STARTUP DIGEST: PharmEasy buys Medlife, FarEye raises $100 mn, Huawei to launch new operating system for phones

STARTUP DIGEST: PharmEasy buys Medlife, FarEye raises $100 mn, Huawei to launch new operating system for phones

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There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Monday, which include FarEye raised $100 million in Series E funding round; PharmEasy, which recently turned unicorn, has acquired its small rival Medilife; e-commerce platform Flipkart has given employment to 23,000 people amid the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a wrap of important stories from the startup universe.

FarEye announces $100 million Series E round led by TCV and Dragoneer

FarEye, an end-to-end, global delivery management platform, has raised a $100 million Series E round led by TCV and Dragoneer Investment Group. Existing investors Eight Roads Ventures, Fundamentum and Honeywell also participated in the round.

The funds will be used to empower brands to provide Amazon Prime-like delivery experiences and redefining how products are delivered across diverse logistics networks. FarEye will further focus on expanding its software platform capabilities, drive European and North American expansion, and continue to attract talent. As part of the transaction, Gopi Vaddi, General Partner at TCV, will join FarEye’s board of directors.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Gopi Vaddi said, “We, at TCV, are pleased to partner with Kushal, Gaurav, Gautam and the entire management team. We have been impressed with FarEye’s platform capabilities and their long-term vision as a key enabler for digital transformation in logistics.”

FarEye currently serves global enterprises across retailers, manufacturers and third-party logistics providers & carriers, including DHL ecommerce, Amway, Dominos, Walmart, Posti, Gordon Foods, UPS and more.

PharmEasy acquires rival Medlife

Mumbai-based startup and recently turned unicorn PharmEasy has acquired peer Medlife for an undisclosed amount in a deal that shot its position to India’s largest medicine delivery platform.

In a blog post, Pharmeasy said that Medlife would discontinue its operations and would be merged with its own platform from May 25. Customers and retail partners of Medlife would be brought onto the Pharmeasy platform, the company added.

The acquisition comes at a time when Reliance Retail, Tata Group and Amazon have dipped their feet into the fast-growing e-pharmacy sector, especially during the pandemic. While Reliance acquired a majority stake in Chennai-based Netmeds for Rs 640 crore last August, the Tata Group signed a definitive agreement to acquire 65% stake in New Delhi-based 1mg earlier this month. Amazon, too, has begun offering its prescription drug deliveries to customers in Bengaluru through its largest seller Cloudtail.

Social media giants yet to comply with govt rules. Ban likely?

Social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may face a ban in India if they do not comply with the new Intermediary Guidelines. Central government had provided a three-month window to social media firms to comply with its rules. However, government officials say many larger platforms are not in full compliance yet and the deadline ends on May 25.

As per the new rules which comes into effect from Wednesday, the social media platforms will have to appoint compliance officers from India who will overlook the complaints, monitor the content and remove it if it is objectionable. Such rules are not only applicable to social media platforms but also to OTT platforms.

Failure to comply with IT rules could lead to social media companies losing status and protections as intermediaries.

Whatsapp’s response to GoI on new policy

Facebook-owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp has said that it will not limit the functionality of WhatsApp for users who haven’t accepted the new privacy policy. In a letter responding to the central government’s request to withdraw the new controversial policy, WhatsApp said it will maintain its current approach until the Personal Data Protection law kicks in. Until then, the app says it will continue to send reminders to its users to accept the new policy.

WhatsApp reiterated that the terms of service don’t change the privacy of people’s personal messages. The letter is in response to the Indian government’s notice to the Facebook-owned company. IT ministry asked WhatsApp in a May 18 letter to withdraw its updated privacy policy, which came into effect on May 15, calling them “discriminatory”, “unfair” and “irresponsible”. Centre has also threatened legal action against the company.

Earlier this year, the messaging giant said users would have to review its updated terms by Feb. 8 but delayed the rollout of new business features to mid-May following a global user backlash over the company’s data-sharing practices.

Stride Ventures launches 2nd debt fund for startups

Investment firm Strides Ventures has announced a debt fund for Indian startups. The target corpus of Stride Ventures’ Fund II is Rs1,875 crore. The firm will continue investing in early to late-stage startups with ticket size from the new fund expected to go up to Rs 70 crore, Strides Ventures said in a statement.

The new fund will have a commitment period of four years within which Strides Ventures expects to recycle Rs 3,000 crore total debt funding in startups. The investment firm is looking at the first close of Fund II within the next three months i.e. August.

The firm has funded more than 20 companies from Stride Ventures India Fund I which includes start-ups like Pocket Aces, Miko, Sugar Cosmetics Home Lane, Zetwerk etc, the statement said. In its 2nd funding, Stride Ventures will look to invest primarily in business-to-business, commerce and software-as-a-services consumer, healthtech, fintech, agritech and a few more sectors.

