There were several important developments during the day on Monday. Here’s a wrap of the top stories from the startup universe.
Ola to start doorstep delivery of oxygen concentrators to consumers
Ola Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Ola, has partnered with GiveIndia to provide consumers with oxygen concentrators, joining the growing roster of companies contributing towards relief efforts amid the deadly second wave of the COVID pandemic. The service, which will be provided for free through the Ola app, service will start rolling out in Bengaluru from this week with an initial set of 500 oxygen concentrators.
Ola and GiveIndia will scale it up across the country with up to 10,000 concentrators in the coming weeks, a statement said. Consumers request for an oxygen concentrator from the Ola app by providing a few basic details. Once submitted, the request will be validated and Ola will then pick up the concentrator via one of its cabs with a specially trained driver and bring it to the consumer’s doorstep.
Once the patient has got better and no longer requires the concentrator, Ola will pick the device back up and return it to GiveIndia to get it ready for the next patient who needs it. ”We must come together and help our communities during these unprecedented times. We hope this initiative brings much-needed support during these very difficult times and helps in mitigating the pain and the anxiety among those impacted, Ola Chairman and Group CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said.
BharatPe raises Rs 50 crore debt from Northern Arc
Fintech major BharatPe has raised Rs. 50 crore in debt from Northern Arc Capital. This round comes on the back of the company raising Rs 200 crore via debt from Alteria Capital, InnoVen Capital and Trifecta Capital. It later raised additional capital from ICICI Bank and Axis Bank. This is the sixth round of debt financing for BharatPe in 2021. The fintech company has raised about $300 million in equity and debt till date. The company counts Coatue Management, Ribbit Capital, Insight Partners, Steadview Capital, Beenext, Amplo and Sequoia Capital amongst it investors.
Suhail Sameer, Group President of BharatPe, said, "We have considerably ramped up our lending business in the last year and have set an ambitious target of facilitating disbursals to the tune of $1 billion to 10 lacs+ merchants by the end of current fiscal (FY22)."
"We are excited about our latest capital raise from Northern Arc and are confident that, together, we will be able to transform Bharat and serve the needs of the underserved businesses in India. As we aggressively build this vertical and roll out products in the secured lending space, we will continue to partner with institutional debt providers to help empower millions of small merchants in India."
BharatPe works with over 60 lakh merchants across 100 cities. It processing 10 crores+ UPI transactions per month, with an annualized Transaction Processed Value of $10+ bn, a company statement said. BharatPe has disbursed loans over Rs 1,600 crores to its merchants since launch. Its POS business processes payments of over Rs 1,200 crores a month as per the company.
FuelBuddy acquires MyPetrolPump in an all-cash and stock deal
Fuel delivery startup FuelBuddy has acquired Bengaluru-based on-demand fuel delivery startup MyPetrolPump, a venture owned by ANB Fuels, in a cash and stock deal, Mint reported.
FuelBuddy is an app-based tech-enabled platform that provides doorstep fuel delivery along with value-added services. On the other hand, MyPetrolPump is a first-of-its-kind on-demand fuel delivery service in India. It attempted to solve refuelling problems faced by owners of diesel generators and stationary equipment. FuelBuddy focuses more on the bulk fuel category while MyPetrolPump deals in the non-bulk category.
The acquisition provides FuelBuddy with access to newer geographies, customers and management bandwidth making it the largest and the most diversified doorstep fuel delivery platform in the country.
Sitics Logistic Solutions acquires Quifers
Sitics Logistic Solutions has acquired logistics tech startup Quifers with an aim to revolutionizing logistics and developing disruptive technologies, the company said.
As per the deal, Sitics will acquire a majority stake in Quifers for an undisclosed sum.
Full-stack e-commerce enablement startup ANS Commerce acqui-hires a software development firm Asterro
Ecommerce enablement startup ANS Commerce has acquired software development firm Asterro for an undisclosed amount, the firm said.
Asterro is focused on building B2B Cloud ERP products across multiple platforms – web and mobile.
Ether bursts past $4,000, other cryptos firm
Cryptocurrency ether broke past $4,000 on Monday, climbing to a new peak for a third session in a row on bets it may find new uses, lifting other digital currencies in its wake.
