There were several important developments in the startup space on Tuesday. Here’s a wrap of all the important news from the startup universe.
Here are the top stories from the startup universe.
Zomato to raise $560 million from anchor investors for IPO: Report
Ahead of its IPO, Zomato gets a strong response from global institutional investors for its anchor book. The food delivery platform garners almost half its issue size of around $560 million from institutional investors. Over 100 end investors will be allotted shares as part of the anchor book for its IPO. As per Moneycontrol, top foreign investors in Zomato’s anchor book include Baillie Gifford, BlackRock, Capital Research, CPPIB, GIC, T Rowe Price. Zomato is eying an $8.7 billion post-money valuation. The online food delivery platform’s IPO issuance is worth Rs 9,375 cr at a price band of Rs 72-76. The company’s IPO to be open from July 14 to 16.
Paytm board rejig continues
Former WhatsApp business head Neeraj Arora has rejoined the Paytm board as an additional director, as per RoC filings sourced from Tofler. Arora was on the Paytm board till 2018. The filing also shows a change to the Alternate director to Paytm board member Ravi Adusamalli of Elevation Capital.
Vivek Mathur has replaced Mukul Arora as the alternate director. Paytm had reshuffled the board last week, seeing the exit of Chinese nationals ahead of the IPO.
Aquaconnect raises $4 million in Pre-Series A round
Aquaconnect, a startup firm that works with aqua farmers has raised $4 million in pre-Series A round led by Rebright Partners and Flourish Ventures.
AgFunder and 6G Capital, along with existing investors Omnivore and HATCH, also participated in the funding round. The startup plans to use funds to strengthen its GIS-enabled fintech product development and accelerate the volume of exports flowing through the platform. It also intends to launch its Series A round in six to nine months, the company said.
Vah Vah! raises $1.85 million seed round led by Sequoia Surge
Vah Vah!, a vocational training platform, has raised $1.85 million in a seed round led by Sequoia India's Surge. The company is one of the 23 early-stage startups to make it to Surge's fifth cohort — its largest so far — that kicked off on June 30. Vah Vah! offers live cohort-based courses, and aims to impart vocational skills that can translate into job opportunities for the youth or help them start their own businesses.
Blockchain startup Arcana raises $375K
Blockchain startup Arcana has raised a seed round of $375,000 from Coinbase’s Balaji Srinivasan, Sandeep Nailwal and JD Kanani (Founders of Polygon), Kendrick Nguyen, (Founder and CEO of Republic), and other top angels in the crypto ecosystem. The seed fundraise also saw participation from strategic investors and some of the biggest innovators in the blockchain industry such as Santiago Santos (General Partner at ParaFi Capital, Kenetic Capital), AU21, and John Lilic, Siddharth Menon (Founder of WazirX), Aniket Jindal, (Co-founder of Biconomy) and Arcanum Capital. The firm plans to use the fresh funds to accelerate its product development, acquire talent and create a vibrant developer community.
BASF Venture Capital invests in UrbanKisaan
BASF Venture Capital GmbH (BVC) is investing an undisclosed amount in the Indian hydroponic cultivation startup UrbanKisaan. This is BVC’s (the investment arm of German chemicals major BASF) first investment in an early-stage business focusing on India. With this investment, UrbanKisaan plans to further expand its market presence, deploy its farming technology to work with thousands of farmers, and bring fresh, local, sustainable produce to urban dwellers. UrbanKisaan which operates in several suburban greenhouses and vertical indoor farms in Hyderabad and Bengaluru sells fresh produce, some of which is grown directly in the shops, in its franchisee-owned brick-and-mortar stores, and via an app and website.
Stellar Value Chain to invest Rs 200 crore in e-grocery supply chain
Tech-enabled consumer supply chain firm Stellar Value Chain plans to invest Rs 200 crore for setting up 25 fulfillment and sort centres pan-India to boost its e-grocery supply chain offerings this fiscal. Apart from this, the company will also invest in technology integration to enhance operational efficiency, it said in a statement. The company will also invest money into rolling out a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) to develop an EV-based transportation network to facilitate e-grocery delivery.
"Changed buying pattern of consumers and a sense of convenience has made e-grocery one of the attractive and highly competitive e-commerce segments. Our enhanced e-grocery supply chain will help companies develop a strong delivery backbone," said Anshuman Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, Stellar Value Chain Solutions. In addition, Stellar Value Chain Solutions has developed a module called Stellar Productivity Enhancement and Engineering Design (SPEED) to enhance the agility and efficiency of the grocery fulfillment centres by adopting advanced technology and automation.
SpaceX to partner with Indian cos?
