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Startup Digest: Zomato CEO reassures employees after stocks plunged, Good Glamm Group picks up majority stake in Organic Harvest, & Google Cloud to open new India office

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Startup Digest: Zomato CEO reassures employees after stocks plunged, Good Glamm Group picks up majority stake in Organic Harvest, & Google Cloud to open new India office

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Here are the top headlines from the startup space.

Startup Digest: Zomato CEO reassures employees after stocks plunged, Good Glamm Group picks up majority stake in Organic Harvest, & Google Cloud to open new India office
Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
Zomato shares hit 52-week low; I’ve been waiting for a bear market, Deepinder Goyal tells employees
Zomato shares nosedived to a 52-week low on Monday, plunging its market cap to $9.78 billion. The stock of the food aggregator slipped into double digits for the first time since making a strong debut on bourses BSE and NSE in July 2021.
“I have been waiting for a bear market for a long time now. That is when funding dries up for everyone and companies with the most solid team and execution rise to top," Deepinder Goyal, founder and CEO of Zomato told employees in an email reviewed by Moneycontrol.
"Let's continue executing, creating value, cutting costs and like always not look at the stock price," he added.
Goyal also said that even at $10 billion, the market cap of the company was higher than the its IPO valuation of $8 billion.
"This is the thing about stock market and public companies -- valuations can swing massively without any change in the fundamentals of the business depending on your macro economic factors like inflation, interest rates etc," he said in the letter.
"We had no control over our valuation going up from $8 billion in the IPO to $17 billion at our peak, and vice versa now," Goyal added.
Zomato’s shared plunged on the day when rival Swiggy announced a $700 million fundraise at a valuation of $10.7 billion.
Good Glamm Group picks up majority stake in Organic Harvest, to invest additional Rs 75 Cr
Content to commerce firm Good Glamm has acquired a majority stake in organic beauty and personal care brand Organic Harvest for an undisclosed amount.
Good Glamm will invest an additional Rs 75 crore in growing the brand. The transaction marks the foray of Good Glamm Group in the organic BPC category, according to a statement.
"Organic Harvest has predominantly been an offline first brand. Now, as part of the Good Glamm Group, Organic Harvest will be able to leverage the group's large digital audience," Good Glamm Group Group Founder and CEO Darpan Sanghvi said.
He added that Organic Harvest will have access to data-driven insights from the group's content platforms into what consumers are looking for along with a strategic approach towards influencer marketing with Good Creator Co's full stack of influencer marketing services and solutions to create meaningful campaigns with measurable ROI.
Sanghvi also said these campaigns will be integrated into Organic Harvest's product development engine to accelerate the creation, launch and marketing of products across the skin and personal care.
Organic Harvest has a current revenue run rate of Rs 75 crore and is targeting a revenue run rate of Rs 250 crore by March 2023.
Co-living startup Isthara acquires Letsmobility
Isthara Co-Living, a co-living brand has acquired Letsmobility, a software product engineering company.
Through this acquisition, Isthara aims to leverage Letsmobility’s private cloud-based microapps platform, Livet, to digitise operations and introduce advanced tech solutions in the fragmented co-living and institutional cafeteria sectors, the company said in a statement.
The acquisition of Letsmobility will enable Isthara to enhance their core technology by merging it with the proprietary machine learning framework developed by Letsmobility. The acquisition will also further enhance the discovery, safety, and service standards maintained by these smart food courts.
Currently, Isthara manages around 24,000 beds across Hyderabad, Bengaluru, NCR and Chennai, the firm added.
Housing.com partners with Loom Solar to provide solar rooftop solutions
Real estate portal Housing.com has tied up with Loom Solar to provide solar rooftop solutions for homes.
With the help of this innovative residential solution, homeowners can save up to 90 percent on their electricity bills, it said in a statement. The partnership aims at leveraging and augmenting the strength of both organisations for providing a one-stop solution to home owners for their solar needs.
Amod Anand, Co-Founder & Director, Loom Solar said, "We recently crossed 50,000 homes adopting rooftop solar systems and this tie-up with Housing.com takes another footstep towards addressing a bigger mission."
Housing.com has also tie-ups with Home Scape, My Sun and Solar Square for providing solar rooftop solutions. In addition to Solar Rooftop, Housing.com has launched multiple services in the last one year including pay rent, online rent agreement, home loans, home interiors, packers & movers, rental furniture, property management, home inspection and legal services.
