There were many developments in the startup space during the week, which include IPL 2020 found a title sponsor in fantasy gaming unicorn Dream11, global VC firm Lightspeed closed its biggest fund in India, Reliance Retail entered India's buzzing epharmacy space and Airbnb is all set to go public.
There were many developments in the startup space during the week, which include IPL 2020 found a title sponsor in fantasy gaming unicorn Dream11, global VC firm Lightspeed closed its biggest fund in India, Reliance Retail entered India's buzzing epharmacy space and Airbnb is all set to go public. Here's your weekly dose of news from the world of startups, technology and entrepreneurship.
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1. Dream11 wins IPL 2020 title sponsorship for Rs 222 crore; has no immediate fundraising plans
Gaming unicorn Dream11 has won the title sponsorship rights of Indian Premier League 2020 for Rs 222 crore. Dream11 is a fantasy sports platform that allows users to play fantasy cricket, hockey, football, kabaddi and basketball.
Earlier this month, Chinese company Vivo had pulled out of this year's commitment as the title sponsor of IPL. Founded in 2008 by Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth, Dream11 is India’s only gaming unicorn and valued above $1 billion. The platform has more than 8 crore users. In 2018, it announced a partnership with ICC (International Cricket Council), Pro Kabaddi League, International Hockey Federation (FIH) and BBL.
According to Crunchbase, Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent has invested $100 million in Dream11. Other investors in the Indian gaming unicorn include Kalaari Capital, Steadview Capital, Multiples Alternate Asset Management and Think Investments.
In 2018, Dream11 had roped in Indian cricket team wicket-keeper and former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as its brand ambassador. Dream11's revenue grew 3x to Rs 800 crore in FY2019 from Rs 230 crore in FY18. However, its losses widened to Rs 130 crore in FY19 from Rs 65 crore in FY18, according to Tracxn.
In an exclusive interview to CNBC-TV18, CEO & co-founder of the gaming platform, Harsh Jain said he expected the Dream11 brand to gain from the brand recall and popularity of IPL. He added that the Dream11 brand is at an inflection point, and the association with IPL will benefit the company in terms of revenues and valuation, and help it break even.
Jain said while the company is looking forward to expanding its offerings and client-base, it is well capitalised. On news reports of new fund raising, he clarified that the company is continuously in conversation with investors, especially large technology investors in India. Any future fundraising will be via secondary route as the company expects early investors to exit.
2. Lightspeed India looking for ‘Bold Entrepreneurs’ building for India with new $275 million fund
Multi-stage venture capital firm Lightspeed India Partners has closed its new fund Lightspeed India Partners III, with a commitment of $275 million from global institutional LPs. As businesses work towards an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, Lightspeed will be looking for ‘bold entrepreneurs’ building for India and the world.
Lightspeed India Partners III is the venture capital firm’s biggest fund in India to date, having raised $175 million via its second fund in 2018 that bet on consumer internet and software players and $135 million when it launched its first India dedicated fund in 2015. With the new fund, the venture capital investor’s assets under management will exceed $1 billion in the country.
It has already invested over $750 million in India so far, across its domestic and global investment arms. Since its inception in India in 2007, Lightspeed has focused on accelerating disruptive innovations and trends in the enterprise and consumer sectors. The firm is an investor in some of the most valuable startups in the country like edtech platform Byju’s, B2B commerce firm Udaan and hospitality group OYO.
3. M&A action in India’s epharmacy segment
• Reliance Retail Buys Majority Stake In Netmeds
Reliance Retail acquires majority equity stake in Vitalic Health and its subsidiaries Netmeds for a cash consideration of approximately Rs 620 crore. The investment represents around 60 percent holding in the equity share capital of Vitalic and 100 percent direct equity ownership of its subsidiaries -- Tresara Health, Netmeds and Dadha Pharma Distribution.
Vitalic and its subsidiaries are in the pharma distribution, sales, and business support services. Its subsidiary run Netmeds that connects customers to pharmacists and enable door step delivery of medicines, nutritional health and wellness products.
• PharmEasy, Medlife seek CCI approval for merger
E-pharmacy companies PharmEasy and Medlife have sought approval of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for a potential merger. As per the CCI filing, PharmEasy looks to acquire 100 percent equity shares of Medlife. Medlife and its promoters will get 19.59 percent of the equity share capital of PharmEasy's parent company API Holdings.
