINDO aims to become a one-stop shop where sellers can control everything from the WINDO app by enabling features such as centralised inventory, order management, pricing etc, the company said in a statement.
B2B social commerce platform ApnaKlub raises undisclosed amount
ApnaKlub, a homegrown social commerce platform on Thursday announced that it has raised an undisclosed amount in pre-Series A round led by Blume Ventures and Whiteboard Capital.
With the fresh capital influx, the startup aims to disrupt the traditional wholesale FMCG distribution landscape in India through its reseller led B2B platform for retailers and wholesalers based in Tier II and III areas in India.
According to an official statement, the brand plans to use the investment to deepen its reach in rural geographies, expand its team across technology and operations and increase its range of services and brands for onboarded partners.
Flipkart plans $125 mn ESOP buyback in upcoming round: Report
In the process of raising fresh funds, ecommerce giant Flipkart is mulling a buyback of employee stock options (ESOPs) worth $125 million, sources told Times of India. The plan is part of a new funding round that Flipkart is in the middle of.
CNBC-TV18 had earlier reported that SoftBank is looking to invest in the company again, and could hand Flipkart a large $500-$600 million cheque. SoftBank's funding could be part of a larger round of $2-$3 billion, sources said, which would value the ecommerce player at nearly $30 billion.Flipkart was valued last year at $24.9 billion following a $1.2 billion funding from Walmart.
This would be the second major ESOP buyback for Flipkart in recent years. Flipkart employees will have the option to liquidate their vested ESOPs, TOI report claimed.
Grofers announces 33% hike for tech team, ESOPs
Online grocery delivery platform Grofers has announced a 33% hike for its engineering, product, design and data teams in order to engage talent.
“The entire tech team gets a no-ifs-and-buts 33% increase in salary starting July. Depending on how much impact each of you have created over the last year, there will also be a hefty ESOP allocation coming your way which will be communicated to you in the next few weeks,” Albinder Dhindsa, the company’s co-founder and CEO, wrote in a blog post.
Dhindsa added that the move comes as the company has secured its next round of funding and is looking to invest more into technology infrastructure by engaging quality talent.
In its bid to become a tech-focussed company, and to attract and retain top tech talent, Dhindsa added that the company will be allocating employee stock ownership plans to members of its tech team “depending on how much impact each of you have created over the last year”.
Twitter adds RazorPay to Tip Jar
Twitter is adding RazorPay, an Indian payment gateway, to its service Tip Jar that lets users send and receive money through the platform.
The microblogging site had last month announced the option to add Tip Jar to one’s profile, a new way for people to send and receive support with cash gifts.
Currently, only a limited amount of users on the platform can turn on Tip Jar to receive tips. They will see the option to add Tip Jar to their profile.
This group includes creators, journalists, public figures, experts, and community leaders.
“It is the first of several upcoming ways for creators to monetise their content and earn money from their biggest supporters,” Twitter said in a statement.
By integrating Razorpay, the service is hoping to provide people in India with a simple and secure way to send money as a token of appreciation or as a gift, the company added.
VegEase launches grocery cart-at-home in Haryana and UP
VegEase, cart-at-home e-grocery startup, is launching its services in UP and Haryana including Manesar, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Noida.
VegEase has already begun delivery of fruits and vegetables in this region, and will shortly introduce exotic as well as organic produce.
The cart-at-home model has seen tremendous success in NCR as VegEase, with customer base doubling in just one month, in April 2021, and is growing at the rate of 100% every month, the company claimed.
VegEase app ensures that the consumer gets fresh and unadulterated fruits and vegetables at the doorstep. Since its inception in January 2021, VegEase has achieved a turnover of Rs 9 million, a customer base of over 15,000 in Delhi/NCR region, with 5000 customers coming on board in April and May, the company reports.
healthi partners with WeWork to offer vaccination drives
Digital healthcare startup healthi has announced a partnership with global workspace provider WeWork in India to enable and support COVID-19 vaccination drives for the Indian workforce and their families.
As part of this initiative, vaccination drive for all employees and their dependents has now been extended to our 25,000+ members, their families and friends. This drive will cater to businesses of all nature and size – from large enterprises to small and medium businesses, as well as the huge startup community of India, the company added.
ZASH Global Media & Entertainment to acquire remaining 20% of TikTok & Lomotif
ZASH Global Media and Entertainment, today announced it has agreed to acquire the remaining shares of approximately 20% of TikTok and Kuaishou rival, Lomotif. In February ZASH entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a majority controlling interest in Lomotif.
