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STARTUP DIGEST: Sequoia writes off its investment in FTX; Upgrad's losses widen to Rs 626 Cr; HCAH acquires Seniority & Elon Musk ends remote work at Twitter

STARTUP DIGEST: Sequoia writes off its investment in FTX; Upgrad's losses widen to Rs 626 Cr; HCAH acquires Seniority & Elon Musk ends remote work at Twitter

STARTUP DIGEST: Sequoia writes off its investment in FTX; Upgrad's losses widen to Rs 626 Cr; HCAH acquires Seniority & Elon Musk ends remote work at Twitter
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By Aishwarya Anand  Nov 10, 2022 7:22:54 PM IST (Published)

Here are the top headlines from the startups space.

Sequoia Capital writes down its entire investment in FTX

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Venture capital firm Sequoia Capital has written down the total value of its holdings in cryptocurrency firm FTX.
"We are marking down our investment to $0," the firm said in a note to the limited partners. The write-down includes holdings of both FTX.com and FTX US. FTX is the latest cryptocurrency company this year to come under financial pressure.
Sequoia had invested $214 M in FTX.com and FTX US via Global Growth Fund III and SCGE Fund in 2021. Sequoia Capital said the loss is offset by $7.5 billion in unrealised gains in Global Growth Fund III. The firm has clarified that the investment in FTX via SCGE Fund represents less than one percent of the portfolio.
As a result of speculation about FTX's financial condition over the weekend, $6 billion of withdrawals were made in the 72 hours leading up to Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao took to Twitter to announce that he had signed a letter of intent to acquire FTX after the latter experienced a "significant liquidity crunch."
However, the deal was later called off.
"As a result of corporate due diligence, as well as the latest news reports regarding mishandled customer funds and alleged US agency investigations, we have decided that we will not pursue the potential acquisition of FTX.com," Binance said in a statement.
Upgrad's losses widen to Rs 626 crore in FY22 on rising costs
Edtech unicorn Upgrad saw its losses rise threefold to Rs 626.61 crore in FY22 on a consolidated basis, from a loss of Rs 211.1 crore in the previous year.
The startup’s operating revenues nearly doubled to Rs 679.1 crore in FY22, according to regulatory filings sourced from Tofler.
The company's employee benefit costs surged to Rs 383.16 crore in FY22 from Rs 161.5 crore in FY21. It reported an over two-fold increase in FY22 revenue to Rs 682.21 crore on a consolidated basis. upGrad's other expenses, which include advertising and marketing spends, jumped 2.5 times to a little over Rs 616 crore in FY22 from 247.6 crore in FY21 on a consolidated basis.
The firm’s total expenses grew 2.5 times to Rs 1,300.6 crore in FY22 from Rs 513.8 crore in the previous fiscal.
Zomato net loss narrows to Rs 251 Cr in Q2
Foodtech giant Zomato has reported a smaller second-quarter loss, helped by a sustained rise in online ordering.
Consolidated net loss for the three months ended September 30 was Rs 251 crores ($30.73 million), compared with Rs 430 crores a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing.
Revenue from operations rose to Rs 1661 crores from Rs 1024 crores.
Lenskart revenue jumps 66%, records net loss of Rs 102.3 Cr in FY22
Omnichannel eyewear retailer Lenskart has recorded a net loss of Rs 102.3 crore in FY22 as compared to a a net profit of about Rs29 crore in FY21, as per filing sourced from Tofler.
The eyeware brand also reported a nearly 66% year-on-year jump in its revenue from operations to Rs 1502.7 crore. The total expenses rose 72.8% to about Rs 1,726 crore in FY22 as the company incurred about 71.9% higher cost on advertising and promotion at about Rs 234.6 crore, the filing showed.
Meanwhile, its employee benefit expenses also surged about 53% in the year-ended March 2022, at Rs 245 crore.
Flipkart burns over $3.7Bn cash in about a year till Sep 2022
E-commerce major Flipkart has burnt cash of $3.7 billion in about a year ending September 2022, according to regulatory filings. Flipkart had $1 billion in cash in July 2021, which came down to $887 million by September 2022.
The company, in July 2021, raised $3.6 billion (about Rs 29,000 crore), which has been completely exhausted, according to regulatory filings of Flipkart and Walmart.
It is the biggest cash burn in a year by any new-age company in the country, according to industry estimates. A Walmart regulatory filing shows that the company had approximately $1.1 billion as of July 31, 2022.
HCAH acquires Seniority; expands into geriatric health market
Home healthcare services provider HCAH has acquired RPG Group-owned geriatric-centric digital platform Seniority, for an undisclosed capital.
Seniority offers a curated portfolio of over 20,000 products ranging from medical to lifestyle for senior citizens and sells direct to customers. The company also operates two offline stores in Pune and Chennai.
With this deal, HCAH plans to integrate its existing healthcare services into the company and develop a geriatric-focused vertical to provide end-to-end senior care services for their holistic well-being and requirements, a statement said.
“Currently, 60% of our customers are elderly to whom we provide Rehab, ICU and nursing, caregiver, consultation, lab and equipment services at home, digitally and in our transition care centers. By acquiring Seniority, our intent is to cater to all the needs and provide a One Stop Shop to our rapidly growing elderly population,” said Vivek Srivastava, Co-Founder and CEO, HCAH.
“Besides growing the digital business, as a part of our Phygital strategy, we would also open new stores of Seniority on a standalone basis as well as in our transition care centers. We will launch new services such as Assisted Living, Elderly day care and Elderly Concierge services in the future to further solidify our presence in the elderly market,” added Srivastava.
Oyo partners with Adventure Women to support solo female travel
Hospitality technology platform OYO has announced a long-term strategic partnership with travel group Adventure Women India that encourages women to be active and adventurous.
"As part of the engagement, members of the group will be offered multiple benefits along with the convenience to choose from the network of safe, clean and affordable accommodations," OYO stated.
Adventure Women India empanels travel industry players like tour operators and hotels and offers its members the ability to choose their travel providers from a variety of reliable and secure vendors.
"The partnership with OYO will help them identify and book hotels that best suit their preferences in terms of budget and location," OYO said.
