Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
IPO-Bound Pine Labs acquires Qfix as it adds more thrust to Online Payments foray
IPO-bound Pine Labs has acquired online payments startup — Qfix Infocomm — for an undisclosed amount.
The acquisition comes as Pine Labs adds more thrust to its foray into online payments in a move to diversify ahead of its U.S. IPO later this year.
The Mumbai-based Qfix is a cloud-based end-to-end platform, offering integrated online payments and billing services to multiple sectors.
With HDFC Bank as its lead distribution partner, the platform currently hosts more than 5,000 merchants, including educational institutions, governments and clubs.
Fintech unicorn Razorpay marks first international foray; acquires Malaysian startup Curlec
Fintech unicorn Razorpay marks its first international acquisition after buying a majority stake in a Malaysian fintech firm Curlec. Razorpay expects to complete the full acquisition in the next one-and-a-half years.
This is Razorpay's fourth acquisition overall and comes just over a month after raising $375 million in funding. Prior to this, Razorpay acquired TERA Finlabs, Opfin and Thirdwatch.
The Kuala Lumpur-based, Curlec builds solutions for recurring payments for businesses. As per the company, E-commerce is booming in Malaysia with an estimated market size of $21 billion in 2021 and an industry report said it is estimated to grow further to over $35 billion by 2025, fuelled by the emergence of new mobile payment methods.
“This acquisition will allow us to quickly ramp up and start scaling in Southeast Asia as a market. Curlec have been powering recurring payments for multiple companies in the Malaysia market. With them as part of this team, we will have a local team that understands the nuances of the market in Malaysia and Southeast Asia at large,” said Harshil Mathur, CEO and Co-founder, Razorpay.
Razorpay claims to serve over 8 million businesses including the likes of Facebook, Ola, Zomato, Swiggy, Cred and has achieved $60 billion Total Payment Volume (TPV) as of early December 2021. Razorpay clocked over 300 percent y-o-y growth and plans to achieve $90 billion TPV by the end of 2022.
Arvog picks up stake in cloud-based neobank Nemo
Finance and venture growth tech investment company Arvog has bought a stake in neobanking platform Nemo for an undisclosed sum.
Nemo offers a single web-based capital platform for small businesses. The acquisition will help the company offer readily available financing options to small and medium businesses as well as entrepreneurs and individual customers, it said in a statement.
“Fintech companies are the solution. We are directing our venture funding capacity towards cherry-picking such solutions and like-minded founders, and boosting them with our strategic partnerships,” said Priyank Kothari, Director – Operations at Arvog.
Arvog claimes to have invested in 27 tech-based companies over the last two and half years through its venture funding arm, Arvog Ventures.
Picsart marks 3rd acquisition with edtech platform Code Republic
Digital creation platform Picsart has acquired the learning platform Code Republic for an undisclosed sum to join its educational division Picsart Academy.
The acquisition of Code Republic will allow Picsart Academy to support additional programs and expand into more locations, the company said in a statement.
As part of the acquisition, all 20+ Code Republic employees will join the Picsart Academy team. This is Picsart’s third acquisition, after the buyout of Computer Vision and AI company DeepCraft late last year and advanced video effects company “D’efekt” in 2020.
Picsart raised a Series C funding round of $130 million last year and is using part of the funds to acquire companies that mirror its values and growth strategy.
iLink Digital acquires Connexis to expand global Data Analytics & IoT footprint
Data and AI services company Connexis has acquired iLink Digital, a global technology consulting solution firm, in India.
As part of this acquisition, Connexis will offer solutions and consulting services in the areas of data engineering, data analytics, and IoT solutions, a statement said.
This merger will allow Connexis to integrate their deep Data, IoT and Product engineering expertise to iLink’s portfolio of technology consulting which will enhance customer experience. These services will further enable iLink to drive experience-led transformation at scale for clients across multiple industries, the firm added.
Founded in 2017, Connexis offers digital solutions to its clients in domains such as Fintech, Pharmaceutical, Industrial, Healthcare, Retail and ISVs through its system integrator partnerships with major software OEMs like Amazon Web Services and PTC.
Amazon India launches a dedicated storefront for Ayurveda products
Amazon India has announced the launch of a dedicated storefront for Ayurveda products on its marketplace. The store was officially launched by Sarbananda Sonowal, Ayush minister, at a virtual event on Tuesday.
