There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Monday, which include Tata Digital has signed an MOU with health & fitness platform CureFit to invest up to $75 million in the company, Jeff Bezos will begin his journey to space on July 20 on BlueOrigin’s inaugural flight and Google has agreed to make changes to some of its widely-used online advertising services under a settlement with France's antitrust watchdog. Here are top stories from the startup universe today.
Tata Digital to invest up to $75 mn in CureFit
Tata Digital is all set to invest up to $75 million in health and fitness startup CureFit. As part of the deal, CureFit's founder and chief executive Mukesh Bansal will take charge as president of Tata Digital, and will continue in his leadership role at CureFit.
As per company’s statement, an MoU between the two companies has been inked, and the proposed investment would be cleared subject to completion of diligence process and other approvals.
"The CureFit partnership with its industry leading platform in fitness and wellness aligns very well with our overall healthcare proposition where fitness is increasingly becoming an integral part of a consumers’ life," Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran said.
Chandrasekaran also said he was delighted to have Mukesh Bansal as a part of the key leadership team of Tata Digital. According to Bansal, being part of Tata Digital will enable CureFit to "nationally scale up our offerings for our customers".
Amazon Boss is going to space!
Shortly after resigning as CEO of Amazon in July, Jeff Bezos will be flying to space. The billionaire will fly on the first passenger flight of his space company Blue Origin, which the company plans to launch on July 20, Bezos announced on Monday.
“I want to go on this flight because it’s the thing I’ve wanted to do all my life,” Bezos said in a video posted to his Instagram. Bezos’ brother Mark will join him, Amazon founder announced in his video, calling it a “remarkable opportunity”.
If all goes according to plan, Bezos —world's richest person— will be the first of the billionaire space tycoons to experience a ride aboard the rocket technology that he's poured millions into developing. Not even Elon Musk, whose SpaceX builds rockets powerful enough to enter orbit around Earth, has announced plans to travel to space, CNBC reported.
Delhivery expects to list in 6-8 months: Report
Logistics startup Delhivery plans to launch its public offer between December 2021 and March 2022, the company said in an interview to The Economic Times.
As per report, the startup is unlikely to postpone its IPO timeline unless there is a severe third wave of Covid-19 affecting market sentiment. Delhivery is still working out details of the issue, including its size, however the company expects it to be a primary issue in the $400-500 million range, report adds.
Just last week Delhivery raised $275 million in primary funding round from Fidelity Management and Research Company. The fresh capital has pushed Delhivery's valuation to over $3 billion.
Paytm reports Rs 1,701 crore loss for FY21
Digital payments firm Paytm has reported another loss for FY21. As per the company’s annual report, Paytm narrowed its consolidated loss to Rs 1,704 crore in financial year 2020-21 as against a loss of Rs 2,943.32 crore in 2019-20.
Paytm slashed marketing cost by about 62 percent to Rs 533 crore in FY21 from Rs 1,397 crore a year ago.
"Despite a significant disruption in the business of our merchant partners due to the ongoing pandemic especially in the first half of the year, we have had a minimal impact on revenues, due to strong recovery in the second half of the year," a Paytm spokesperson said.
The company's commerce and cloud revenues went down by about 38 percent in which it gets a significant amount from entertainment and travel ticketing which have been severely impacted during the pandemic. The total revenue of the company declined about 10 percent to Rs 3,186 crore in 2020-21 compared to Rs 3,540.77 crore in the previous year.
As per the report, Paytm recorded an 11 per cent increase in payments and financial services revenues at Rs 2,109 crore in FY21 compared to Rs 1,906 crore in FY20. The company's expenses on employee benefits increased to Rs 1,184.9 crore in FY21 from Rs 1,119.3 crore in FY20. The authorised share capital of the company stood at Rs 104.1 crore comprising over 10.41 lakh equity shares of Rs 10 each.
IPO-bound Paytm to lend Rs 743 crore to founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s firms: Report
Paytm's parent company One97 Communications is set to extend Rs 743 crore funding to two companies owned by founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Mint reported. This comes ahead of Paytm’s $3 billion proposed Diwali listing.
The move will be put to vote at the company's annual meeting on June 30, the Mint reported. This was mentioned in note sent to shareholders after Paytm’s board meeting on May 28.
According to the proposal, Paytm, in one or two tranches will buy Rs 491.93 crore worth of optionally convertible debentures, to be sold by VSS Holdings Pvt. Ltd, in which Sharma is a director. The debentures will mature in 10 years and bear an annual interest of 15 percent.
Paytm will own 96 percent in VSS on converting the debentures into shares, which can be done at any time. Paytm said VSS will utilize the funds for its primary business activities, said the report.
As per filings with the registrar of companies, VSS Holdco is involved in activities closely related to financial intermediation, except insurance and pension funding. Paytm’s other proposal is to loan Rs 250.79 crore to VSS Investco Pvt. Ltd through inter-corporate deposits, or ICDs, in one or more tranches, the Mint report further added.
