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    STARTUP DIGEST: Tiger Global may invest $100 mn in Spinny, now  book vaccine slot on Paytm

    STARTUP DIGEST: Tiger Global may invest $100 mn in Spinny, now  book vaccine slot on Paytm

    STARTUP DIGEST: Tiger Global may invest $100 mn in Spinny, now  book vaccine slot on Paytm
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    By Aishwarya Anand   IST (Updated)

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    There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Tuesday. Here are the stories that made headlines in the startup universe today.

    There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Tuesday, which include  Tiger Global Management is in talks to invest $100 million in used-car retailing platform Spinny; Paytm launches COVID-19 vaccine slot booking feature on the app; parliamentary committee summons Twitter on June 18 over new IT rules; India’s competition watchdog CCI is likely to expedite the anti-trust probe on Amazon and Flipkart. Here are stories that made headlines in the startup universe today.
    Tiger Global in talks to invest $100 mn in used-car retailer Spinny: Report
    Investment firm Tiger Global Management is in talks to invest $100 million in used-car retailing platform Spinny. With this investment, the company's valuation will double to $800 million.
    The discussions between Tiger Global and Spinny are at an advanced stage and the deal is likely to close soon, Moneycontrol reported citing sources.
    Spinny was valued at $350 million in its last funding round in April in which it raised $65 million from investors like General Catalyst and Think Investments, the report said.
    Founded in 2015, Spinny is a pre-owned car retailing platform. It works on an online-to-offline mechanism, where customers search and select cars online, but make the final purchase offline.
    Spinny sold about 3,000 cars a month in March- more than double from a year prior- before the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted business in India, Moneycontrol said.
    The company has expanded its operations to Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Kolkata this year, and plans to increase its presence in 5-6 more cities by the end of the year.
    Paytm launches COVID-19 vaccine slot booking feature
    Fintech major Paytm has announced the launch of vaccination slot booking service on the app. This is in addition to its Vaccine Finder service which Paytm launched in May.
    "Paytm users can now search, discover & also book their vaccination slots for both Covaxin and Covishield at the nearest centre through the Paytm app. The service would help Indians seamlessly book vaccination slots and gain immunity, helping in fighting the ongoing pandemic," Paytm said in a statement.
    The Central government had, last month, released new guidelines for the integration of CoWIN with third-party applications, easing the way for such apps to offer vaccine bookings.
    India to expedite Amazon, Flipkart antitrust probe
    India’s antitrust watchdog plans to expedite a restarted probe into allegations of anti-competitive behaviour at Amazon.com Inc and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart, as it intensifies scrutiny of big-tech firms, Reuters reported quoting sources.
    The comments come as major US technology firms including Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc are at loggerheads with the government over issues such as data privacy bills and policies some industry executives have called protectionist.
    The Competition Commission of India (CCI) initiated a probe in January last year on the basis of a complaint alleging Amazon and Flipkart promoted select sellers on their e-commerce platforms and that deep discounts stifled competition. The companies have denied wrongdoing.
    Near-immediate legal challenges from the pair stalled the probe for over a year until a court last week allowed it to resume, having dismissed arguments that the CCI lacked evidence, as per the report.
    Though Amazon and Flipkart are likely to appeal, the CCI plans to demand information from them related to the allegations ”as quickly as possible”, said one of the people, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, as per the report. The investigation ”will be expedited”, the person said. Such investigations in India typically take months to complete.
    Amazon declined to comment. Flipkart and the CCI did not respond to requests for comment.
    The CCI is speeding up all cases involving big technology firms, including by deploying additional officers for some cases and working to more stringent internal deadlines, said the two people, who are familiar with the watchdog’s thinking.
    ”Cases involving digital firms are getting a priority at CCI as they can have significant impact on the economy and Indian startups,” said one of the people.
    Last year, the CCI began reviewing allegations of Google abusing the position of its Android operating system in the smart TV market, and is likely to soon order a comprehensive antitrust investigation, the people said.
    Google declined to comment.
    Such a probe would be the third against Google, with the Alphabet Inc unit already battling cases relating to Android as well as its payment app.
    The CCI is also investigating practices at MakeMyTrip Ltd and privacy policy changes at Facebook’s WhatsApp.
    The probe into Amazon and Flipkart is restarting at a time when both are battling accusations from offline retailers that their complex business structures allow them to circumvent foreign investment rules for e-commerce.