The Ayurveda storefront will enhance visibility of unique Ayurveda products from Indian small businesses and D2C brands and showcase them to millions of Amazon customers across India, the E-commerce giant said in a statement.
Amazon also claimed that there has been a marked increase in the overall selection of Ayurveda products by nearly 3X in the last two years on Amazon.in. The storefront will exclusively showcase products from emerging Indian brands, helping generate demand for their products.
Upside AI partners with Smallcase to expand reach of tech-led investment products
Upside AI, an investment management startup has partnered with smallcase to offer research services to a large set of investors across India.
Upside AI uses machine learning to make better investing decisions over the long term. The association will enable Upside AI to offer research services to a large set of investors across India, it said in a statement.
Currently, Upside AI serves high net worth individuals and family offices with minimum ticket sizes over Rs 50 lakh, while the products under this association are tailored to meet the evolving needs of retail investors with a much lower threshold (Rs1-5 lakh).
“The future of investing in India is tech-led, rules-based ("systemized") as opposed to being human-led. Since most managers on the Smallcase platform are human-driven. Upside AI will work jointly with Smallcase to popularize systemized investing and to attract even more investors into the fold,” said the company in a statement.
CYFIRMA launches DeFNCE, an app to protect users and mobile devices from cybercriminals
Goldman Sachs-backed external threat landscape platform management company CYFIRMA has announced the launch of DeFNCE, a mobile app to help users acquire cyber safe habits.
According to App Annie Mobile App Landscape Report, there were 218 billion app downloads in 2020, time spent in finance apps was up 45% worldwide, and m-commerce experienced a massive growth. Similarly, social networking apps, video streaming apps, and gaming apps have all experienced a surge in recent times as the world’s population migrated to mobile and digital formats for work and play.
DeFNCE will provide a safe browsing experience by using advanced algorithms to discover the user’s digital risk profile and alert him or her to spying, phishing, ransomware, malware and other cyber threats. The app contains over a million data sources to bring to the user’s attention on emails and passwords which have been stolen or leaked into underground marketplaces, specific hacking campaigns planned by cybercriminals to compromise banking and other sensitive apps, and help the user ensure the device settings adhere to cyber safe security standards, the company said.
In the last 12 months, CYFIRMA has seen nearly a 10-fold increase in cyberattacks targeting mobile phones users.
GAVS Technologies, GS Lab to offer Digital Product Engineering & AI Platform
Private equity firm Kedaara has announced that it intends to bring together GAVS Technologies Limited (“GAVS”) and Great Software Laboratory Private Limited (“GS Lab”) to create a Digital Product Engineering and AI-led Digital Transformation platform with a focus on Healthcare, Communications, Networking, BFS and Fintech.
The combined entity will have close to 4,000 technical employees with operations in the US, UK, Middle East, and India, and delivery labs out of Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Baroda within the country, the firm said in a statement.
Kedaara had acquired majority stakes in GS Lab and GAVS over the past three months. The integration process is expected to be completed over the next few months and will be subject to the applicable regulatory and other approvals.
Kedaara will further help accelerate the growth for the combined platform through leveraging their global relationships, continuing to foster innovation and competency development, and making investments for enhancing the global client reach.
Zapped Technologies launches ‘Pocket Cinema’ for Gaming and OTT
Zapped Technologies has announced the launch of its app Pocket Cinema which offers a gaming platform that allows users to watch OTT content of their choice and play a simple skill based game around it to win rewards.
The app is being touted as a novel concept in the world of gaming and entertainment, denoted by a new name #GOTT – a combination of gaming and OTT Pocket, as per the company.
Pocket Cinema is a simple, skill based Gaming platform which is targeted primarily towards Tier 2-3 cities where people aspire to earn money online but either don’t know how or don’t possess any special skills for the same, the company added.
MediBuddy ropes in Amitabh Bachchan as official brand ambassador
Digital healthcare platform MediBuddy has roped in megastar Amitabh Bachchan as their official Brand Ambassador.
With the signing of the veteran actor, MediBuddy further aims to amplify its reach in every nook and corner of the country, it said in a statement. Leveraging the Megastar's popularity, especially across tier 2 and tier 3 cities, the brand aims to position itself as a household name.
As part of the deal, the actor will endorse the various services available on the platform, while highlighting the need to prioritize one's health.
