Here are the top headlines from the startup space this week
Meesho announces ESOP buyback worth $5.5M
Social commerce platform Meesho has announced a $5.5 million employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) liquidity programme for all eligible employees.
Last year, the company implemented its second buyback worth about $5 million (about Rs 37 crore).
“As we hire across the board and scale our tech and product talent by 2.5X, ESOPs will give employees high ownership, while providing more opportunities for wealth creation,” Vidit Aatrey, founder and CEO, Meesho, said.
The company said that over the last six months it has seen 2.8X growth in monthly transacting users and a 2.5X rise in monthly orders.
Swiggy allots stock options worth Rs 329 cr to employees, top executives: Report
Foodtech giant Swiggy has allotted equity shares under its employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) and management stock ownership plan (MSOP) to its employees and top executives respectively, Entrackr reported.
According to the report, Swiggy has allotted ESOP Equity shares worth Rs 132.5 crore to 180 employees. With an ESOP allotment worth Rs 31.2 crore, the company’s CFO Rahul Bothra is the biggest beneficiary of the ESOP program followed by Anuj Rathi (SVP, revenue and growth) who received Rs 20.4 crore worth ESOP.
Phani Kishan Addepalli, who was recently elevated as co-founder of Swiggy and named as CEO of Supr Daily, has received ESOPs amounting to Rs 8.3 crore, the report claimed.
Software services firm Zendesk to buy SurveyMonkey parent
Software services company Zendesk has entered into an agreement to acquire Momentive Global, owner of the popular SurveyMonkey platform for nearly $4 billion in an all-stock deal.
Momentive shareholders will receive 0.225 shares of Zendesk’s stock for each share of Momentive stock they own, which implied a value of about $28 per share at the time of the announcement.
According to Zendesk CEO Mikkel Svane, the purchase will enable Zendesk customers to “build more meaningful relationships” by providing opportunities for Momentive and Zendesk to cross-sell and co-develop existing and future products, potentially driving Zendesk’s 2024 revenue to $3.5 billion.
This will be the company’s biggest acquisition.
EaseMyTrip to acquire travel B2B marketplace Traviate
Online travel portal Ease My Trip has signed a non-binding agreement to acquire travel B2B marketplace Traviate.
This will be the first-ever acquisition by EaseMyTrip that will add a new revenue stream and fast track its expansion in the B2B hotel and holiday space, the company said in a statement.
The startup aims to further strengthen its B2B offerings with the Traviate acquisition and unlock new ways for its travel partners to increase productivity and efficiency. The aim is to create a more robust and growth-driven trajectory for the company while contributing to the revival of the global travel ecosystem, the firm added.
GlobalBees acquires Prolixr to enter personal care segment
GlobalBees, a Thrasio-style venture that aggregates and invests in e-commerce brands, has bought home-grown millennial skincare brand Prolixr marking its entry into the personal care space. However, the financial details were not disclosed.
With the acquisition of the new-age brand, global investor SoftBank-backed GlobalBees has entered the personal care industry, which is expected to reach $37.2 billion in India by the year 2025, the company said in a statement.
BetterPlace acquires OLX People & Waah Jobs
Blue-collar workforce management platform Betterplace has announced the strategic acquisition of OLX People and Waah Jobs.
With this acquisition, the company aims to strengthen its portfolio of workforce management solutions and become one of the largest providers of solutions in the blue and grey collar gig staffing ecosystem, it said in a statement.
The new joint entity will use proprietary technology that will empower organizations to manage the complete lifecycle of their blue-collar workforce from a single platform. Blue and grey collar users on the integrated platform will be able to receive a spectrum of services that includes salary credit updates, benefits summary, access to financial services, medical advice. They can also upskill themselves through various vernacular training modules, the firm said.
Chalo acquires Shuttl, accelerates plan for International expansion
In a strategic move, public transport technology company Chalo has acquired Shuttl, the app-based office commute bus aggregator for an undisclosed amount.
This acquisition will enable Chalo to accelerate its plans for international expansion as Shuttl already has a presence in Bangkok, and enter large Indian metro cities that Chalo was not present in so far.
Shuttl addresses the premium bus services market targeted at office-goers looking for a more comfortable commute, and is therefore a natural extension for Chalo’s stage carriage city buses business.