According to the note sent to shareholders, VSS Investco will have to repay the amount within 12 months or before Paytm goes public. Paytm also said Sharma will raise external funding or sell his shares in the company to repay the loan, and the money will be used for the principal business activities of VSS Investco.
PhonePe pushes for full trial in battle with BharatPe
Digital payment platforms PhonePe and BharatPe are headed for a trial over the word "Pe", pronounced as Pay, after two years of court proceedings.
The court proceedings gained momentum after Walmart-funded PhonePe withdrew an injunction plea it filed against BharatPe and instead requested a speedy disposal of the main lawsuit. The main lawsuit has not been withdrawn which was filed in 2019.
PhonePe had earlier filed an injunction plea in Delhi High Court but a single judge bench denied it last month. As per The Economic Times report, PhonePe has told the court it does not wish to press the present appeal on injunction but wants an "expeditious disposal of the suit".
PhonePe had filed a lawsuit claiming trademark rights over the suffix – "Pe" against Delhi-based BharatPe which is being used in English and Hindi in text and graphic description.
BYJU’S receives $1 mn funds for its COVID initiatives
Edtech giant Byju’s has received $1 million in funding from the Breakthrough Global Foundation and and DST Global Managing Partner Saurabh Gupta to support its Covid-19 initiatives in India.
Byju’s will utilise the funds under its social impact initiative ‘Education for All’ to support children who have lost their families due to Covid-19, the company said in a statement. With 'Education for All', Byju's will provide equal learning opportunities and empower children across the country through its tech-enabled learning programmes.
The Breakthrough Global Foundation was founded by tech investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner and his wife Julia Milner.
“From overcoming pandemics to generating growth, India’s–and all of humanity’s–future depends on knowledge. The Breakthrough Global Foundation is proud to support covid-19 initiative of Byju’s," said Yuri Milner, founder, DST Global. DST Global is also an investor in Byju's.
Swiggy launches Suraksha initiative
Food delivery platform Swiggy has launched ‘Swiggy Suraksha initiative, a special care package for its delivery partners affected with Covid-19.
The Covid relief package will include a support of Rs 14,000 for two weeks, so that the infected employees don’t have to worry about their livelihood during the recovery period, the company said in a statement. Swiggy’s Covid-19 affected partners can choose doorstep delivery of meals prepared in the company's cloud kitchens in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.
Additionally, delivery partners and their families who test positive will receive enhanced hospitalisation cover of up to Rs 1.5 lakh, the company said. In addition, Swiggy has also enhanced life insurance cover to Rs 5 lakh in the event of death of a delivery partner due to Covid-19.
Zomato to adopt electric vehicles for 100% of its fleet by 2030
In a bid to build a more sustainable company, food delivery platform Zomato has said it will adopt electric vehicles for 100 percent of its fleet by 2030.
In a blog post on June 5th, Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said the company has partnered with the Climate Group's global electric mobiliy initiative, EV100. Goyal claimed that currently electric vehicles (EV) comprise a small fraction of its delivery fleet and are leveraged by delivery partners in only select cities of Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai.
Flipkart launches QR-based pay on delivery for customers
E-commerce giant Flipkart has introduced a contactless, QR-code based payment facility for all its pay-on-delivery shipments.
Consumers who earlier opted for cash on delivery can now use this facility, scan the QR code attached to their purchase and make a digital payment for their order through any UPI app at the time of delivery, the company said in a statement.
Koo launches in Nigeria as the African nation suspends Twitter
Homegrown microblogging platform, Koo, has been officially launched in Nigeria after the Nigerian government indefinitely suspended Twitter. In a post on Saturday, Koo’s co-founder and CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna said the platform is keen on adding new local languages for users in the West African nation.
Speaking to PTI, Radhakrishna added that the platform is keen on making inroads in the Nigerian market and will abide by the local laws of each country that it operates in.
Nigeria’s decision to suspend Twitter in the country reportedly came as a result of the US-based social networking platform deleting a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari for violating rules.
Kaagaz Scanner hits 5 Mn downloads-mark in a year
Document scanning and storage app Kaagaz Scanner has hit the 5 million downloads-mark within a year of its launch.
As per the company’s statement, Kaagaz Scanner is one of the top document scanning apps on the Android Play Store and is used by over 1.5 million users every month.
The Made-in-India document scanner app rose to prominence after the Indian government banned 59 Chinese apps last year, including the popular CamScanner.
The company is backed by Pravega Ventures, Axilor Ventures, Better Capital & First Cheque along with a few notable angels.
BharatPe now ICC’s official partner till 2023
B2B fintech startup BharatPe has entered into a strategic partnership with International Cricket Council (ICC). The startup has inked a three-year long deal to become an official partner with ICC.