Edtech startup Hero Vired partners with Text & Clicks Academy
Edtech company Hero Vired has announced a partnership with Text & Clicks Academy to upskill existing, retiring and retired armed forces personnel.
The partnership offers training and placement in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Data Science on a larger scale, the company said in a statement.
This collaboration is aimed to provide good employment opportunities to allow officials to transition into corporate jobs with ease, creating alternate avenues for employment upon retirement, it added.
Hero Vired for Business will leverage its industry partner network to guide learners through orientation sessions and masterclasses to help them get through placement. Along with MITx certification, Hero Vired will also offer internships and job placements at reputed corporates and start-ups, thereby ensuring a seamless transition into this age of automation.
ReadyAssist plans to invest $8M to set up EV stores
ReadyAssist plans to invest $8 million (around Rs 60 crore) in one year to augment electric vehicles infrastructure in the country.
As part of the initiative, the company plans to set up phygital stores (physical stores augmented by digital capabilities) under brand name GRID in 200 prime locations across top ten cities in the country, it said in a statement.
The company noted that GRID will have in-house quick service kiosk, battery swap facilities, EV charging infrastructure for both two and four-wheelers. The company already has thousands of mechanics upskilled on EV capabilities to service its road-side assistance (RSA) and annual maintenance contract (AMC) customers across India.
The new service aims to extend roadside emergency assistance to the EV segment along with strengthening EV charging/swapping infrastructure.
Pencilton launches debit card with NCMC for teens
Teen-focused fintech startup Pencilton has launched PencilCard, a debit card with NCMC for in partnership with Transcorp.
PencilCard is an NCMC-compliant (National Common Mobility Card) RuPay debit card specially designed for the teenager segment, the company said in a statement.
For users, a single PencilCard will serve multiple needs as this debit card which works for online & offline payments just like any other debit card also doubles up as a metro card, and bus card - an all-in-one card, the startup explained.
The debit card can already work as a metro card for travel in Delhi (Airport line) & as a bus card in Goa (across KTC buses). It is also scheduled to be accepted for metro travel in Pune, Chennai & Mumbai as well as in BEST buses (Mumbai) very soon, the company added.
Google Cloud to open new India office later this year
Google on Monday announced plans to open a new office in Pune this year, that will hire professionals for building advanced enterprise cloud technologies.
Expected to open in the second half this year, the facility will hire people for Cloud product engineering, technical support and global delivery centre organisations.
The company said it has kicked off recruitments, alongside rapidly growing teams in Gurugram, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
"As an IT hub, our expansion into Pune will enable us to tap top talent as we continue to develop advanced cloud computing solutions, products and services for our growing customer base," said Anil Bhansali, VP of Cloud Engineering in India. The hires will be responsible for building advanced enterprise cloud technologies in collaboration with Google Cloud's global engineering teams, providing real-time technical advice, and delivering product and implementation expertise that customers turn to Google Cloud for as their trusted partner.
Google Cloud has hired some key industry people in recent months in India, including former AWS veteran Bikram Singh Bedi as Managing Director, Google Cloud India.
84% millennials have stepped up their wealth-management strategy to prepare for future: CASHe Report
More than 84% millennials across the country have stepped up wealth management to prepare for future contingencies while eyeing opportunities for stronger and sustainable growth in a post-pandemic world, according to a survey ‘Millennial Mood Index 2021’ by CASHe, an AI-driven financial wellness platform.
While the majority of millennials have become more cautious towards finances amid the pandemic, about 52% of the respondents said they have scaled up savings, 35% have purchased comprehensive health and life insurance plans while the rest have committed to more extensive investment programmes, the report highlighted.
38% of respondents have permanently shifted to shopping online amid the pandemic, while 17% still favoured the idea of physical shopping, 45% preferred a mix of both depending on what they wanted to buy, as per the report.
84% of Indian consumers feel like service is an afterthought: Zendesk Study
94% of Indian consumers make purchase decisions based on the quality of customer service they receive, according to Annual Zendesk Customer Experience (CX) Trends Report.
The report also highlights that 88% of Indian businesses agree that there is a direct link between customer service and business performance.
Customer expectations grew over the past year as 88% of Indian consumers say their customer service standards have increased over the last 12 months. Indian businesses recognize the need for having a standout customer service team, with 61% saying that it has an impact on retention. 65% of Indian companies expect funding for their customer service teams to rise by 25% in the next 12 months, the findings showed.