Lotus Herbals acquires 32% strategic stake in Fixderma India
Beauty and personal care products company Lotus Herbals has acquired a 32 percent strategic stake in dermaceuticals maker Fixderma India.
With this move, Lotus Herbals plans to foray into the dermaceutical segment offering a premium range of skincare and hair care products that bridge prescription-based products and over-the-counter cosmetics, the company said.
Livspace forms JV with Alsulaiman Group; invests $50M in Middle East
Omnichannel home interior platform Livspace has formed a joint venture (JV) with Alsulaiman Group (ASG) to expand into the Middle East region.
With its maiden JV with Ikea’s operating partner in the region, Livspace aims to capitalise on the vast opportunities in the home interiors and renovation segment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
Both Livspace and ASG have invested about $50 million to fuel regional growth, and the JV further plans on strengthening the team by investing in top talent across levels while also aiming to reach 500 design and execution partners in the region by 2022, the companies said.
Livspace is looking to expand across 80 new cities globally starting with the APAC geography over the next 18-24 months.
CoinSwitch Kuber, CoinDCX CEOs to chair crypto council of IAMAI
CoinSwitch Kuber’s co-founder Ashish Singhal and Sumit Gupta of CoinDCX have been appointed co-chairs of the Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BACC), an industry body under the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
The members of BACC include the country’s crypto exchanges which have adopted self-regulatory mechanism, which includes basic KYC and other regulatory procedures, to ensure safe cryptocurrency transactions on the platforms.
Singhal and Gupta will be primarily responsible for driving the adoption and growth of the crypto industry in India and will ensure the creation of a consumer safe environment. India has seen exponential rise in the adoption of cryptocurrency with more than 1.5 crore Indians currently holding crypto assets, IAMAI said in a statement.
BharatPe moves Delhi High Court; opposes PhonePe’s trademark over ‘PE’ usage in Devanagari
Fintech unicorn BharatPe, which recently launched a ‘buy now pay later’ app under the trademark “postpe”, has taken the clash with rival PhonePe to Delhi High Court seeking to cancel the latter’s registration on the Devanagari script of ‘Pe’.
BharatPe said that its holding company Resilient Innovations has filed six cancellation actions against multiple registrations held by PhonePe before the Intellectual Property Division of the Delhi High Court.
This development comes after PhonePe filed a petition in the Bombay High Court on October 22 against BharatPe’s usage of ‘Pe’ in name of their new Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform PostPe. It withdrew the petition after the court observed that the usage of ‘Pe’ cannot be judged independently as per law and that the terms PhonePe and PostPe must be compared as a whole.
The hearing on the admission of the petition is slated for November 8 in the Delhi HC.
PayU launches tokenisation solution ‘PayU Token Hub’
Online payments solutions provider PayU has launched ‘PayU Token Hub’, a tokenisation solution for businesses that will allow their customers to conveniently use saved cards with added security and in compliance with the RBI guidelines.
Built jointly by PayU and Wibmo, a PayU-owned full-stack global PayTech company, PayU Token Hub has partnered with card networks, including Visa, MasterCard, as well as with leading issuing banks, the company said in a statement.
Byju’s eyeing $500M debt for more acquisitions: Report
Edtech decacorn BYJU’s is planning to raise $500 million (Rs3,700 crore) in debt to acquire more businesses, the Mint reported.
The startup has already hired investment banks like JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley to raise the debt through Term Loan B in the US. Several institutional investors as well as hedge funds will be looking to invest in this opportunity. The company has also appointed JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley as investment banks to structure the deal, the report added.
BYJU’s will primarily use the funds for acquisitions and some will also be deployed as working capital.
Eka Care facilitates creation of Health ID under govt’s Digital Health Mission
Healthcare platform Eka Care has facilitated the creation of Health ID under Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission (ABDM).
Under this scheme, a unique Digital Health ID will be provided to the people, which will link with all the health records of the individual.
“To support this initiative, we are also offering free storage up to 10GB to each individual, to store their health records,” said Vikalp Sahni, CEO and Co-founder, Eka Care.
Google, MeitY Startup Hub partner to help Indian startups drive global app innovations
Google and MeitY Startup Hub on Wednesday said they have partnered to launch Appscale Academy to help Indian startups build high-quality apps.
MeitY Startup Hub is an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics and IT.
Appscale Academy will focus on helping local early to mid-stage startups build and scale a range of world-class apps across domains, including gaming, healthcare, fintech, edtech, social impact, and others, the company said.