Bitcoin hit a three-week high and one-time parody currency dogecoin steadied, arresting a sharp drop after comments from Tesla chief Elon Musk sent it tumbling on Sunday.
Ether, traded using the ethereum blockchain, was last up around 6% for the day on the Binance exchange where it hit $4,119 around midday in Asia. Bitcoin rose to $59,603 and dogecoin steadied around $0.54.
Bitcoin has doubled, ether has soared more than fivefold this year and dogecoin more than a hundredfold as a euphoric mood has spilled over from bitcoin into other crypto assets.
“I think (crypto has) got a lot more institutional involvement than people who haven’t followed the market believe,” said Chris Weston, head of research at brokerage Pepperstone, pointing to sizeable weekend liquidity.
“And everyone’s been in ethereum. It’s not a meme joke coin, it actually has some application use,” he added, referring to its role in the rise of non-bank facilitated transactions.
The ethereum blockchain has been recently upgraded, which traders think might make it a central player in a trend called “DeFi” or decentralised finance, where digital platforms chip away at banks’ dominance of financial transactions.
The sum of ether tokens in circulation is $477 billion according to CoinMarketCap, compared with $1.1 trillion for bitcoin and $69 billion for dogecoin.
Trade in dogecoin, launched as a joke currency with a dog mascot, has concerned analysts as it is mostly impossible to spend and gains are being driven by a speculative frenzy.
It fell by a third in Sunday trade after Musk, a crypto investor, described it as a “hustle” during a television appearance, but it seemed to find support after he tweeted that his SpaceX rocket company would accept it as payment.
“You really couldn’t make this stuff up,” Rabobank senior macro strategist Michael Every wrote in a note to clients.
“This is not so amusing for an SEC already flagging it will act on crypto, and watching Saturday trading...forget about space: this is a dog eat Doge world in the end.”
Clubhouse launches Android app as downloads plummet
Live audio app Clubhouse will begin introducing a test version of its app to Google's Android users in the United States on Sunday, the company said, in a potentially big expansion of its market.
The app, which spiked in popularity early this year after celebrity billionaire Elon Musk and others appeared in audio chats, has sparked copy cats from startups and larger rivals including Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.
It has been available only to users of Apple devices and by invitation. In some markets such as China, invitations were so sought after some were auctioned on online marketplaces.
But downloads of the app, one measure of popularity, have significantly fallen.
After peaking in February with 9.6 million downloads, that number fell to 2.7 million in March and then 900,000 downloads in April, according to Sensor Tower.
The drop has sparked questions about its long term viability and whether its success was owed in part to people spending more time at home during the pandemic.
The long anticipated Android launch is expected to reach more new users globally. The Android version will reach other English-speaking markets and then the rest of the globe days and weeks after the U.S. market beta launch.
Clubhouse, which created the category, now faces the likes of Facebook, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in April a slew of audio products, including Clubhouse-style live audio rooms and a way for users to find and play podcasts. read more
In January, Twitter Inc said that it will introduce a new feature to let users charge admission to their live audio chat rooms in its "Spaces" feature, as the company seeks to court more content creators. It has been available to Android users since March.
Self-driving truck startup Plus to go public through $3.3 bn SPAC deal
Self-driving truck startup Plus has said it would go public through a merger with blank-check company Hennessy Capital Investment Corp in a deal that values the technology startup at $3.3 billion, Reuters said.
The combined company will get proceeds of $500 million from the deal, including a private investment of $150 million. Investors in the deal include BlackRock and D.E. Shaw group, among others.
In February, Plus raised $200 million in a funding round, co-led by brokerage Guotai Junan International and private equity firm CPE, according to data from Pitchbook.
Founded in 2016, California-based Plus manufactures an automated driving system for heavy trucks, called PlusDrive, that can be installed on trucks or attached as a feature to trucks in production, according to its website.
Hennessy Capital Investment raised $345 million when it went public in January this year.
A SPAC is a company with no regular business operations but with a pool of capital raised through an IPO that it uses to take a private firm public.
Plus will list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "PLAV" after the deal closes in the third quarter this year.
Goldman Sachs was the financial adviser to Plus and Barclays Capital advised the SPAC on the deal.
First Published: IST