There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Wednesday, which include Urban Company becomes 15th startup to turn Unicorn; B2B logistics optimisation firm Locus raises $50 million in Series C funding; Paytm's share jumps in grey market post IPO news; report says Nykaa plans to go public at a valuation of $4.5 billion; former CEO & MD of HDFC Bank, Aditya Puri, joins board of medicine delivery platform PharmEasy; Dunzo to pilot drone delivery of vaccines & medicines in Telangana; investment firm Egreens set up a fund for agritech startups; Twitter appoints interim grievance redressal officer; Amazon backs cannabis legalisation in the US; and Coinbase to allow users to use card via Apple, Google wallets. Here are the top stories from the startup universe.
Urban Company turns Unicorn
Tech-enabled home services marketplace, Urban Company joins the ‘Unicorn Club’ with $225 nillion 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 latest round includes a primary capital infusion of $188 million and a secondary sale of nearly $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.
“Urban Company strives to provide comfort and convenience at the doorstep of its consumers. Therefore, it has become the preferred option for all home services’ needs. It is the trust our consumers and 35,000 service partners have in us that makes Urban Company Asia’s largest home services marketplace. With this funding, we plan to rapidly scale our business while continuing to invest further in the safety of our consumers and service partners, training of partners and product development,” said Abhiraj Singh Bhal, Urban Company CEO and Co-Founder.
Urban Company currently has more than 35,000 service partners across 35 cities in India, the UAE, Singapore, Australia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Locus raises $50 mn in Series C funding
B2B logistics optimisation 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 the 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.
Locus will use the funds to enrich its geographical reach and building its research and development team. “Quality & patient capital allows us to focus on path-breaking R&D, helping us deliver exceptional long-term value to our customers, over incremental improvements. We will be recruiting more PhDs in our data science team and are looking to double our patents by 2022,” said Nishith Rastogi, CEO of Locus.
Locus was founded in 2015, the company offers advanced supply chain optimisation solutions to clients across sectors like e-commerce, retail, e-grocery, CPG/FMCG, home services, home deliveries, 3PL, transportation, and B2B distribution. Since its inception, Locus’s scalable solutions have resulted in $150 million-plus savings in logistics costs, 70 million-plus km reductions in distance traveled, and 17 million-plus km reduction in GHG emissions.
The company’s clientele includes Nestle, Mondelez, Unilever, BigBasket, Bluedart, Bukalapak, The Tata Group, and many others. Its base is in the USA, the UK, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Germany.
Paytm's share jumps in grey market post IPO news: Report
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 22,000 today from Rs 10,000 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, Mint reported. 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," Mint reported citing sources.
Founded by investment banker Falguni Nayar, the company was one of 11 startups that turned unicorns in 2020.
Aditya Puri joins PharmEasy ahead of blockbuster 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.
The 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.
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.
“Dockabl is an ‘easy and simple to use’ performance management tool for all organisations to adopt. Given the ease with which it can adapt into multiple design choices, the tool can become the preferred employee performance management tool for startups and enterprises alike,” said Saikiran Krishnamurthy, Co-founder, xto10x.
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.
Dunzo to pilot drone delivery of vaccines & medicines in Telangana
On-demand delivery platform Dunzo has partnered with Telangana government and will be piloting the delivery of vaccines and medicines via drones in the state.
Dunzo in a statement said it is leading a med-air consortium to conduct BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) drone delivery for the government’s 'Medicine from the Sky' project'. The project backed by World Economic forum aims at improving access to healthcare amid the pandemic.
The drone delivery system will focus on an end-to-end ecosystem for drone-based logistic transportation and utilise the existing logistics network of the state.
Phone Pe has 300 mn 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.
Sameer Nigam, founder and CEO of PhonePe, said, ''We are delighted to have crossed the 300 million registered user mark and remain grateful for the trust that so many Indians continue to repose in us.”
As per the company’s statement, Phone Pe at present is processing transactions from over 19,000 pin-codes of the country. And of these, most of the transactions are being done by users in Tier 2, 3 and 4 cities. “Phone Pe is aiming to get 500 million Indians to adopt digital payments by 2023,” said Nigam.
Egreens sets up funds for agritech startups
In a bid to help agritech startups, Investment firm Egreens has set up a fund worth Rs 15 crore. The fund will be used in innovative market linkages, artificial intelligence and machine learning in farming practices and the implementation of IoT (Internet of Things) across the supply chain.
The company has already invested Rs 15 crore in its own venture VegEase, which sells fruits and vegetables with its cart-at-home model. VegEase will use the funds to expand into the B2B space.
“We are looking at exciting startups that will eventually create forward and backward integration with VegEase. While VegEase is present in the B2C segment, we want to increase our footing in the B2B, B2B2C segments in diverse markets,” said Mayank Chaurasia, Founder and CEO, Egreens.
