There were several important developments in the startup space during the week, which include Japanese tech giant SoftBank is all set to return to Flipkart with a $500-600 million cheque; ahead of plans of its Diwali listing plans, Paytm shares rally in the grey market; Urban Company turns unicorn, plans IPO in 18-24 months; logistics startup Delhivery raises $275 million ahead of its public offer; Tesla will bring Model 3 to India for testing from July-Aug as the company aims for year-end launch; Facebook hit with new anti-trust probes in the UK and EU. Here are the stories that hit headlines this week:
Softbank to back Flipkart 3 years after exit
Japanese investor SoftBank is set to return to Flipkart , three years after it exited the Indian ecommerce company when American retailer Walmart bought out the latter.
Sources tell CNBC-TV18 that SoftBank is now set to invest in the company again, and could hand Flipkart a large $500-$600 million cheque. SoftBank's funding could be part of a larger round of $2-$3 billion, sources said, which would value the ecommerce player at nearly $30 billion.
Flipkart was valued last year at $24.9 billion following a $1.2 billion funding from Walmart. The fresh round could also see the participation of several sovereign wealth funds, especially from the Middle East, which are also the limited partners at SoftBank.
The round could be seen as a pre-IPO funding as the ecommerce company is expected to move towards an IPO by next year, mostly in 2022, as per reports.
Flipkart and SoftBank did not comment to CNBC TV18’s query. Flipkart had late last year overhauled the company board ahead of its plans to go public, making high-profile entries and exits. CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy took a board seat starting 2021, while HDFC CEO Keki Mistry also joined the board. Among the exits from Flipakrt’s high-profile board are Steuart Walton, of the Walton family, which is Walmart’s founding family.
Urban Company turns unicorn
Tech-enabled home services marketplace, Urban Company joins the ‘Unicorn Club’ with $225 million Series F funding round. The Series F round was led by Prosus Ventures, Dragoneer and Wellington Management, with participation from Vy Capital, Tiger Global and Steadview. With this latest investment, Urban Company is now valued at $2.1 billion. The company told CNBC-TV18 that it plans a public offer in the next 18-24 months.
The latest round includes a primary capital infusion of $188 million and a secondary sale of approximately $67 million by select angels and early investors.
Urban Company will utilise the new investment towards innovation, training, product development, enhanced quality control and safety measures for both partners and consumers. The company also aims to increase its geographic footprint by entering the top 100 cities in India and further expanding into international markets.
Paytm's share jumps in grey market post IPO news
Within a week of the news of Paytm’s IPO plans, the company’s share price in the unlisted market has more than doubled, according to UnlistedArena.com, which facilitates investments in pre-IPO and unlisted shares.
The company’s share prices in the private market hit a high of Rs 22000 today from Rs 10000 before the IPO news broke. Most shares being sold by employees through their ESOP shares.
Grey market refers to the unofficial markets for IPOs where the share of a company is traded before they get listed.
Last week, CNBC TV18 had reported that Paytm's board gave in-principle approval to raise $3 billion through the IPO which is expected around Diwali. This will give the company a valuation of over $25 billion, a big jump from its current $16 billion valuation.
Nykaa to file IPO of $4.5 billion: Report
Beauty products retailer Nykaa is planning to go public later this fiscal at a valuation of $4.5 billion, reported the Mint. This is a significant increase from the company’s previous valuation of over $3 billion. The development comes as the beauty retailing startup has benefitted during the pandemic which led to a shift towards online sales.
As per the report, the IPO size remains unchanged at $500-$700 million. Nykaa will file its draft red herring prospectus by this June-end or early July, and the IPO should take off in the March quarter of this fiscal, report added.
“The public offer will be coupled with an offer for sale to provide an exit to existing investors. The price band is yet to be decided, but a 10-20% stake of the firm could be offered to the public for an adequate free-float," one of the sources told Mint.
Founded by investment banker Falguni Nayar, the company was one of 11 startups that turned unicorns in 2020.
Zerodha's profit at Rs 1,000 crore in FY21: Nithin Kamath
Online stock broking platform Zerodha’s profit more than doubled in the last financial year (FY21) to Rs 1000 crore, co-founder Nithin Kamath tweeted on May 30. Kamath’s tweets came on the back of a report that Zerodha’s board passed a resolution approving a salary of up to Rs 100 crore per annum each to Nikhil Kamath and Seema Patil.
“Firstly the reported figure isn’t the actual salary being drawn. This is an enabling resolution that allows us as working promoters to draw salaries up to the number in case of liquidity requirements. Didn’t anticipate that this would get this much attention”, Kamath tweeted.
The unicorn has made public its intention to use Rs 200 cr of its profits for a share buyback. The buyback will be at a valuation of $2 bn. The company also plans to invest upto Rs 1500 crore from surplus funds of the company in other businesses.