Lomotif is one of the fastest growing video-sharing social networking platforms in its category over the last three years, with 225+ million installations of the Lomotif app globally in over 200 countries in 300+ languages, the company said.
The addition of Lomotif enhances ZASH's offering by adding a short-form video component to its overall ecosystem as the company continues to grow a global content-centric technology company, added the company.
“We believe very strongly in the user-generated contact space (UGC) and it is a great honour for us to be able to purchase the remaining shares of Lomotif,” said Zash co-founder Ted Farnsworth.
“With the growth that we have seen recently and continue to see overall in UGC, we feel that this is the perfect positioning to become one of the top leaders competing with TikTok and others for Vinco and Zash as the completion of our two company’s merger becomes imminent,” added Farnsworth.
Digitally native brands, vertical market players champion: Delivery Delight Index
According to the third edition of Delivery Delight Index launched by RedSeer and Shadowfax, digitally native brands (DNB) and vertical market players have emerged as the key champions on the back of improved delivery experience.
Customers are warming up to paying extra for express or same day e-commerce deliveries, with the pandemic shifting consumption behaviour to online platforms, RedSeer and Shadowfax said as part of the latest edition of the ‘Delivery Delight Index’
Customers are willing to pay an average fee of ₹44 for express deliveries for categories including e-pharmacy and e-grocery, considering the urgent need for these essentials, the report added.
“There is an opportunity for e-pharma platforms to monetize by offering express deliveries to customers, which in turn will further lead to higher customer satisfaction," said the report.
Further, demand for express deliveries for categories including e-grocery are higher in non-metros.
The index also showed that digitally native brands including Mi, Mamaearth, Bewakoof, and boAt, which have largely sold on e-commerce also improved their direct delivery experience to customers from January to March this year.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
US lobby group views India's e-commerce plan as worrying, email shows
A top lobby group that is part of the US Chamber of Commerce believes India's proposed new e-commerce rules are a cause for concern and will lead to a stringent operating environment for companies, according to an email reviewed by Reuters.
India this week spooked online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart by outlining plans to limit "flash sales", reining in a private label push and mandating them to have a system to address grievances.
The Washington-headquartered U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), of which Amazon and Walmart are members, described the rules as concerning in an internal email, saying some provisions were in line with India’s stance on other big digital companies.
India's draft plan "includes several concerning policies, including significant limits on platforms' ability to organise sales and handle grievances," USIBC said in an email to its members.
USIBC has in the past urged India not to tighten a separate set of rules governing foreign investment in companies like Amazon and Flipkart, an issue that has often soured trade relations between India and United States.
Visa to buy Swedish fintech Tink for $2.2 bn
Visa has finalised a 2.2 billion takeover of European open banking platform Tink, months after it ditched a planned acquisition of the startup's US rival Plaid, Reuters reported.
Founded in 2012, Sweden-based Tink enables banks and other financial firms to access consumer financial data more easily. It is used by more than 3,400 banks and other institutions, as well as over 250 million customers across Europe.
Visa said the Tink deal was subject to regulatory approvals. Visa would retain Tink's brand and management team, and its headquarters would stay in Stockholm, the company said.
The Tink takeover included cash and retention incentives, Visa said, adding the deal would have no impact on its previously announced stock buyback or dividend policy.
UK fintech Wise set to list in London on July 7
British financial technology company Wise confirmed on Thursday that it plans to list in early July, in a test for London's main market as investor appetite for company floats starts to wane, reports Reuters.
The company, formerly known as TransferWise, plans to do a direct listing on the London Stock Exchange rather than sell shares at a set price in advance, with the opening price to be determined in an open auction on the date of admission to the exchange. Bookrunners said trading was expected to start on July 7 after a management roadshow that begins on July 1.
The London-based payments app, founded in 2010 by two Estonian entrepreneurs, has not given an estimate for how much it expects to be valued at. Sources told Reuters in April it could be worth between $6 billion and $7 billion, making it potentially one of the biggest floats this year.
Amazon restores services after multiple users face outage
Multiple users experienced a brief outage at Amazon platforms including Alexa and Prime Video late Wednesday before services were restored, according to outage monitoring website Downdetector.
More than 6,200 user reports had indicated issues with Amazon's online store site, as of 0148 GMT, while about 1,700 users reported problems with Prime Video and more than 400 with Alexa, according to Downdetector.
Outage reports dropped significantly to double digits on the platforms in a little over an hour, Downdetector showed.
The issue affecting the sites was not immediately clear. Amazon did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
First Published: IST