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is planning to join hands with Indian companies to locally manufacture satellite communications equipment, The Economic Times reported. This comes as the company prepares to launch its high-speed Starlink satellite broadband service in India next year. The equipment that SpaceX is aiming to produce in the country includes antenna systems and user terminal devices.
On July 12, SpaceX held its first official interaction with Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary Anshu Prakash. The DoT had met global companies to discuss local manufacturing of satellite communications gear and ways to create an enabling regulatory regime for global low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation operators to establish in-country gateways, the report said. Along with SpaceX, officials from Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, OneWeb, Airtel, Viasat, Hughes, Department of Space, and TRAI were also present. Matt Botwin, director (market access with the Starlink program) said “SpaceX has always looked for opportunities to maximise its efficiency in its global supply chain and is now looking forward to working with its partners in India as it recognises those opportunities."
IIFL Securities Partners with WealthDesk to bring premium investment experience to Retail Investors
WealthDesk, an investment technology platform has partnered with IIFL Securities to offer a premium wealth management experience to over 2.2 million retail investors. This will be through curated WealthBasket stock and ETF portfolios from marquee Investment Advisory firms (RIA) such as Abakkus Asset Manager and Renaissance Investment Managers. WealthBasket is the flagship offering of WealthDesk. These are select investment portfolios, created and managed by SEBI Registered Professionals based on tenure, asset allocation, sector, theme, etc. These portfolios provide holistic Wealth Management on top of Equities & ETFs to retail investors, the company said in a statement.
With this partnership, IIFL Securities’ customers will now be able to invest in curated investment portfolios by using their broking credentials for a seamless wealth management experience. IIFL Securities aims to achieve Rs 600 crores Assets Under Advisory (AUA) in 12 months for RIA managed WealthBaskets on the WealthDesk platform. WealthDesk recently closed a pre-series A funding at $3.2 million and is backed by Mathew Cyriac, Founder of Florintree Advisors and Ex Blackstone Partner and co-head of India PE.
Locus integrates with ServiceNow to enable route optimisation services
Logistics startup Locus has integrated with ServiceNow Field Service Management to enable route optimization services that can help streamline the operations of field service agents. With this integration, end customers can now pick their preferred appointment time for service in ServiceNow Field Service Management. The integration with Locus will then allocate the task to the best field service agent with the right skill sets and tools for that task and also determine the most efficient street-level routing plan for each technician, the company said in a statement. Locus, which recently raised $50 million in Series C funding led by GIC, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, with participation from Qualcomm Ventures LLC and existing investors Tiger Global and Falcon Edge, uses deep machine learning and proprietary algorithms to offer smart supply chain solutions to customers.
Logistics firm Shiprocket launches fulfillment centres
Tech-driven logistics platform Shiprocket has announced the launch of new fulfillment centres across major hubs to expand one- and two-day delivery capabilities. The company also said it is looking to add five more similar facilities to the existing network by the end of this year. The setting up of the new warehouse hubs at Jaipur, Surat, and Guwahati will boost the storage capacity to 35,000 orders per day with a storage capacity of 1.5 million units, the company said. Shiprocket already has fulfillment centres in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Gurgaon. The company has increased its capacity to process 35,000 orders per day, with a storage capacity of 1.5 million units. At present, 20% of the orders have been delivered within a day and 45 percent of them delivered within two days, as per the company. With the launch of three new warehouse hubs, Shiprocket has become the first platform in the D2C enablement sector to do so, it said.
India’s UPI reaches Bhutan
India's UPI is set to be embraced by its neighbouring country Bhutan. As per reports, NPCI International Payments, the international arm of National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI), has partnered with the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) of Bhutan to implement QR-based UPI payments in the country. The service will enable payments through the Indian government's BHIM app. With the new launch, Bhutan will become the first country to adopt UPI standards for its QR deployments. The country already accepts and issues India's RuPay cards.
82% of students across grade 7-10 are fearful of Math: Cuemath survey
Cuemath, an after-school live-class program in Math, today published its findings of a survey report which reveals that around 82% of students between Grade 7 -10 fear math. The survey explored the key factors spread across perception, performance and confidence for mathematics. With a sample size of 1,600 non-Cuemath students, the survey showed a rising disconnect between students and their learning of mathematics. There are several reasons for the disconnect, the core being the redundancy of conventional teaching. Coupled with it, homeschooling during the pandemic has added to student woes, resulting in loss of interest and fear of mathematics at a critical juncture of their lives.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
France fines Google 500 million euros over a copyright row
France's antitrust watchdog has slapped a 500 million euro ($593 million) fine on Google for failing to comply with the regulator's orders on how to conduct talks with the country's news publishers in a row over copyright. The fine comes amid increasing international pressure on online platforms such as Google and Facebook to share more revenue with news outlets. As per Reuters, the US tech giant must now come up with proposals within the next two months on how it would compensate news agencies and other publishers for the use of their news. If it does not do that, the company would face additional fines of up to 900,000 euros per day.