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% 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.
Artha Venture closes Rs 220 cr debut fund
Early-stage investor Artha Venture Fund has closed its debut early stage fund at Rs 220 crore. The fund will invest in over 15-20 companies.
“Over 50 limited partners participated in the fund. More than half of the investments came from family offices, and from over 20 listed companies which participated directly or through promoter entities. Non-resident Indians, ultra-rich individuals, super angels and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) invested the rest,” Artha Venture Fund said.
Artha Venture invests in business-to-business (B2B), direct-to-consumer (D2C) sectors and D2C enablers among others.
FUNDING THIS WEEK
Logistics startup Delhivery has raised $275 million in primary funding round, led by Fidelity Management and Research Company. The Series H pre-IPO round also saw participation from other public market investors, however, the firm did not disclose their names. The fresh capital will push Delhivery's valuation to over $3 billion.
B2B logistics optimization startup Locus raises $50 million in Series C funding led by GIC - Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund and Qualcomm Ventures. Existing investors Tiger Global, Falcon Edge also participated in the round. The funding also saw involvement of several angel investors including Amrish Rau, CEO of Pine Labs, Kunal Shah, CEO of Cred, Raju Reddy, founder of Sierra Atlantic, and Deb Deep Sengupta, former President & MD, SAP South Asia.
Mensa Brands has raised $50 million in its Series A round of funding. The funding was led by Accel Partners, Falcon Edge Capital, Norwest Venture Partners as well as prominent angel investors such as Kunal Shah, Mukesh Bansal, Rahul Mehta of DST Global and Scott Shleifer of Tiger Global. The company’s vision is to partner and invest in digital-first brands and scale them exponentially.
Rural fintech platform Jai Kisan has raised $30 million in debt and equity in Series A funding round led by from Mirae Asset. New investor Syngenta Ventures along with existing investors Blume Ventures, Arkam Ventures, NABVentures, Prophetic Ventures and a slew of angels, also participated. The debt was raised from Trifecta Capital and Stride Ventures.
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.
Group health insurance startup Plum has raised $15.6 million in Series A funding led by Tiger Global with participation from earlier investors Sequoia Capital India’s Surge, Tanglin Venture Partners, Incubate Fund and Gemba Capital. The round also saw the participation of a slew of angel investors including Kunal Shah Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh among others.
IIT Madras incubated, space tech startup, GalaxEye has raised a pre-seed round led by Speciale Invest. The company said new funding will be deployed to build technology infrastructure, prototype development and expand themselves in the space infrastructure.
Edtech startup Avishkaar has raised Rs 5 crore funding in pre-Series A round from Auxano and Mumbai Angels. Alok Mittal, angel investor & Co-founder and CEO, Indifi Technologies; and Varun Aggarwal, Co-founder, Aspiring Minds also participated in the funding round. The startup said it plans to use the funds for product development, expansion across Tier I and Tier II cities and hiring talent.
Conversation intelligence platform Convin has raised Rs 2.5 crore in a pre-seed round of funding led by Titan capital and 9Unicorns and several angel investors. The startup will use the funds to develop its products and build the core team to achieve product-market fit.
Aditya Puri joins PharmEasy ahead of IPO
Aditya Puri, the former CEO & MD of HDFC Bank, has joined the board of medicine delivery platform PharmEasy, and soon be chairing it, sources told CNBC TV18.
The appointment comes ahead of a blockbuster IPO planned by PharmEasy’s parent company API Holdings. “Aditya Puri’s vast experience will help scale up the company. Healthcare has huge potential and can grow as banks did in the country,” source told CNBC TV18.
PharmEasy declined to comment on the appointment. “As a policy, we don’t comment on market speculation,” it said in an emailed reply to Moneycontrol. Aditya Puri also did not respond to an e-mail query.
Induction of Aditya Puri and acquisition of Medlife is in the run-up to PharmEasy’s IPO. Sources suggest that the medicine delivery platform aims to list in Q4FY22 and expects over $5 billion valuation after the Medlife acquisition.
Tesla to bring Model 3 to India for testing from July-Aug; steps up hiring
Tesla India is stepping up efforts to ready its leadership team, set up its sales infrastructure, and bring in product to the country for a year-end launch. The world's most valued carmaker is looking to bring in Model 3 cars to India by July or August for testing, sources in the know told CNBC-TV18.
Backend work to get the product ready for sale before the end of the year is currently underway, as the cars will be brought in for testing, Automotive Research of India or ARAI approvals and for other compliances. To begin with, Tesla will go slow with installing its India footprint, as it'll look to test waters in the market beginning with major metros, and also attain better clarity with respect to regulations & schemes surrounding electric vehicle & battery manufacturing in India. Tesla will come up with company-owned showrooms in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi, while it may explore a franchise-based model for its workshops in the country.
