Startups

Startup Digest: Navi appoints Meesho founder as independent director, Byju's in talks for $1 billion funding: – CNBCTV18


IPO-bound Navi appoints Meesho founder as independent director

Sachin Bansal-led Navi Technologies has appointed Vidit Aatrey, the founder of social commerce platform Meesho, as an independent director on its board.

With this appointment, the number of independent directors on its board reached four. Overall, Navi’s board now comprises seven members, according to the company statement.

The appointment of Aatrey, effective from April 9, is subject to completion of formalities, it added. Navi has recently appointed three independent directors — Abhijit Bose, head of India for WhatsApp; Shripad Nadkarni, a member of Maverix Platforms and FMCG veteran and Usha Narayanan who had worked with Lovelock & Lewes Chartered Accountants, a member firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers — on its board.

Byju’s said to be in talks with lenders for $1 billion funding: Report

Edtech giant Byju’s is in talks with lenders to raise more than $1 billion in acquisition financing as the online education provider looks to expand its business rapidly, Bloomberg News reported citing sources.

The startup is in talks with banks, including Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co, for the funding to acquire another edtech company, the report added.

The news comes after Byju’s-owned upskilling platform Great Learning acquired Singapore-based Northwest Executive Education for a $100 million cash and stock deal.

Gross irregularities, fraudulent dealings & massive Losses: FHRAI urges SEBI to axe Oyo IPO

The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) has once again strongly urged the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to call off Oyo’s initial public offering (IPO) citing the massive losses suffered by the hotel rooms aggregator in recent years.

As per reports, Oyo incurred losses of Rs 3,943.84 crore in FY20-21 translating to a loss of over Rs 76,077/- every minute. Since its inception in 2013, Oyo has been running in losses and its total turnover fell a drastic 69 percent from Rs.13,413 crore in 2020 to Rs.4,157 crore in 2021.

FHRAI has cautioned that Oyo’s IPO will only wipe out public wealth while enriching its founders and key management. FHRAI had previously objected to gross misstatements and inadequate disclosures contained in the Draft Red Herring Prospectus (DRHP) filed by Oyo.

“In addition to engaging in anti-competitive business practices; Oyo is a company that has consistently registered losses since its inception. It may have raised a lot of money to become touted as one of India’s most promising start-ups but it hasn’t done enough to manage the business on the ground as efficiently.

Oyo has one of the highest ESOP pools of $1.1 billion which too is absurd. In addition to its financial complications and losses, the company is being investigated for anti-competitive practices by CCI.

Oyo’s CIRP proceedings is being heard by Supreme Court. Oyo has failed in running and operating hotels and used Covid as a pretext to walk out of 100s of hotels with whom they had MSA Agreements and they have not cleared dues of these small hapless hoteliers.

As of date, it is reported that Oyo has stopped operating single Hotels and has been reduced to just another online travel agent. The hospitality industry is wary of Oyo and as its voice, FHRAI wants to caution the public and urges the SEBI to call off its IPO,” says Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, vice president, FHRAI.

Previously, FHRAI has also filed a complaint with the SEBI stating Oyo’s tax evasion. The Directorate General of GST Investigation (DGGI) had filed a case of GST/service tax evasion against Oyo and its subsidiaries.

IAN and BIRAC launch angel investor network “Bioangels”

Indian Angel Network (IAN) has collaborated with Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) to launch an angel investor network, BioAngels. BioAngels is a sector-focused angel investor group to fuel the growth of startups from Biotech – the sunrise sector. Sub-domains include medtech, healthtech, pharma, cleantech and agritech, a statement said.

It is an inclusive platform that engages early-stage investors from India and overseas from different angel investor groups, to fund and nurture high-quality startups. Bioangels will be raising Rs 350 crore investment for startups.

IIMCAA and IIM Calcutta Innovation Park launch Clarion Call 5.0

IIM Calcutta Alumni Association (IIMCAA) in partnership with IIM Calcutta Innovation Park has announced the launch of Clarion Call 5.0 – a platform to promote entrepreneurship. The platform will commit an investment corpus of $8.5 million.

Promising startups can pitch their business ideas to 5000+ Angels and 7+ Institutional investors. The winners will have the opportunity to procure funding at an early stage and find the right guidance to scale up their companies, a statement said.

