Top Stories Of The Week

Top Stories Of The Week

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There were several important developments in the startup space during the week, which include IPO-bound Zomato eyes $8.7 billion valuation; PharmEasy to acquire 66 percent stake in Thyrocare; Digit Insurance is raising $200 million, and OLA e-scooter deliveries from August and raises $4.4 billion in upsized US IPO.  Here are the stories that made headlines in the startup universe this week.

Zomato raises offer size to $1.25 bn; eyes $8.7 bn valuation

Food delivery platform Zomato is likely to have increased the offer size to nearly $1.25 billion with primary fundraise said to be about 20 percent higher at $1.2 billion, sources told CNBC-TV18.

The company is eying a listing valuation of $8.7 billion and plans to launch the IPO by mid-July, sources added.

The offer size has been raised from $1.1 billion earlier due to huge demand from the global tech specialist funds and EM fund, sources added.

The company has increased the primary issuance by 20 percent to $1.2 billion, while it has reduced the offer for sale (OFS) or the secondary potion by 50 percent to $50 million. The OFS is likely by InfoEdge which owns around 18 percent stake in Zomato.

Earlier this year, Zomato had filed its Draft Red Herring Prospectus (DRHP) with the market regulator SEBI for an initial public offering (IPO) to raise up to Rs 8,250 crore.

According to the DRHP, Zomato proposed to offer equity shares aggregating up to Rs 8,250 crore. Of this, the company will issue fresh shares worth Rs 7,500 crore, while Rs 750 crore will be an offer for sale for its existing investor Info Edge.

Info Edge had earlier announced that it would sell shares worth Rs 750 crore in the upcoming Zomato IPO.

Zomato seeks CCI approval to invest in Grofers

Food tech platform Zomato has sought approval from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for its proposed investment in Grofers. The company is looking to acquire a 9.3 percent stake in online grocery firm.

“The notification form is being filed in relation to the proposed acquisition by Zomato of approximately 9.3 percent stake in each of Grofers India and HoT (Hands on Trades Private Ltd) along with certain rights in each of the Targets (Proposed Transaction),” Zomato said in its filing with the CCI. The proposed transaction is not expected to have any impact on the competitive landscape in any potential relevant market in India, the filing added.

CNBC-TV18 had earlier reported that Zomato and Tiger Global have invested $120 million into e-grocery player Grofers, turning it into a unicorn with a valuation of over $1 billion.

PharmEasy to acquire 66% stake in Thyrocare

Healthtech unicorn PharmEasy is buying 66 percent of promoter A Vellumani’s stake in Thyrocare for nearly Rs 4500 crore. In return, Vellumani has committed Rs 1,500 crore for a 4.9 percent stake in Pharmeasy. Thyrocare promoters will sell stake at Rs 1,300 per share.

Docon Technologies, a full subsidiary of API, will be the acquirer and will make an open offer for an additional 26% stake.

“We are strong in consultations, treatment and technology. One large missing piece for us was diagnostics. When we looked at Thyrocare, it seemed like the perfect marriage,” said Siddharth Shah, co-founder and CEO of API Holdings to CNBC TV18.

The PharmEasy-Thyrocare deal comes at a time when online pharmacy sector is witnessing a wave of consolidation – the Tata-1mg deal, Reliance buying Netmeds and PharmEasy itself purchasing Medlife ahead of a potential IPO.

Policybazaar aims to file DRHP for IPO in July: Report

Online insurance marketplace Policybazaar plans to file its draft documents to go public in July, and eventually list by November-December at a valuation of $4-5 billion, as per a report by Moneycontrol.

Policybazaar’s parent Etech Aces Marketing and Consulting needs to get board approval, which it plans to do in the coming weeks, following which it will file its Draft Red Herring Prospectus with the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), according to Moneycontrol.

Cars24 nears $250 million deal with DST: Report

E-commerce platform for pre-owned vehicles Cars24 is in talks with Yuri Milner’s DST Global and other investors for a funding round that could double the used-vehicle site’s value to $2 billion, as per Bloomberg News.

