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Startup Digest: Raveendran invests $400 mn in BYJU $800 mn round, No mention of data access in RBI order: Paytm CEO, Former Disney chief Bob Iger invests in Genies

Startup Digest: Raveendran invests $400 mn in BYJU $800 mn round, No mention of data access in RBI order: Paytm CEO, Former Disney chief Bob Iger invests in Genies

Startup Digest: Raveendran invests $400 mn in BYJU $800 mn round,  No mention of data access in RBI order: Paytm CEO, Former Disney chief Bob Iger invests in Genies
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By Aishwarya Anand  Mar 14, 2022 8:45:43 PM IST (Updated)

Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

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FUNDING NEWS
BYJU raises $800M in funding, Raveendran invests $400M
India’s most valuable startup BYJU’S has raised $800 million in a funding round led by Sumeru Ventures, Vitruvian Partners, and BlackRock.
The edtech decacorn’s founder and CEO Byju Raveendran also participated in the fundraise and made a personal investment of $400 million.
“We continue to witness accelerated growth in India and international markets through both organic and inorganic routes. I have always believed that edtech is a sector where India has the potential to create global champions by solving the trilemma of cost, quality and scale. We will continue to invest in multiple learning models to provide students with quality education across the world,” said Raveendran in a statement.
The company has raised close to $2 billion since the onset of the pandemic. It was last valued at $22 billion when the company closed a private round of $400 million from new investors in 2021. The startup has also been on an acquisition spree, not just in India but in other markets as well. The company last year acquired US-based edtech companies Osmo, Tynker and Epic.
The fundraise comes ahead of BYJU’s plan for a US listing this year. The edtech major had received an offer for a SPAC listing in the United States that could value the company at $48 billion, sources told CNBC-TV18.
Digital lending platform Revfin gets Rs 100 Cr in debt funding from Northern Arc and others
Revfin, an e-mobility consumer lending platform has raised Rs 100 crore in debt funding round led by Northern Arc, Liquiloans, UK charity Shell Foundation, and others.
The fresh capital will help Revfin expand the e-rickshaw financing businesses in new states like Assam, MP, Rajasthan, and Punjab, it said in a statement. The company plans to continue scaling its existing market share of over 20% in UP, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand.
The funds will fast-track the adoption of EV solutions among the un-banked and under-served in the country. Revfin will also utilise the capital to foray into financing and leasing two-wheelers for e-commerce deliveries, it added.
“Having experienced over 5X growth in monthly disbursement, we have built partnerships with all major e-rickshaw OEMs and are also planning to bring forward our next equity raise,” said Sameer Aggarwal, Founder, and CEO of RevFin.
Xeno raises $1.6M from early Klaviyo investors and others
Commerce marketing automation engine Xeno has raised $1.6 million in a seed round from global funds including early Klaviyo backer TJ Mahony’s Vinyl Capital, Ankur Nagpal’s Vibe Capital, Java Capital and Angel Invest Ventures.
Curefoods founder Ankit Nagori, Mamaearth founder Varun Alagh, Apache Cassandra’s Prashant Malik, CRED’s Kunal Shah & Miten Sampat, Haptik founder Aakrit Vaish, Loginext founder Dhruvil Sanghvi, Profitwheel founder Vivek Bhargava, Fynd founder Farooq Adam, Verlinvest’s Arjun Vaidya, Tracxn founder Abhishek Goyal and several other founders and operators also participated in the round.
The startup will use the funding to expand its workforce across engineering, product, marketing, sales, and customer success. It is hiring for multiple roles and plans to double its team size in 2022, the company said in a statement.
Honc gets $400K in Pre-seed round
honc, a car wash at doorstep company, has secured $400,000 in a pre-seed round, led by Amey Mashelkar (Head of JioGenNext),  Jasminder Singh Gulati (Co-founder at NowFloats), Dholakia Ventures, Dr. Raghunath A  Mashelkar (Independent Director at RIL), Nilesh Patel (Leadership team, Cisco systems) and 100X.VC.
The startup plans to use the fresh funds to expand its partner network across Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Gurugram in the next 12 months. It also looking to upgrade its tech stack to scale across gated communities and business parks using location intelligence and user review systems.
The company said it will further deploy the capital to supercharge onboarding, training and safety of the partners on the platform.
“While car wash in India has an annual spend of $12 billion, it's still in the early stages of its digital transformation. The fund infusion is a testament to investor’s confidence in the rising demand for a doorstep solution. In the last year, we were able to add over 200 partners to our network. We carry out 4,000 car washes per day in Hyderabad alone. We aim to make the traditional car wash industry efficient, environmentally friendly and a customer-centric one”, said Niranjan Seelam, Co-founder & CEO, honc.
