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STARTUP DIGEST: Rajnish Kumar joins Bharatpe board as chairman, Gmail suffers outage in India, & Swiggy to explore social commerce biz, says report

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Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

STARTUP DIGEST: Rajnish Kumar joins Bharatpe board as chairman, Gmail suffers outage in India, & Swiggy to explore social commerce biz, says report
Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
Paytm's $2.2 bn IPO sees more global investors interest: Report
Paytm's bumper Rs 16,600 crore IPO has now caught the eyes of new investors, including US-based asset manager Alkeon Capital and funds managed by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, sources told the Economic Times.
The new investors join a list of bidders that are in talks to invest in Paytm’s anchor investment as well as its IPO. Besides the new investors, funds from Europe have also evinced interest in the company’s $2.2 billion IPO, the report added.
Paytm is awaiting final approval for the IPO from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). Its ongoing conversation with investors indicates a valuation of $20-$24 billion.
Former SBI chief Rajnish Kumar joins Bharatpe board as chairman
BharatPe has appointed former SBI boss Rajnish Kumar as chairman of the board. Kumar will be involved in formulating the firm’s short-term and long-term strategies and will work closely with the board and executives on regulatory matters, the fintech startup said.
The industry veteran will also advise and counsel the management on matters around business performance and corporate governance, BharatPe said in a statement.
Kumar was the SBI chairman from October 2017 to October 2020 and has also served as the managing director and the managing director (Compliance and Risk) of SBI.
PhonePe continues to lead in UPI market
Digital payments apps PhonePe and Google Pay have yet again emerged as the market leaders in UPI transactions.
PhonePe continued to lead the stride and recorded 1,653.19 million transactions in September, as per data released by the National Payments Corporation of India
PhonePe and Google collectively processed 2947.75 million transactions during the month.
According to NPCI, the digital payments to financial services accounted for a 45 percent share of the volume pie and 47 percent of the value of the united payments interface (UPI).
Meanwhile, Google Pay, a digital wallet platform, has maintained its position with a 35 percent market share in terms of volumes and 38 percent in terms of value. The number of payment transactions processed were 129 crore, which amount to Rs 2.50 lakh crore.
Paytm Payments Bank remained the third-largest despite its market value dipping to 9 percent in September from an earlier value was 14 percent. The recorded payment transactions through Paytm was 53.8 crore, which equals Rs 60,094 crore.
After Facebook's global outage last week, now Gmail down in India
Google's free email service Gmail is reportedly down in some parts of India on Tuesday as users were unable to send or receive emails.
According to Down Detector, 68 percent users reported that they are facing issues on the website, 18 percent reported server connection and 14 percent mentioned login issues.
Users in India and in some other countries went to social media platforms to complain they were unable to access Gmail.
Social media giant Facebook also witnessed a global outage twice in the past week. Users were unable to load their Instagram feeds and couldn’t send messages via Facebook Messenger. WhatsApp was also down for over 22,000 users.
Swiggy may explore social commerce biz with Swiggy Bazaar: Report
In a bid to expand its offerings, foodtech platform Swiggy is planning to explore the social commerce vertical.
According to an Entrackr report, Swiggy plans to launch Swiggy Bazaar — a social commerce business— in a couple of months. The Swiggy Bazaar will focus on grocery, FMCG and fresh farm produce. The company is likely to bring a group-buying element and leverage the reseller model in Swiggy Bazaar.
The company plans to invest over $15-20 million in the social commerce business in the first phase. Besides grocery, Swiggy Bazaar will also explore segments such as lifestyle and fashion in the long haul, the report added.
Swiggy Bazaar will be launched as a pilot in a few cities including Bengaluru and Gurugram. This comes after the company has already ventured into grocery and package delivery through Instamart and Genie.
WeWork India announces company-wide 10-day extended Diwali break
Flexible workspaces operator WeWork has announced a company-wide 10-day extended break for its employees during Diwali.
The company has introduced various people initiatives to enhance its employee experience and overall company culture. This surprise holiday break was announced to help employees celebrate the festival with their family and loved ones and enjoy some much-needed downtime, WeWork said in a statement.
“As a gesture of gratitude towards the contribution and resilience of our people, we have offered a 10 day Diwali break. Behind every great employee is a family who has provided a strong support system and this is our way of saying thank you to the loved ones of our employees as well, and hope the festive season brings much joy and celebrations, in a safe way,” said Priti Shetty, Head of People, WeWork India.
Clensta launches Smart Concentrates range to reduce single-use plastic pollution
IIT Delhi-backed personal care startup Clensta has launched a range of technology-based products under a new category termed ‘Home Hygiene Category with Smart Concentrates.’
Under the new category, Clensta will provide a base for technologically mastered consumer products to replace single-use plastic packaged liquid/spray formulation of consumer products in markets across the globe.
The patent-protected product range includes pigeon repellent, hand wash, floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, dish cleaner, car shampoo, glass and multi-surface cleaner, instant stain remover, vegetable cleaner, and room freshener with germ protection formula, the company said in a statement.
With this technology, the active ingredient will be compressed in the “Smart Concentrate” that can be poured in an infinity bottle, then add tap water and shake it well and there is a ready to use household cleaner.