    In February, a Reuters investigation based on Amazon documents showed the e-tailer for years gave preferential treatment to a small group of sellers on its Indian platform. While arguing to restart the probe, the CCI told a court in Karnataka state that the Reuters report corroborated evidence.
    Amazon, which has said it ”does not give preferential treatment to any seller”, told the court it disagreed with the Reuters report. The antitrust body will examine the Reuters report and could use it as part of its investigation, one of the people said.
    ”The CCI’s plan to move faster on such cases is in line with other antitrust regulators globally that are investigating digital markets like e-commerce and online search, which are dynamic and evolving fast,” said an Indian antitrust lawyer who represents tech firms.
    A SPAC for consumer sector
    Private Equity veteran Rohan Ajila and The Manipal Group Chairman Gautham Pai partner together have launched a consumer sector focused SPAC in the US.
    Global Consumer Acquisition Corp or GCAC has raised $ 170 Mn in an initial public offering this week. GCAC is aiming to acquire targets with enterprise value in the range of $500 Million to one billion.
    GCAC intends to invest in industries focusing on consumer products and services sectors.
    The SPAC also known as blank-cheque companies, are shell companies that launch IPOs with a promise to invest in or acquire a company within a set timeline – normally18 to 24 months.
    Parliamentary committee summons Twitter on June 18 over new IT rules
    Amid tussle with the Centre over new IT rules, Twitter has now been summoned by the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Information and Technology.
    The Parliamentary Committee has directed the social media giant to appear before the panel on June 18 at 4 pm. The parliament has summoned Twitter officials to discuss how the platform was working towards safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms.
    "To hear the views of representatives of Twitter followed by evidence of representatives Electronics Technology 'Safeguarding citizens' rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space'," Parliamentary Panel agenda read.
    The summon comes after the Central government gave final notice to Twitter for compliance with new IT rules. Meanwhile, after repeated letters and communications from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the microblogging site has assured to comply with the new rules.
    C-CAMP, Hitachi ABB Power Grids to enable last-mile vaccine delivery
    The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) has partnered with Hitachi ABB Power Grids in India to enable efficient last-mile COVID-19 vaccine delivery in South India.
    Through this partnership, the company will provide public healthcare systems in Bengaluru, Mysuru, and Chennai with an indigenously developed, innovative, portable cold-chain transport device for efficient vaccine delivery, a joint statement said.
    This C-CAMP-supported innovation integrates an emerging technology in cold chain with easy accessibility and operability features that can address the critical issue of last mile vaccine spoilage due to thermal degradation in commonly used iceboxes.
    "Our partnership with Hitachi ABB Power Grids in India will help deploy an innovative new cold chain device to plug this enormous gap, ease logistics pressures and ensure 100 percent vaccine efficacy," C-CAMP CEO & Director Taslimarif Saiyed said.
    Having already made some inroads in remote locations of North-eastern India with the technology, the CSR grant received from Hitachi ABB NSE 2.01 % Power Grids in India will help C-CAMP introduce it to urban, semi-urban and rural primary healthcare centres in Southern India.
    As a part of this project, C-CAMP will facilitate deployment at government health departments of Bengaluru, Mysuru, and Chennai over next six months.
    GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
    Singapore startup Carro turns Unicorn with $360 Mn funding; also eyeing IPO
    Singapore startup Carro has raised $360 million in its latest funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund II.
    The Southeast Asian online automotive marketplace has raced past the $1 billion valuation mark to become the region’s latest unicorn.
    "The valuation for the company is well over a billion dollars," Aaron Tan, founder and chief executive officer of Carro, told Reuters. Carro’s platform allows consumers and wholesale businesses to buy and sell vehicles along with providing insurance and financing services.
    Since being founded in 2015, Carro has raised more than $400 million in equity and $200 million in debt. Its previous investors include SoftBank Ventures Asia, EDBI Pte, Insignia Ventures Partners and B Capital Group, as per Reuters.
    The company will use the fresh funds to expand into new locations and grow its business in its existing markets — Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. It also plans to expand its portfolio of financial services and accelerate development of artificial intelligence capabilities.
    The firm also has plans for an IPO in the next 18-24 months in the United States.
    EU court backs national data watchdog powers in blow to Facebook, Big Tech
    In a setback for companies such as Facebook, Europe's top court has endorsed the power of national data watchdogs to pursue big tech firms even if they are not their lead regulators,
    As per Reuters, the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) ruling could encourage national agencies to act against U.S. tech companies such as Google, Twitter and Apple, which all have their European Union headquarters in Ireland.