Mumbai Angels ties up with Hem Angels for Co-investment program
Mumbai Angels Network, a platform for early-stage investments has onboarded Hem Angels, as its next partner for the Co-investment Program.
Hem Angels has been actively raising early stage funds through its network spanned across 21 states and 112 cities, the firm said in a statement.
“Co-investment program is a step towards building up a startup ecosystem that is brimming with opportunities. We are optimistic that our partnership with Hem Angels will leverage our individual strengths and use our synergy for creating better impact,” said Nandini Mansinghka, Co-Founder and CEO of Mumbai Angels.
OTHER STARTUP NEWS
Paytm's Vijay Shekhar says RBI concerns are IT related not on data access
Vijay Shekhar Sharma, chief executive officer of Paytm, told CNBC-TV18 on Monday that none of the bank's servers is placed anywhere outside the country and no data of customers have been compromised.
Without detailing the contents of the RBI concerns, Sharma clarified that no fine had been levied for Know-Your-Customer (KYC) compliance and no issues were raised with the bank ownership structure.
"Concerns are IT related. They want systems to be audited by a third party and confirmed to them. RBI concern does not include any sort of issues over data access," Sharma said.
"Paytm has always been vocal about keeping systems in the country. We have no server of the bank that is not in India. No foreign national has any access to our servers," he said while calling out some reports on RBI's inputs.
The RBI has asked for some upgrades, updates in processes, and compliance and the bank is working on the same and the information would be shared with the regulator within the timeframe set by it.
"There are some concerns that the regulator has pointed out. RBI has suggested we sort certain line items. We have some work to do regarding these line items," Sharma said.
On small finance bank, Sharma said: "Small finance bank will only happen when we become eligible."
Paytm parent One97 Communications' shares fell as much as 13.3 percent to an all-time low of Rs 672.1 on BSE after the RBI barred the company's payments bank, Paytm Payments Bank, from opening new accounts citing "material supervisory concerns".
Healthtech startup Niramai gets US FDA clearance for Breast-Cancer Screening Device
Bengaluru-based healthtech startup — Niramai — has received US FDA clearance for its radiation-free, breast cancer screening device called SMILE-100 System.
Niramai claims that it is the first Indian healthtech startup to receive the US regulator's nod for a women's health screening product.
The SMILE-100 System helps healthcare experts to detect traces of breast cancer using thermal images. It uses patented artificial intelligence-based algorithms to check the quality of input thermal images, which can reduce the errors and enable low-skilled health workers to perform imaging.
Following the US FDA approval for SMILE-100 System, Niramai now has two products cleared by international regulators, which not only allows the company to sell its products in the US and Europe, but also makes it easier to get access and clearances in other international markets.
BharatPe forays into secured loans, launches gold loan for merchant partners
Fintech company BharatPe has announced the launch of gold loan for its merchant partners, making a forward in secured loans.
It has partnered with RBI-approved NBFCs to offer gold loan of up to Rs 20 lakh, according to a company statement.
“With Gold loan, we have ventured into the big-ticket, secured loan category. Gold loan will enable us to further empower our merchant partners and positively impact millions of small businesses. We facilitated disbursals of Rs. 10 crores during the pilot phase,” said Suhail Sameer, CEO, BharatPe.
BharatPe has already launched gold loans for merchants in the Delhi NCR, Bangalore and Hyderabad, and will be scaling this to 20 cities by the end of 2022. It has set a target of facilitating disbursals of Rs 500 crore by the end of 2022.
ValetEZ forays into the EV sector with ‘ChargeEZ’
ValetEZ, a smart parking solutions provider, has launched ChargeEZ, an EV charging solution for electric vehicles.
ChargeEZ is designed to match the needs of individual 2W EV owners and 2W & 3W fleet operators, allowing them to fulfill their EV charging requirements easily. It comprises an EV charging point hardware and an ‘EZ’ app to enable users to navigate to the nearest EV charging, as and when required, the company said in a statement.
After rolling out ChargeEZ in Bangalore, the company aims to expand ChargeEZ to another 10 cities where it is already an established name through its smart parking tech solutions.
Mewt onboards 125K MSMEs; aims to reach 1M small biz by 2022-end
mewt, a business banking aggregator for MSMEs of Bharat, today announced that it has successfully onboarded 125,000 MSMEs on its platform within a span of just two months.
The startup simplifies business banking by unifying state-run banks, private banks and neo-banks under one supercharged account. The company said it plans to reach 1 million small businesses across India by the end of 2022.
The Bengaluru-based company claims to have witnessed a transaction volume of $25 million in these two months and is currently adding over 3,000 new MSMEs daily to their platform.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Meta narrows guidance to prohibit calls for death of a head of state
Facebook owner Meta Platforms is further narrowing its content moderation policy for Ukraine to prohibit calls for the death of a head of state, according to an internal company post seen by Reuters.