Cars24 is set to raise $200-$250 million from existing backers including DST, which may lead the round, the report added. Other investors including Moore Capital Management could join the deal, which could close in a few weeks, the person added. The deal could value Cars24 at $1.6 billion to $2 billion, up from about $1 billion in November, when it closed a Series E round.

Infra.Market eyes $2.6 billion valuation

Construction materials marketplace Infra.Market is in advanced talks to raise $125 million led by existing investor Tiger Global Management at a valuation of $2.6 billion post-money as per a Moneycontrol report.

The round will more than double Infra.Market’s valuation from just three months back when it was valued at a billion dollars.

Infra.Market is a B2B e-commerce unicorn, running a brand of construction material, concrete and chemicals used in infrastructure projects.

Inflexor marks final close of early-stage VC fund at Rs 600 cr

Early-stage venture capital firm Inflexor Ventures has marked the final close of its fund at over Rs 600 crore, surpassing its initial domestic target corpus of Rs 500 crore.

Launched in 2020 by the founders of the erstwhile Parampara Fund, Inflexor Ventures had made the first close of the Rs 500 crore fund in August 2020, at Rs 230 crore.

The tech-based fund is now looking to invest in 25 startups through the new fund. It will primarily look to back fintech, healthtech, consumertech, agritech and others along with futuristic sectors like spacetech, the company said in a statement.

FUNDING THIS WEEK

 Insuretech startup Digit Insurance is raising $200 million from new investors Sequoia Capital India and IIFL Alternate Asset Managers as well as existing investor Faering Capital and others in its latest round of funding, subject to IRDAI approval. The company claims this to be one of the biggest funding rounds in the Indian insurance industry and is likely to double Digit’s valuation to $3.5 billion.

 Fresh meat and seafood e-tailer Licious has raised $192 million in a Series F funding round, led by Singapore-based investment firm Temasek and Multiples Private Equity. Brunei Investment Agency and existing investors 3one4 Capital, Bertelsmann India Investments, Vertex Growth Fund, and Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India also participated in this round of fundraising. The fresh funds will be deployed towards deeper investment in technology-led supply chain transformation, quality improvement and customer experience elevation along with expansion plans.

 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.

 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.

 Gaming and entertainment platform WinZO has raised $65 million in a Series C funding round, led by California-based Griffin Gaming Partners, taking the total tally of capital raised by the company to $90 million.

 10club, an e-commerce marketplace aggregator, has raised $40 million in seed funding. The funding round was co-led by Fireside Ventures and an international investor active in the space. The round also saw participation from HeyDay, a player in the roll up space, PDS international, Class 5 Global, Secocha Ventures led by Sanket Parekh, boAt founders Aman Gupta and Sameer Mehta in their individual capacity and several other global strategic investors.

 Enterprise commerce AI provider Hypersonix has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by existing investor B Capital Group with participation from Intel Capital, Firebolt Ventures, Magicus Ventures and Gokul Rajaram among others. The company’s valuation has now quadrupled to $200 million just a year after raising $11.5 million in Series A funding led by Intel Capital in March 2020. So far, Hypersonix has secured investments worth $50 million.

 Fintech startup Slice has raised $20 million from existing investors Gunosy and Blume Ventures among others. The firm also announced the addition of two features to its “super card”. Members can get up to 2 percent rewards on every card transaction which are instantly redeemable to cash, the credit card platform said in a statement.

 Logistics startup GoBolt has raised $20 million in its Series B round, led by Paragon Partners Growth Fund II and existing investor Aavishkaar Capital. The funding round also included a small secondary component as well as debt lines from private banks, the company said. With the fresh influx of capital, the company is also looking to expand its offerings into SaaS-based & E2E logistics solutions.

 The UAE’s sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) has picked up a minority stake in the IPO-bound digital payments player Mobikwik for nearly $20 million. The latest round of funding from the ADIA values the company at $700 million, according to a Registrar of Companies filing by Mobikwik.

