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SoftBank May Sell Freecharge At 50% Discount For $200 million

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Japanese multinational telecommunications and Internet corporation Softbank is in talks with potential buyers to sell Freecharge, the mobile wallet company owned by Snapdeal for as low as $150-200 million. And there are reports that Alibaba-owned Paytm is one of those buyers to clinch Freecharge if terms and conditions are agreed by both the companies.

Over the past few years, Freecharge has held discussions with global payment majors like PayPal and PayU for raising fresh capital but was in vain. Softbank, helmed by Masayoshi Son, is trying to consolidate its position in the Indian market.

According to the reports, Vijay Shekar Sharma’s Paytm was approached by SoftBank a few months back when Jasper Infotech (Snapdeal’s parent) was seeking a valuation of at least $500 million for Freecharge.

An insider from this firm reported that a lot of changes have been witnessed by both Snapdeal and Freecharge in the last quarter. Paytm is interested in buying Freecharge and may look to pay around $150 million and it also wants exclusive rights along with the deal to become the sole payments platform for Flipkart and Snapdeal.

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Carl Pei’s Nothing Invites Retail Investors 

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Carl Pei said the time came for him to leave OnePlus and focus on other interests, following which he resigned from OnePlus in October 2020.  Since then, Pei had been working on his new startup in the audio hardware sector.  Carl Pei unveiled the name of his startup which is now called as Nothing, on January 27th, 2021.  Since the unveiling of Nothing, Pei’s startup has attracted a lot of attention from Silicon Valley and venture capitalists.  

Carl Pei now seems to be emulating his success formula at OnePlus with his new startup Nothing.  OnePlus is highly customer centric, because as a company they take in inputs from their consumers and adapt them to their products.  Pei seems to be using the same strategy with Nothing, as he invited retail investors to invest in his new startup.  Normally a startup raises Series A funding to begin product development and then goes on to Series B and so on.  For a normal retail investor to invest in a stock, they could only do it at the time of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the time of which the company would be valued highly.  However, Carl Pei is letting in investors from the beginning.  

ALSO READ: Alphabet Invests In Carl Pei’s Startup Nothing

This lets the investors be a part of the product development process and makes Nothing more personalised.  Moreover the investors would also act as promoters for the products.  Currently, there are $ 1.5 million worth of shares available.  Users can invest a minimum of € 50 and a maximum of € 20,000.  However, the demand to invest is off the charts and was unexpected as Carl Pei confirmed there was an interest worth of $ 10 million from 8,700 users.

Nothing’s first wireless earphones will be unveiled in the summer of 2021.  Nothing aims to build an ecosystem of listening devices which talk to each other.  Initial investors of Nothing include the likes of Tony Fadell (Principal at Future Shape and the Inventor of the iPod,) Casey Neistat (YouTuber,) Kevin Lin (Co founder of Twitch,) Steve Huffman (CEO of Reddit,) Liam Casey (Founder and CEO, PCH,) Paddy Cosgrave (Founder of Web Summit,) Kunal Shah (CEO of CRED) and Josh Buckley (CEO of Product Hunt.)  Alphabet’s investment arm Google Ventures was the latest investor in Nothing as they invested $ 15 million.

 

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Startup India Seed Fund To Be Disbursed From April 1st

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There is no doubt India has a strong foothold in the startup ecosystem.  India currently ranks third in the world for the number of startups, next only to the United States of America and China.  This was possible due to the Indian Government’s initiatives to develop the startup ecosystem and also due to a strong presence of unicorn startups like PayTM, Zomato, Unacademy and many more.

The Government of India announced it would begin to disburse INR 945 crores seed capital from April 1st, 2021 under the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme in a  bid to boost the startup ecosystem in India.  These funds would be distributed through select incubator partners all over the country.  This scheme will be implemented by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT.) 

In a gazette notification, DPIIT announced that Startup India Seed Fund Scheme will provide financial assistance to startups that have been recognised by the DPIIT and incorporated not more than two years ago at the time of application.

ALSO READ: How The Events Industry Is Impacted By The COVID-19 Pandemic

The Startup India Seed Fund Scheme will have a common central application on the Startup India portal for startups on an ongoing basis.  An Experts Advisory Committee (EAC) will be formulated to oversee and monitor the overall execution of the scheme.  The EAC will evaluate and select the incubators for allotment of the seed funds and place measures for the efficient disbursement of funds.

The government also mentioned preference will be given to startups working in the areas of agriculture, education, food processing, healthcare, social impact, waste management, water management, financial inclusion, biotechnology, energy, mobility, defence, space, railways, textiles and oil and gas.

 

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CRED’s Kunal Shah Invests In One Plus Founder Carl Pei’s Startup

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Carl Pei is one of the most well known names in the startup circles considering he gave the world one its best smartphone brands OnePlus.  Since the debut of OnePlus One. The smartphone maker earned the moniker ‘flagship killer’ and has grown in leaps and bounds.  Today OnePlus boasts on an impressive product line up apart from its smartphones and is one of the leading electronic brands in the world.  In October 2020, Carl Pei said the time came for him to leave OnePlus and focus on other interests.  Since then, Pei had been working on his new startup in the audio hardware sector.

The name of Carl Pei’s new startup will be unveiled on January 27th, 2021 but in the past three months the unnamed startup received almost $ 7 million in seed funding.  The investors include Tony Fadell (Principal at Future Shape & Inventor of the iPod,) Casey Neistat (YouTuber,) Kevin Lin (Co-founder of Twitch,) Steve Huffman (CEO of Reddit,) Liam Casey (Founder and CEO, PCH,) Paddy Cosgrave (Founder of Web Summit) and Josh Buckley (CEO of Product Hunt.)

The latest to invest in Carl Pei’s startup is Indian based CRED founder Kunal Shah who invested an undisclosed amount.  Shah is not new to being an angel investor as he already has a portfolio of investing in almost 80 startups.  “Carl is working on a new consumer electronics company that I am sure will be a disruptor in the tech industry. I am excited to be part of this journey (sic,)” the CRED founder said in a statement.

While Pei’s startup is headquartered in London, more details will be known on January 27th, 2021.

 

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