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Ola And Uber: Boon Or Bane?

Smruthi Kishore

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Technology is supposed to make life easier. Food, shopping, travelling and finance can be completed with just a click or with a swipe. Technology progressed rapidly in a very short span in ways that did not seem possible till just a while ago. The last couple of years have seen a drastic rise in technology based startups. These startups have helped mankind in every way possible. Or so it seems. Taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber came as a relief to all those hassled travellers for whom private transport was not an option and who could not get to their destinations using public transport.

Ola and Uber came at a time when public transport was at its worst. Women were gropped, men were robbed and drivers were harsh. Public transport was out of the question, especially after the 2012 Nirbhaya case. Keeping this in mind, these taxi aggregators helped give riders a veil of safety in these dark circumstances. However, the little respite riders got seemed to disappear almost over night. While there are some good drivers with both Ola and Uber,  there are a few bad apples in the basket.

Pepper spray is a must have for me when I use either Ola or Uber for my travels,” says disgruntled user, Nishita. Safety is not just one of the things riders have a problem with these cab aggregators. Rain is a beautiful thing, but when Ola and Uber use it to boost cab prices, then this very rain is far from beautiful. Ride prices surge, drivers turn ugly and the whole situation turns into a B rated movie of sorts.

When Ola was first launched in India, it had two very strong incentives – the first ride free for new users and first ride free for referrals. This gave Ola a very loyal user base from the minute the app launched. Cut to a few months later, Uber tried it’s hand in the Indian marketplace and currently counts India as it’s second largest market. However, the honeymoon phase is over and reality reared its ugly head. What seemed to be a win win situation, in the beginning, has is now become an ugly menace. Several customers have faced multiple issues when trying to commute using such applications.

The cab aggregators while promising a smooth service, cannot be bothered with when it comes to customer care. The result is usually unhappy customers stranded, extorted and disgusted. “I have given up trying to get in touch with Ola’s Customer Care. They always have an automated answer and at the end of the matter, there is never a solution to the matter,” says Anita, a resident of Hyderabad.

 

Ola and Uber gave travellers everywhere the hope of comfort and travelling without hassles. The world, seen through tinted rose glasses, seems like a beautiful place. However, what happens when these glasses are taken off? Ola and Uber have become a bane rather than a boon and people are tired of being appeased by the nonsense these cab aggregators give in terms of an excuse for their crap service!

An informal survey revealed the obvious. From drivers cancelling rides half way through the ride to creepy advances on the riders, nothing seems to be going in Ola’s or Uber’s favour. It is not just the drivers that have gotten a bad name. Back end service does not work right, the arrival time is always sketchy and drivers are rude, arrogant and abusive. Buck up Ola and Uber, it is time to get your act together and give us the service you promised! We are not the unsophisticated cave dwellers you clearly seem to think we are. Own up. Take responsibility. Drive our lives back into the happy world it used to be in the beginning, because honestly if you keep this up, we will not be the loyal customers we have been so far.

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SoftBank To Sell Off Entire Stake In Flipkart

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SoftBank Group Corp., a Japanese multinational conglomerate, is in talks to sell off its entire stake in Flipkart. In a recent announcement, SoftBank confirmed that it will sell its stake of 23.6 % in the e tailer giant Flipkart, post the Walmart acquisition.

SoftBank spokesperson stated, SoftBank confirms the sale of its entire stake in Flipkart to Walmart.

The CEO Masayoshi Son, said its investment in the Indian e commerce Flipkart, was worth around $ 4 billion. The SoftBank Vision Fund also invested $ 30 billion in startups, last year. At a recent press conference held in Tokyo, Masayoshi disclosed that SoftBank’s $ 2.5 billion stake in Flipkart which was picked up last year, would be now worth $ 4 billion if it chooses to exit the firm. As the SoftBank’s fund is registered in Jersey, USA, there is no Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) as a buffer. However, SoftBank has now decided to sell the stake and work out the tax issues. SoftBank was earlier in discussions as well in order to stay invested in Flipkart and delay the sale due to tax issues related to short term capital gains.