Edtech startup Tekie raises $1.5mn in seed funding

Tekie raises $1.5 million in seed funding

Bengaluru-based EdTech startup, Tekie, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding co-led by Silicon Valley-based GSV Ventures and Multiply Ventures. Better Capital has also participated in the round.

Tekie plans to focus on expanding their product offerings and explore new revenue models. They have recently launched their B2B offering where they partner with schools to enable coding in their curriculum.

Speaking about the platform, Anand Verma, co-founder of Tekie, said, “When we started four years back, our goal was to build a product with a focus on three pillars — put learning outcomes at the forefront, make learning an enjoyable experience, and provide the best teachers to learners. Our animated series, live projects, and gamified learning journey make the course an immersive experience and the students look forward to their sessions.”

Founded in 2017 by IIT Delhi graduate Naman Mukund and SRCC alumnus Anand Verma, Tekie is a live coding platform that brings the art of storytelling to make learning a movie-like experience.

Flipkart hires 23,000 workers amid COVID-19 2nd wave

E-commerce major Flipkart has continued to boost its supply chain ecosystem to help deliver products across the country while creating additional employment. Between March and May, Flipkart hired 23,000 people in various capacities across its supply chain, including delivery executives.

In the wake of the second wave of covid19, Walmart-owned Flipkart said the safety of its employees, customers, sellers and other partners in the ecosystem remains a top priority. “All new hires will be covered with our healthcare and wellness initiatives to ensure their safety during these testing times,” said Hemant Badri, senior vice-president, supply chain at Flipkart.

Flipkart earlier announced to strengthen its grocery supply chain infrastructure across the country. The e-commerce leader plans to add over eight lakh square feet of space over the next three months, it said in a statement.

NPCI ties up with Fintech PayCrore to promote cashless payments

The National Payments Corporation of India has partnered with a Turkish Fintech company PayCore to develop SoftPoS solutions for its card network RuPay. With this, millions of merchants can now convert their NFC-enabled smartphones into a POS machine to accept contactless payments through Rupay SoftPos. They will be able to accept the contactless payments of up to Rs 5,000 by a simple ‘tap and pay’ mechanism using their smartphones.

“This solution can be integrated into bank or aggregator acquiring systems to enable acquiring of RuPay using mobile phones enabled with NFC capability or add-ons,” NPCI stated in a statement.

As per the statement, NPCI aims to widen the spread of RuPay SoftPOS among micro, small and medium-sized businesses in different parts of the country, with its network of banks along with PayCore.

GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS

Huawei to launch new operating system for phones to tackle US sanctions

China’s Huawei Technologies will launch its new Harmony operating system for smartphones on June 2, Reuters reported. Through its own operating system, Huawei will no longer be reliant on Android.

This big move is aimed at recovering from the damage done by U.S. sanctions to its mobile phone business. The new HarmonyOS will only go some way to mitigating the impact of the 2019 sanctions that also barred Huawei from accessing critical U.S.-origin technology, impeding its ability to design its own chips and source components from outside vendors.

U.S. sanctions banned Google from providing technical support to new Huawei phone models and access to Google Mobile Services, the bundle of developer services upon which most Android apps are based.

Once the world’s biggest smartphone maker, Huawei now is ranked 6th globally with a 4% market share in the first quarter.

“Friends” cast, the reunion, AT&T’S last media hurrah?

AT&T’s HBO Max is finally releasing the much anticipated “Friends” reunion on May 27. However, Reuters report that this may also be the bookend for AT&T’s media ambitions.

The company is shoving its programming assets out the door to merge with Discovery (DISCA.O) read more. That deal isn’t expected to close until mid-2022, giving rivals time to get further ahead. Just as it is for the “Friends” cast, the reunion could be one of AT&T’s last media hurrahs, reported Reuters.

HBO Max paid Warner Bros, another AT&T unit, $425 million for a five-year contract from 2020 to air “Friends,” yanking the rights away from Netflix. The show has enduring popularity, and the unscripted homecoming of Jennifer Aniston and other cast members should help the streaming service acquire new customers. It could use the boost: AT&T’s 60 million digital and cable media subscribers worldwide are well short of Walt Disney’s more than 150 million and Netflix’s 207 million.

UK reviewing AstraZeneca’s Alexion takeover

U.K.’s competition regulator is reviewing AstraZeneca’s planned $39 billion takeover of U.S.-based Alexion on whether it could reduce competition in Britain or other markets, reported Reuters.

Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca agreed to buy Alexion in December in its largest ever deal in a bet on rare-disease immunology and to boost its business, which includes a fast-growing cancer medicines unit and a major COVID19 vaccine.

Shareholders of the Cambridge, U.K.-based company cleared the proposed deal at a general meeting earlier this month where 99.89% of votes cast were in favour of approving it. The United States in April approved the deal, as have other countries including Canada, Brazil and Russia. Regulatory clearances from regions such as Japan and the European Union are pending.



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