There were several important developments in the startup space during this week. Here’s a wrap of all the startup updates of this week.
WhatsApp features will be 'limited' if you don't accept policy update post May 15
In its FAQ section, WhatsApp said its reminders will become more persistent over the next few weeks after the May 15 deadline.
Under the subhead 'What happens after I receive a persistent reminder?', the company said users will encounter limited functionality on WhatsApp until they accept the updates.
"You won’t be able to access your chat list, but you can still answer the incoming phone and video calls. If you have notifications enabled, you can tap on them to read or respond to a message or call back a missed phone or video call," WhatsApp said.
"After a few weeks of limited functionality, you won’t be able to receive incoming calls or notifications and WhatsApp will stop sending messages and calls to your phone."
WhatsApp is facing a probe by the Competition Commission of India on this policy update, with the anti-trust watchdog taking exception to the company's 'take-it-or-leave-it approach.
WhatsApp had announced a controversial policy update in January 2021, and said it would be compulsory for users to accept or their accounts would not work.
The policy update entails more sharing of data between WhatsApp, Facebook, especially on users' chats with business accounts on the platform. WhatsApp has been reiterating that the policy will not affect privacy of users' personal messages. The update was originally to come into effect on Feb 8, but was pushed to May 15 following a backlash.
In a statement on May 7, WhatsApp said that a majority of users who have received the new terms have accepted, and that it will continue to send reminders to those who have not.
"We’ve spent the last few months working to clear up confusion and misinformation. As a reminder, this update does not impact the privacy of personal messages for anyone. Our goal is to provide information about new options we are building that people will have, to message a business on WhatsApp, in the future. While the majority of users who have received the new terms of service have accepted them, we appreciate some people haven’t had the chance to do so yet.No accounts will be deleted on May 15 because of this update and no one in India will lose functionality of WhatsApp either.
We will follow up with reminders to people over the next several weeks. We’re grateful for the important role WhatsApp plays in people’s lives and we’ll take every opportunity to explain how we protect people’s personal messages and private information," WhatsApp said.
Groww to acquire Indiabulls MF for Rs 175 cr
Online investment platform to acquire Indiabulls Mutual Fund for a total consideration of Rs 175 crore.
The digital platform will acquire Indiabulls Asset Management Company (IBAMC) and the trustee company for Rs 175 crore, which includes a cash and equivalent component of Rs 100 crore, an official statement said, adding that the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.
The Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) and Portfolio Management Service (PMS) businesses will be demerged from the existing IBAMC structure, and remain under Indiabulls Housing Finance, it said.
The announcement comes months after capital markets regulator Sebi had allowed digital platforms like fintechs to enter the mutual funds business and Groww becomes the first fintech to enter the asset management space. Indiabulls Mutual Fund has 13 funds with the Quarterly Average Assets Under Management at Rs 663.68 crore as of March 2021, down from the Rs 921.33 crore in December 2021.
Selling the MF will help the parent Indiabulls Housing Finance''s capital position. Groww has over 1.5 crore customers who use the platform to invest in mutual funds, stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and wishes to increase the retail participation in equity, the statement said.
FuelBuddy acquires MyPetrolPump in an all-cash and stock deal
Fuel delivery startup FuelBuddy has acquired Bangalore based on-demand fuel delivery startup MyPetrolPump, a venture owned by ANB Fuels, in a cash and stock deal, the 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. Notably, FuelBuddy focuses more on the bulk fuel category while MyPetrolPump deals in the non-bulk category.
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.
Health and fitness platform Cure.fit renamed to Cult.fit
Health and wellness platform cure.fit has announced that it has renamed its brand name to cult.fit. The rebranding will be effective from 11th May and will be reflected across all channels, including its app and social media accounts, the company said.
>> In Funding News
-- Online payment business of e-commerce giant Amazon- Amazon Pay India has received fresh funding of Rs 225 crore. According to Tofler, the fresh investment has been made by Amazon Corporate Holdings Private Limited, Singapore and Amazon.com Inc Limited, Mauritius against 22.5 crore equity shares.
-- 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. 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.
