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Startup Digest: Pine Labs acquires Saluto Wellness, Zomato looking to hire 800 people & Spotify to cut 6% of jobs

Startup Digest: Pine Labs acquires Saluto Wellness, Zomato looking to hire 800 people & Spotify to cut 6% of jobs

Startup Digest: Pine Labs acquires Saluto Wellness, Zomato looking to hire 800 people & Spotify to cut 6% of jobs
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By Aishwarya Anand  Jan 23, 2023 10:19:07 PM IST (Published)

Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

Pine Labs acquires Saluto Wellness to bolster its issuing business

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Fintech major Pine Labs has acquired a proprietary enterprise platform Saluto Wellness for an undisclosed capital. With this acquisition, Pine Labs’ will boost its capabilities of Issuing Business under the Qwikcilver brand.
It will enable the firm to strengthen its offerings across employee rewards and recognition, customer loyalty programmes, and channel partner programmes for medium and large enterprises, a statement said.
"With Saluto’s platform, we expect to further enhance our leadership across Enterprise Rewards, Recognition, Incentive & Engagement programmes. Saluto’s multi-tenant, an enterprise-grade offering will give us additional capabilities to complement our strengths. Their solution, integrated with our offerings, will help us deliver more programmes to our existing enterprise clients — resulting in larger and more long-term engagements," said Kumar Sudarsan, President, Issuing Business, Pine Labs.
Sequoia mulls auditing South Asia Investments after lapses at Zilingo & GoMechanic
Sequoia Capital’s regional arm in South and Southeast Asia is weighing special audits of several investments in the region following allegations of financial irregularities at firms such as Zilingo Pte and GoMechanic, as per a report by Bloomberg News.
The venture capital firm will work with Ernst & Young on some of these audits and will increase budget allocations to help investee companies put governance guardrails in place.
Sequoia Capital India will also be more selective when taking board seats at companies and, in some cases, might replace junior members from their team on boards with more senior partners, the report added. That’s a departure from previous practice where Sequoia limited due diligence to companies before investing.
"As a matter of practice, Sequoia Capital India & Southeast Asia conducts due diligence ahead of new, first-time investments. We may conduct diligence ahead of a follow-on round; at this juncture, we have not put a mandate for special audits," a spokesperson for the company said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg News.
Zomato looking to hire 800 people: Deepinder Goyal
Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal has posted a slew of job vacancies at the company. For a particular role titled 'Chief of Staff to CEO', the advertisement says that it is a 24*7 job where the traditional employee mindset of work-life balance won't work.
"As chief of staff to one of our CEOs (Zomato, Blinkit, Hyperpure), you will be nothing less than a force multiplier and mini-CEO for the organisation. You will drive priorities across the organisation to influence outcomes and maintain momentum," the advertisement said.
Goyal said in a LinkedIn post that Zomato is looking to hire 800 people across five roles, including engineers, product managers and generalists.
Zomato pauses 10-Minute food delivery service, to pivot to different model: Sources
Foodtech major Zomato has paused its 10-minute food delivery service and it will pivot to a different model, sources told CNBC-TV18. In March 2022, Zomato had announced the 10-minute food delivery service called ‘Zomato Instant’.
"Instant is not shutting down. We are working on a new menu with our partners and rebranding the business. All finishing stations remain intact, and no people are impacted by this decision," a company spokesperson told CNBC-TV18.
Zomato in March had said the company will fulfil quick deliveries out of a "finishing stations' network" located in close proximity to high-demand customer neighbourhoods. The company in March also said its 10-Minute Delivery system was on track in Gurugram.
Amazon launches cargo service Amazon Air in India
Ecommerce major Amazon has launched air cargo network Amazon Air in India. For its operations, Amazon will use Boeing's 737-800 aircraft's cargo capacity. The aircraft will be operated by Quikjet cargo airlines. In 2016, Amazon Air was launched in the US with a network of 110 aircraft.
Amazon Air, which has a capacity of 20,000 shipments will first transport customer shipments to Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. The launch of Amazon's dedicated air cargo operation in India will be its first outside of the US and Europe, thus enabling it to create an overnight delivery network here as well.
This comes amidst the backdrop when Amazon in India has sacked thousands of employees. The company's chief executive Andy Jassy said more than 18,000 workers would be laid off globally.
Log9 Material raises $40M, aims to grow battery manufacturing capabilities
Advanced technology battery startup Log9 Material has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Amara Raja Batteries and Petronas Ventures. The round was also participated by other investors, including Incred Financial Services, Unity Small Finance Bank, Oxyzo Financial Services and Western Capital Advisors.
"The recent round of investments will allow us to grow our battery manufacturing capabilities to a 2 GWH capacity by the end of 2024," Log9 Material Founder and CEO Akshay Singhal said in a statement. He further said it will also help the company to commission its first fully integrated Lithium Ion Cell production line. "Furthermore, over Rs 100 crore will be invested towards advancements in cell and battery technology stacks," Singhal added.
Log9 said it also plans to invest a part of the raised funds into "budding start-ups and organisations that are solving challenges related to charging infrastructure, technology ancillaries and companies fighting climate change at large."
FuelBuddy raises $20M from Naveen Jindal Group and others
Doorstep fuel delivery startup FuelBuddy has raised $20 million from Naveen Jindal Group, Ravi Jaipuria Group and Nilesh Ved of UAE-based Apparel Group.
The fresh funds will be used for expansion in India, overseas markets in the Middle East and North Africa region, and South East Asia, the company said in a statement. The funds will also be used to widen services to alternative energies such as electric vehicles and to enhance technology used, it added.