Adventure Women India has a collective positive strength of 1.5 lakh women members, primarily in the age group of 25 and 45 years. Their volunteers support members through a network of 21 local city chapters across India and 2 international chapters in Mauritius and Bhutan.
Exotel receives licence from Telecom Dept to provide pan-India cloud-based solutions for remote working
Customer engagement platform Exotel has received a telecom licence or the Unified Licence for Virtual Network Operator (UL VNO) Access Service from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
With this pan-India licence, Exotel will be able to serve businesses across India with its cloud-based customer engagement solutions for remote working, a statement said.
Exotel said that its solutions target sales and customer support functions within businesses of all sizes. Riding on partner telecom networks, the company hopes to extend its solutions to the country.
Commenting on the development, Ishwar Sridharan, Co-Founder and COO of Exotel, said, "This licence will cement Exotel as a one-stop-shop for all customer engagement solutions, with the added advantage of providing seamless connectivity to WFA agents and reducing business costs. In addition, by establishing a 100 percent compliant cloud call centre, we hope to advance the government's 'Make in India' initiative through strengthening remote work and aiding job generation in tier-2 cities."
Ather Energy strengthens management with key appointments
Ather Energy, a manufacturer of electric scooters has announced two key appointments to bolster its management team while expanding presence in India. The company has named Rajeev Goswami as Vice President (Legal) and Manuj Khurana as Vice President in charge of Capital Allocation.
Manuj Khurana brings 13 years of expertise to Ather mainly in the areas of corporate strategy and growth, financial planning, transaction diligence and policy. In his last position at Tesla India, he oversaw policy and business development for its anticipated India launch. Prior to Tesla, Khurana held positions at Invest India and Accenture Strategy, respectively. In addition, he has also been on the transportation panel chaired by the former Principal Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister of India.
While, Rajeev Goswami will lead the corporate legal department and endeavour to improve Ather Energy's legal and compliance structure. He brings with him a wide range of experience spanning more than 22 years.
“Manuj will play a critical role in channelling our resources towards organic and inorganic growth, and Rajeev's strategic counsel will help strengthening our legal and compliance framework,” said Ather Energy's CEO and co-founder Tarun Mehta.
47% of Indian Study Abroad Aspirants Still Prefer US Over Other Overseas Destinations: iSchoolConnect Survey
Around 47 percent of Indian study abroad aspirants still prefer the US over other overseas destinations, claims the iSchoolConnect Survey 2022. It adds that 47 percent of Indian respondents chose the US as their preferred study abroad destination followed by the UK, with 18 percent wanting to study there.
The survey also added that 85 percent of Indian respondents regarded the availability of scholarships and financial aid as a significant factor when choosing a university.
According to the report, the UK came in second place, with 18 percent of students choosing it. For aspirants in Sri Lanka, Canada tops the study abroad destination list, with 29 percent pinning it on their top destinations map.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Musk's first email to Twitter staff ends remote work: Report
Elon Musk in his first email to Twitter employees said remote work would no longer be allowed and that they would be expected in office for at least 40 hours per week, Bloomberg News reported.
Musk, who completed his $44 billion deal for the popular social media platform just two weeks ago, has laid off half its workforce and several top executives and announced a series of actions including charging $8 for the Twitter Blue subscription.
Musk also told employees that he wants to see subscriptions account for half of Twitter's revenue, the report said, citing the email.
Musk says he 'killed' new official label for Twitter accounts
Elon Musk said in a tweet that he "killed" the new official label for Twitter accounts, on the same day that it began rolling out.
"Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months," he tweeted. "We will keep what works & change what doesn’t."
Musk backtracked on the official label just a day after a product executive at the social media company announced it, leading to confusion about the difference between the label and Twitter's current blue check mark that signifies verified accounts.
Apple will spend $450M with Globalstar and others to enable emergency satellite texting: Report
Apple said it will spend $450 million with US companies to enable its new emergency satellite texting feature, according to a CNBC report.
The majority of that money will go to Globalstar, Apple said, a Louisiana-based company which operates the satellites that make the feature possible.
Apple isn’t taking an equity stake in the company but it is committing to spend money for equipment and the service’s operations. The funds will pay for satellites, as well as equipping ground stations with a new kind of antenna designed by Apple.
The feature is free for two years but Apple has left open the possibility of charging for it after that. The service is not entirely automated and it requires human-staffed call centers — over 300 Globalstar employees will work on the service, Apple said.
Apple’s payment to Globalstar will come from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund, a pool of money the company uses to support US-based suppliers.
Lawsuit claims Apple, Amazon colluded to raise iPhone, iPad prices
Apple and Amazon were accused in an antitrust lawsuit of conspiring to drive up iPhone and iPad prices by removing nearly all other resellers of new Apple products from Amazon's website, Reuters reported.
The proposed class action in Seattle federal court objected to an agreement that took effect in January 2019, under which Apple gave Amazon discounts of up to 10% on its products, in exchange for Amazon letting just seven of 600 resellers stay on its platform.
This transformed Amazon into the dominant reseller of new iPhones and iPads on its website, according to the complaint, after it had previously carried a limited number of Apple products as well as knockoffs.
Prices rose more than 10%, while Apple stabilized the prices it charged in retail stores, the complaint said. Discounts of 20% or more that were once common no longer are, it added.
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