“With Clarion Call 5.0 we aim to keep the alumni of IIMC connected and explore the innovative business ideas worked upon in our country. Its intent is to contribute to the ecosystem by providing support and acceleration for these ideas to flourish and thereby get ready for their next steps in the market,” said Subrat Pani, Member IIMCAA-MUMBAI and Lead Organizer for Clarion Call 5.0.

Volopay ties up with Visa for the Fintech Fast Track Program

Corporate cards and payable management company Volopay has partnered with Visa’s fintech fast-track programme to offer financial management solutions. The partnership will allow Volopay to start issuing their own Visa cards to their customers in the APAC market, a statement said.

“Our intention is to keep moving up the value chain, and the Visa program allows us to do that. There are multiple markets that allow non-banks to issue cards. With our own card, we are able to create a rounded financial stack to offer our customers. It is an unparalleled mark of credibility,” said Rohit Bhageria, Founding Member, Volopay.

FuelBuddy expands to Northeast backed by an investment of Rs 35 crore

Legal doorstep fuel delivery service provider, FuelBuddy has expanded its services to the North-Eastern part of India, backed by a Rs 35 crore investment and promises an employment opportunity for 300 locals.

In order to streamline its operations, FuelBuddy has partnered with Apna Pump to expand its presence across the North-Eastern region as well as amplify its footprint in the country.

With this expansion, FuelBuddy will initially cater to 15 cities, 100 pin codes in North East India where consumers will be able to benefit from the platform’s 24X7 fuel delivery services through an on-demand app. The North East partner also signed up with FuelBuddy to deploy 100 smart refuellers on road over the next few months across all 7 North-Eastern states.

Mishry to create a 6,000 network of momprenuers this fiscal

Mishry, a product review platform said it will build a 6000 strong network of momprenuers this fiscal and enable these stay-at-home mothers boost their earnings by writing, first-hand and experience-driven product reviews.

The initiative, known as Mishry Mums, was earlier started by the start-up as a way to help get back stay-at-home mothers on long maternity breaks to re-enter the formal workforce. Soon, this expanded to an informal group of Mums who started participating in reviews regularly.

At present there are about 1000 Mishry Mums from across India on Mishry’s platform, the firm stated. For every piece of review-based content, creators from Mishry Mums have earned anything from Rs 1500 to Rs 40,000 so far, it added.

The platform currently has nearly 450,000 MAUs, a social media community of over 45,000 followers and 1000 momprenuers from all over India. Mishry has raised funds from angel investors, including Vir Sanghvi, Rajiv Garodia, and Kiran Shetty.

Cashaa secures European Crypto License in Lithuania

Cashaa, crypto-friendly neo bank has announced securing a European Crypto License in Lithuania. Crypto Innovations UAB has now acquired the Cashaa brand to accelerate developing the CAS ecosystem.

With this development Cashaa becomes regulated and can continue to provide a more secure ecosystem to the users, a statement said. This allows Cashaa to offer crypto services without any interruption.

EVTRIC Motors expands its network to 100+ dealerships in six months

EV startup EVTRIC Motors has said that within the last six months, the company has opened more than 100 dealerships in India. They have plans to expand their dealership network from 110 to 350 by the end of 2022. There will be a special focus to expand more through East India and South Indian states in Phase II, it said in a statement.

“Despite COVID-19 pandemic forcing globally integrated automotive industry to pump the brakes hard, our brand with the sincere efforts of our employees has slowly weaved a strong network in almost every important state and city of India,” said Manoj Patil- Founder and MD EVTRIC Motors.

GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS

SoftBank Vision Fund posts $26 billion loss; Son pledges defence

Japan’s SoftBank Group has reported a record $26.2 billion loss at its Vision Fund investment arm, as rising interest rates and political instability whiplashed high-growth tech stocks.

The loss was in stark contrast to a year earlier when SoftBank delivered a record annual profit, putting founder and CEO Masayoshi Son’s strategy of concentrating heavily on riskier, high-growth stocks under more scrutiny, Reuters reported.

“When the world is in disorder, SoftBank should play defence,” Son said at a subdued briefing following the earnings announcement, pledging to bolster the group’s cash position through asset monetisation and tighten investment criteria.

The group’s annual net loss was 1.7 trillion yen ($13.15 billion). The Vision Fund unit’s assets, including the Latin American funds, were worth $175.6 billion at March-end. That compared to an acquisition cost of $141.6 billion.

SoftBank also recorded, in its non-consolidated earnings, a 669.5 billion yen loss due to its SB Northstar trading arm, which placed bets on listed stocks and derivatives but racked up personal losses for Son.

