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    STARTUP DIGEST: Paytm eyes $3 bn IPO, Tata likely to acquire CureFit, Jeff Bezos to step down as Amazon CEO

    STARTUP DIGEST: Paytm eyes $3 bn IPO, Tata likely to acquire CureFit, Jeff Bezos to step down as Amazon CEO

    STARTUP DIGEST: Paytm eyes $3 bn IPO, Tata likely to acquire CureFit, Jeff Bezos to step down as Amazon CEO
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    By CNBC-TV18  IST (Updated)

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    There were several important startup updates during the day on Wednesday. Here's a wrap of today's top startup stories: 

    Even as war of words erupted between microblogging site Twitter and central government, there were several important startup updates during the day on Wednesday, which include AI startup Rezo.ai raises undisclosed fund in seed round, Paytm is aiming to raise about $3 billion in initial public offering; after BigBasket and 1mg, Tata is reportedly looking to acquire CureFit; MakeMyTrip launches quarantine facilities, Ola says 50 percent of its employees have been vaccinated; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will officially step down, and after U.S lifted restrictions, Xiaomi’s revenue soar.  Here's a wrap of today's top startup stories:
    ‘Stop beating around the bush, comply with new laws’: GOI to Twitter
    In a scathing response to Twitter’s freedom of expression concern over new IT rules, Government of India told the social media site to "stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land". Centre added that protecting free speech in India is not the prerogative of only a private, for-profit, foreign entity like Twitter.
    Twitter had said while it will "strive to comply with applicable law", it planned to ask for changes to "elements that inhibit free, open conversation". Responding to this, government accused the microblogging site of attempting to dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy and said Twitter seeks to undermine India’s legal system.
    Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), in a strongly worded statement, said, “Govt respects people's rights to question and criticise, Twitter is the one scuttling free speech by suspending accounts and deleting tweets arbitrarily”. MeitY added that Twitter has no locus in dictating what should India’s legal policy framework should be.
    Condemning Twitter’s ‘intimidation tactics by the police’ remark, government claimed the statement is baseless, false & is a bid to defame India. IT Ministry also assured that representatives of social media companies including Twitter will always remain safe in India & there is no threat to their personal safety & security.
    Earlier in the day, Twitter had expressed worry about its employees in India after the Delhi Police visited its offices.
    The new rules which came into effect on May 25, require social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer.
    Paytm eyes $3 bn IPO in what would be India’s largest debut: Report
    Digital payments provider ‘Paytm’ is aiming to raise about $3 billion in initial public offering, the largest ever for India, Bloomberg reports.
    As per the reports, the startup, backed by investors including Berkshire Hathaway Inc., SoftBank Group Corp. and Ant Group Co., plans to list in India around November and its offering could coincide with the Diwali festival season. . Paytm is targeting a valuation of around $25 billion to $30 billion.
    The One97 (Paytm’s former name) board plans to meet this Friday (May 28) to formally approve the IPO, report added. If successful, Paytm’s share sale would surpass Coal India’s 2010 offering, which as of now is the largest IPO in the country. Banks shortlisted to run the Paytm offering include Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., with Morgan Stanley the leading contender.
    Paytm joins other leading technology companies such as Zomato, CarTrade, PolicyBazaar and Mobikwik, which are going for a domestic IPO.
    Tata Eyes fitness startup Curefit to build digital muscle: Report
    Tata Group is reportedly in talks to acquire health and fitness startup Curefit, recently rebranded as cult.fit. The group is also planning to bring on board Curefit founder Mukesh Bansal with a leadership role in Tata’s digital business, as per reports.
    Cure.fit, which offers gyms and a bouquet of services, will sit well with Tata Group's plan for a bigger digital play and its ambitious super app.The proposed super-app will pit Tata against digital business conglomerates like Reliance Industries, Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart.
    Just last month Tata signed a $1.2-billion deal with BigBasket, thus holding majority stakes in the egrocer. Along with the big bet on grocery e-commerce, Tata also invested in e-pharmacy 1mg.
    Oyo looking to borrow $600 mn to refinance debt
    Oyo is seeking to borrow $600 million using a syndicated offshore loan to refinance all its existing debt, Reuters report. For the SoftBank Vision Fund-backed firm, the deal signals that a restructuring is working.
    Oyo has adopted a revenue-sharing model and stopped guaranteeing minimum payments to hoteliers, an initiative that ballooned fixed costs and undercut incentives to maintain service standards. The amount of cash Oyo burns is expected to shrink over the next 18 months and it should have enough to last two to three years, according to credit rating analyst Moody’s.