At the helm of these affairs will be a senior leadership team which will operate out of Mumbai. At present, Tesla India is a six-member strong team, with the latest appointment being Samir Jain, as Aftersales Lead for the company. Earlier in March, Tesla hired former Ather Energy executive Nishant Nishant as India head for Charging Infrastructure. The EV pioneer also hired Manuj Khurana in March, who will oversee the policy & business development for Tesla in India. Chithra Thomas, a Human Resources executive with experience in global organisations such as Walmart has been recruited to the company as Country HR leader, and Vaibhav Taneja has been appointed Chief Accounting Officer
The six-member team is currently spread across Mumbai, Bangalore, and Delhi. Sources told CNBC-TV18 that the team will be expanded fairly significantly over the next couple of months, even as discussions to hire for other senior leadership roles are on.
Phone Pe has 300 million users now!
Walmart-owned digital payments platform Phone Pe has crossed the 300 million lifetime registered users milestone. In a statement, the company reported that 125 million monthly active users and an annualized TPV run-rate of over $390 billion in May. Phone Pe’s also has over 20 Million offline merchants across 11,000 towns and districts.
The company in a statement added that since March, Phone Pe has been clocking over one billion UPI transactions.
WazirX unlocks South Asia’s first NFT Marketplace
Crypto exchange, WazirX has launched a marketplace for Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). The platform will feature 15 creators hailing from diverse categories such as space 3D artists, digital artists, muralist photographers, canvas artists, street artists and visual artists.
The newly launched marketplace is currently in Beta phase and will empower artists, creators and collectors across India and abroad to create and trade unique digital assets that represent art, music, videos, collectibles, in-game articles among others, the company said.
The platform involves minimal gas fees, comes without any listing price, and is extending 50,000 WRX as bonuses for the community. WazirX will mint the NFTs on its parent company Binance's technology—one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world. Binance acquired WazirX in 2019.
RBI clarifies on cryptocurrency trading, asks banks to carry out customer due diligence
RBI has clarified that banks and other regulated entities cannot cite its 2018 circular on cryptocurrencies as it has been set aside by the Supreme Court in March, 2020. The central bank has directed banks to carry out the necessary customer due diligence process in line with regulations governing standards.
IAMAI-BACC to over self-regulation of crypto exchanges
The cryptocurrency industry is subjecting itself to self-regulation through Internet and Mobile Association of India. The Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BACC), a part IAMAI, is setting up a formal board to oversee the implementation of a self-regulatory code of conduct for crypto exchange members, reports suggest.
The self-regulatory code, which is already in place, includes voluntary compliance with anti-money laundering, combating against financing of terrorism, and know your customer regulations, and other company and taxation laws.
Xto10x acquires Dockabl
Flipkart’s co-founder Binny Bansal’s SaaS-based consultancy ‘xto10x’ has acquired HR tech startup Dockabl for an undisclosed amount. With the acquisition xto10x aims to strengthen its product suite, which includes OKR strategy to execution platform, employee sentiment analysis and engagement platform.
xto10x offers technology tools, learning and consulting services to startups, which are looking to scale up. The company has worked with over 150 brands including Cred, Licious, Meesho, ClearTax, Dunzo, upGrad, SuprDaily, Hopscotch and Sterlite since its inception.
Clovia brings on board former Victoria Secret’s CEO as advisor
Women's innerwear e-tailer Clovia has appointed Victoria's Secret former chief executive and president Sharen Jester Turney as an adviser to the company. Turney, who spent nearly two decades at the global lingerie brand, is currently a board member & advisor to several Global Retail & Technology brands and philanthropic organizations.
The company added that bringing Turney onboard as an advisor is in line with Clovia’s constant effort to bring international products and experience to the Indian consumer.
Byju’s & 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, 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 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.
Active Internet users to hit 900 mn by 2025: Report
The rapid increase in smartphone usage is leading to digital adoption in 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% growth in internet population.
The report suggests that even though the internet penetration in urban is more than 2 times that of rural regions, the usership in rural has been growing at a faster rate on a year-on-year basis. While internet users grew by 4 per cent in urban India -- reaching 323 million users (67 per cent of urban population) in 2020, digital adoption continues to be propelled by rural India, clocking 13 per cent growth to 299 million internet users (31 per cent of rural population) over the past year, according to the IAMAI report.
Google says new IT rules not applicable to search engine; Twitter appoints grievance redressal officer
India’s new IT rules that came into effect on May 25 continue to make headlines.
On June 2, Google moved Delhi High Court, contending that the new IT rules for digital media are not applicable to its search engine. In its plea, the internet giant said that the Delhi High Court, in its April 20 judgment, "mischaracterized" the search engine as a 'social media intermediary' or 'significant social media intermediary' as provided under the new rules.
