The month of October started off with a long weekend celebrating Dussera and Gandhi Jayanti. Post a surprise announcement by the founder of global taxi hailing startup Uber, the past week was relatively calmer with multiple investments in the Indian startup ecosystem.
Here are the highlights of the week:
Ola To Raise Fresh Funds From SoftBank And Others
The homegrown taxi service hailing startup based in Bengaluru secured a $ 2 billion investment from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., and from China’s Tencent Holdings. This round of funding marks the second largest funding received by an Indian startup.
Flipkart Pulls Off One Of The Biggest Employee Retention Coup Yet
In order to retain employees, Flipkart pulled of one of the biggest retention coup by providing thousands of employees Flipkart shares and providing them the opportunity to liquidate their shareholdings later. Under this scheme, 35% to 40% of its mid level to senior level employees would receive stock values instead of their salaries.
Uber Board Votes For SoftBank Deal
The board of global taxi hailing company Uber, announced major changes in their governance strategy in an attempt to move past the months of strife. The changes were adopted unanimously by the 11 members of the board, which includes expanding the number of board seats to 17 from the existing 11. The company might also pursue an initial public offering of Uber’s stock by the end of 2019.
Karnataka Government To Invest $ 6 Million In AI Hub
The Karnataka Government has always been at the forefront of technological changes and upgrades in the country. Keeping up the pace, the government is all set to invest Rs. 40 crores to build a state of the art artificial intelligence (AI) and data science capabilities center. With NASSCOM as the programme and implementation partner, the tech hub will be named as the Centre of Excellence for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.
Mukesh Ambani: India’s Richest Man For The Tenth Year
While inheriting a business might seem like a good boost inside an industry, taking the business to the next level requires a lot of skills and capabilities. Mukesh Ambani is one such businessman who made a name for himself out the shadow of his father, Dhirubhai Ambani. By doing so, he was named as the richest Indian by Forbes for not two or three years, but ten consecutive years.
Facebook Tests Workplace Chat App For Mac And PC
Social media giant Facebook very discreetly launched the beta version of the dedicated Workplace app for desktops. This beta app, called Workplace Chat, will also support screen sharing along with voice and video calling, customized push notifications, one on one chats and group chats. The new app will allow employees to message coworkers throughout the day without relying on a browser tab.
Google Hardware Event
The global search engine giant Google finally unveiled their latest new smartphones, smart speakers and other gadgets at the Google Hardware Event. Demonstrating its commitment to making new devices along with new and improved software developments, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, launched their two new Pixel smartphones along with the Google Home speakers, a new laptop, a virtual reality headset and wireless headphones.
GST Made Simpler For Small Entrepreneurs In India
Three months after the Goods And Services Tax was launched, the Government decided to revamp various aspects of the new taxation process. The renewed indirect tax regime involves a slew of new measures to reduce the burden and stress the implementation of the GST brought to exporters and small businesses. PM Narendra Modi said these changes were in line with the government’s endeavor to safeguard the citizens’ interests and ensure a growth in the Indian economy.
China’s Tencent Holdings Invests $ 400 Million In Ola
China based Internet giant Tencent Holdings invested $ 400 million in the cab aggregator startup Ola through their Singapore based investment arm Copper Technology Pte., Ltd. Ola’s parent company ANI Technologies Pvt., Ltd., will issue 1,908,143 preferential shares at Rs.13,521 apiece to Copper Technologies. Post this investment, Ola’s valuation will increase to $ 4.1 billion from the current $ 3.8 billion valuations.
Walmart Flipkart Deal May get Finalised In March
India’s e commerce war is set to get extremely exciting in the coming months. One of the largest retail giants in the United States, Walmart Inc., has been upping its investment game by acquiring a large stake in Flipkart. Walmart is currently in the final leg of striking a deal that will see it spending about $ 7 billion to become the largest investor in India’s leading homegrown e commerce firm, Flipkart, which is currently locked in a fierce battle with Amazon.
According to reports, once the deal goes through, Walmart will own around a third of Flipkart’s shares, making it the majority share holder in parts. This is going to happen after purchasing stakes from existing investors, Tiger Global Management and SoftBank Group Corp. This goes against earlier reservations by Japan’s Softbank which had shown reluctance to let Walmart take the driving seat in the e commerce venture.
