Startup Digest: Tesla steps up hiring in India, Byju's-Google tie-up, Centre's fresh allegation on WhatsApp

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From Tesla stepping up recruitment for leadership and senior-level roles in India, to Byju’s partnering with Google to offer a free online learning platform for schools, here are the top stories from the startup universe.

Startup Digest: Tesla steps up hiring in India, Byju's-Google tie-up, Centre's fresh allegation on WhatsApp
From Tesla stepping up recruitment for leadership and senior-level roles in India, to Byju’s partnering with Google to offer a free online learning platform for schools, here are the top stories from the startup universe.
Elon Musk's Tesla hiring for senior roles in India: Report
American electric car maker Tesla is currently hiring for leadership and senior positions in India, Bloomberg reported. The company has begun the recruitment process to fill up positions including head of sales and marketing, and head of human resources, the report added. A Tesla fan club that goes by the name Tesla Club India on Twitter has made announcements on the hiring that is currently underway in India. "Samir Jain has joined Tesla India as Lead Aftersales (Service Manager - India). He was earlier Head of Aftersales at Porsche India and also responsible for Porsche BEV Rollout," a tweet from the fan club reads.
Earlier this year Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed the EV maker's plans to enter the Indian market. "As promised," Musk had tweeted on January 13 while replying to a thread that was linked to a blog analysing where India stood as a market for the company. Tesla has chosen Karnataka for its first plant, the state’s chief minister BS Yediurappa had said in February.
Byju’s and Google partner to offer learning solution to schools
Edtech firm Byju's has partnered with Google to aid the continuity of online learning for both teachers and students. This integration of ‘Google Workspace for Education’ with Byju’s pedagogy will offer a collaborative and personalised digital platform for classroom organisation. "The significant rise and acceptance of online learning in the last one year has led to the swift digitisation of our education system," said Mrinal Mohit, the chief operating officer in a statement.
Built on Byju’s ‘Vidyartha’ platform, this partnership will provide direct access to Byju's extensive math and science pedagogy. This includes visually-rich learning solutions, including chapter-wise slides, readymade assignments, data banks, summary docs, handouts, tests, and more. The platform is available for free to participating educational institutions. Every school that signs up on the Byju's-Google platform will get official email IDs for all faculty, students and admin staff, supported by Google Workspace for Education. The learning solution would facilitate classroom management and help organise, access, and track classroom learning.
MyLabs begins shipping COVID-19 self-test kit
Mylab Discovery Solutions has kickstarted the shipment of the COVID-19 self-test kit, after receiving approval from the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). Named 'CoviSelf', the self-use rapid antigen test (RAT) kit for Covid-19 is priced at Rs 250 per pack. The company will roll out 1 million self-test kits from June 3 and based on consumer demand, it will make 7 million units available per week. As per MyLab’s statement, the product will be available in retail within 2-3 days.
Hasmukh Rawal, managing director of Mylab Discovery Solutions said, “Self-testing should slow down the spread of COVID-19 significantly. We aim to make CoviSelf available across the length and breadth of the country, especially for the people residing in rural areas who have limited options for testing." This indigenous test kit will be available over-the-counter at pharmacies and drugstores across India. Orders can also be placed online via Flipkart. The company plans to make the products available on the Government e-marketplace.
OfBusiness in talks with SoftBank for fundraising: Report
Japanese investment giant SoftBank is in talks to fund B2B commerce firm OfBusiness, giving it the unicorn tag, reports MoneyControl. As per reports, SoftBank Vision Fund is discussing to lead a $100-150 million round in lending OfBusiness. With this, the valuation of the company will be pushed over to $1.5 billion, making it a unicorn. This will be nearly double OfBusiness' last valuation of $800 million when it raised funds from Falcon Edge Capital three months ago. SoftBank Vision Fund II has invested in startups like Meesho and banking technology platform Zeta, both of which went on to become unicorns.
Startups secure strong early-stage funding in 2020: InnoVen Survey