As per the report, while 73% of APAC consumers are open to product recommendations from service agents, 59.7% of agents in India are extremely satisfied with their workloads.
Indian businesses fared better in identifying customer service as a board-level priority compared to companies in Australia (44.9%), Japan (55.3%), Singapore (40.3%) and Korea (54.9%), where it is not owned by the C-suite, the report added.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Temasek to acquire Bridgepoint's UK-based testing firm for $7Bn, sources tell Reuters
Singapore's Temasek Holdings has agreed to buy Element Materials Technology for about $7 billion, as it sees an opportunity to boost growth at the testing and inspection services provider, sources told Reuters.
State investor Temasek, which acquired a significant minority stake in Element in 2019, is buying the company from London-listed buyout firm Bridgepoint Group, one of the sources said.
The buyout will be one of the biggest ever deals by Temasek and a rare controlling-stake transaction by the investor, which reported a 25% rise in its portfolio value to a record S$381 billion ($283 billion) in the year ended March 2021.
Bridgepoint acquired Element from British buyout group 3i for an undisclosed sum in December 2015. Element is one of the world's leading global providers of testing, inspection and certification services for a diverse range of products and technologies. It caters to clients in aerospace, industrial, energy, technology and other sectors.
WhatsApp to bring 2-step verification to desktop & web versions
Meta-owned WhatsApp is reportedly developing the ability to add two-step verification to its desktop app and web version.
According to WABetaInfo, WhatsApp plans to bring the two-step verification feature to desktop and web versions in a future update. A screenshot provided by WABetaInfo shows that the two-step verification feature can be enabled or disabled on the web and desktop version.
"It will be possible to enable or disable the two-step verification on the web/desktop client. This is very important especially when you lose your phone and you do not remember your PIN. You can restore it by requesting a reset link, but if you are temporarily unable to log into your mail account," adds WABetaInfo.
WhatsApp is also reportedly testing the possibility of allowing users to migrate chats from their Android device to an iPhone.
Apple extends in-app purchase exemption for online group events
Apple has once again extended its deadline requiring in-app purchases for paid online group events within iOS apps till June 30.
In 2020, Apple announced to support apps and developers that needed to adapt services from in-person to digital as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Specifically, it deferred App Store Review Guideline 3.1.1, which requires apps offering paid online group services to do so via in-app purchase.
Apple earlier temporarily waived its customary 30 percent App Store fee on in-app purchases for paid online events by small businesses on Facebook.
Amid the ongoing pandemic, Apple in April last year announced not to charge iOS apps providing online classes and group events until December 31, 2021.
The new guideline allows apps offering realtime person-to-person services between two individuals (for example, tutoring students, medical consultations, real estate tours, or fitness training) to use purchase methods other than in-app purchase.
WeChat denies Australia PM Scott Morrison's account was hacked
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's WeChat account has disappeared, prompting accusations of Chinese "interference" from senior members of his government.
According to AFP, Tencent, the Chinese tech giant that owns WeChat, has denied that the prime minister's account was hacked or removed from its platform.
"Based on our information, this appears to be a dispute over account ownership -- the account in question was originally registered by a PRC individual and was subsequently transferred to its current operator, a technology services company," a Tencent spokesman said.
Morrison's account on the Chinese social media app, which was launched in February 2019, appears to have been replaced with one titled "Australian Chinese new life."
Activist investor Blackwells Capital pushes Peloton to fire CEO
Activist investor Blackwells Capital wants exercise equipment maker Peloton Interactive to fire its chief executive and consider selling itself to a fitness or technology company, sources told Reuters.
The pandemic turned Peloton which offers stationary bikes and treadmills with livestreamed workouts from popular instructors into one of the market's hottest stocks, but the company's stock price has plummeted 84% in the last year.
Peloton is now valued at roughly $8 billion down from $50 billion at the peak of its popularity roughly a year ago.
Blackwells is blaming John Foley, Peloton's co-founder and chief executive, for strategic missteps including manufacturing strategies that have contributed to the sharp drop in the stock price and now wants the board to replace him, the sources said.
The investment firm, run by Jason Aintabi, is urging Peloton to sell itself to a company like Disney, Apple, Sony or Nike, one of the sources said.
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