    Many national watchdogs in the 27-member European Union have long complained about their Irish counterpart, saying that it takes too long to decide on cases. Ireland has dismissed this, saying it has to be extra meticulous in dealing with powerful and well-funded tech giants.
    The CJEU got involved after a Belgian court sought guidance on Facebook's challenge against the territorial competence of the Belgian data watchdog's bid to stop it from tracking users in Belgium through cookies stored in the company's social plug-ins, regardless of whether they have an account or not.
    Under landmark EU privacy rules known as GDPR, Facebook faces oversight by the Irish privacy authority because it has its European head office in Ireland.
    Google revamps Workspace to rival Microsoft, embrace WFH : Report
    Google has revealed a series of updates to its Workspace productivity suite in an effort to better compete with rival Microsoft products, as per Bloomberg News reports.
    These include new features for free users, a paid plan for entrepreneurs and fresh capabilities for its Meet videoconferencing system ‘Workspace for Everyone’, will extend the collaboration tools that corporate users receive to non-paying consumers, Google said a series of blog posts.
    Google will also offer a tier called Workspace Individual designed for entrepreneurs, which extends premium features of the software to small businesses, and it has upgraded Meet for a hybrid work.
    The effort helps “make the location of work less relevant, assists in the idea that people should be able to work and do what they need to do regardless of where they are and the device they’re using,” Javier Soltero, vice president and general manager of Google Workspace told Bloomberg.
    Workspace, which includes the popular email service Gmail, is now used by more than 3 billion users, Google told Bloomberg. Still, not all of its component applications are equally popular.
    For more than a year, the internet giant has loaded Meet with more features to catch up to videoconferencing leader Zoom Video Communications Inc. Google also lags behind in workplace collaboration and chat tools, a space where Microsoft Teams and Slack Technologies have excelled.
    As per the report, Google will let everyone use Chat, its alternative to Teams and Slack, which had been available only for paying customers. While the app is currently subdivided into “Rooms” where individuals message one another, they will be replaced by “Spaces”. Spaces will become a communications hub, where groups of users can email, instant message, begin a Meet call and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets.
    Google dangles paid upgrade to businesses using Gmail addresses
    Google has unveiled an option for small businesses to upgrade their Gmail accounts for greater calendaring, video chat and email newsletter functionalities.
    Google Workspace Individual, which starts at $7.99 monthly including a temporary $2 discount, adds to the company’s expanding efforts to have users subscribe to some of its services such as YouTube and Google Photos in exchange for more support and features than are available for free. Subscription sales could help Google grow revenue beyond advertising.
    The small-business offering compares with existing plans aimed at larger organizations that have their own websites to use in email addresses. Javier Soltero, vice president for Google Workspace, told Reuters.
    Those that upgrade for appointment booking, newsletter production and other tools should be able to provide a more professional experience to clients, he said. Workspace Individual will launch soon in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and Japan.
    Disney CEO says 40% of upfront ad sales went to streaming or digital
    Walt Disney Co’s advertising revenue for the upcoming fall television season rose by “double-digits” from the levels of 2019 before the global pandemic, Chief Executive Bob Chapek told Reuters.
    Nearly 40% of sales during the “upfront” sales period went to streaming or digital ads, Chapek said at Credit Suisse’s virtual Communications Conference.
    Crypto sees second week of outflows: CoinShares
    Cryptocurrency investment products and funds saw outflows for a second straight week, Reuters reported. Ether posted record outflows as institutional investors took a step back, data from digital asset manager CoinShares showed.
    Total crypto ouflows hit $21 million for the week ending June 11. Since mid-May, total outflows reached $267 million, representing 0.6 percent of total assets under management (AUM).
    Ether, the token used in the Ethereum blockchain, posted its largest outflow last week of $12.7 million, data showed. The token has been one of the strongest performers this year. But CoinShares said ether inflows last week were mixed,”implying mixed opinions among investors.”
    Bitcoin also rose above $40,000 on Monday following tweets from Tesla boss Elon Musk, who said Tesla sold the currency but may resume transactions using it.
    While bitcoin is currently trading 36 percent below its 11-year exponential trend, Dan Morehead, co-chief investment officer at Pantera Capital, said in his Blockchain Letter on Monday that investors should resist the urge to close positions and instead go the other way if they have the emotional and financial resources to do so.
    Grayscale, the largest digital currency manager, raised its AUM to $33.04 billion last week, from $30.3 billion the previous week. CoinShares, the second-biggest digital asset manager, saw AUM slip to $3.8 billion, from nearly $4 billion the week before.
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