Euler Motors launches HiLoad Electric 3-Wheeler in India
Electric vehicle startup, Euler Motors, has launched its first product – Euler HiLoad electric three-wheeler for the cargo segment.
The new Euler HiLoad electric cargo three-wheeler has been launched in India at Rs 3,49,999. The pre-bookings for the same are now open across the country, the company said in a statement. The Euler HiLoad EV has been designed in India and the company claims that it is the most powerful electric cargo three-wheeler in the country.
Euler has already an order book of 2500 vehicles from several eCommerce giants, including BigBasket, Flipkart, Udaan, Hyperlocal and a few B2B delivery players.
Flipkart integrates Snap’s Camera Kit into its app for enhanced AR-led e-commerce experience
E-commerce giant Flipkart has entered a partnership with Snap to integrate the latter’s Camera Kit into its app.
The integration will allow users to virtually try on products or view them in their physical world before any purchase. With this partnership, Flipkart wants to expand its augmented reality-led e-commerce experience for its customers, the company said in a statement.
This announcement also marks Snap’s first collaboration with an e-commerce platform in India.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Facebook changes name to meta; Twitter & others troll Zuckerberg
Facebook on Thursday announced it was changing the parent company’s name to “Meta.”
Following the move, many people saw the rebranding exercise as an excuse to have a go at the social media giant. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was among them. He suggested that the new name of the company was confusing and it was not clear what it referred to. He called the title “self-referential.”
And not just Twitter, big brands like Zomato, Disney, Grofers, Wendy’s and others, jumped onto the bandwagon to roast Meta aka Facebook.
Zuckerberg has billed “Meta,” which comes from the word “metaverse,” as the future of both Facebook and the Internet.
Move over Apple, Microsoft now the world’s most valuable company
Apple lost its crown as the world’s most valuable public company to Microsoft on Friday, as the iPhone maker’s shares fell about 2 percent, according to Reuters.
Apple took a $6 billion hit to its sales during the fiscal fourth quarter due to persistent global supply chain problems, leading to a miss on Wall Street expectations. Top boss Tim Cook said the impact will be even worse in the current holiday sales quarter.
Apple’s shares dropped 1.8 percent to end the session at $149.80, giving the company a market capitalization of $2.48 trillion. By contrast, shares of Windows software maker Microsoft rose 2.2% to a record high of $331.62, ending the session with a market capitalization of $2.49 trillion.
Alphabet earns record profit on Google ad surge
Google owner Alphabet has reported higher than expected third-quarter ad sales, a sign that the business is overcoming new limits on tracking mobile users and that online shopping is as popular as ever heading into the holiday season, Reuters reported.
Google advertising revenue rose 41 percent to $53.1 billion during the third quarter. Alphabet’s overall sales jumped to $65.1 billion, above the average estimate of $63.3 billion among analysts tracked by Refinitiv.
Quarterly profit was $18.936 billion or $27.99 per share, beating expectations of $24.08 per share and marking a third-straight quarter of record profit. Alphabet’s profit is subject to wide fluctuations because accounting rules require the company to measure unrealized gains from its investments in startups as income.
Twitter avoids revenue hit from Apple privacy changes
Twitter has reported its quarterly revenue grew 37 percent and avoided the brunt of Apple Inc privacy changes on advertising that hobbled its rivals, sending its shares up 3 percent.
The social networking site has been working to add new features such as audio chat rooms to attract users, and also rolled out improvements to its advertising capabilities to reach its goal of doubling annual revenue by 2023.
Advertising revenue was $1.14 billion during the quarter ended Sept. 30, in line with consensus estimates.
Spotify adds more subscribers, podcasts fuel ad rebound
Spotify beat Wall Street estimates for third-quarter revenue as more paid subscribers signed up for its premium service and advertisers lined up to air ads in between music and podcasts.
Premium subscribers, which account for most of the company’s revenue, hit 172 million, just beating analysts’ expectations of 171.7 million.
Total monthly active users rose 19% to 381 million, as per Reuters.
Truecaller revenue more than doubles in first post-IPO earnings report
Swedish mobile phone directory and caller identification service Truecaller reported a 129% rise in quarterly revenue in its first earnings report as a public company.