4. CCI dismisses anti-trust case against WhatsApp
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has dismissed a case against WhatsApp, saying the company has not abused its dominant position to expand in the country’s digital payments market, according to an official order.
A case filed in March alleged that WhatsApp was bundling its digital payment facility - WhatsApp Pay - within its messaging app for which it already has a large user base in the country.
The case alleged WhatsApp was abusing its position by forcing its payments feature on to its existing users, according to a Reuters report.
In an official order, India’s competition watchdog said it did not find any contravention of antitrust laws, adding the company’s “actual conduct is yet to manifest in the market” as it has not fully launched the service yet.
“As stated by WhatsApp, the number of users being served under the beta version is limited to less than 1% of its users in India,” said the order.
In its defence, the company had told the CCI its users are not required to register for or use WhatsApp’s payment feature in order to use the messaging service, the order said.
The order will come as a relief for WhatsApp, which is seen close to a full launch of its payments service in its biggest market by users but one where it has for months struggled to get required clearances. The Supreme Court is separately hearing cases challenging the expansion of its payment service, as reported by Reuters.
5. Fundraising This Week
• Ed tech startup LEAD School has raised $28 million in a Series C funding round led by Westbridge Capital along with existing investor Elevar Equity. The firm that helps private schools digitize their curriculum will use the funding to accelerate the development and roll out of new products, increase its school network in Tier 2-3 cities and hire talent across domains.
• Logistics SaaS platform for predictive visibility, FarEye has raised an additional $13 million as an extension to its Series D investment led by The Fundamentum Partnership and Korea based KB Global Platform Fund. This is the second time this year that FarEye has been able to raise funds to support its hyper-growth in global markets, making it a total of $51 million in investment so far. In April, FarEye had raised $24.5 million in Series D from M12 (Microsoft’s venture fund) with participation from Eight Roads Ventures, Honeywell Ventures, and existing investor SAIF Partners.
• Lifestyle-community-commerce platform Trell announced a $11.4 million Series A round led by KTB Network. Samsung Ventures, Ankur Nagpal, CEO of Teachable, Gokul Rajaram (Board Member, Pinterest, Square, DoorDash) and Vineet Buch (Ex-Head of Google Play Store Development) also participated via Firebolt Ventures in the round along with existing investors Sequoia’s Surge, Fosun RZ Capital, and WEH Ventures.
• FPL Technologies has raised $10 million in Series A financing round with participation from Sequoia India, Matrix Partners India, Hummingbird Ventures, and a number of reputed angel investors. The company has also announced the launch of its mobile-first credit card, OneCard.
• Space tech startup Pixxel has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Blume Ventures, growX ventures and Lightspeed India. The round also included contributions from Inventus Capital India and other angel investors including Stanford Angels and Ryan Johnson, a veteran in the earth imaging space. The new funding will strengthen Pixxel’s plans for its first satellite launch later this year and accelerate development of the second satellite that the team plans to launch next year. The bigger plan is to deploy 30 satellites by December 2022 for its global constellation.
Airbnb IPO is coming soon as rentals rebound
Travel rental platform Airbnb has announced that it has submitted a draft registration to the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering.
The company did not give details or share financial information nor did it specify how many shares would be offered. The filing comes in what has been a rough year for the travel industry worldwide.
Earlier in May, the company had laid off nearly 1,900 employees or 25 percent of its workforce as the business came to a complete halt due lockdowns and travel bans across the world. The company has however reported a steady improvement in rentals in the last few months.
Airbnb was valued at $18 billion in April after it raised funds to help it navigate the pandemic. That was nearly half, of what the company was worth in 2017.
Apple becomes first US company to reach $2 trillion market cap
Apple becomes the first US company to reach the $2 trillion market cap, making it the first publicly traded US company to achieve this milestone. The company has doubled in valuation in just over two years.
The iphone maker was also the first to reach a $1 trillion market cap in August 2018 . The company also surpassed the state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco to become the world's most valuable publicly traded company after reporting blowout quarterly results last month.
The stock is up over 55 percent in 2020 so far and Apple's market value is now higher than the GDP of numerous developed countries, including Italy, Brazil, Canada, Russia and South Korea, among others.
First Published: IST