Indian startups continue to draw early-stage (Seed/Pre-series A) investment with a strong momentum despite the temporary halt due to the pandemic.
The quantum of early-stage funding pumped into Indian startups went up by 6 percent to $279 million in 2020, according to a report by InnoVen Capital. The study surveyed 16 leading institutional early-stage investors to track equity investment activity across Seed & pre-series A-stages. Blume Ventures, 3one4 Capital, Titan Capital, Sauce.vc, Waterbridge Ventures, Indian Angel Network, Kae Capital and Orios Venture Partners were among the investors who participated in the survey. As expected, investors closed fewer deals last year. The number of early-stage funding deals fell from 205 in 2019 to 178 in 2020.
LambdaTest raises $16 million from Sequoia Capital
Web app testing platform LambdaTest has raised $16 million in a Series B round of funding led by Sequoia Capital. Other investors including Telstra Ventures and Wamda Capital also participated. The startup will use the latest funding towards scaling the testing ecosystem and building next-generation cloud infrastructure for users. It also plans to broaden its reach with the tester community by engaging with developers with a new suite of products, claimed the company in a series of tweets.
Onelife Nutriscience raises undisclosed capital
Healthcare startup Onelife Nutriscience has raised an undisclosed amount from Lasons India. Earlier this year, it had secured an undisclosed round of funding from Wipro Consumer Care Ventures. The company will use the funds for geographical expansion team building and management. Onelife currently has over 100 products in nutrition, wellness, and beauty.
Active internet users to hit 900 million by 2025: Report
The rapid increase in smartphone usage is leading to digital adoption in the hinterland. This as total active internet population is likely to touch 900 million by 2025 from 622 million last year, an IAMAI-Kantar Cube report said. The numbers reflect a 45 percent growth in the internet population. The report suggests that even though the internet penetration in urban is more than 2 times that of rural regions, the users in rural have been growing at a faster rate on a year-on-year basis. While internet users grew by 4 percent in urban India -- reaching 323 million users (67 percent of urban population) in 2020, digital adoption continues to be propelled by rural India, clocking 13 percent growth to 299 million internet users (31 percent of rural population) over the past year, according to the IAMAI report.
"By 2025, there would be a greater number of internet users in rural India than in urban India. Given this, the digital ecosystem will need to evolve to address the specific needs of this emerging demography," said Biswapriya Bhattacharjee, Executive Vice President, Insights Division, Kantar. IAMAI said the ongoing growth of internet penetration in India provides a critical platform for all stakeholders to harness the digital revolution.
Centre accuses WhatsApp of indulging in anti-user practices
The Centre in a fresh affidavit told the Delhi High Court that messaging giant WhatsApp is indulging in 'anti-users practices' by obtaining 'trick consent' for its updated privacy policy. The ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity), in an affidavit filed before the court, stated that WhatsApp was “bombarding” millions of its existing users, those who have not accepted the updated privacy policy, with notifications on a daily basis.
The government added that Whatsapp is forcing its unsuspecting existing users to migrate to the 2021 privacy policy before Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill becomes a law. The Centre accused Whatsapp of going ahead with its revised privacy policy even though it does not comply with IT rules.
The affidavit comes as WhatsApp last week said it will go ahead with its controversial privacy policy update. It, however, said that it will allow users to read it at "their own pace" and will also display a banner providing additional information. The court, however, has adjourned the hearing of pleas challenging WhatsApp's revised privacy policy.
Twitter’s verification process for blue badge resumes
Twitter has resumed the verification process for the blue tick or badge after pausing them last week. The verification application process was restarted on May 20 — after a long halt of more than four years. Twitter had suspended the original model in 2017, saying it was being confused as an endorsement. Twitter adds a blue badge to profiles that are verified. The new verification application process is available to all users.