 D2C brand in the fresh vegetables and fruits space FRAAZO has raised $11 million Series A financing round of equity funding led by Sixth Sense Ventures, NABARD-backed NABVENTURES and existing investors Equanimity Ventures, Manish Choksi, Vice Chairman and member of the Board of Directors of Asian Paints Limited, and Apar Group. With the fresh funding, FRAAZO said it is set to expand operations pan-India.

 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.

 Homegrown game streaming platform, Loco has secured $9 million for its first round of fundraising as an independent company. The seed round was led by South Korean gaming firm, Krafton, as well as Lumikai, India’s first gaming and interactive media fund. The round also saw participation by Hashed, Hiro Capital, North Base Media, Axilor Ventures, and 3one4 Capital. With this raise, Loco will be spun off into an independent entity from its parent, Pocket Aces, a digital entertainment company.

 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.

 Online makeup and beauty learning platform, Airblack has raised $5.2 Million in Series A round co-led by Info Edge Ventures and Elevation Capital. The company said the round saw participation from Atelier Ventures; Ankur Nagpal, founder and CEO of Teachable; Kunal Shah, founder of CRED; and others. It intends to use the cash proceeds for accelerating the expansion of Beauty Club, launching new clubs and investing in product, engineering and brand.

 Two-wheeler consumer brand CredR has raised Rs 48.1 crore in its latest round led by Yamaha Motors, and existing investors Omidyar Network India and Eight Roads Ventures, with participation from automotive focused Astarc Ventures. The funding will be used towards consolidating its market position, strengthening its technology platform and expanding customer offerings, the company said in a statement.

 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.

 Healthcare-focused deeptech startup Niramai Health Analytix has received research funding from UK-based development finance institution CDC Group for its Covid-19 screening solution. NIRAMAI FeverTest is a smart software that enables screening for COVID symptoms in public places by leveraging computer vision and AI to analyse and monitor crowd compliance to COVID-19 guidelines. The technology is deployed in two major railway stations of Bengaluru in partnership with South Western Railways.

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.

Ola CEO test rides upcoming E-scooter, deliveries from August

Ahead of the much-anticipated launch of the first electric scooter from Ola Electric this month, the company’s CEO Bhavish Aggarwal shared a glimpse of how it will look and perform on the roads.

In a tweet shared along with a video, Ola Electric CEO claimed the electric scooter “Goes 0-60 faster than you can read this tweet! Ready or not, a revolution is coming!”

While speaking to CNBC TV-18 earlier, GR Arun Kumar, Group CFO of Ola electric had said that the company will start E-Scooter deliveries will start from August, 2021. He also added that the first phase of Ola’s factory construction will have a capacity of 2 million vehicles.

The anticipated price of the scooter is around Rs 1 lakh.

Uber to let office staff work up to half their time from anywhere

Uber will let employees work half their hours from wherever they want as part of its revamped return-to-office strategy, Reuters reported.

In one of the most flexible policies offered yet by a big U.S. tech company as the COVID-19 pandemic eases, Uber plans to say that those working in offices need to spend at least 50% of their time there.

But unlike many other companies the policy does not mean at least three days per week in the office, the source said. Instead, workers can show up five days one week and zero the next.

Mobile Premier League launches in the US

Online gaming platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) has announced its official launch in the US.

The Sequoia India-backed has opened an office in New York to oversee operations in the region. The MPL app will launch in the US on iOS and Android with games like baseball and solitaire. It will roll out new games and formats, such as synchronous gaming, in the market throughout the year, the company said in a statement

UK SME fintech platform Tide forays into India, commits $100 M investment

UK-based Neobank for SMEs Tide is all set to enter the Indian market, its first international foray with a commitment to invest $100 million and create 1000 jobs over the next five years.

The jobs will be across a variety of verticals including software development, product development and field support. Tide currently has over 200 employees in India, primarily at its technology centre in Hyderabad.