Revenue rose to 312.8 million Swedish crowns ($36.48 million) from 136.5 million crowns a year earlier while monthly active users rose 20% from a year earlier to around 292 million.
The company, which counts India as its biggest market, listed its Class B shares late last month
Tesla zooms past $1 trillion market cap on bet that the EV future is now
Tesla has surpassed $1 trillion in market value after landing its biggest-ever order from rental car company Hertz, a deal that reinforced the electric car leader’s ambitions to top the entire auto industry in sales over the next decade.
Tesla shares surged as much as 14.9% to $1,045.02, making it the world’s most valuable automaker according to Reuters calculations based on its latest filing.
Even Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk expressed surprise at the velocity of the surge.
Apple objects to links to outside payments ahead of Epic Games hearing
Apple on Friday outlined its objections to allowing app developers to link to third-party payment options ahead of a hearing next month that could determine whether a set of antitrust court orders is put on pause, Reuters reported.
After a lengthy trial earlier this year brought by “Fortnite” creator Epic Games, US District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued a ruling that was largely favorable to the iPhone maker and upheld its practice of requiring developers to use its in-app payment system, for which it charges commissions.
Apple for the first time signaled that its strongest objections are to the requirements to allow buttons and links that provide a “mechanism” for outside payments. The filing provided the first suggestion that Apple objects less strongly to allowing developers to provide information about other ways to pay.
EU countries aiming for common position on tech rules on Nov 25
EU countries aim to agree on a common negotiating position on two sets of draft rules to curb the powers of US tech giants on November 25, people involved in the discussions told Reuters, though squabbles among EU lawmakers could delay the rules’ adoption.
The Digital Markets Act (DMA) sets out a list of dos and don’ts for online gatekeepers – companies that control data and access to their platforms – such as Amazon, Apple, Alphabet unit Google and Facebook.
The Digital Services Act (DSA) requires the tech companies to do more to tackle illegal content on their online platforms. Violations can result in hefty fines.
EU countries have agreed on most key points for the DSA and will discuss the last remaining issue, namely who gets to regulate very large online platforms, during a preparatory meeting on November 8.
Australia plans to force parental consent for minors on social media
Australia unveiled plans make social media companies obtain parental consent for users under the age of 16, with multimillion dollar fines for failing to comply, Reuters reported.
Draft legislation to enhance online privacy protections would require companies such as Facebook, Reddit, Bumble and Whatsapp to take all reasonable steps to determine users’ ages and prioritise children’s interests when collecting data.
If made law, the Online Privacy Bill would put Australia among the most stringent countries in terms of age controls for social media, and build on the country’s efforts to rein in the power of Big Tech. The government has already introduced mandatory licencing payments for media outlets and plans to toughen laws against online misinformation and defamation.
Adobe will put US employees on unpaid leave if they’re not vaccinated by Dec 8: Report
Software company Adobe told US employees that they have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by December 8 or they will be placed on unpaid leave.
In an email to employees viewed by CNBC, Adobe said the policy was due to President Biden’s executive order for federal contractors to have all employees vaccinated.
The email, which was sent by Adobe’s Chief People Officer Gloria Chen, also said that 93.5% of US employees who responded to an internal company survey already said they were fully vaccinated or going through their series of vaccines.
Uber forays into Europe’s rapid grocery delivery market with 15-minute service in Paris: Report
Uber is taking on Europe’s buzzy grocery delivery start-ups with a service in Paris that ships essential items to shoppers’ doors in as little as 15 minutes, as per CNBC.
The US ride-hailing and food delivery company said it has expanded a partnership with French supermarket chain Carrefour to debut the service, which is called Carrefour Sprint. It will be available on the Uber Eats app from Tuesday.
Rather than sending couriers to Carrefour stores, Uber is relying on a network of so-called dark stores — small warehouses where pickers and packers prepare orders for delivery — operated by French start-up Cajoo.
Uber will offer up to 50K Teslas to its drivers through Hertz rental deal: Report
Uber announced that Hertz, which just ordered 100,000 Teslas, will supply half of that fleet by 2023 to Uber drivers who want to rent the cars.
As per CNBC, the deal is a step toward Uber’s zero-emissions goal and will offer its drivers a way to increase earnings by saving on gas costs.
Starting Monday, Uber drivers can rent 2021 Tesla Model 3 cars through Hertz’s rental program in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Washington, D.C. It will expand nationwide in the following weeks.