As per the agreement, BharatPe will promote the association across broadcast and digital platforms, as well as execute in-venue brand activations at all the ICC events until 2023. The key tournaments include the upcoming ICC World Test Championship (Southampton, UK 2021), Men’s T20 World Cup (India, 2021), Men’s T20 World Cup (Australia, 2022), Women’s World Cup (New Zealand, 2022), U19 Cricket World Cup (West Indies, 2022), Women’s T20 World Cup (South Africa, 2022), Men’s Cricket World Cup (India, 2023) and World Test Championship (2023).
This partnership will also enable the digital payments startup to roll out campaigns to engage with cricket fans and shop owners across the country, the company said.
BharatPe currently has 11 Indian cricketers as brand ambassadors, including Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul and Suresh Raina among others.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Google agrees to change some Ad practices after French Watchdog Imposes Fine
Google has agreed to make changes to some of its widely-used online advertising services under a settlement with France's antitrust watchdog released on Monday. The authority also fined the company $267.48 million after a probe found Google guilty of abusing its market power in the intricate ad business online.
"The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it's the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies," said Isabelle de Silva, France's antitrust chief.
Reuters had reported last week that Google may follow in Apple's footsteps and won't allow Android users to get tracked by advertisers. The change is coming through a new version of Google Play services that will roll out in a phased manner starting later this year.
Tech giants hit by historic G7 deal
The world’s biggest tech companies are facing a corporate tax avoidance crackdown after the Group of Seven most developed economies agreed a historic deal on Saturday.
The G-7 backed a US proposal that calls for corporations around the world to pay a minimum 15 percent tax on profits. The reforms, if finaliSed, would affect the largest companies in the world with profit margins of at least 10% , reported CNBC.
Reacting on the development, Amazon told CNBC that’s they welcome the step in a bid to bring stability to the international tax system. “We hope to see discussions continue to advance with the broader G20 and Inclusive Framework alliance,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC by email.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs also welcomed the G-7 deal. In a tweet, he said the agreement is a “significant first step towards certainty for businesses and strengthening public confidence in the global tax system.”
Key details remain to be negotiated over the coming months. Saturday's agreement says only "the largest and most profitable multinational enterprises" would be affected. The G7 includes the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.
Microsoft removes 'Tank Man' images from Bing; claims ‘Accidental Human Error’
Microsoft has blamed “accidental human error” for its Bing search engine not showing image results for the query “tank man” in the United States and elsewhere. This comes after users raised concerns about possible censorship around the Tiananmen Square crackdown anniversary.
As per Reuters, users in the United Kingdom, Germany and Singapore, reported on Friday that when they performed the search, Bing returned the message, "There are no results for tank man." Microsoft said the issue was due to an accidental human error and they are actively working to resolve this
Hours after Microsoft acknowledged the issue, the "tank man" search returned only pictures of tanks elsewhere in the world. "Tank man" is often used to describe an unidentified person famously pictured standing before tanks in China's Tiananmen Square during pro-democracy demonstrations in June 1989.
Google’s Gradient Ventures leads $8.2 mn Series A for Vault: Report
Google’s AI-focused fund, Gradient Ventures is leading the $ 8.2 million Series A round for Vault platform’s misconduct reporting SaaS. Other investors participating in the round are Illuminate Financial and existing investors such as Kindred Capital and Angular Ventures, according to a TechCrunch report.
Vault sells a range of SaaS tools to enterprise-sized or large scale-up enterprises to help them manage internal ethical and integrity issues. Data and analytics are built into the platform, as well as tools for staff to report issues, helping to support a wide range of customer audit and compliance requirements.
As per TechCrunch, the company has raised $4.2 million in seed round that closed in 2019.
SoftBank-backed Katerra files for bankruptcy in the US
Construction startup Katerra, which is backed by SoftBank Group has filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, as per a Reuters report.
Katerra said it had secured commitments for $35 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing from SB Investment Advisers (UK) Limited to fund operations during the Chapter 11 process. It added that the company's international operations are not affected by this filing.
The company had estimated liabilities of $1 billion to $10 billion and assets of $500 million to $1 billion, according to the court filing made in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.
The Information news website reported earlier this month that Katerra had told employees it planned to shut down, marking the collapse of the SoftBank-backed company that had raised more than $2 billion to slash the cost of building apartments.
Katerra said on Sunday that many of its US projects will be demobilising.
Bitcoin drops amid Weibo crypto suspensions: Goldman CIO survey
Bitcoin and most other top cryptocurrencies fell on Sunday on concerns that there may be a further crackdown on the industry in China, reports Bloomberg News. A report from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. served as a reminder that institutional adoption may be a long process.
Bitcoin, Ether and the rest of the top 30 cryptocurrencies excluding stablecoins declined on Saturday in Hong Kong, according to pricing data from CoinGecko. Chinese social-media service Weibo suspended some crypto-related accounts. When trying to view them, a message comes up that says the accounts have been reported for violations of laws, regulations or Weibo rules.
Chinese authorities have recently cautioned on crypto trading and Bitcoin mining efforts are being curtailed, which have put pressure on prices.
First Published: IST