The deal, expected to go through at the end of this month, will raise the valuation of Flipkart’s valuation to about $ 20 billion. This increases Flipkart’s valuation drastically as it stood at only $ 12 billion in the past year. The deal is expected to get finalised in the next two weeks which means Walmart is expected to enter the Indian e commerce market by the end of March 2018 or early April 2018.
Apart from being a strong financial investment in the country, this investment by Walmart brings to front the constant rivalry between Amazon and Walmart. Looking at this massive investment from Walmart, existing investor SoftBank is looking at pulling out from its commitments to Flipkart. Once this round of investment goes through, Flipkart ends up becoming one of the largest e commerce platforms not only in India, but across the world as well.
The deal could be a major payday for all the existing investors. Flipkart’s first institutional backer, Accel India had invested $ 1 million at a valuation less than $ 5 million in 2009. The firm has already cashed in about $ 150 to $ 200 million and will see the value of its 5-6% stake swell to about $ 1 billion.
SoftBank Invests In Grocery Startup Grofers
Online grocery store, Grofers, raised $ 62.5 million in a round of funding led by SoftBank. As a result of this investment, SoftBank now owns around 35 % to 40 % of the Gurgaon based startup. According to several industry reports, this investment round also saw participation from existing investors like Tiger Global and Russian tech billionaire, Yuri Milner.
This funding round came barely a month after Grofers released a statement saying they were expecting a funding round of around $ 65 million from its existing investors. Founded in the year 2013 by two tech developers, Grofers recently shut down the operations in several cities around the country. Reportedly, the online grocery company wants to focus only on the Delhi/NCR region.
Just before it shut down operations across the country, Grofers used to deliver in 26 countries, clocking in nearly 15,000 orders on a daily basis, with an average basket size of $ 18.7 to $ 20.8 (about Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 1,350.) This move comes in an effort to strengthen Grofers strong market position. In the last year, its biggest competitor, BigBasket secured around $ 300 million in a Series E funding round led by Alibaba with the participation of Abraaj Capital, Sands Capital and IFC.
Grofers currently offers products across categories like grocery, fruits and vegetables, beauty and wellness, household care, baby care, pet care, bakery and meats and seafood, among other things. The company claims to be profitable with day to day based online deliveries in Delhi. As of March 2017, BigBasket holds about 35% in the food delivery sector while Grofers follows behind as a close second.
Flipkart, on the other hand, is reportedly looking to set up a chain of delivery and retail stores all across the country. This is going to happen in partnership with global retail giant, Walmart. With so many competitors popping up in growing numbers, Grofers faces some serious competition. It is going to be interesting to see how the online delivery platform uses this round of funding from SoftBank.
Amazon Launches Its First Debit Card In Mexico
Mexico is working towards upping its e commerce game by investing a vast amount of funds in this particular field. One of the major ways the Mexican Government is doing this is through facilitating new payment methods. However, a major problem with this form of investments lies in the multiple online frauds happening in this part of the world.
To curb the growing unrest in online payments from the residents of Mexico, Amazon launched its first ever debit card called Amazon Rechargeable. Launched for the first time in Mexico, this debit card aims at making online shopping a seamless and hassle free process.
“Clients that don’t have a credit or debit card will find Amazon Rechargeable an easy and practical way to convert cash into a payment method,” said Fernando Ramirez, Amazon’s product manager in Mexico, in a statement. Online shopping platforms rarely focus primarily on credit cards and offer debit cards only in very rare cases. This move is a first for e commerce firms throughout the world.
Amazon’s card, backed by MasterCard (MAN) and Mexican bank Grupo Financiero Banorte (GENFORETO.MX,) can be loaded with cash at convenience stores located in different places across the country. Up until last October, Amazon did not have the cash on delivery option, making it difficult for people living in remote areas of the world. Now, Amazon offers cash on delivery not only at convenience stores but during home deliveries as well.
Amazon has set the pace for other online platforms, by becoming one of the largest e commerce stores ever. To make matters exciting, the online giant has recently acquired a patent that lets it use drones to deliver packages at your doorstep from a height of at least 25 feet. With innovations happening constantly, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, claims this company will stand at a net worth of $ 1 trillion and if everything goes as planned, the e commerce platform will perhaps achieve its target within the next few years.
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