The startup, households can save 67 percent on daily living using these products and they will also reduce single-use plastic pollution by 95 percent.
Yu launches instant meal bowls using lyophilization tech
Homegrown consumer foods brand Yu has launched ‘Instant Meal Bowls’ that contain zero preservatives, additives, artificial flavourings or colours.
Developed using advanced lyophilization technology, chef-curated artisan recipes and natural ingredients, Yu’s meal bowls offer a non-refrigerated shelf life of 12 months, the company said in a statement.
The brand has launched its products at a price range of Rs75 to 95 per bowl. The ‘clean-label’ consumer foods brand is also adopting sustainable practices by using eco-friendly paper packaging for its products, the startup said.
Global Technology and Startup News
Facebook's oversight board to meet whistleblower Frances Haugen
The Facebook oversight board will meet with former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen in the coming weeks, Reuters reported.
The body has been set up by the social network to give independent verdicts on a small number of thorny content decisions.
Haugen revealed last week she was the person who provided documents used in a Wall Street Journal investigation and a Senate hearing on Instagram's harm to teenage girls.
Instagram testing feature to notify users of outage or issues in app
Instagram is testing a feature to notify users of outages or technical issues directly on the photo-sharing app days after two outages disrupted the social media giant's services.
The test will run in the United States and will go on for a few months, Instagram said in a blog post.
On October 4, a six-hour-long outage prevented the company's 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media platforms and messaging services, including WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger.
Earlier on Monday, many users faced problems with Instagram, according to user reports on web monitoring group Downdetector.
The company is also planning to roll out a feature that will help to make it easier for people to know whether their account is at risk of being disabled.
Amazon to take team-wise approach on remote work policy
Amazon will let individual teams decide for how many days corporate employees would be expected to work from the office in a week, CEO Andy Jassy said in a message to employees.
Earlier, Amazon's policy required employees to return to the office from January 3 for at least three days a week.
In his message that was posted on Amazon's blog, Jassy said the company's corporate employees will be permitted to work up to four weeks per year fully remotely from any location within the country of employment.
Amazon, one of the largest private employers in the United States, would also require its employees to be close enough to their teams to be able to make it to meetings at a day's notice.
The company, which started on-site vaccinations for its frontline employees in the US in March, has taken to a flexible approach to reopening like tech peer Microsoft, which said it would take a site-by-site approach to US office re-openings.
Harry and Meghan foray into finance: NYT
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are getting into the investment business.
They are joining Ethic, a fintech asset manager in the fast-growing environmental, social and governance space, as “impact partners” and investors, according to the New York Times.
Ethic has $1.3 billion under management and creates separately managed accounts to invest in social responsibility themes.
The couple could attract more attention to sustainable investing. Harry and Meghan can make E.S.G. investing part of pop culture, the report added.
Founded in 2015, Ethic runs screens on companies and sectors based on social responsibility criteria, including racial justice, climate and labour issues.
The move is the couple’s latest corporate partnership since relocating to the US. Harry and Meghan moved to Los Angeles last year and later gave up official royal family duties. Seeking financial independence, they have signed production deals with Netflix and Spotify. Harry also recently produced a documentary series about mental health for Apple TV+ in connection with Oprah Winfrey and is writing a memoir.
Vroom to acquire auto lender United Auto Credit for $300M
Vroom has said it would buy automotive lender United Auto Credit Corp for $300 million in cash, as the online used car retailer seeks to offer financing options for its shoppers.
The company also said United Auto will retain its brand name and the deal is expected to close by the first quarter of 2022.
Crypto analytics firm Elliptic raises $60M from SoftBank & others
Cryptocurrency analytics firm Elliptic said on Monday it has raised $60 million from investors including SoftBank and Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, Reuters reported.
London-based Elliptic said the Series C round was led by Evolution Equity, with the SoftBank Vision Fund 2 investing for the first time. Other new investors include Japan's SBI Group, Elliptic said in a statement, without disclosing its valuation.
Elliptic, established in 2013, tracks the movement of cryptocurrencies on blockchain - the technology underpinning them - to help financial crime compliance.
It plans to invest in its global network and team, as well as continue research and development, the company said.
Elliptic's clients include traditional financial firms, fintech and crypto companies, as well as government agencies. Two-thirds of crypto volume worldwide passes through exchanges that use the firm's software.
Samsung leader Lee admits in court to unlawful sedative use
Samsung conglomerate chief Jay Y. Lee admitted in court on Tuesday to unlawful use of a controlled substance, as the executive's legal troubles continued despite his release on parole in August after a bribery conviction.
According to Reuters, Lee appeared at the Seoul Central District Court where, in a short first hearing, he said he received propofol - a sedative used in anesthesia - 41 times from 2015 through 2020.
His release in August had raised expectations of major decisions being taken at Samsung Electronics and its affiliates, including the location of a $17 billion chip factory being planned in the United States.
Prosecutors, who are seeking a fine of 70 million won ($58,327) and an additional fee of 17 million won, said that Lee had been administered propofol under the guise of skin treatment or unrelated to a legitimate treatment.
Lee's lawyer told the court that Lee had received treatment for medical purposes, originally due to psychological pressure after the hospitalisation of his father and then as a result of the graft scandal and trial leading to his January conviction.
The court ruling is scheduled for October 26.
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