The move came after Reuters reported last week that Meta was temporarily allowing some posts on Facebook and Instagram calling for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
After the Reuters report, Meta said that a temporary change in its content policy, only applicable for Ukraine, was needed to let users voice opposition to Russia's attack. On the same day, Russia opened a criminal case against the social media firm.
"We are now narrowing the focus to make it explicitly clear in the guidance that it is never to be interpreted as condoning violence against Russians in general," Meta global affairs President Nick Clegg wrote in a post on the company's internal platform that was seen by Reuters.
"We also do not permit calls to assassinate a head of state...So, in order to remove any ambiguity about our stance, we are further narrowing our guidance to make explicit that we are not allowing calls for the death of a head of state on our platforms," Clegg said.
Clegg wrote that Meta plans to refer the way in which it adapted the guidance it provides to content moderators to the independent oversight board, which was set up to help the platform answer some of the most difficult questions around freedom of expression.
Russia's communications regulator has imposed restrictions on Meta's Instagram, effective Monday. Instagram users in Russia have been notified that the service will cease from midnight on Sunday after its owner Meta Platforms said last week it would allow social media users in Ukraine to post messages such as "Death to the Russian invaders".
Meta had previously restricted access to Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik on its platforms across the European Union.
Former Disney chief Bob Iger enters metaverse through investment in Genies
Former Disney chairman Bob Iger is investing and joining the board of metaverse startup Genies, in the executive's first such move since leaving the entertainment giant at the end of 2021, Reuters reported.
Genies, popular among celebrities such as Rihanna, Lil Nas X and Jennifer Lopez, said it owns 99% of the celebrity avatar market share and includes Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group as clients, for whom it also makes NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.
"I've always been drawn to the intersection between technology and art, and Genies provides unique and compelling opportunities to harness the power of that combination to enable new forms of creativity, expression and communication," said Iger, who has spent more than a decade in Disney.
Iger was the CEO of Disney from 2005 to 2020 and stepped down as chairman last year.
Genies has raised $100 million so far from venture capital investor Mary Meeker's firm Bond and Brayer Capital, among others.
China's Tencent faces possible record fine for anti-money-laundering violations: WSJ
Tencent Holdings is facing a potential fine, which could be at least hundreds of millions of yuan, for violating some central bank regulations on its WeChat Pay mobile network, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Financial regulators recently found that WeChat Pay had broken China's anti-money-laundering rules and had lapses in compliance with "know your customer" and "know your business" regulations, the Journal said.
The PBOC uncovered the violations during a routine inspection of WeChat Pay that concluded in late 2021, according to the Journal. The mobile payments network was also found to have permitted the transfer and laundering of funds with illicit transactions such as gambling, the report said.
Last year, China fined Alibaba Group a record 18 billion yuan ($2.83 billion) for the company's anti-monopoly violations. China recently launched a three-year campaign led by the PBOC and the Ministry of Public Security, to fight money laundering.
China's cyberspace regulator drafts new rules to protect minors
Companies engaged in online gaming, live streaming, audio and video in China should set up a "youth mode" to protect minors, according to draft regulations issued on Monday by the Cyberspace Administration of China.
As per Reuters, the major platforms should regularly conduct assessments on cyber protection for minors in order to provide a "clean" online environment for them, CAC said, adding that the platforms should also cap daily spending amount for minor users.
China's major video streaming platforms Tencent Video and iQIYI, as well as ByteDance-owned short video platform Douyin, have already launched a "youth mode" for minors.
Musk says Tesla, SpaceX face 'significant' inflationary pressure
Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said the US electric carmaker and his rocket company SpaceX are facing significant inflationary pressure in raw materials and logistics.
Musk in a tweet also asked about the inflation rate outlook and said his companies "are not alone", retweeting an article saying the Ukraine-Russia conflict sent commodity prices to their highest levels since 2008.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to a surge in prices of metals used in cars - from aluminium in the bodywork to palladium in catalytic converters to the high-grade nickel in electric vehicle batteries - and customers are likely to foot the bill.
Tesla last week raised prices of its popular SUVs and sedans in China and the United States by $1,000.
South Korea's Kakao founder quits board to focus on units' global expansion
South Korean billionaire Brian Kim, the founder of the country's leading chat app operator Kakao, stepped down from its board to focus on the global expansion of its affiliates' businesses, Reuters reported.
Kim will focus on Kakao-backed Piccoma in Japan, one of the country's top comics apps, as a base to seek more business opportunities and expand Kakao's reach, the app operator said in a statement.
The move comes after Kakao's financial services affiliate Kakao Pay saw its chief executive officer and two other executives step down amid fierce criticism of their exercising of stock options soon after the firm was listed last November.
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