The fintech company said that it selected India as its first international market due to the considerable commercial opportunities available and has a long-term ambition to operate in markets accounting for 25 percent of global SMEs.

This year, the company said it is aiming to onboard 25,000 SMEs in India, and it is looking to serve about 2 million SMEs in the country in the next few years

Triton EV Gets $600 M Worth of Triton EV Semi Trucks Order from Foxbase Technologies

Triton Electric Vehicle has announced that Foxbase Technologies has signed a corporate purchase order for 4000 Triton EV Semi Trucks worth $600 million. Foxbase Technologies is a Bengaluru based technology solutions company which has forayed into EV and EV Charging Station business in South India.

The Triton EV Semi Trucks shall be supplied to commercial Industrial clients across the South zone of India. First round of delivery will be in 2022.

Telangana government has also promised to give a 3000 Electric Vehicle Government Order to Triton EV.

FIR against Twitter officials over distorted India map

The Uttar Pradesh police have lodged an FIR against two senior officials of Twitter India over the social media platform putting up a distorted map of India. The FIR was lodged on the basis of a complaint by an office-bearer of right wing Bajrang Dal.

The map, which showed the Union Territories of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir outside India, was noticed on Monday, leading to an uproar by netizens. The social media giant immediately removed the map, following the backlash.

The FIR names Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari and News Partnerships Head Amrita Tripathi as accused who have been booked. Charges under Information Technology Act section 74 (publication for fraudulent purpose) have also been invoked in the case.

Big Tech’s push into financial sector raises concerns: RBI

Plans by Big Tech to foray further into India’s financial sector pose risks for traditional banks as the tech firms have the potential to become dominant players in financial services, RBI said.

The plans will also create governance-related challenges for regulators, the Central Bank wrote in its bi-annual financial stability report on Thursday.

Major technology firms “straddle many different lines of business with sometimes opaque overarching governance structures,” it said.

The RBI said concerns included operational risks, too-big-to fail issues, challenges for antitrust rules, cybersecurity and data privacy. But it added that positive outcomes could include efficiency gains and more access to financial services.

The central bank’s warnings come at a time of much tension between the government and US tech giants over issues that range from e-commerce rules to data privacy and content posted on their platforms.

Robinhood’s move to go public comes months after the company found itself at the centre of a confrontation between a new generation of retail investors and Wall Street hedge funds in late January.

Koo, Google file compliance report under new IT rules; Facebook to follow suit

Google and Koo have submitted their compliance reports in accordance with the new IT rules, which took effect on May 26.

As per the new IT law, large social media companies need to publish periodic compliance reports every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken. Social media companies have to submit a compliance report every month, in accordance with the new rule.

96 per cent of the complainants received by Google were related to copyright. The company has submitted its first compliance report, in which it stated that it received 27,762 complaints during the period between April 1 and April 30, of which 26,707 were for copyright.

Koo in its report showed that of the 5,502 complaints reported by the users, 22.7 percent were removed, while other actions were taken against rest 4,249.

Meanwhile, social media giant Facebook has informed the government that it will submit its report on July 2, which will be an interim report; the full report will be published by July 15. The July 15 report by Facebook will also contain data related to WhatsApp.

Flipkart launches ‘Shopsy’ app to help local entrepreneurs

E-commerce giant Flipkart has launched Shopsy, an app to help individuals start online businesses without any investment, and also deepen e-commerce penetration, particularly in non-metros.

Shopsy will offer 15 crore products across fashion, beauty, mobiles, home and more for individual entrepreneurs. With Shopsy, Flipkart aims to enable over 25 million online entrepreneurs by 2023.

The platform will be free for small businesses but sellers will have to pay the usual marketplace fees.

GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS

Robinhood makes IPO filing public

Robinhood, the online brokerage at the center of Wall Street’s recent retail trading frenzy, has disclosed paperwork for its floatation on the Nasdaq, setting the stage for one of the most hotly anticipated initial public offerings (IPO) of the year.