 

According to a source, Walmart’s price implies Flipkart’s operating losses over the 18 months starting in August would be close to $ 2 billion. The overall hit to Walmart’s earnings from the Flipkart deal, including Flipkart’s losses, will be between $ 2.5 billion and $ 2.7 billion.

In the next coming years, Walmart’s approach toward Flipkart’s financial activities is likely to be determined by its investors in the United States. However, Walmart’s stock fell by 4% on the day it announced the Flipkart acquisition.

The buzz is SoftBank is also looking forward to exploring other avenues since it is not willing to miss out on Indian e commerce industry. Walmart also claims that SoftBank’s decision of selling its stake in Flipkart, will not make a major difference to its future plans for Flipkart.

 

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Netherlands To Setup ‘Startup Link’ In Collaboration With India

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The Prime Minister of Netherlands, Mark Rutte is all set to visit Bengaluru on 25 May.

The Country wants to strengthen  the innovation ecosystem with India efficiently. This comprises the setting up of Startup Link in India. Startup Link is an umbrella initiative in order to help Dutch startups explore the Indian market. This trip for Mark Rutte plays a vital role in pertaining to Netherland’s focus toward India.

It could also be understood by the fact  with a 120 member business trade delegation, with two ministers and the mayor of the Hague to Bengaluru, the Netherlands-India delegate is the country’s largest delegate to any foreign country!

Even larger than that of Netherland’s recent visit to China.

The Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, is expected to launch the Indo-Dutch Startup Link Digital Hub, on 25 May.

According to a source, Consul General Jaap Werner stated,

The delegates will be visiting Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, signing a number of MoUs to promote technology and Innovations at all levels universities to SMEs and corporates. In Bengaluru alone, we are expecting to sign 15-20 MoUs. The Bengaluru visit will focus to strengthen the bilateral trades and relationships in the areas of healthcare, smart cities, life sciences, waste management and cybersecurity.

Recently, Netherlands also upgraded its Bengaluru, South India office to a fully operational Consulate General. It also amalgamated various ministerial departments under one roof.

The Senior Deputy Representative Consulate General Of Netherlands, Bengaluru, Meenakshi P.R., stated that the Consulate General would also help Dutch startups soft launch in Indian territory, specifically in Bengaluru.

She also added,  IoT, 3D Printing, cybersecurity and blockchain are some of the areas where the startups under startup link can collaborate.

Apart from that, the events on 25 May also include an ‘Innovation power lunch’ where the Dutch PM will meet 30 top Indian CEOs.

However, there are over 200 Netherlands companies operating in India. While India is the fourth largest investor in the Netherlands, the latter stands fifth in India.

There are plenty of opportunities and challenges to do business in the Indian market. India has been abuzz with Startup culture now!

 

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Google Launches YouTube Music Service

Startup Admin

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With more than 1 billion people visiting YouTube on a daily basis, it comes as no surprise that music is the most listened to service on the online streaming platform. With Netflix and Spotify gearing up to compete with YouTube, the new YouTube Music service comes as a refreshing change of pace.

To put it in simple words, YouTube Music is a service which lets you stream and play music, with discovery being a major part of the service. While Google Play lets you do the same, there are quite a few differences between the two services provided by Google. Unlike Google Play, YouTube Music lets you do more than stream music. The service gives you the remixes, covers, live versions and parodies YouTube hosts too, as well as music from people who do not have record or albums.

Furthermore, Google’s YouTube Music gives you music even with extremely vague key words. Not just that, it creates very specific playlists. For example, if you are at the airport, the app creates a relaxing and refreshing playlist perfect for traveling. With discovery playing such a major role in this new service, get ready to explore and experience music like never before!

“To preserve this incredible opportunity the music business has, we need competition in distribution,” said Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s head of music. “It’s not like it was 30 years ago, when some guy could rent a warehouse, buy a bunch of records and put a sign called Tower Records in front. Now you have to have a ton of engineers, a global footprint and a ton of money.” Scheduled to launch on 22 May, 2018, Google plans on integrating artificial intelligence into the music app! When it comes to the price, YouTube Music comes at $ 10 for a month. However, Google has not mentioned if there is going to be a family plan package (a service which both Netflix and Spotify offer.)

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