The global tech giant has filed an appeal to set aside this part of the ruling and sought protection against any coercive action for non-compliance of the template or guidelines laid down by the single judge. The Court has issued notice to the Centre, Delhi government, the Internet Service Providers Association of India, Facebook, the pornographic site and the woman, on whose plea the single judge’s ruling had come. The court sought their responses to Google’s plea by July 25.
Meanwhile, Twitter appointed an interim grievance redressal officer for its Indian operations. However, it is not yet clear whether the other positions of a compliance officer and a nodal officer as mandated by the new IT rules have been filled yet or not.
Centre accuses WhatsApp of indulging in anti-user practices
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Facebook hit with new antitrust probes in the UK and EU
The U.K. and EU regulators have launched antitrust probes into Facebook on June 4.
The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority said it is investigating whether Facebook is abusing a dominant position in the social media or digital advertising markets through its collection and use of advertising data.
Meanwhile, Brussels said it was opening a formal antitrust investigation to assess whether Facebook breached EU rules “by using advertising data gathered in particular from advertisers in order to compete with them in markets where Facebook is active such as classified ads.”
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% 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.
Apple iPad Pro coming with wireless charging support
Apple is working on a new iPad Pro with wireless charging and a redesigned iPad Mini, reports Bloomberg News. The company is seeking to continue momentum for a category that saw rejuvenated sales during Covid19.
The company is planning to release the new iPad Pro in 2022 and the iPad mini later this year, as per reports.
The iPad became an increasingly key part of Apple’s portfolio over the past year. Reports suggest that sales of iPads jumped 43% during the last six months of 2020 compared with a year earlier. The gains continued in the first three months of 2021 when the tablets generated $7.8 billion -- a 79% increase from the same quarter a year earlier.
Bitcoin falls after Elon Musk’s ‘Trolling’
Bitcoin’s price fell Friday morning after Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted a tweet suggesting he’s fallen out of love with the world’s top cryptocurrency.
Reuters reported that, Bitcoin slipped 4% on Friday after Musk tweeted a meme about a couple breaking up, adding the hashtag #Bitcoin and a broken heart emoji.
Musk has previously said Tesla would not sell its bitcoin, but his tweets were enough to unsettle markets still fragile following May's crash.
Friday's fall pushed bitcoin below its 20-day moving average to $37,710, and took some of the edge off its week-to-date gains - though it has still climbed nearly 6 per cent to put it on course for its best week in about a month.
Coinbase to allow users to use card via Apple, Google wallet
Coinbase Global in tie-up with Apple and Google will now allow users to add cards from their accounts to the payment apps run by the two tech giants. The Coinbase card added to the wallets can be used to buy everyday goods with digital currencies, the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange said in a blog post.
The company said it will automatically convert all cryptocurrency to U.S. Dollars and transfer the funds to a customer's Coinbase Card for use in purchases and ATM withdrawals. It also said users can earn crypto rewards on their shopping when a Coinbase Card is used with Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Coinbase's move comes after PayPal said it would allow U.S. consumers to use their cryptocurrency holdings to pay millions of its online merchants globally.
Australia’s Nine signs deal with Facebook, Google
Australian broadcaster and publisher Nine Entertainment has signed multi-year content-supply deals with Google and Facebook under new licencing regime. Nine however did not disclose financial details of the deals, reports Reuters.
With this tie-up, Australia's three largest media firms now have deals with U.S. tech giants that had until this year fiercely opposed laws making them negotiate over the fees they pay for the links driving clicks to their platforms.
The owner of the Australian Financial Review and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers and the Nine free-to-air channel said it would provide articles and clips for Google's News Showcase platform for five years, and to a similar Facebook product for three.
Uber sees gradual return of drivers in the US
Uber drivers are gradually returning to its ride-hailing platform in United States, Reuters reported. This is leading to a modest decrease in passenger wait times as the company seeks to take advantage of a post-pandemic return in travel demand.
Uber said the week of May 17 marked a new record for drivers returning to the road since the start of 2021, with active driver hours increasing 4.4 percent from the previous week. Overall, 33,000 drivers joined Uber’s U.S. platform during the week of May 17. Most of them had stopped working last year over health concerns and a lack of customers.
Twitter testing full-screen ads in Fleets
Twitter will begin testing advertisements on its disappearing posts feature called Fleets, as it works to offer more options for advertisers.
As per Reuters, the social media company previously said it set a goal of doubling its annual revenue by 2023 from last year's levels, which it plans to achieve in part by selling advertisements on more parts of its site and mobile app.
Fleet advertisements will be the first on Twitter that appear full screen on phones, the company said.
The new offering is part of Twitter's aim to catch up to larger social media platforms like Facebook and Snap, which have long offered a "Stories" posts feature that disappears after 24 hours and is monetised with advertisements.
First Published: IST