In December, Reuters reported that the app had picked Goldman Sachs Group to lead preparations for an IPO, which could value it at more than $20 billion.

The company’s platform allows users to make unlimited commission-free trades in stocks, exchange-traded funds, options and cryptocurrencies.

Uber lost China, but gained handsomely in Didi Global IPO

Five years ago, Uber bowed out of the world’s second-largest economy by selling its China business to rival Didi Global in exchange for a stake in the company. Now, the US ride-hailing company is cashing in on its trade, reports Bloomberg. This as the deal left Uber with a 20 percent stake in its rival.

Uber has been selling some of its shares in Didi in the run-up to the IPO, reducing its holding from about 14% in the first quarter.

Didi, the biggest ride-hailing company in China, raised about $4.4 billion in its US initial IPO on Tuesday and sold more shares than it originally planned.

That makes Uber’s current 12 percent stake worth nearly $8.1 billion.

China’s Didi raises $4.4 billion in upsized US IPO

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.

According to Reuters, the increase in deal size came after the Didi investor order book was oversubscribed multiple times.

Didi Global will be added to FTSE Russell’s global equity indexes on July 8.

Cybersecurity firm SentinelOne valued at nearly $11 billion in public debut

Shares of security software provider SentinelOne jumped 21.4 percent in their US stock market debut on Wednesday, giving the company a market capitalization of nearly $11 billion.

Its shares opened at $46 and finished the day at $42.5, above their initial public offering (IPO) price of $35, indicating investors’ interest in fast-growing software companies in a week flooded with IPOs, according to Reuters.

SentinelOne sold 35 million shares to raise about $1.23 billion in the IPO. It had earlier planned to sell 32 million shares priced between $31 and $32 per share.

SentinelOne protects laptops and mobile phones from security breaches by using artificial intelligence technology to identify unusual behavior in enterprise networks. It competes with Crowdstrike and its customers include JetBlue, Estee Lauder, and the US government.

Language learning app Duolingo files for US IPO

Language-learning app Duolingo on Monday filed for a US initial public offering (IPO) and revealed that its revenue more than doubled in the first quarter this year.

The company was last valued at $2.4 billion after a USD 35 million funding from Durable Capital Partners and General Atlantic in November, as per a Reuters report.

Duolingo recorded revenue of $55.4 million for the three months ended March 31. Net losses in the same period widened to $13.5 million from $2.2 million a year ago.

Gates Foundation commits $2.1 bn over next five years to gender equality

The Gates Foundation will be committing $2.1 billion to advancing gender equality globally over the next five years.

This announcement comes at a time when government officials around the world are gathered in Paris for the Generation Equality Forum, an event that focuses on providing greater opportunities for women and girls worldwide.

According to CNBC, the Gates Foundation plans to focus on three core areas that are key to advancing gender equality: economic empowerment; family planning and health; and accelerating women’s leadership.

UK bans Binance in latest cryptocurrency crackdown

Britain’s financial regulator has ordered Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, to stop all regulated activity and issued a warning to consumers about the platform which is coming under growing scrutiny globally.

In a notice dated June 25, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said Binance Markets Ltd, Binance’s UK entity, “must not, without the prior written consent of the FCA, carry out any regulated activities with immediate effect”. Binance did not respond to Reuters for comment.

While trading of cryptocurrencies is not directly regulated in Britain, offering services such as trading in cryptocurrency derivatives does require authorisation.

The FCA has told Binance that by June 30 it must display a notice stating “BINANCE MARKETS LIMITED IS NOT PERMITTED TO UNDERTAKE ANY REGULATED ACTIVITY IN THE UK” on its website and social media channels.

Andreessen Horowitz triples down on crypto with new $2.2 bn fund

Silicon Valley’s venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz is launching a new $2.2 billion fund to invest more money in crypto networks.

