There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Wednesday, which include Google has published first transparency report for India in accordance with the new IT Rules; Fourth Partner Energy has raised $125 million from Norfund & the Rise Fund; Cars24 secured Rs 100 crore via debt from Trifecta Capital as per Entrackr; China’s Didi raises $4.4 billion in upsized US IPO. Australian regulator seeks feedback on managing ‘risky’ cryptocurrency assets. Here are the stories that made headlines in the startup universe.
Google removed content on nearly 60K URLs in India in April
Google has released its Transparency Report for the month of April under the new IT rules that came into effect starting May 26.
The report shows that the company received 27,762 complaints from individual users, with most of the complaints being around copyright issues. Google also carried out 59,350 ‘removal actions’ during the month.
This is Google’s first monthly transparency report under the new rules, which require that social media intermediaries publish periodic compliance report every month mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken, and the number of specific communication links or parts of information that the intermediary has removed or disabled access to “in pursuance of any proactive monitoring conducted by using automated tools or any other relevant information as may be specified.”
Google said that in its future reports data on removals as a result of automated detection, as well as data relating to impersonation and graphic sexual content complaints received after May 25, 2021, will be included.
Fourth Partner Energy raises $125 mn from Norfund & The Rise Fund
Hyderabad-based Fourth Partner Energy has raised $125 million in equity funding from Norwegian Investment Fund, Norfund and existing shareholder The Rise Fund, TPG’s global impact investing platform.
This $100 million marks Norfund’s maiden investment into India’s leading solar energy company, while The Rise Fund is investing an additional $25 million into Fourth Partner, following its $70 million investment in July 2018.
Focused on building and financing solar projects across commercial, industrial and institutional entities, Fourth Partner Energy is now strengthening its onsite and offsite solar presence in the subcontinent; as well as key markets across South and Southeast Asia. The company is targeting 3 GW of installed solar capacity by 2025 and expansion of capabilities across energy storage, EV charging infrastructure.
Cars24 raises Rs 100 cr debt round from Trifecta: Report
Used car selling platform Cars24 has raised Rs 100 crore in a debt round from Trifecta Capital as per Entrackr.
The fresh infusion has come after seven months of the company’s $200 million equity round that made it the first unicorn in the used car space, the report said.
Sequoia Capital’s Surge enrols 23 startups in its fifth cohort
Sequoia Capital’s accelerator program Surge has shortlisted 23 startups to enter its fifth and the largest cohort of early-stage ventures. Surge and other investors have invested $55 million in this cohort of startups, which were handpicked from India and Southeast Asia.
The launch of this new cohort of startups comes just a few months after Sequoia Capital closed a $195 million seed fund dedicated to making investments in early-stage startups through Surge.
Launched in 2019, Surge offers $1-2 million in pre-Series A funding. So far, 91 startups across 15 sectors have entered Surge’s ‘rapid scale up program’ in four cohorts while raising a combined total of $172 million in seed funding.
Surge says the unifying theme of its fifth cohort of startups is digital and the many ways in which it can transform how people live, work and learn. Out of the 23 companies, at least 13 of them operate in fintech, payments, communications, logistics and SaaS (Software As A Service) – sectors that are leading as well as leveraging the digital drive in the pandemic era.
Edtech platform Nalanda Learning raises Rs 40 cr
Edtech venture Nalanda Learning Systems has raised Rs 40 crore from Aavishkaar Capital. Disrupting the early childhood learning space in India through its digital early learning platform, Nalanda Learning claims it has established market leadership in West Bengal through its chain of “Little Laureates” preschools.
The company has now set its sights on expanding nationally through its integrated platform of digital content, curriculum and pedagogy, targeting children in early years.
Through its integrated platform, Nalanda intends to not only ensure sustained learning and development outcomes for children, but also enable the pre-schooling industry to revive and upskill and provide comprehensive, contemporary, early learning programs to children across India.
Detect Technologies raises $12 million
Industrial AI firm Detect Technologies, has raised $12 million in an additional round of funding to enhance industrial productivity globally and accelerate digitisation of the industrial sector.
Accel led this round with significant participation from existing investor Elevation Capital, and from other existing investors – Bharat Innovation Fund, BlueHill Capital and Axilor Ventures. Stride Ventures also participated as a venture debt partner.
The company will utilise this capital to further expand and strengthen its sales and operations teams across India and international markets in North and South America, Singapore, Indonesia, Middle East, and Europe and to fulfil the accelerating demand for industrial automation. Part of the funds will also be deployed for R&D and product innovation to strengthen Detect’s lead in industrial AI and IoT.
Meddo closes pre-Series A round at $6 million
Healthtech startup Meddo has closed pre-Series A round at $6 million led by SRI Capital, Picus Capital, and Alkemi Capital.