WeWork & Upflex sign strategic partnership to enable access to 5,500 Flex Workspaces
WeWork., a flexible space provider has announced a strategic partnership with Upflex, a co-working aggregator and global flexible workplace startup.
The exclusive partnership will establish a combined global network of over 5,500 locations and provide WeWork and Upflex’s clients with enhanced flexibility as they adopt hybrid work strategies, the company said in a statement.
This partnership will also enable all co-working brands on the Upflex network to leverage WeWork's community of more than 28,000 member companies around the world, it added.
WeWork will also participate in Upflex’s Series A funding alongside additional investors.
ConnectEd to provide free online education to Gujarat Government School
Edtech social enterprise ConnectEd Technologies has launched an initiative with Everest Kanto Cylinders (EKC) to provide free online access to curriculum-linked educational content across Gujarat government schools.
The programme aims to provide quality vernacular educational content to government school students to improve learning outcomes, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the firm said in a statement.
As part of the programme, over 7,500 students from government schools under the district administration of Kutch will be provided with free online access to a web and mobile app platform. The platform contains quality educational content in local languages in-sync with the Gujarat State Board curriculum and can be viewed online or downloaded onto a device for viewing later.
Isthara Smart Food Court expands its presence to 40 Food Courts in India
Co-living brand Isthara has expanded its smart food court presence in the country with the launch of its 40th smart food court in Hyderabad.
This takes the total tally of the smart food courts seats of the company to 10,000 in the country. Through these first-of-its-kind smart food courts, Isthara assumes the role of a food-tech partner and vendor aggregator to help educational institutes and corporates to digitize their food courts for more efficient management, it said in a statement.
Founded in 2017, Isthara has been operating over 24,000 beds across Hyderabad, Bengaluru, NCR and Chennai. In 2020, the company launched the smart food court business, and signed up 50 food courts across Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, catering to over 200,000 people.
Hiring activity on positive trajectory in Jan with 41% growth: Naukri JobSpeak Report
The year 2022 has been off to a flying start, with a hiring spree across industries, according to Naukri JobSpeak index, which recorded 41% year-on-year growth in January.
As per the report, the upswing in hiring activity was observed in multiple sectors with IT-software, retail, and telecom leading the charts. Other sectors that observed an uptick in hiring trend compared to last year are pharma (29 percent), medical/healthcare (10 percent), oil and gas/power (8 percent), insurance (8 percent), FMCG (7 percent), and manufacturing (2 percent). Auto/auto ancillary remained flat in January 2022 versus January 2021.
The upswing in hiring in IT-software and BFSI sectors have enabled metros to outperform their tier-2 counterparts in the year-on-year growth charts. IT hubs of India--Bengaluru (79%), Hyderabad (66%), and Pune (63%)--recorded the highest growth in January this year. Other such as Mumbai (58%), Chennai (54%), Kolkata (41%), and Delhi/NCR (35%) also witnessed a spike in the hiring trajectory.
Hiring across all experience bands was positive in January when compared with the year-ago period with demand for senior professionals in the 8-12 years (48%) experience bracket receiving maximum traction.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Early Facebook investor Peter Thiel to step down from Meta board
Facebook-parent Meta Platforms said that billionaire investor Peter Thiel, an early investor who has been on the company's board since 2005, has decided to retire.
Thiel aims to spend time helping elect candidates who he believes will advance former President Donald Trump’s agenda in the US midterms, the Congressional elections this year, sources told Reuters.
Thiel, a co-founder of online payments system PayPal and a rare voice of conservative politics in Silicon Valley, became a Facebook investor in 2004, when he provided $500,000 in capital at a $5 million valuation for a 10% stake in the company and a seat on its board of directors.
Thiel will serve as a director until Meta's annual shareholder meeting but will not to stand for re-election, the social media giant said.
"Peter is truly an original thinker who you can bring your hardest problems and get unique suggestions," Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said, thanking Thiel for his service.
The announcement comes as Meta's shares have fallen sharply over concerns that privacy changes to Apple products was making it harder for advertisers to see how their ads work on Facebook.
Thiel left with kind words for Zuckerberg. "His talents will serve Meta well as he leads the company into a new era," Thiel said in the statement announcing his departure from the board.
Twitter-funded social media project Bluesky adds Jack Dorsey to board
Bluesky, a Twitter -funded project that is seeking to rebuild how social media companies operate, said that Twitter co-founder and former chief executive Jack Dorsey will join the company's board.
