There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Tuesday. Here are today’s top stories from the startup universe.
Swiggy raises $1.25 bn from SoftBank Vision Fund, Prosus; to be valued at $5.5 bn
Swiggy has closed a $1.25 billion fundraising led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, and long-term investor Prosus, with participation from existing investors Accel Partners and Wellington Management. With this, Swiggy will be valued at $5.5 billion, sources told CNBC TV-18.
Swiggy also roped in new investors Qatar Investment Authority, Falcon Edge Capital, Amansa Capital, Goldman Sachs, Think Investments, and Carmignac. Avendus Capital was the financial advisor to Swiggy.
The company said the latest fundraising was heavily oversubscribed following strong interest from investors. Swiggy said the investment will further accelerate the company’s multi-year strategy of growing its core food delivery business and building new food and non-food adjacencies in 2021 and beyond.
To support this, Swiggy said it will enhance its capabilities in technology and AI, and strengthen teams across engineering, product, data science and analytics as well as in business and supply chain for its newer initiatives.
Health app HealthifyMe secures $75 mn in Series-C funding
Wellness platform HealthifyMe has raised $75 million in Series-C funding led by LeapFrog and Khosla Ventures, which is run by US-based venture capital investor Vinod Khosla.
Unilever Ventures, Elm (Saudi Arabia PIF entity) and Healthquad also participated in the round along with existing investors Chiratae Ventures, Inventus Capital and Sistema Asia Capital. The latest round of investment takes the total quantum of funds raised till date to $100 million.
The healthtech startup plans to use the fresh capital to strengthen its artificial intelligence-driven offerings on the app, hire top talent and drive global expansion. Willing to take the inorganic route to drive growth, the startup is also open to acquire relevant companies in the digital health and fitness space.
Agritech startup Vegrow raises $13 million
Vegrow, a B2B agritech platform for fruits and vegetables, has raised $13 Million in a series A investment round co-led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Elevation Capital. The round also saw participation from existing investors Matrix Partners India, Ankur Capital, Better Capital andTitan Capital.
Established in 2020, Vegrow has scaled rapidly among both farmers and B2B customers, resulting in nearly 20x top-line growth with a presence in over 30 cities. At the heart of this growth is their unique technology platform, which powers everything from farm discovery, produce quality profiling, market intelligence to smart matchmaking between farm-level inventory and customer requirement
The funding would help the firm to expand to 100 cities, invest in technology and launch new products.
Agritech startup Otipy raises $10.2 million
Community group buying platform for fresh produce, Otipy has raised a Series A financing of $10.2 million by SIG.
Omidyar Network India, Innoven Capital and existing investors Inflection Point Ventures, Pravega, and FactorE also participated in the round.
Otipy’s farm-to-fork delivery model optimizes for freshness by procuring directly from farmers and delivering fresh produce to consumers in less than 12 hours.
This new round of funding will help the firm in ramping up additional categories on its supply chain, making it more efficient, and accelerate their mission of making fresh, nutritious food accessible to all, the company said.
People management platform Mesh raises $5 million
Mesh, a people management platform has raised $5 million in funding led by Surge, with participation from co-investors RTP Global, Y Combinator Continuity and Emles Venture Partners.
The platform helps employees manage goals and OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), performance reviews, one-on-one check-ins, and pulse surveys. It also sends users personalised reminders to drive individual growth.
Mesh’s clients include companies such as Cred, ShareChat, Gradeup, Pipefy, CleverTap and Grant Thornton.
Mesh is part of Surge’s fifth cohort of 23 companies that have developed new digital solutions for companies and individuals in a rapidly evolving Southeast Asian landscape.
SmartCoin secures Rs 80 cr in debt funding
Fintech platform SmartCoin Financials has secured Rs 80 crore in debt funding from multiple financial institutions including Northern Arc, Vivriti Capital, MAS, India SME and others.
The firm will use the fresh capital to further its portfolio 10x with expansion in customised products and services. The company said this investment will also help them fuel the credit strength of the fintech enterprise.
SmartCoin has already served over 6 million users across 18000+ pin codes across the country in a 100% digital and automated manner, the company said.
Mobility startup Automovill raises $500K in bridge round
Mobility startup Automovill has raised $500,000 in a bridge round from Mumbai Angels Network. The round was led by Jay Nagrecha and Sandeep Daga who participated through Mumbai Angels Network.
Existing investor NEDFi Venture Capital also participated in the round. With this round, Automovill has now raised a total of $1.2 million since its inception.
The startup will use the proceeds to bolster its technology adoption, expand its footprint in multiple cities, and hire mid-level executives to manage the increase in business.
YouTube acquires social commerce startup Simsim
YouTube has acquired video commerce startup Simsim for an undisclosed amount.
The Google-owned company said that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the startup and expects to complete the transaction in the coming weeks.
By bringing short-video shopping app simsim and YouTube together, the company said that it aims to help small businesses and retailers in India reach new customers in even more powerful ways.
“There will be no immediate changes to simsim, the app will continue operating independently while we work on ways to showcase simsim offers to YouTube viewers,” said Gautam Anand, VP, YouTube APAC.
To date, simsim has raised nearly $17 million and was recently valued at over $50.1 million. It is said to be helping small businesses in India transition to e-commerce by using the power of video and creators.
104 startups registered on Startup India Showcase platform: Centre
As many as 104 startups from different sectors have been registered on the Startup India Showcase platform, where most promising budding startups, chosen through various programmes, are exhibited in the form of virtual profiles, Central government said.
Startup India Showcase is an online discovery platform for the most promising startups of the country. These innovations span across various cutting-edge sectors such as Fintech, EntrepriseTech, Social Impact, HealthTech and EdTech.