-- SuperOps.ai, a professional services automation and remote monitoring and management platform, raised $3 million in fresh funding and formally launched its beta platform today. Elevation Capital and Matrix Partners India co-led the seed round, with participation from notable angel investors, including Kayako's founder Varun Shoor, Kovai.co's founder Saravana Kumar, Posist's co-founder Ashish Tulsian, and Livspace's founder Ramakant Sharma.
-- Deep tech AI startup, Myelin Foundry, has raised a pre-series A round of $1 Million led by Japanese VC firm, Beyond Next Ventures. The company was founded in January 2019 by Dr. Gopichand Katragadda, Ganesh Suryanarayanan and Aditi Olemann. Endiya Partners, who invested during the Seed stage has also been a part of the pre- Series A Fund Raise.
-- EdTech startup Ingenium has raised seed investment led by Lead Angels with participation from India Accelerator’s Angel Network, IAN, Faad Network, Hem Angels. The startup is going to utilize the funds in scaling its operations, strengthen its adaptive assessment technology, improve their product and expand team, the company said.
Flipkart to open 5 fulfilment centres for grocery business over next 3 months
E-commerce giant Flipkart said it is strengthening its grocery supply chain infrastructure across the country and adding over 800,000 sq. ft of space through five new fulfillment centres over the next three months, Mint reported.
With this additional infrastructure, the marketplace will bring ease of online grocery shopping to more users across the country.
Flipkart Grocery offers over 7,000 products across 200 categories, ranging from daily household supplies, staples, snacks and beverages, to confectionery, and personal care. Its grocery offering is backed by an intuitive user experience through voice-enabled shopping for groceries, credit offerings and open box deliveries.
With the current grocery fulfilment centre network spread across Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, among other cities, Flipkart serves close to 64,000 daily orders.
Last month, Flipkart also expanded its hyperlocal service ‘Flipkart Quick’ to six new cities—Delhi, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Noida, Hyderabad and Pune—to provide consumers access to order daily essentials such as fruits and vegetables and to enable 90-minute delivery.
Ola adds EV category in London
Ride-hailing firm Ola has launched a new ''electric vehicle'' category on its platform in London that will allow users to specifically book rides in a fully electric vehicle.
The category, called Ola EV, is a global first for Ola and will be available across London from May 13, a statement said. Over time, this will be rolled out to other cities around the world where Ola is operational, it added. The Ola EV category will cost riders the same as a comfort category on the Ola app, it said.
Ola EV has 700 drivers in London and this is expected to grow quickly over the coming months.
"This is the first step in a series of measures Ola will make over the coming months, detailing its commitment to green transport networks, zero-emission travel and further supporting the Mayor of London''s bold plans to improve air quality across the capital," the statement said.
To incentivise drivers to use the new Ola EV category, it will offer a zero per cent commission rate for the first three months for all-electric rides.
This driver-centric approach will help to significantly increase the number of fully electric private hire vehicles (PHVs) in use and will also empower riders with an additional green option for their travel needs, Ola said. Post the launch, Ola also plans on extending offers through key partnerships to provide affordable options for drivers and riders to shift to fully electric vehicles, the statement added.
>> Startups in the battle against Covid-19:
Agami launches Ruralindia.help to support COVID-19 relief in rural India
Law and justice startup Agami has launched ruralindia.help, a Covid-19 response tracker that aims to plug the information gap and put the spotlight on the work of thousands of rural initiatives across India. The ‘Rural Response App’ lists local organizations, initiatives and individuals whose relief efforts in small towns and villages need urgent support, these organizations form the first line of defence against the virus for India’s village population.
As the pandemic threatens to overwhelm the heartland, the collective aims to gather support for community based organizations so as to soften the impact on livelihood, education and of course health. The volunteers at ruralindia.help have created a verified list of initiatives across all major states of India. These organizations of frontline workers and social workers are seeking support for medical supplies, food, funeral services, vaccination and even livelihood.
Ola to start doorstep delivery of oxygen concentrators to consumers
Ola Foundation has collaborated 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 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.
Moglix sets up ‘Group Sharing Model’ for oxygen
B2B ecommerce startup Moglix has been supplying PPE, oxygen concentrators, oximeters, thermometers and more to essential goods and services companies to ensure their employees are protected. . The firm has supplied over 15 Million+ PPE and safety items throughout this pandemic, it said in a statement.
