A closer look at today's startups news and everything you need to know.
#1. Toppr raises Rs 350 crore in Series D from Foundation Holdings
After-school AI based learning app for K12 students, Toppr raised Rs 350 crore in Series D funding led by global investment firm, Foundation Holdings. Aakash Sachdev, managing director of Foundation Holdings will join the board of Toppr. Other long-time partners including Kaizen Private Equity also participated in this latest funding round and with this, Toppr’s cumulative funding amounts to Rs 700 crore. The venture will use these funds to fuel its adaptive AI learning platform with over 1.3 crore registered students and to launch new platforms for Coding and Schools.
#2. BulBul raises $8.7 million in a funding round led by internet company Info Edge
Video and live stream led commerce platform BulBul raised $8.7 million in a funding round led by internet company Info Edge. While Info Edge has invested $6.33 million through its IE Venture Fund I, the balance amount has been raised from existing investors in BulBul, including Sequoia and Leo Capital. As part of the agreement, Info Edge will acquire 416 ordinary shares and 2002 Series A Preference Shares, through a mix of primary and secondary mode of acquisition. The investment means that Info Edge has a 17.82 percent stake in the company.
#3. OYO’s Ritesh Agarwal launches Aroa Ventures to bet on growth-stage businesses
OYO’s group chief executive Ritesh Agarwal has set up a new investment entity Aroa Ventures that will focus on growth-stage businesses in the consumer, technology and leisure infrastructure sectors. Aroa Ventures is sponsored by RACo holding company and according to its official website, this is a Singapore-based entity. This investment arm is looking to invest anywhere between invest between $500,000 and $5 million. Along with Ritesh, Gaurav Gulati who was part of the founding team and COO of Innov8 Co-working, which was acquired by OYO, will be heading Aroa Ventures.
#4. A month since Chinese app ban, domestic apps added millions of active users, millions in VC funding
It’s been a month since India banned 59 Chinese apps on June 29 citing national security concerns, including the likes of TikTok, CamScanner and ClubFactory. The ban gave a shot in the arm to the domestic players in these segments, such as ShareChat, which has seems a a 3x jump in daily active users, as well as for newer startups in the video-sharing space, such as Mitron and Chingari, which have added millions of new users.
#5. Myntra expands its overseas footprint, launches home-grown private labels in the Middle East
Flipkart backed fashion marketplace Myntra is expanding its international presence and has launched its private label Myntra Fashion brands in the Middle East. The company has partnered with the leading regional ecommerce platforms, UAE-based conglomerate Emaar group’s Noon & Namshi. Over 75 percent of the styles being exported by Myntra to these markets are developed in India. With this move, Myntra is largely betting on casual wear categories, which form a major portion of the business in its domestic market. According to Myntra, this shift in trend is propelled by a considerable change in lifestyle, owing to the ongoing pandemic.
#6. COVID-19: Uber, Bajaj Auto tie up to install safety partitions in 1 lakh auto-rickshaws
Uber and Bajaj Auto have partnered with auto drivers to install safety partitions just behind the driver seat in 1 lakh autos across the country. This will act as a protective barrier for restricting contact and to facilitate social distancing between drivers and riders for making travel safer in the new normal, according to a joint statement issued by the two companies.
Safety kits consisting of face masks, hand sanitisers and vehicle disinfectants will also be distributed to 1 lakh auto-rickshaw drivers across 20 cities including New Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mysuru and Madurai, among others. Additionally, Uber has been leveraging its technology to provide drivers mandatory training modules via its app on correct usage of PPE and sanitisation protocols for their vehicles.
#7. Paytm Money appoints Varun Sridhar as CEO
Online investment and wealth management platform Paytm Money appointed Varun Sridhar as the new chief executive officer. He will lead the launch and development of the equity brokerage other than growing the already successful mutual funds, NPS and Gold services. Under his leadership, the company will continue to simplify, innovate, and bring wealth management products to millions of Indians. He will be reporting to Amit Nayyar, president at Paytm. It also announced that Amit Kapoor has joined as the new chief financial officer and vice president for the company. Prior to this role, he was working with Aviva India as CFO of the life insurance company.
#8. Softbank backed ClimaCell raises $23 million in Series C funding
Softbank-backed ClimaCell raised $23 million in Series C funding. Pitango Growth and existing investor Square Peg Capital co-led the investment round.
With this new round, US-based weather intelligence startup’s, total funding now exceeds $100 million.
"Expect big things from ClimaCell in the coming weeks and months. Whether you are an individual who is planning your precious outdoor time or an organization whose bottom line or safety is continuously impacted and at risk due to weather, ClimaCell’s platform is agile and *immediately* solves your needs with insights and automation, backed by AI and our underlying proprietary weather technology," said Shimon Elkabetz, CEO of ClimaCell in a blog post.
#9. Top tech CEOs testify
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent Alphabet, are set to testify before the House Antitrust Subcommittee in the US Congress today. The hearing aims to determine whether these tech companies have abused their power and dominance in the online marketplace.
According to most reports, Bezos will be questioned about Amazon’s role as both a retailer and a platform hosting third-party sellers on its marketplace. Apple has been accused of its control and curation of its popular app App Store to block rivals and to force apps to pay high commissions. Facebook will be questioned on the company’s acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. Questions about Google tend to center on whether it favors its own products or suppresses competing options through its dominance in search and digital advertising.
The tech bosses released their opening remarks ahead of the testimony:
Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai’s focus is Google's digital advertising business:
"A competitive digital ad marketplace gives publishers and advertisers, and therefore consumers, an enormous amount of choice. For example, competition in ads — from Twitter, Instagram, Comcast and others — has helped lower online advertising costs by 40% over the last 10 years, with these saving passed down to consumers through lower prices," he said.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg focus is on Facebook’s acquisitions Instagram and WhatsApp:
"Facebook has made Instagram and WhatsApp successful as part of our family of apps. Instagram and WhatsApp have been able to grow and operate their services using Facebook’s bespoke, lower-cost infrastructure and tackle spam and harmful content with Facebook’s integrity teams and technology," he said.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook will focus on its App Store to block rivals and to force apps to pay high commissions:
"Clearly, if Apple is a gatekeeper, what we have done is open the gate wider. We want to get every app we can on the store, not keep them off. Apple’s commissions are comparable or lower than commissions charged by the majority of our competitors. And they are vastly lower than the 50 to 70 percent that software developers paid to distribute their work before we launched the App Store," he said.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will focus on “strikingly large” global retail market and the hundreds of thousands of jobs the e-commerce giant has created over the decades:
"Every day, Amazon competes against large, established players like Target, Costco, Kroger, and, of course, Walmart — a company more than twice Amazon’s size. And while we have always focused on producing a great customer experience for retail sales done primarily online, sales initiated online are now an even larger growth area for other stores," he said.