PayU launches loyalty rewards program
Digital payments solutions provider PayU has launched ‘Pay with Rewards’ initiative in partnership with twid, a reward points-based payment network. This initiative will enable customers to pay 100 percent of their purchases through rewards and loyalty points.
Consumers can use Flipkart SuperCoins, OlaMoney, TimesPoints, banks on NPCI’s nth Rewards platform, airline miles, bank reward points, and others, across different merchants, at checkout to settle their full bill amount, the company said. It will also allow merchants to access loyalty points of different brands worth Rs 4,000 crore.
Through this imitative, the company is expecting to increase average customer spend by up to 30 percent and repeat purchases by over 200 percent for the same merchant
Uber launches Rs 3.65 crore covid relief package
In a bid to support India's healthcare system hit by the pandemic, Uber has announced Rs 3.65 crore free rides package. This will include facilitating transportation of life-saving oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ventilators and other critical medical equipment.
In a statement, Uber claimed to have partnered with three other NGOs: American India Foundation; Project Mumbai and The Good Quest Foundation.
Uber will also continue to support ongoing vaccination drive where it has already pledged free rides worth Rs 10 crore for citizens travelling to vaccination centres.
300% rise in demand for home office furniture related deliveries: Loginext
SaaS Company Loginext has witnessed a 300 percent rise in demand for home office furniture related deliveries during the pandemic. In a statement, the company said, that the demand for living room seating, beds and matters have gone up by 50 percent.
As per the company, work-from-home culture during Covid-19 has fueled the demand for big and bulky goods on e-commerce platforms.
“Major retail outlets dealing in furniture, appliances and mattresses are adopting technology to enable online sales of items which were previously unheard of. Throughout the last year and from the onset of 2021, buying behaviour has drastically shifted and for companies to survive, adopting technology has been the only answer”, says Mradul Khandelwal, co-founder, LogiNext.
The company predicts that the growth of the e-commerce market will lead to this trend continuing even after Covid restrictions are lifted.
IAMAI-BACC for 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 the financing of terrorism, and know your customer regulations, and other company and taxation laws.
On Monday, RBI had 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 directed banks to carry out the necessary customer due diligence process in line with regulations governing standards.
Google says India's new IT rules not applicable to its search engine
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 judgement, "mischaracterised" the search engine as a 'social media intermediary' or 'significant social media intermediary' as provided under the new rules.
The company 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. In April, a woman appealed to remove her photographs, which were uploaded on a pornographic website by some miscreants. While issuing a slew of directions to deal with the complications in removing the content, the judge classified Google as a “social media intermediary” as provided under the new rules.
The Delhi High Court, however, said that it was not going to issue any interim order at this stage. The judges issued notice to the Centre, the 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.
Twitter appoints interim grievance redressal officer amid standoff with Centre
Twitter has 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.
The person appointed is Dharmendra Chatur, partner at a law firm that represented Twitter at the High Court. The new officer’s name has been updated on the website of the microblogging platform.
On May 31, Delhi High Court issued notice to Twitter after a petition alleged that the social media giant was not complying with the new social media rules which came into on May 25. However, government had then contested Twitter’s claim.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
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.
Zoom expects an upbeat revenue
Zoom Video Communications Inc has forecasted that its current-quarter revenue will soar beyond estimates. This as the work from home model is expected to drive steady demand for Zoom’s video conferencing tools.
Even as the video-conferencing platform became a household name since the pandemic hit but with rapid vaccination and life slowly returning to normal, analysts are skeptical of the sustainability of Zoom’s growth. This especially with rivals Microsoft, Cisco and Google giving Zoom a tough competition.
The San Jose, California-based company forecasted that the current-quarter revenue of Zoom will be in the range of $985 million to $990 million.
Coinbase to allow users to use card via Apple, Google wallets
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.
Amazon backs marijuana legalisation in US
Amazon has thrown its weight behind a proposed US legislation to legalise cannabis at the federal level, reported Reuters. The e-commerce giant has announced that it would drop weed-testing requirements for some recruitments.
Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon's global credit and logistics business, said the company will also no longer screen its job applicants for marijuana use for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation. Amazon is also tweaking its worker productivity tracking tool, "Time off Task”, Clark added.
Amazon was hit with a proposed class action suit, which claimed that the company was violating a New York City law by testing applicants for jobs at local facilities for marijuana, according to a Westlaw report.
UK regulator approves eBay’s ads deal with Adevinta
The UK competition regulator has approved eBay’s tie-up with Norway’s Adevinta, reports Reuters. The Competition and Markets Authority said in a statement it would not refer the acquisition or eBay's purchase of a minority stake in Adevinta to further investigation.
The two companies said in March they planned to sell three smaller British units in order to secure regulatory approval for a long-planned tie-up of their global classified ads businesses.
Adevinta in a statement welcomed the move, and said it targeted completion of the acquisition in the second quarter this year, subject to regulatory approval in Austria.
First Published: IST