The company will use funds to increase presence and national footprint, invest in technology solutions that integrate seamlessly with the Meddo offering, double down on patient offerings under Meddo Sure to achieve the vision of complete healthcare cover for patients, and offer affordable plans that cover all expenses from primary health care (OPD) to hospitalisation (IPD), it said in a statement.
With a vision to organize the highly unorganized ambulatory services sector in India, Meddo claims to be an omnichannel healthcare player offering ‘patient-oriented Care’ in the true sense.
Powerhouse91 secures seed funding from US-based VC
Powerhouse91 tech-driven company acquiring and growing e-commerce brands in India, has secured seed funding of an undisclosed amount from US-based venture capital firm Crossbeam Venture Partners (Crossbeam). Crossbeam supports companies of the next generation economy and has backed similar major players in the U.S. market, as per a statement.
Powerhouse91’s business model relies on identifying high-potential consumer brands, acquiring, and scaling them through growth capital, shared resources and deep e-commerce focused optimizations.
With the fresh funding, the company intends to continue growing its acquired brands to a significant scale, it said.
EV battery-swapping startup ‘Chargeup’ raises undisclosed capital
Battery swapping network for e-rickshaws Chargeup has raised an undisclosed amount in its ongoing pre-Series A funding, the company said in a statement.
The round was led by MapmyIndia with participation from a group of HNIs. The funding will be used as an investment in marketing for customer acquisition and building the tech stack.
Founded in 2019, Chargeup claims to have adopted an advanced technology-driven approach to offer Battery as a Service (BaaS) solutions to e-rickshaw drivers.
From two stations at the outset, it has grown to 18 stations, catering to 500+ drivers daily, the company added. The company is clocking 9,000 swaps per month and has covered 3.5 million km on its platform since inception.
Flipkart opens grocery fulfillment centre in Coimbatore
E-commerce giant Flipkart has announced the launch of its grocery services in Coimbatore with the opening of its first fulfillment center in the region to meet the growing demand for groceries online.
The opening of this facility also bolsters Flipkart’s supply chain in the South and will create thousands of direct and indirect employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, said the company in a statement.
The newly built facility will generate direct employment for nearly 1,200 people while encouraging local entrepreneurship. In the initial stages, only a part of the facility will be utilised for which over 500 people will be hired. It will be the only facility for Flipkart which will be almost entirely run by women constituting 90 percent of the overall workforce, the company claimed.
To enable more women to join the workforce, Flipkart under its initiative Vividhta has set up a creche facility at the centre and will offer transportation and meals to all its employees to enable them to work effectively.
Online commerce is a leveller: Amitabh Kant
Online retail is set to become the third-largest online retail market by scale by CY30 with an annual gross merchandise value (GMV) of $55 billion in CY21 and $350 billion in CY30, as per a report released by the homegrown consulting firm RedSeer.
Niti Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant while speaking at the event said that online commerce is going to be a leveller. He further added that 40 percent of kiranas are likely to get digitized and online shoppers grew amid the pandemic and is expected to reach 25 million by 2025.
“Ecommerce still in infancy, however, it has transformed the way Indians do business,” added Kant.
The report added that India’s consumer digital economy which was pegged at $85-90 billion in CY 20, is expected to become a $800 billion market by 2030.
ZunRoof witnesses 160% growth In FY 2021
Hometech startup ZunRoof has witnessed a sharp growth of 160 percent in the FY2021. The startup has installed a total of 5000+ solar rooftops owing to a 20 MW+ of rooftop solar capacity, saved over Rs 50 crores in electricity bills for their customers, and reached $1 million in monthly revenue from the residential solar rooftop brand, according to ZunRoof.
Over the years, the firm has created 4 growing brands – ZunRoof, ZunSolar (caters to supply side of electricity issues by using un-utilized rooftops and providing comprehensive solar solutions), Zunpulse and Zunpure (caters to the demand side of electricity utility by providing a sense and control of every appliance in one’s house).
The company’s fastest-growing brand Zunpulse and has already been able to clock a growth of 10-15x in the first few months and provided its customers with 50,000+ IoT devices, it said in a statement.
LinkedIn denies fresh data breach
Professional networking platform LinkedIn has denied that data of its 700 million users was compromised in a hacking attempt.
LinkedIn released a statement on its website, clarifying that the alleged data breach didn’t happen and no user data was at risk. “Our teams have investigated a set of alleged LinkedIn data that has been posted for sale. We want to be clear that this is not a data breach and no private LinkedIn member data was exposed,” LinkedIn said.
“Our initial investigation has found that this data was scraped from LinkedIn and other various websites and includes the same data reported earlier this year in our April scraping update,” the statement further said.
The company added that the members trust LinkedIn with their data and any misuse of user’s data violates its policies.