Google said it was very disappointed with the decision but would comply.
"Our objective remains the same: we want to turn the page with a definitive agreement. We will take the French Competition Authority's feedback into consideration and adapt our offers," Google told Reuters. News publishers APIG, SEPM and AFP accuse the tech company of having failed to hold talks in good faith with them to find common ground for the remuneration of news content online, under a recent European Union directive that creates so-called "neighbouring rights". "When the authority decrees an obligation for a company, it must comply scrupulously, both in the spirit and letter (of the decision). Here, this was unfortunately not the case," the antitrust body's chief, Isabelle de Silva, said in a statement. She also said the regulator considered that Google had not acted in good faith in its negotiations with the publishers.
Google to buy Japan payments firm Pring
Google has agreed to buy payments business Pring from backers including fintech firm Metaps as the US tech giant pushes into Japan's rapidly growing market for cashless services. The startup's three top shareholders - Metaps, software company Miroku Jyoho Service and Nippon Gas announced on Tuesday they would sell their combined 87 percent holding in Pring to Google.
Metaps said it is selling its 45 percent stake for 4.9 billion yen ($44 million), according to Reuters.
Richard Branson buys stake in space tech fund Seraphim
British billionaire Richard Branson has bought a stake in space tech fund Seraphim Space Investment Trust as part of a $246.99 million IPO. Airbus SE also participated in the IPO and was among other parties to buy shares of the company, according to an emailed statement by Seraphim, which is set to commence trading this week on the main market of the London Stock Exchange. The exact amount of those stakes was not disclosed by Seraphim. Bloomberg reported earlier on Monday that Branson had purchased stock in London-based Seraphim in a sale that closed on Friday.
Work from home fuelling cyberattacks, says global financial watchdog
Financial firms may need to bolster their defences in the face of rocketing cyberattacks after employees began working from home, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) said on Tuesday. The FSB, which coordinates financial rules for the G20 group of nations, said remote working since economies went into lockdown to fight COVID-19 opened up new possibilities for cyberattacks.
“Most cyber frameworks did not envisage a scenario of near-universal remote working and the exploitation of such a situation by cyber threat actors,” the FSB said in a report to G20 ministers and central banks.
Musk tells SolarCity trial that Tesla would 'die' if he wasn't CEO
Elon Musk told the court that Tesla Inc’s board controls the company but also said the electric vehicle maker would “die” if he wasn’t the chief executive, as he defended Tesla’s 2016 acquisition of SolarCity. The lawsuit by union pension funds and asset managers alleges the celebrity CEO strong-armed Tesla’s board of directors into depleting the company’s assets with the $2.6 billion all-stock deal for SolarCity. The CEO at the time owned a roughly 22 percent stake in both Tesla and SolarCity, and some Tesla shareholders alleged the deal was aimed at bailing out Musk's investment in the solar panel company, according to Reuters.
Board members and others involved in the deal will testify beginning as soon as Tuesday when Musk will also return to the witness stand. The lawsuit accuses Musk of dominating the board's deal discussions, pushing Tesla to pay more for SolarCity, and misleading shareholders about the company's deteriorating financial health. Kicking off a two-week trial in Wilmington, Delaware, Musk told the court that the Tesla board handled the SolarCity deal and he was not part of the board committee that negotiated the terms.
Biden administration asks courts to dismiss govt appeals of TikTok ruling
The Biden administration on Monday asked two federal appeals courts to dismiss the Justice Department's legal challenges to court rulings that barred a Trump-era effort to ban new downloads of Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok. Last month, President Joe Biden withdrew a series of executive orders issued by former President Donald Trump that sought to ban new downloads of WeChat, TikTok and other Chinese apps and ordered a new review. The Commerce Department on June 22 formally withdrew a list of prohibited transactions with ByteDance-owned TikTok and Tencent-owned WeChat issued in September that sought to bar downloads of the apps.
The Justice Department said Monday that the government's legal challenges were now moot. It asked the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the Third Circuit to dismiss its appeals.
Twitter staff return to office in New York, San Francisco at 50% capacity
After more than 16 months of working from home, some Twitter employees in San Francisco and New York returned to the office on Monday as the company reopened its corporate campuses at 50 percent capacity in the two cities.
With COVID-19 vaccination rates on the rise, major US tech companies are diverging on how and when to reopen their offices. Google announced employees can voluntarily return to the office starting in late July, while Apple expects employees to work from the office three days per week starting in early September.