Meta tells hardware staffers to prepare for cutbacks

Facebook-owner Meta Platforms is preparing cutbacks in its Reality Labs division, a unit at the center of the company’s strategy to refocus on hardware products and the “metaverse,” a spokesperson confirmed to Reuters.

Chief technology officer Andrew Bosworth told Reality Labs staffers during a weekly Q&A session on Tuesday to expect the changes to be announced within a week, according to a summary of his comments viewed by Reuters.

The Meta spokesperson confirmed that Bosworth told staffers the division could not afford to do some projects anymore and would have to postpone others, without specifying which projects would be affected.

She said Meta was not planning layoffs as part of the changes.

Apple no longer the world’s most valuable company

Oil giant Saudi Aramco has surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable firm. Aramco’s market valuation was just under $2.43 trillion on Wednesday, according to FactSet, which converted its market cap to dollars.

Apple, which fell more than 5 percent during trading in the US on Wednesday, is now worth $2.37 trillion. Apple passed Saudi Aramco to become the world’s most valuable publicly-traded company in 2020.

More than $200Bn erased from entire crypto market in a day

Bitcoin fell below $26,000 for the first time in 16 months, amid a broader sell-off in cryptocurrencies that erased more than $200 billion from the entire market in a single day.

The price of bitcoin plunged as low as $25,919.33 on Thursday morning, according to Bitstamp data. That marks the first time the cryptocurrency has sunk below the $27,000 level since December 26, 2020. Bitcoin has since pared its losses somewhat and was the last trading at $28,291.48, down 3 percent in the last 24 hours.

Ether, the second-biggest digital currency, tanked to as low as $1,719.73 per coin. It’s the first time the token has fallen beneath the $2,000 mark since July 2021. Ether was last down 11 percent at a price of $1,936.07.

Google unveils new 10-shade skin tone scale to test AI for bias

Google has unveiled a palette of 10 skin tones that it described as a step forward in making gadgets and apps that better serve people of color, as per a Reuters report.

The company said its new Monk Skin Tone Scale replaces a flawed standard of six colors known as the Fitzpatrick Skin Type, which had become popular in the tech industry to assess whether smartwatch heart-rate sensors, artificial intelligence systems including facial recognition and other offerings show color bias.

Tech researchers acknowledged that Fitzpatrick underrepresented people with darker skin. Reuters exclusively reported last year that Google was developing an alternative.

Jack Dorsey says no plans to head Twitter again

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey said that he was not keen to retake the helm of the social media company, hinting at his limited involvement if Elon Musk manages to successfully close the takeover deal.

Dorsey, who currently heads payments firm Block Inc, owns a 2.4 percent stake in Twitter, according to Refinitiv. Since the Twitter board accepted Musk’s $44 billion buyout offer on April 25, there is little clarity on the company’s new leadership once the deal closes.

Musk’s delay in disclosing Twitter stake triggers SEC probe: WSJ

US regulators are investigating Elon Musk’s delayed disclosure of his sizable stake in Twitter last month, the Wall Street Journal reported. Musk disclosed a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on April 4, a delay of at least 10 days since surpassing the 5 percent threshold for revealing a shareholding, the report said.

Apart from the delay, Musk’s April 4 filing also characterized his stake as passive, meaning he did not plan to take over Twitter or influence its management or business.

Global crypto regulation body likely in next year, top official says

Global market regulators are likely to launch a joint body within the next year to better coordinate cryptocurrency rules, a senior watchdog official said.

Ashley Alder, the chair of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) said the boom in digital currencies such as bitcoin was one of the three main areas authorities were now focused on, alongside COVID and climate change.

“If you look at the risks we need to address, they are multiple and there is a wall of worry about this (crypto) in the conversations at an institutional level,” Alder said during an online conference organised by the OMFIF thinktank.

He cited cyber security, operational resilience, and a lack of transparency in the crypto world as the key risks that regulators are lagging behind on.

Crypto exchange Binance hires former Deputy US Attorney to manage legal affairs

Binance has named Joshua Eaton, a former Deputy US Attorney in the Northern District of California, as the deputy general counsel of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

Eaton will be responsible for Binance’s legal affairs, leading the support for global compliance, investigations and law enforcement coordination activities, the company said in a statement.

Legal troubles have plagued Binance lately, which won a dismissal on a lawsuit over digital token sales in late March. Investors had sued the company for violating US securities laws by selling unregistered tokens and failing to register as an exchange or broker-dealer.



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