With over 45,000 customers and operations in over 130 cities, FuelBuddy claims to have served about 10 crore liters of diesel to an array of partners across the country.
Myelin Foundry raises $3M in Series A funding round
Deeptech AI startup Myelin Foundry has secured $3 million in its Series A funding round led by automotive electronics major Visteon Corporation. The round also saw participation from existing investors Endiya Partners, Beyond Next Ventures, and Pratithi Investment Trust.
As per the startup, the new round will consolidate Myelin’s platforms and expand into international markets. Myelin will further build capabilities and position itself as a leader in the edge AI space, it said in a statement.
Myelin has developed products for Media & Entertainment and Intelligent Mobility. The company said it has also established its product-market fit and built key customer relationships which include leading streaming services and automotive OEMs.
OnArrival gets $175,000 in Pre-Seed round from Antler India
Traveltech startup, OnArrival has come out of stealth mode after raising $175,000 in a pre-seed funding from Antler India. The firm aims to address gaps in customer experience by bringing 20+ ancillary services onto one platform via its proprietary APIs.
"Just like in the airline industry, ancillaries are responsible for all the profitability; anyone selling travel today has to figure out how to bundle products effectively to increase their profitability. We are here to help these B2B customers delight their end users much more, resulting in a healthier bottom line," said Ankit Sawant, Co-Founder, OnArrival.
Post-Covid, the travel industry is coming back in a huge way. McKinsey estimates that flight ticket ancillary revenues constitute $105 billion, or 14.6% of an airline’s 2019 revenues.
Mumbai Angels lead Pre-Series A round in Falca
Rural agritech startup Falca has raised an undisclosed capital in a Pre-Series A funding round which was led by Mumbai Angels.
The startup will leverage the capital infusion to bolster its technology infrastructure, hire skilled Data Scientists and senior management professionals, and expand its geographical footprint, a statement said.
"The latest capital infusion will definitely propel our growth and achievement of our goals," said Santosh Danegoudar, Founder and CEO, Falca.
The firm claims to have onboarded 1,50,000+ farmers, 60+ Input manufacturers and 100+ corporate buyers enabling transactions worth Rs 2,500+ million.
Spotify to cut 6% of jobs, content head to depart
Spotify plans to cut 6 percent of its workforce and would take a related charge of up to nearly $50 million, that would add to the massive layoffs in the technology sector in preparation for a possible recession.
"Over the last few months we've made a considerable effort to rein in costs, but it simply hasn't been enough," Chief Executive Daniel Elk said in a blog post announcing the roughly 600 job cuts. "I was too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth," he added, echoing a sentiment voiced by other tech bosses in recent months.
It said Dawn Ostroff, the head of content and advertising, was leaving after an over four-year stint at the company. Ostroff helped shape Spotify's podcast business and guided it through backlash around Joe Rogan's show for allegedly spreading misinformation about COVID-19. The company said it is appointing Alex Norström, head of the freemium business, and research and development boss Gustav Söderström as co-presidents.
Google pauses green card applications from employees amid layoffs
Amid the layoffs come another bad news for employees, especially from India in the US, as Google has paused its Program Electronic Review Management (PERM), a key step in acquiring an employer-sponsored green card.
Google has sent an email to foreign employees, notifying them that the tech giant will pause any new filings of PERM, leaving foreign workers in a limbo.
"Recognizing how this news may impact some of you and your families, I wanted to update you as quickly as possible on the difficult decision we've had to make to pause new PERM applications. This does not impact other visa applications or programmes," an email from a company executive read.
According to the Google email, with a number of tech companies announcing reductions in their workforce (hiring pauses / layoffs), "there has been an increase in people looking for jobs". Google, however, said it would continue to support PERM applications already submitted.
Elon Musk to return to stand in fraud trial over 2018 Tesla tweet
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk will take the witness stand again on Monday, as he defends himself against fraud claims that he lied when he tweeted in 2018 that he had funding to take the electric carmaker private, Reuters reported.
Millions of dollars are at stake as well as the reputation of Musk, whose personal stature is a central asset of the Tesla brand. The trial will test whether Musk's penchant for taking to Twitter to air his sometimes irreverent views misleads investors and damages the value of the company.
The case is a rare securities class action trial and the plaintiffs have already cleared high legal hurdles, with U.S. Judge Edward Chen ruling last year that Musk's post was untruthful and reckless. Shareholders claim they lost millions after Musk tweeted that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private.
German cartel office initiates proceedings against PayPal
Germany's cartel office regulator said it had initiated proceedings against payment company PayPal Europe over the possibility that it hindered competition.
The subject of the proceedings was PayPal's rules for extra charges and the presentation of PayPal in the terms of use for Germany, the watchdog said. PayPal did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The regulator is investigating in particular rules that say merchants may not offer their goods and services at a lower price to customers who choose a cheaper payment method than PayPal.
Nokia signs new 5G patent deal with Samsung
Nokia has signed a new cross-license patent agreement with Samsung following the expiry of a previous agreement at the end of 2022.
"Under the agreement, which covers Nokia's fundamental inventions in 5G and other technologies, Samsung will make payments to Nokia for a multi-year period beginning 1 January 2023," the Finnish company said.
The terms of the agreement remain confidential, it added.
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