    Using debt instead of equity also means that Oyo can avoid extra scrutiny on how far its peak $10 billion valuation has fallen, reports Reuters.
    Clensta raises Rs 50 mn from N+1 Capital
    Personal & homecare solution platform Clensta, backed by IIT Delhi, received  Rs 50 million funding from N+1 Capital. The fund will be utilised for scaling up upcoming products for homecare category, Clensta said in a statement.
    Commenting on fundraise, Clensta International CEO and founder Puneet Gupta said the company already has a presence in over 500 hospitals and more than 25,000 retail outlets, including pharmacies, and is now looking to penetrate through direct to consumer channels as well.
    Clensta recently entered into a strategic tie-up with pharma firm Cipla for its first commercialised products "Waterless Bodybath and Waterless Shampoo''.
    Agritech FarMart bags $2.4 million in funding
    Gurugram-based FarMart, a mobile-based agritech platform, has raised $2.4 million in pre-series A round led by Omidyar Network India and Avaana Capital. Existing investors Indian Angel Network and LetsVenture also participated in this round.
    As per company’s statement, FarMart will use the funding to focus on product development, user base expansion, and to scale its market linkage capabilities. The startup claims to have onboarded 10,000 retailers onto its platform and has access to over 400,000 farmers across 15 states in the country.
    AI startup Rezo.ai raises fund in seed round led by Modulor Capital
    AI startup, Rezo.ai, that automates customer support, has raised funds from Modulor Capital, for product development and entering new markets. The amount raised has however not been disclosed by the company. Dexter Angel Network, AI startup Veda Labs and prominent angel investors—including Delhivery co-founder Bhavesh Manglani and Fusion Microfinance founder Devesh Sachdev—also participated in the funding round.
    The Noida-based startup said it plans to use the fund for product development and entering new markets. “We are confident that our capabilities of disrupting contact centres ecosystem for enterprises across verticals, along with their continued support will be instrumental in shaping up the entire industry and encourage further innovation,” said Dr Rashi Gupta, Chief Data Scientist and Co-founder, Rezo.ai.
    The company founded by an IITian couple - Rashi Gupta and Manish Gupta in 2017, helps deliver real-time responses to customer queries 24x7 with minimum human intervention across platforms such as Voice, WhatsApp, email and chats. Its clientele includes Delhivery, USHA, ShipRocket, Dr Lal Path Labs, Reliance Nippon Life Insurance, and Tata AIG among others.
    Cuvette Tech raises $180K from Titan Capital
    Bengaluru-based startup Cuvette Tech has raised $180,000 in a seed round funding led by Titan Capital; Varun Alagh, co-founder and CEO Mamaearth; Harish Daiya, co-founder of Lumenci; and other angel investors.
    The startup connects companies with a verified pool of student software developers on a full-time or a part-time internship basis. Cuvette Tech said it will use the funds to build its core team and develop the product. Cuvette’s focus will be to become a one-stop platform for startups to hire verified software interns.
    Bits Pilani & IIM-A grads launch $1 mn fund to invest in student startups
    In a push to young entrepreneurs, graduates of two premier institutes, IIM Ahmedabad, and BITS Pilani have launched a $1 million Venture Capital fund ‘gradCapital’ to support startups founded by college students.
    Bengaluru-based gradCapital will invest in 100 startups in the next three years. As per the official statement, they will invest $25,000 in each of the 20 startups they select over the next year. It has now opened the application process for its first cohort of start-ups.
    gradCapital has also hired associates across the country to identify startups founded and run by college students . They have also partnered with student communities across campuses to scout for the best hustling talent out there. For the startups selected, gradCapital will host an eight-week, intensive programme which includes mentorship, office hours with experts, and, in the end, an investor-focused demo day.
    MakeMyTrip launches quarantine, isolation facilities
    Online travel company MakeMyTrip has partnered with over 500 hotels across the country, to offer rooms for quarantine or isolation needs of COVID-19-suspected patients. These cities include Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Cochin, Lucknow, Kolkata, Pune, Jaipur, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and Ludhiana, among others, MakeMyTrip said in a statement.
    Booking can be done through the MakeMyTrip platform. Most of these hotels are offering an all-meals inclusive rate so that the patients can be as self-contained as possible.
    MakeMyTrip had recently launched CoviRide, an open, peer-to-peer community platform designed to help individuals, organisations and larger community to seek and provide transport-related assistance during pandemic.
    Udacity and AWS collaborate to offer more free courses in Machine Learning
    Online learning platform Udacity in collaboration with Amazon Web Services have launched AWS Machine Learning Scholarship Program. The program aims to remove barriers to skills training in machine learning and to cultivate the next generation of Machine Learning leaders from underrepresented backgrounds.
