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Ola Raises $1.1 Billion From Tencent, SoftBank And Others

Ramya GovindRaj

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India’s leading cab hailing startup Ola raised $ 1.1 billion in fresh funding from China based Tencent Holdings and Japan’s SoftBank. This investment marks the company’s largest round of funding in their six year history.

The cab aggregator said they are also close to finalizing an additional $1 billion in funds from existing and new investors. The total amount raised from this round of investment may turn out to be close to $ 2.1 billion. According to an official statement, the capital will allow Ola to make strategic investments in their supply chain and technology. Significant investments will also be made to improve their Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities to help solve some of the unique mobility problems such as heavy traffic in metro cities.

Despite a considerable decrease in their valuation this year, the company may have a post investment valuation of $7 billion. Speaking about the investment, founder and CEO of Ola, Bhavish Aggarwal said, “Our ambition is to build a globally competitive and futuristic transportation system in India.

Chinese Internet giant Tencent has also invested in various other Indian startups such as ecommerce firm Flipkart and messaging application Hike along with the healthcare startup Practo. Speaking about their investment in Ola, the President of Tencent Holdings, Martin Lau said, “Ola’s unique local offerings are tailored to India’s burgeoning transportation needs. The strategic partnership with Ola makes it possible for Tencent to be part of the fast-growing ride-hailing space in the country.”

This latest funding round is the third billion dollar round in a series of billion dollar funding rounds in the Indian startup ecosystem. Previously, Flipkart and Paytm also raised around $3.8 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively. These fresh funds will give Ola the ammunition to keep arch rival Uber Technologies Inc., at bay. However, existing investor SoftBank is also in talks with Uber for a $ 10 billion investment. Reports suggest, SoftBank might call for a consolidation between both the rival companies in the Indian market.

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Funding

Ranvijay Singh Becomes Investor Cum Brand Ambassador For What’s Up Life!

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Ranvijay Singh, who is popular with the youth for his adventurous personality, recently, invested in an online lifestyle platform, What’s Up Life. What’s Up Life (WUL) is a lifestyle media platform lets you discover new things and places that your city has to offer. The online platform curates engaging content over their social media pages, editorials, calendar to keep you updated with all the latest updates.

When asked Ranvijay what fascinated him toward the online lifestyle platform, Ranvijay said, I liked the platform and the way ‘What’s Up Life’ is reaching out to people with their engaging content and events.

Alongside, Ranvijay also became the brand ambassador for What’s Up Life. Venture Garage, happens to be the advisor to WUL for this fund raising round and also helped the company in aligning with Ranvijay Singh Singh.

Gaurav H. Luthra the founder of What’s Up Life, is an alumni from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. In an interview, Mr. Luthra said We are planning to launch in various other cities and there are also many exciting events and product upgrades lined up. With Rannvijay being there as a mentor cum brand ambassador, you should buckle up for some excitement and thrill coming your way.

The Managing Partner of Venture Garage, Vineet Sagar said, Strategic investments can provide tremendous firepower especially in the early stages of a venture when the value-addition from the investor’s end matters more than the capital. With Rannvijay onboard the WUL wagon, the business will get a significant boost,

Initially, WUL started as What’s Up Gurgaon. Started off in 2014, but, oh well! Look where they are today! They also raised a whopping $ 100 thousands from the famous author, Karan Puri and Praveen Puri, Skyline Knowledge Centre, a subdivision of Skyline Education Group Company. Currently, WUL is the largest Lifestyle Media across 3 cities out of the 5 they are currently present in, namely Gurgaon, Kolkata & Hyderabad. They are all set to expand in Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Chandigarh and Jaipur by the end of this year!

Well, the company has a long way to go!

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SoftBank Looking At Investing In Zomato

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SoftBank, Japan based investment firm, is looking at opening investments in the restaurant discovery and food delivery platform, Zomato. Six months after the initial talks, the investment platform is working at investing around $ 250 million in the homegrown food delivery platform. The investment firm also held multiple conversations with Swiggy for a possible investment. Two people involved and familiar with the conversation said, “(Swiggy) is of the view that it is still little early to raise a large cheque from the Japanese firm.”

According to reports, SoftBank is in talks to invest in different areas of Zomato, spanning over the platform’s three main metrics as well as Zomato’s international expansion plans over the next few years. In Zomato’s last round of funding the platform raised $ 200 million from Chinese based e commerce platform, Alibaba’s payments affiliate, Alipay.

This new development comes shortly after SoftBank’s decision on whether or not it wants to sell more than 20% of its stake post the Flipkart take over by Walmart. “SoftBank discussed business metrics across Zomato’s three main business lines. One of the points of conversations revolved around Zomato’s international expansion over next few years,” said the person pointing out that “there is no guarantee the conversations will materialize into an investment.”

While SoftBank is still scanning India’s food delivery space looking to finalize a candidate for a likely investment of  $ 200 to 400 million, a final decision on its investment is likely to be taken by the end of the year. With the food industry increasing by 125 % in the year 2017, international investors are looking at increasing their hold on the growing food sector in the Indian market. With order values increasing to 4 to 5 lakhs a day, the food sector is definitely increasing at a fast and continuously growing pace. SoftBank is also the largest shareholder in the cab hailing applications Ola and Uber, both of which acquired and launched food delivery services last year.

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SoftBank To Infuse A Whopping $ 3 Billion In Paytm Mall

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SoftBank Group Corp., a Japanese multinational conglomerate is making headlines for investing a whopping  $ 3 billion in the Indian digital e wallet giant, Paytm.

However, the CEO of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son is not sure whether to sell SoftBank Vision Fund’s 21% stake in India’s largest online retailer, Flipkart. Earlier in April, Paytm Mall raised $ 400 million in a financing round led by SoftBank along with participation from Alibaba. With that funding, Softbank took 21% stake in Paytm Mall.  According to the recent Walmart-Flipkart deal agreement, SoftBank can go ahead with other deals only when it exits from Flipkart. However, the Japanese conglomerate is having second thoughts regarding its exit from the etailer firm. The venture capital firm should now set itself free from a clause in its agreement with Flipkart that restricts it from investing more than $ 500 million in the Paytm Mall App until 2020. So, as of now, Softbank is in talks to invest as much as $ 3 billion in the Paytm Mall App.

Paytm may proceed further with the funding only if SoftBank makes its exit from the etailer firm, Flipkart. SoftBank is not sure about selling off its Flipkart shares because of tax implications and as it sees a further increase in the valuation for Flipkart. SoftBank is expected to gain about $ 4 billion if it sells its entire 21% stake in Flipkart to Walmart.

Apart from these fundings, SoftBank had also invested an amount of $ 900 million in the other major e commerce player, Snapdeal. Paytm Mall surpassed the Indian e commerce market, replacing Snapdeal as the third largest player including Flipkart and Amazon India. Currently, Paytm claims to process about 1 billion transactions every quarter and aims to double the figure to 2 billion. Besides this, the payments  and e commerce firm, aims to process Rs. 60, 000 crores in monthly bank transfers by the year end. The company announced earlier to invest over Rs. 5,000 crores in 2018 in its payments and financial services. Paytm,  the digital e wallet giant is providing customers innumerable payment services that is making their lives easier! The effect the Walmart-Flipkart deal will have on the e commerce industry is yet to be seen.

 

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