The data breach was announced by the alleged hacker on June 22, who also offered the data of 700 million users for sale, according to a report by RestorePrivacy. The report said that the data contained email addresses, full names, phone numbers, physical addresses, geolocation records, LinkedIn username and profile URL, personal and professional experience or background, genders, and other social media accounts and usernames.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
China’s Didi raises $4.4 billion in upsized US IPO, say sources
Chinese ride hailing company Didi Global Inc raised $4.4 billion in its U.S IPO on Tuesday, pricing it at the top of its indicated range and increasing the number of shares sold, sources told Reuters.
Didi sold 317 million American Depository Shares (ADS), versus the planned 288 million, at $14 apiece, Reuters report further added.
This would give Didi a valuation of about $73 billion on a fully diluted basis. On a non-diluted basis, it will be worth $67.5 billion. The company is expected to debut on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30.
According to Reuters, the increase in deal size came after the Didi investor order book was oversubscribed multiple times.
Australian regulator seeks feedback on managing ‘risky’ cryptocurrency assets
Australia’s securities regulator said it would consult market participants on proposals to identify appropriate crypto assets and set up good market practices for financial instruments that expose them to digital currency-backed assets.
The move comes as governments and regulators worldwide try to regulate the digital assets industry in the wake of rising investor affinity for cryptocurrencies, which are volatile and risky for users and financial institutions.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) sees a “real risk of harm to consumers and markets” if exchange-traded products (ETPs) and other instruments exposed to crypto-backed assets are not developed and regulated properly.
The regulator is proposing to establish good practices with regard to the pricing, ownership, risk management, and disclosure of these instruments to protect retail investors and maintain fair market practices.
The regulator will issue a feedback report and publish information on good practices following consultation on the proposals, it said.
Google to clamp down on online financial scams in Britain
Google will clamp down on financial fraud on its platform in Britain. As per a report by Reuters, the company said that all financial services will need to be verified by the regulator before they can advertise.
Britain’s financial watchdog issued 1,200 consumer warnings last year about scams advertised via social media platforms by fake companies, double the number in 2019.
Google said in a blog post it will begin enforcing the new policy, which follows calls from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to vet paid promotions, from September 6.
The regulator will assess the outcome of Google’s decision once the changes take effect, FCA spokesperson added.
Google deal with French publishers on hold pending antitrust decision
Google has put on hold a preliminary deal with some French publishers to pay for news content as it awaits an antitrust decision that could set the tone for copyright talks on online news in Europe, sources told Reuters.
Under the three-year framework agreement signed by Google and the Alliance de la presse d’information generale (APIG), a lobby group representing most major French publishers, the U.S. company agreed in January to pay a total of $76 million to 121 publications, according to documents seen by Reuters.
It is one of the highest-profile deals under Google’s “News Showcase” programme to provide compensation for news snippets used in search results, and the first of its kind in Europe.
However, no individual licensing agreement has been signed by Google with an APIG member since then and talks are de facto frozen pending the antitrust decision, the sources said. It is not clear whether the framework agreement might be scrapped as a result of the antitrust ruling in France, which is expected in the coming weeks, the sources added.
The French competition authority hasn’t said when it will publish its decision.
Facebook launches newsletter product Bulletin
Facebook has launched its newsletter product “Bulletin”, a standalone platform for free and paid articles and podcasts that will aim to rival Substack
Facebook is pushing to compete in the fast-growing email newsletter trend, as high-profile journalists and writers have left media companies over the past year to strike out on their own, the tech giant said in a statement.
Facebook said it would not take a cut of Bulletin creators’ revenue at launch and that creators can choose their own subscription prices. It is launching the platform with a number of high-profile personalities and writers, including sportscaster Erin Andrews, author Malcolm Gladwell and “Queer Eye” star Tan France.
The social networking platform said the articles and podcasts would also be available through the Facebook News Feed and through Facebook’s News section.
Twitter names new chief customer officer amid revenue push
Twitter has named Sarah Personette as chief customer officer to oversee the social media platform’s global ad sales, global content partnerships and revenue operations.
Personette, who is vice president of global client solutions, will step into her new role on Aug. 1. She will replace Customers Lead Matt Derella, who will leave after nine years at Twitter.
Personette’s appointment comes as Twitter aims to double annual revenue by 2023, and expand its advertising capabilities to better compete with digital ad giants including Facebook.
Orange to launch experimental 5G network amid telecom rush to the cloud
Orange will launch an experimental 5G network using a cloud-based open platform and artificial intelligence in July, as the telecom industry rushes to shift services onto the cloud in a bid to cut costs and modernise.
Orange will build the network in Lannion, northern France, in partnership with companies such as Mavenir, Casa Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Dell Technologies and Xiaomi, according to Reuters.
Orange has said it aims to have 100 percent of its new equipment be compatible with open RAN by 2025, a plan similar to that of Spanish operator Telefonica, as Europe’s telecoms firms face the challenge of ever-accelerating digitalisation amid the pandemic.