As hospitals struggle with bed and oxygen availability, the startup along with ACT has also developed a ‘Group Sharing Model’ that aims to increase the impact of every oxygen concentrator by 100X thereby reducing the burden on hospitals.
Using this model, Moglix is looking to enable organizations/ NGOs/Trusts/ RWAs to create oxygen concentrator banks for patients and providing a safety net for their communities. In the last 10 days, firm has provided Oxygen Concentrators to over 35 organizations with organizations like 1mg, Tata Steel, BCG, EY, Grant Thornton, Uber among others joining the ‘Group Sharing Model’.
Moglix is working with IIT startup Nocca Robotics to ensure indigenous ventilators are able to reach hospitals & people in need.
The company has also set up home quarantine & mental health counselling services, SOS task force team of volunteers, insurance cover & Covid care fund for its 1000+ employees.
MakeMyTrip Foundation launches community platform CoviRide for essential travel & medical assistance transfers
MakeMyTrip foundation has launched CoviRide, an open, peer-to-peer community platform designed to help individuals, organizations and larger community to seek and provide transport related assistance during this difficult time.
Available on mobile web and desktop coviride.com, the community platform aims to solve for one of the biggest challenges of finding transport options (intercity or intracity) including ambulance services for COVID-19 infected patients. Additionally, it helps user locate a ride to a vaccination centre, drive through oxygen centres, to and from the hospital and for medical equipment transfer such as oxygen cylinder, concentrator, medicines, among others.
Currently, the platform lists transport leads and sources in New Delhi, Ghaziabad, Noida, Gurugram, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Agra and will be expanding reach to other cities shortly.
BharatPe launches ‘Covid Vaccination Cashback’ to encourage Covid-19 vaccination for merchants
Fintech company BharatPe has launched the ‘BharatPe Cares’ initiative to create awareness about Covid-19 vaccination amongst its 6 million+ merchant partners and also encourage them to get vaccinated without delay. BharatPe is give its merchants a Rs. 300 cash back on scanning their vaccination certificate via the BharatPe app.
The company also announced the launch of a Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker on its app to facilitate relevant information on Covid-19 vaccination. By using this Vaccine Tracker, merchants can view details of the nearby Covid-19 Vaccination Centers, based on their location. In addition, they can choose to be notified when a slot is available in their chosen area.
OKCredit launches ‘co-aid.in’ a hyperlocal search tool to look for medicines and COVID-19 critical equipment in your nearby area
OkCredit has launched Co-aid.in to help people in distress discover verified leads for Covid-19 critical medicines and equipment. The portal provides real-time information on the availability of medicines pan India besides the contact number of the store for making enquiries. Users can search for availability by either entering the location name or the pincode on the portal.
The company is open-sourcing data of over 2 lakh pharmacy stores and businesses on its platform. These stores and businesses sell medical products and services such as Fabiflu tablets, oximeters, O2 beds, normal beds, steamers, antibiotics, zinc/vitamin, and oxygen used for treating Covid-19 patients. The data on oxygen and beds has been crowd sourced, whereas the data on medicines is from pharmacy stores on OkCredit’s platform.
Pristyn Care sets up ‘COVID-19 treatment centre’
To address the ongoing crisis arising from lack of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and medical professionals in the country, Pristyn Care - a healthcare startup has come forward to set up its first ‘COVID-19 Treatment Centre’ in Gurugram and aims to start its second treatment centre in Bangalore soon.
The Gurugram centre houses 60 beds which are well equipped with oxygen support, medicines and food with a dedicated round the clock medical team of specialist doctors and nursing staff. Patients getting treated can avail diagnostics services such as blood investigations and CT scans through Pristyn Care’s network of government approved labs.
OYO to move to a 4-day workweek, says CEO Ritesh Agarwal
OYO Rooms founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal announced on Twitter that the company would be switching to a 4-day workweek. The change in policy comes as the company focuses on improving the mental and physical wellbeing of its employees especially as the country is grappling with the worst surge of COVID-19 pandemic ever seen.
Agarwal said on Twitter, “Starting today we are moving to a 4 day work week but implementing it slightly differently, making Wednesdays off to let OYOpreneurs have a mid-week breather. We also launched a No Questions Asked Flexible Infinite Paid Leaves.”
