Amazon early yesterday announced the launch of 9 voice related startups in partnership with the Alexa Accelerator Program, powered by Techstars. The Alexa Accelerator Program backs startups all over the United States. The startups are related to the voice based startups and through this, the program raised over $ 10 million!
The idea behind the accelerator is to help fuel early stage companies developing for voice, giving Amazon an equity stake in the business. Launched in the year 2015, the Alexa Accelerator Program is a part of Amazon’s $ 200 million fund and so far, has been used by Amazon to further the boundaries of voice based tech startups!
According to several reports, Amazon says it received hundreds of applications from 44 countries around the world for the 2018 program, and narrowed it down to nine it believes have the most potential. Through the Alexa Accelerator Program, the startups included will learn, train and improve their products to a point where their products are unique and can be integrated into Alexa. Furthermore, the startups will also be able to redefine their business models while developing and modifying Alexa for a consumer friendly experience!
Apart from the 9 new startups being launched, Amazon is already investing in 35 startups. Lasting for a period of 3 months, the startups are based in places from Seattle to Tel Aviv! These companies work out of the Seattle based office and will be working there for 13 days, post which, the startups are required to give a demo.
The information reported earlier this year about risks that startups take when taking money from Amazon’s Alexa Fund. “While Amazon’s backing helps the startups build their businesses, sometimes Amazon decides to go into the market directly. It can either offer to buy the startup or simply make the product itself.” By signing with Amazon, these startups get a major leg up and are here to create and break existing startup boundaries!
Binny Bansal Sells ₹531 Crore Worth Flipkart Shares To Walmart
Binny Bansal, an Indian billionaire, entrepreneur and co founder of the e-commerce website Flipkart, sold $ 76.4 million worth of his shares in Flipkart to Walmart’s Luxembourg entity FIT Holdings SARL.
Binny Bansal, along with his partner Sachin Bansal, co founded the Flipkart and served as its Chief Executive Officer until January 2016.
Walmart, a multinational retail corporation, bought Flipkart in 2018 and back then, Bansal sold a small portion of his shares and held 3.85 % of stake.
Now, according to the documents filed by Flipkart with the regulators, Binny Bansal transferred 539,912 equity shares to FIT Holdings SARL. These shares are valued to be $ 76.4 million (approximately Rs. 531 crores.) This latest deal left him with only 3.52 % stake in Flipkart.
Vivek Durai, the founder of Paper.vc, a business intelligence platform, said, “With this transfer, Binny Bansal has monetised a small portion of his shareholdings. He had sold 1,122,433 shares for about $ 159 million during the Walmart takeover.”
According to his contract with Walmart, Binny Bansal is entitled to sell more than half of his shares to Walmart by August 2020 and he could gain around $ 400 million from this transaction.
Bansal, who is mostly based in Singapore, is now an investor in India’s startup ecosystem and is also the co founder of xto10X Technologies, which was launched last year.
In December 2018, Binny Bansal invested a sprawling $ 25 million dollars in the online insurance startup Acko. He also invested in several AI and healthtech startups.
Facebook Reveals Details Of Its Cryptocurrency Libra
On the 18th of June, Facebook revealed details of its brand new cryptocurrency called Libra. An alternative to cash, this cryptocoin can be used to buy things or send money to people with close to no fees. The cryptocurrency is going to be launched by an association called The Libra Association, which consists of a group of companies interested in getting Libra out into the world.
You can use Libra to buy or cash out your Libra at local stores like grocery stores and through third party wallet apps. To make using Libra an easier task, Facebook owned Calibra Wallet will be built into WhatsApp and Messenger, thereby simplifying transaction processes. Although certain countries have banned the use of cryptocurrencies, Facebook is trying to break new ground with the launch of Libra.
While Facebook is launching Libra, the social media giant is not going to be in complete control of the cryptocoin. The coin will be controlled by a consortium consisting of its founding members, Visa, Uber and Andreessen Horowitz. The three companies have invested at least $ 10 million each into the creation of this cryptocurrency.
Customers interested in holding or transferring the newly acquired token will be given multiple options to do what they wish. To further simplify matters, Facebook will let customers access transactions through this cryptocurrency via a special app designed for iOS and Android.
To protect the identity of its users while making transactions through the new app, Facebook won’t require you to share personal details. “The advent of the internet and mobile broadband has empowered billions of people globally to have access to the world’s knowledge and information, high fidelity communication, and a wide range of lowercost, more convenient services,” the Libra Association said in a paper announcing the cryptocurrency.
Libra will be made available to the world during the first half of 2020. As of now, Facebook is focusing on building relationships in international waters.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Facebook Invests In Indian Startup Meesho
On the 13th of June, social media giant Facebook announced, it invested an undisclosed amount in Indian startup Meesho.
A Bengaluru based startup, Meesho works with resellers and emerging brands using social media. This is the first time Facebook invested in a startup based in India. Through this investment, Facebook aims to increase its commitment to the Country’s vibrant internet ecosystem.
“Facebook is an ally for India’s economic growth and social development. We are excited about India and its rapidly rising Internet ecosystem. With this investment in Meesho, we want to fuel a business model that can result in rapid job creation and the rise of a female entrepreneurial class in India,” Ajit Mohan, the Managing Director of Facebook India, said in a statement.
It was two primary factors which made Facebook invest in Meesho. The first reason was how the startup is growing outside the Tier II and III cities, where new users are present. The second reason is, Meesho has a larger user base, 80 % of which are women.
So far, Meesho has raised $ 50 million from a Series C funding round in November last year. According to industry reports, the startup helps people using its service earn close to Rs. 25,000 every month! With WhatsApp playing a crucial role in the app’s growth, it comes as an added blessing that Facebook invested in this particular startup.
Through investments like these, Facebook is capitalizing on the social media boom happening in India.
Stay tuned for more updates.
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