    “Our collaboration with AWS has already seen thousands of learners start their machine learning journey, and this year’s scholarship program promises to help many more begin achieving the essentials,” said Gabriel Dalporto, CEO, Udacity.
    Enrollment in the free AWS Machine Learning Foundations course begins from May 27. 425 top students from the course will be selected to receive a full scholarship for the entire AWS Machine Learning Engineer Nanodegree program based on the results of a test open to all who complete the free course.
    OLA vaccinates 50% of its employees & dependents
    Leading mobility company Ola on Wednesday announced that it has successfully administered the first dose of vaccinations for over 50 percent of its employees and their dependents.
    Ola completed vaccination of those above 45 years of age in April and the drive to vaccinate the rest began early last week, after the government opened up vaccination for all 18+ age groups on May 1.
    The vaccination drive is going on in Bengaluru where the majority of Ola’s employees are and will expand to other cities in the coming weeks as vaccine supplies improve, the company said in a statement.
    Ola has partnered with leading hospitals and has set up the vaccination camp within their campus.
    The company has taken several measures to help their employees amid the pandemic. In addition to covid treatment cost being covered under the existing healthcare policy, Ola also provides reimbursement of any expense related to covid tests, medicines and equipment being bought by employees’ upto ₹30,000. In addition to this, Ola also extends additional financial assistance to employees who might require it on a case by case basis.
    Not just that, Ola Foundation has also initiated ‘O2forIndia’ drive to provide oxygen concentrators for free through the Ola App.
    Now, hide your 'likes' on Facebook & Instagram!
    Facebook and Instagram are giving all users the option to hide public "likes" on their posts as well as others’ posts that appear in their feeds. The move comes after years of criticism that Facebook’s platforms — and particularly Instagram, which Facebook owns — fuel a pressurised and toxic social media environment.
    On Instagram, both content consumers and content producers can turn on or off Like and View counts on posts. These are configured as two different settings, which provides for more flexibility and control. Meanwhile, on Facebook, users access the new setting from the “Settings & Privacy” area under News Feed Settings. From here, you’ll find an option to “Hide number of reactions” to turn this setting off for both your own posts and for posts from others in News Feed, groups and Pages.
    The feature will be made available to both public and private profiles, Facebook tells in a blog post. The social media giant has since 2019 been testing the ability for users to hide like counts but it was deprioritized due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
    Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to renounce CEO position on July 5
    Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will officially step down from his role as chief executive on July 5, after a nearly three-decade run leading the internet giant. He will hand over the helm to Andy Jassy who currently runs Amazon Web Services. Bezos will however remain involved in major decisions at the company as executive chairman.
    “The timing is "sentimental” as July 5 is the date Amazon was incorporated in 1994,” Bezos Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting, which was held virtually on Wednesday. Bezos is likely to dedicate more time toward initiatives like the Bezos Earth Fund, his Blue Origin spaceship company, The Washington Post and the Amazon Day 1 Fund.
    Just before stepping down, Bezos has sealed Amazon’s blockbuster deal to buy MGM studio at $8.45 billion.
    PayPal to allow users to withdraw cryptocurrency to third party wallets
    PayPal is allowing its users to withdraw cryptocurrency to third party wallets. The company made the announcement on May 26. The news was earlier reported by Coindesk, citing comments from Jose Fernandez da Ponte, who leads PayPal’s blockchain, crypto, and digital currencies business unit.
    This comes as Bitcoin’s price in India on Wednesday climbed back above $40, for the first time this week, as recent volatility in the cryptocurrency market showed few signs of dampening down.
    The San Jose, California-based company, which opened its platform to digital currencies last October, at present does not let users move cryptocurrency holdings off its platform. Last year, PayPal said that U.S. account holders will be able to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies in their PayPal wallets. PayPal planned to expand the service to its peer-to-peer payment app Venmo and some other countries in the first half of 2021.
    Xiaomi fills market gap left by Huawei as revenue surges 55% in Q1
    Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp reported first-quarter revenue growth of 55% on Wednesday. Xiaomi first-quarter net profit grew 260.6 percent to beat estimates on the back of increased sales worldwide. With this, the smartphone giant nabbed market share from one-time sector leader Huawei.
    This comes as US lifted trade restrictions from Xiamoi and the same restrictions crimped Huawei’s ability to source key components for its handsets. This quarter, Xiaomi also announced it would formally begin producing electric cars, with a new division to be led by Xiaomi founder Lei Jun.
    However, despite the revenue growth, Xiaomi and other electronics brands remain hampered by the global chip shortage.
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