In a series of tweets, Agarwal highlighted the importance of people having time for themselves and their family.
Agarwal also added, “Take off when you want, no need to log them, just let the manager know, no reasons needed, none asked. We are not going to stress about business impact and deadlines. We know work will not suffer, if anything OYOpreneurs will be more focused, efficient, and productive.”
His move for OYO comes at a time where there has been global discourse on employee wellbeing and a shift in work schedules as the world moves to a work-from-home and more worker-centric flexible mode of working. There have been countless research recently regarding the increase in productivity, along with benefits to the economy as a whole due to offices shifting to a 4-day workweek.
Twitter donates $15million for Covid19 relief
Social media giant Twitter has donated $15 million to help address the COVID-19 crisis in India which is battling the unprecedented second wave of the deadly pandemic.
Twitter CEO Jack Patrick Dorsey tweeted that the amount has been donated to three non-governmental organisations Care, Aid India and Sewa International USA. While CARE has been given USD 10 million, Aid India and Sewa International USA have received USD 2.5 million each.
Twitter’s move follows similar donations by tech giants Google and Microsoft.
In Global News,
Musk tweets, doge leaps and bitcoin retreats
Bitcoin was pinned near its lowest in more than two months on Friday and headed for its worst week since February, while dogecoin leapt by a fifth as tweets from Tesla boss Elon Musk sent the two cryptocurrencies on a wild ride, Reuters reported.
Markets have gyrated to Musk tweets for months since his interest in dogecoin sparked a hundred-fold rally in the previously ignored token's value this year, while Tesla's $1.5 billion bitcoin purchase helped it break past $50,000 in February.
Yet in an equally surprising U-turn he dented the world’s biggest cryptocurrency this week after announcing Tesla stopped accepting bitcoin in payment owing to environmental concerns, making investors uneasy about Musk’s influence on crypto prices. Bitcoin is down nearly 15% this week at $49,804.
Dogecoin is down about a third since last Friday, having tumbled after Musk referred to it as a “hustle” on Saturday Night Live. It then jumped 20% after his latest comments that he was involved in work to improve its efficiency.
"Working with Doge devs to improve system transaction efficiency. Potentially promising," Musk said on Twitter, vaulting dogecoin from about $0.43 to $0.52 on the Binance exchange.
It was unclear if Musk was referring to efficiency in terms of energy use, ease of use or suitability as a currency, said Mark Humphery-Jenner, an associate professor of finance at the University of New South Wales business school in Sydney.
Dogecoin consumes 0.12 kilowatt hours of electricity per transaction compared with 707 for bitcoin, according to data center provider TRG, but it is near impossible to use it to buy anything.
Almost worthless in late 2020, dogecoin is the latest darling of a frenzy gripping crypto markets that began last year as institutional investors announced big bitcoin purchases.
It has surged to become the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Second-biggest cryptocurrency ether has also soared more than 400% this year. It last sat at $3,865, steady for the week so far.
The huge moves have begun to attract regulatory scrutiny, and a Bloomberg report on Thursday which said major exchange Binance was under Justice Department investigation in the U.S. added to some of the price pressure on cryptos this week.
Anti-monopoly fine pushes Alibaba to first operating loss as public company
China's top e-commerce platform Alibaba Group Holding posted its first quarterly operating loss since going public in 2014 due to a record anti-monopoly fine by the country's market regulator.
Its U.S.-listed shares fell nearly 3% in choppy trading, even as the company forecast strong 2022 revenue, betting that the pandemic-driven shift to online shopping will remain resilient, Reuters reported.
The outlook, however, was overshadowed by a regulatory crackdown in China that led to the suspension of a $37 billion IPO of its affiliate Ant Group and a $2.8 billion fine in April for anti-competitive business practices.
The fine led to a 7.66 billion yuan ($1.19 billion)operating loss in the fourth quarter ended March 31.
"The Penalty Decision motivated us to reflect on the relationship between a platform economy and society, as well as our social responsibilities and commitments," Chief Executive Daniel Zhang said in an earnings call.
Alibaba forecast annual revenue of 930 billion yuan ($144.12 billion) for the year ending March 2022, above expectation of 928.25 billion yuan.