Twitter has classified six categories for aspirants: government official; companies, brands, and organisations; news organisations and journalists; entertainment; sports and gaming; and activists, organisers, and other influential individuals. The applicant’s profile is subject to scrutiny and as per Twitter, the profile "must be authentic, notable, and active" for eligibility though it slightly differs based on the profession or line of work one is in.
Twitter will start showing the blue badge on your profile if the application is approved. One can reapply 30 days after being denied the badge.
IN GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Amazon to test UK staff for Covid
Amazon is testing its front-line staff in Britain for coronavirus variants. The e-commerce giant then sends the data to public health officials, including those areas where a strain first found in India is spreading fast. After a rigorous vaccination programme, UK is on the verge of reopening its but the Delta variant first found in India has spread, including in areas where Amazon has its lab and some fulfillment centres.
Amazon's testing is available to around 30,000 front-line staff in Britain, working in warehouses and logistics. The British lab has already processed more than 900,000 tests since it opened in September, including from its sites in Europe. Luke Meredith, director of the Amazon Diagnostic Laboratory in Britain, said the company was open to offering the same service in the United States and did not rule out making its testing programme available to the UK public in the future.
Etsy to buy fashion reseller Depop in Zen-Z push
Ecommerce firm Etsy is buying the secondhand fashion app Depop for $1.62 billion, said Reuters. As per the report, the deal would be funded via available liquidity and is expected to close during the third quarter of 2021. The announcement comes as Etsy looks to attract younger shoppers and Depop mainly has users in the under-26 age bracket. The deal marks the biggest acquisition yet for Etsy, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015.
European consumer group joins EU antitrust case against Apple
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) lobby group has backed the European Union's antitrust case against Apple that alleges it distorts competition in the music streaming market. BEUC said it has been allowed to join as an interested third party in the antitrust regulator's case, which could lead to a hefty fine of as much as 10 percent of Apple's global turnover and force a change to its business practices.
The European Commission filed its first antitrust charges against Apple in April following an initial complaint by the iPhone maker's rival Spotify. Apple has rejected the EU charges, saying that its App Store enabled Spotify to become the world's largest music subscription service. It has been given 12 weeks to respond to the charges.
Huawei launches its own operating system on smartphones
Chinese tech giant Huawei finally launched its own HarmonyOS mobile operating system on its handsets. The move comes as Huawei is still cut off from United States technologies including Google’s services. Huawei will start rolling out HarmonyOS on selected smartphone models, offering users the chance to switch from the current operating system based on Google's Android platform. Rather than being a like-for-like replacement, Huawei is billing HarmonyOS as an 'Internet-of-Things' platform, aimed at operating on and connecting other devices such as laptops, smartwatches, cars and appliances. The company unveiled several new products using HarmonyOS, including a tablet, a smartwatch, and a stylus, during a video launch from the company's headquarters in Shenzhen. Huawei is aiming to have HarmonyOS on 200 million smartphones and 100 million third-party smart devices by the end of the year, said Wang Chenglu, president of Huawei Consumer Business Group's software department, who has led Huawei's efforts to develop HarmonyOS since 2016.

Market Movers

CompanyPriceChange%Gain
Adani Ports694.35 47.45 7.33
Bajaj Auto4,167.10 113.20 2.79
HUL2,482.90 65.20 2.70
Bharti Airtel538.75 10.10 1.91
Grasim1,480.75 22.55 1.55
CompanyPriceChange%Gain
HUL2,480.75 63.85 2.64
Bajaj Auto4,164.95 105.95 2.61
Bharti Airtel538.90 10.20 1.93
Bajaj Finserv11,998.00 179.95 1.52
IndusInd Bank994.90 10.65 1.08
CompanyPriceChange%Gain
Adani Ports694.35 47.45
Bajaj Auto4,167.10 113.20
HUL2,482.90 65.20
Bharti Airtel538.75 10.10
Grasim1,480.75 22.55
CompanyPriceChange%Gain
HUL2,480.75 63.85
Bajaj Auto4,164.95 105.95
Bharti Airtel538.90 10.20
Bajaj Finserv11,998.00 179.95
IndusInd Bank994.90 10.65

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Dollar-Rupee73.8600-0.2175-0.29
Euro-Rupee87.8770-0.4200-0.48
Pound-Rupee102.2970-0.9290-0.90
Rupee-100 Yen0.6699-0.0019-0.29