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Uber India Launches Four New Basic Features

Ramya GovindRaj

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Uber the global taxi aggregator, launched four new features in India to entice users. The features include a website version of Uber, request to book rides for a guest, offline search for those with limited connectivity and a call to ride feature.

The new features aim at making the taxi booking process easy and hassle free. The call to ride feature will allow riders to book rides through a phone call across popular zones in the city. The company is piloting a single nationwide phone number for users to book rides along with numeric codes for specific locations. The offline search feature is aimed at helping riders in limited network areas by caching the top points of interests in the city. The company also launched Uber lite web for riders using feature phones or smartphones not compatible with the latest Uber app. The website, m.uber.com, works exactly like the app after the users have logged into their accounts. The fourth feature ‘Request For A Guest Ride’ will allow riders to book cabs for anyone, anywhere. A user can book rides for friends and family members within the same city or in a different city in India by simply tapping “where to” and then choose who is riding above their pick up location.

According to the Vice President of Products, Daniel Graf, in countries like India, Brazil and Indonesia, three fourths of the riders use smartphones to book rides. “As a part of our efforts to enable global access to Uber, we are focusing on two key areas; building solutions for those who don’t have access to the Uber app and enabling our existing rider app to work better in emerging markets,” he added. At present, the new features are India specific but can be applied globally as well. Speaking about the new features, Garf added, “This is a global announcement and all our innovations touch the Indian and global markets. We introduced cash payments in India for the first time and that innovation has now been rolled out in half of Uber’s global markets.

India is also the second largest market for Uber, operating in 29 cities and partnered with around 450,000 drivers. Recently, the company also launched a second engineering facility in Hyderabad, which would be working on innovations that can be applied to Indian as well as other global markets. The Indian team also played a key role in developing the pieces of innovation. The startup, which facilitates 10 million trips per day, has a team of more than 150 engineers at its Bengaluru and Hyderabad centers.

 All four of the new services will be rolled out in a few weeks.

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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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