Core commerce revenue rose 72% to 161.37 billion yuan in the fourth quarter. But growth at its cloud computing unit slowed to 37% to 16.8 billion yuan from 58% a year earlier, its weakest since at least 2016.
Alibaba said it was due to a top customer with a "sizeable presence outside of China" ending its business for "non-product related reasons."
Overall revenue rose to 187.4 billion yuan in the fourth quarter, topping a Refinitiv forecast of 180.41 billion yuan.
Alibaba's U.S. listed shares have fallen more than 30% since hitting a record high in late October when its founder Jack Ma delivered a speech in Shanghai criticizing China's financial regulators.
The sinking share price reflects investor anxiety over regulation, said Brock Silvers, chief investment officer at Hong Kong-based Adamas Asset Management.
"The company has faced rogue waves of regulatory risk, which now threaten the entire tech sector."
Amazon wins $303 million court fight in blow to EU tax crusade
Amazon won its fight against an EU order to pay about 250 million euros ($303 million) in back taxes to Luxembourg in another blow to competition chief Margrethe Vestager's crusade against preferential deals.
The bloc failed to show that Luxembourg had given the U.S. online retailer special treatment in violation of state-aid rules, the EU's General Court ruled on Wednesday.
The victory follows last year's landmark defeat for Vestager against Apple, which had contested an order that it pay 13 billion euros ($15 billion) in Irish back taxes.
Both Amazon and Apple were targeted by Vestager in a campaign to stamp out tax deals used by EU states such as Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to attract large companies.
SoftBank targeting IPO for payment app PayPay
SoftBank wants to list payment app PayPay, the CEO of its wireless unit said on Tuesday, as he seeks to illustate growth potential at Japan's No.3 carrier, Reuters reported.
QR code payment app PayPay has acquired almost 40 million users since launch in October 2018 through aggressive rebates as Japanese consumers shift away from cash.
"We want PayPay to IPO in the future so they will become independent... I don't think that would be too far out," said Junichi Miyakawa, who became chief executive of SoftBank Corp last month, at an earnings briefing.
The telco is seeking to convince investors of its ability to grow new business lines as the wireless market matures.
SoftBank is offering financial services via the PayPay app and plans to expand in Asia via chat app operator Line, which completed a merger with the telco's internet subsidary Z Holdings in March.
Longer term, SoftBank wants to focus on autonomous driving, Miyakawa said. The telco announced development of an autonomous driving platform with partner Toyota in 2018.
SoftBank said PayPay's gross merchandise volume, a measure of transaction volume, reached 3.2 trillion yen ($29.4 billion) in the year ended March.
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.
Amazon raises $1 billion sustainable bond for climate, social causes
Amazon.com Inc issued its first sustainability bond on Monday, raising $1 billion to invest in renewable energy, clean transport, greener buildings and affordable housing.
The world's biggest company joins a growing list of debt issuers tapping the market for green and sustainable bonds, which is swelling as asset managers come under pressure from their investors to advance environmental, social and governance (ESG) causes, according to Reuters.
Global green bond issuance reached a record high of $270 billion at the end of 2020 and could reach $450 billion this year, according to Climate Bonds Initiative.
The money raised through the sustainability bond is a fraction of the total debt Amazon issued on Monday - some $18.5 billion. The company said it forms part of a new Sustainable Bond Framework and will be spent on new and existing projects.
The projects include the acquisition of electric vehicles for transportation fleets, as well as e-bikes and other electric-powered alternative delivery vehicles, Amazon said. The framework also cited sustainable building projects, like using an all-electric heating and cooling system run on renewable energy in the company's new Arlington, Virginia, headquarters.
Amazon also said that it may use these funds for private equity investments in clean transportation and zero carbon buildings.
Amazon has pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and to power all its operations with renewable energy by 2030, as well as increase opportunities for under-represented groups in its workforce.
The decision to raise money to fund social projects comes Amazon fends off criticism for its treatment of its workers as its business boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As well as being castigated for poor health and safety practices during the early months of the pandemic, Amazon has also been criticised for illegally firing workers and pressuring staff not to form a union at one of its sites.
Amazon has denied these allegations and has said it supports employees' rights to criticize work conditions.