As per a Reuters report, Bluesky is working to build a technology that would allow different social media companies to operate on the same standard, which would enable developers to build apps that work across platforms and users to easily switch between the services.
Dorsey first announced Bluesky in 2019, saying the effort would take years to build.
Jay Graber, chief executive of Bluesky, said in a blog post on Monday that the organization will build and release "a prototype that illustrates our approach."
Amazon plans to more than double base pay cap for employees: Memo
Amazon plans to more than double its base pay cap to $350,000, from its previous maximum salary of $160,000 for US employees, according to a company memo seen by Reuters.
The e-commerce giant will increase the overall compensation range for most jobs globally and the company said the increases were much more "considerable" than in the past.
"This past year has seen a particularly competitive labor market," according to the memo, which added that there was a "need to remain competitive for attracting and retaining top talent".
Last year, Amazon increased its average starting wage for operations staff in the United States to more than $18 an hour, against the backdrop of a tight US labor market.
Amazon will review the compensation for newly promoted employees at the time of promotion and give in-year stock awards, if required, to get them in the new pay range, the memo said.
Uber to use alerts to remind riders to buckle up
Ride-sharing company Uber plans to begin reminding passengers to wear seat belts by pinging driver phones and sending riders messages amid a spike in US traffic deaths.
Uber told Reuters its new feature that launches Tuesday aims to alert riders to buckle up via a distinctive chime from the driver’s phone and a simultaneous push notification to the rider’s phone.
"The intent is really just to help remind riders that they should be buckling up - every seat, every time," said Kristin Smith, Uber’s head of Global Road Safety Policy, who added the chime "sounds kind of like an airplane seat belt reminder."
Uber wants riders to get in the habit of always buckling up. It plans to send riders push notifications at the start of their next five trips and then periodically thereafter.
TikTok tests age-rated content restrictions
TikTok is working on ways to rate and restrict content by age in order to prevent adult content from reaching teenage users of its short video app, Reuters reported.
TikTok, which has exploded in popularity among teens in recent years, said it was running a small test for how adult-rated content could be restricted from accounts belonging to younger users, either by the user or their parents and guardians.
The company, owned by Chinese tech titan ByteDance, said it was drawing on the types of content-rating standards already used for movies and gaming. It said it would test a way for creators on the app to specify if they want their content to only be viewed by older audiences.
TikTok, which has been criticized for posts promoting eating disorders and maintains it bans such content, said in a blog post on Tuesday it would start to remove posts promoting broader disordered-eating content as well.
Facebook should tighten doxxing rules on home addresses, says its oversight board
Facebook owner Meta Platforms should not allow users to share people's private residential information on its platforms even when the information is publicly available, the company's oversight board said in its first policy advisory opinion.
The board also recommended Meta create a communications channel so that so-called doxxing victims can better explain their cases to the company, as per a Reuters report.
Doxxing is the public release of sensitive information identifying an individual or organization, like a home address or phone number. It can lead to harassment or stalking.
The board said Meta should remove this exemption and should ensure exceptions for newsworthy content should be consistently applied. It also said Meta should allow external images of private residences when the property is the focus of the news story, though not for organizing protests against the resident.
It was the first time Meta's oversight board had responded to a request for a policy advisory opinion not related to a specific case. The company has 60 days to publicly respond. The oversight board, which has ruled on cases such as the suspension of former US President Donald Trump, has so far overturned Meta's content decisions in 17 of 22 cases.
Religious leaders call on Zuckerberg to scrap Instagram Kids plans
Reverends, rabbis and other religious leaders urged Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to permanently stop the company's plan for an Instagram version aimed at young users, in a letter sent by advocacy group Fairplay and their Children's Screen Time Action Network.
Since last September, Instagram has paused its plans to introduce a version of the photo-sharing app for kids, as opposition to the project grew.
"After much meditation and prayer, we assert that social media platforms that target immature brains, practice unethical data mining, and are inspired by profit motives are not a tool for the greater good of children," said the letter, which was signed by more than 70 religious leaders and reviewed by Reuters.
The letter from the faith groups, which quoted the Bible, Qur'an, Pope Francis and Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh, called on Zuckerberg, as someone who has in the past said religion is "very important," to recognize spiritual as well as secular concerns about the project.
(Edited by : Aditi Gautam)
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