The move follows a string of media reports in April that the firm, which been investing in crypto assets since 2013, was looking to raise as much as $1 billion to invest in cryptocurrencies and crypto startups, reports Reuters.

Andreessen Horowitz also said Bill Hinman, the former director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s division of corporation finance, will join its crypto arm as an advisory partner

Facebook set to finance regional Australia newspaper fund

Facebook will provide money for an “innovation fund” for 170 regional Australian newspapers as part of a planned licensing deal, Reuters reported, calling the move a show of co-operation between the social media giant and local publishers.

This brings a grassroots element to a string of deals announced by Facebook in Australia since the country legislated to make it and Google negotiate content payments to media outlets or risk government arbitration.

Terms of the deal including time frame, the amount of money and how it will be divided or spent were not disclosed in a joint statement from CPA and Facebook. The statement said the parties had signed a letter of intent to strike a deal only.

Facebook partners with Ubisoft in cloud-gaming push

Facebook has teamed up with French videogame maker Ubisoft Entertainment to bolster its cloud-gaming platform with popular titles such as “Assassin’s Creed”, the social media giant said on Thursday.

Facebook Gaming currently has more than 25 games including Roller Coaster Tycoon Touch by Atari, and Lego Legacy Heroes Unboxed, and Dragon Mania Legends by Gameloft.

With the Ubisoft tie-up, Facebook said its users will now have access to titles including Hungry Shark Evolution, Hungry Dragon, and the blockbuster Assassin’s Creed franchise.

Amazon buys encrypted messaging app Wickr

Tech giant Amazon has acquired the encrypted messaging app ‘Wickr’ to enable secure communication as employees largely work from home. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Amazon said in a statement it would incorporate Wickr in its Amazon Web Services (AWS) division, which offers cloud computing and other services.

AWS will continue to offer Wickr services including end-to-end encrypted communications which meet certain regulatory requirements, AFP reported.

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.

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.

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.

China proposes rules to punish illegal e-commerce pricing

China’s market regulator has issued draft rules to punish illegal pricing activities, including heavy subsidies and the practice by online platforms of charging different prices based on a customers’ purchasing behaviour.

Violation of the rules could incur a fine of 0.1% to 0.5% of a business’ annual sales or even suspension of operations, according to a statement from the State Administration for Market Regulations (SAMR).

Putin signs law forcing foreign social media giants to open Russian offices

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that obliges foreign social media giants to open offices in Russia, Reuters reported. The latest move by Moscow is a bid to exert greater control over Big Tech.

As per Reuters, the Russian authorities are keen to strengthen their control of the internet and to reduce their dependence on foreign companies and countries. Alexander Khinshtein, the head of the information policy and IT committee at the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said the law applied to internet giants with a daily audience in Russia of at least 500,000 people.

The firms must register a personal account on the website of Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state communications regulator, he wrote on his Telegram channel. Companies that violate the legislation could face penalties such as advertising bans.

The new law potentially affects 20 companies, including retailers and e-commerce companies, according to Reuters.

Amazon says its carbon footprint grew 19% last year

Amazon said that its carbon footprint grew 19 percent last year as it rushed to deliver a surge of online orders during the pandemic.

The ecommerce giant said activities tied to its businesses emitted 60.64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year – the equivalent of burning through 140 million barrels of oil.

Amazon’s carbon footprint has risen every year since 2018, when it first disclosed its carbon footprint, something employees had pushed the company to do, the Associated Press reported.

As per the report, Amazon said while its carbon footprint grew, the amount of carbon it emitted for every dollar spent on the site fell 16% in 2020.

82-year-old female astronaut trainee to travel to space with Jeff Bezos

Amazon’s billionaire founder Jeff Bezos will be joined by Wally Funk, one of the 13 women who passed NASA’s astronaut training program in the 1960s, on the first crewed flight into space from his rocket company Blue Origin later this month.

The 82-year-old Funk will be the oldest person ever to travel into space, Blue Origin said in an announcement on Thursday. She was the first female flight instructor at a US military base and the first woman to become an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

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