These startups are solving critical problems and have shown exceptional innovation in their respective sectors, the commerce and industry ministry said.
On the platform, each startup has a profile page with a detailed pitch about their product, innovation, and USP in the form of videos and PDF links.
“104 startups from different sectors such as Food-Tech, Green energy, Defence, Ed-Tech, Health-Tech, etc are currently onboarded on the platform,” the Commerce Ministry said.
Bitcoin slides below $30,000 level for the first time in a month
The crypto market was trading in the red Tuesday as the concerns of rising coronavirus cases caused by delta variant and its threat to the economic recovery drove investors away from risky assets.
According to data from CoinShares, Bitcoin investment products and funds registered outflows for a second consecutive week as prices continued to stall. At the time of writing, Bitcoin slid below the $30,000-level and was last down 6 percent at $29,822.
The largest cryptocurrency by market cap has slid nearly 10 percent in the last seven days. Here are the prices of the ten largest cryptocurrencies, data sourced from CoinMarketCap.
Tata Sky partners with Vedantu to empower JEE and NEET aspirants
Content distribution and Pay TV platform Tata Sky has partnered with Vedantu to make quality education accessible and affordable to students across India.
For ease of access to the content, the service is also made available on the Tata Sky mobile app. Aspirants can learn and repeat batches, get access to catch-up and On-Demand content including syllabus revision, tests, class notes, among others.
Students can also pose a question and have doubts addressed by expert Master Teachers from Vedantu. The service will also provide exam preparation material that can be accessed via the app.
As per the partnership, two dedicated linear platform services– Tata Sky JEE Prep and Tata Sky NEET Prep– will cater to students from classes 9th to 10th for foundation preparation (IIT, NEET, NTSE, Olympiads) and core syllabus for 11th to 12th IIT JEE Main, JEE Advanced (engineering), and NEET (medical). The learning will be delivered by Vedantu’s Master Teachers including academics from IIT and AIIMS with proven track records in teaching. The medium of teaching will be a mix of English and Hindi.
MPL Sports Foundation launches campaign to rally Indians for the Indian Olympic contingent
MPL Sports Foundation, the community arm of Mobile Premier League (MPL), has launched an advertising campaign featuring some of the biggest Indian Olympic stars.
This is part of a nationwide fan campaign to rally the 1.3 billion Indians to become fans of the Indian contingent at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics that begin this Friday.
As part of this movement, the Foundation will release a campaign called #FanBannJaaoge across mediums like TV, digital and print media. The campaign features a film in multiple languages with some of the stars of the Indian contingent such as PV Sindhu, Wrestler Bajrang Punia, Fencer Bhavani Devi, Shooter Manu Bhaker, and others.
The company said it has also put together the Indian Olympic Fan Army and some of the sports clubs, franchises and organisations across the country like Kolkata Knight Riders, Goa FC, Gokulam Kerala FC, Ultimate Table Tennis, Real Kashmir FC, Shillong Lajong FC and Cricket Fauj have joined hands to create a 31 million-strong fan club.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Duolingo eyes over $3 bn valuation in US IPO
Language-learning app maker Duolingo is aiming to be valued as much as $3.41 billion in its US initial public offering, Reuters reported.
About 5.1 million shares will be offered in the IPO, priced between $85 and $95 each, which would rake in more than $485 million at the top end of that range.
On a fully diluted basis, which includes securities such as stock options and restricted stock units, Duolingo would be valued at $4.38 billion at the maximum price. Nearly 1.4 million shares will be offered by the selling stockholders, proceeds from which will not go to the company.
Robinhood seeks up to $35 bn valuation in mega US IPO
Robinhood Markets is targeting a valuation of up to $35 billion in its US IPO, setting the stage for one of the most highly anticipated stock market listings this year.
As per Reuters, the listing plans come just months after the online brokerage found itself at the center of a confrontation between a new generation of retail investors and Wall Street hedge funds in late January.
Robinhood was aiming for an IPO valuation of up to $40 billion, Reuters had previously reported.
About 55 million shares are being offered in the IPO, with shares expected to be priced between $38 and $42, the company said. This would raise over $2.3 billion if priced at the top of the range. Nearly 2.63 million of those shares are being offered by the company’s founders and chief financial officer, the filing showed. Proceeds from those will not go to Robinhood.
Robinhood said it would host a public event on July 24 to present its IPO plans and answer questions from potential investors.
Amazon shuts down cloud infrastructure linked to Israeli firm NSO – Report
Amazon cloud service, Amazon Web Services, has shut down infrastructure and accounts linked to Israeli surveillance vendor NSO Group, US media group Vice reported.
NSO Group’s spyware was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, government officials and human rights activists around the world, according to an investigation by 17 media organizations published on Sunday.
“When we learned of this activity, we acted quickly to shut down the relevant infrastructure and accounts,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.
NSO denied the report and said its product was intended only for use by government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime.
Jeff Bezos’s space voyage
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has joined the very small cohort of people who have travelled into space.
Bezos flew to space on Tuesday aboard a New Shepard rocket designed and built by Blue Origin, the spaceflight company Bezos founded in 2000, nine days after rival Richard Branson flew to the edge of space in his spacecraft.
Bezos flew to space alongside his brother Mark 82-year old pioneering female aviator Wally Funk and recent high school graduate Oliver Daemen. The group lifted off from a launchpad in West Texas and had just about three minutes to float around weightless in the capsule.
The entire launch and flight were autonomous, with no pilots and lasted just 11 minutes.
Twitter suspends Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene’s account for COVID misinformation
Twitter said that it was suspending Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene from its service for 12 hours after she posted messages that violated its policy against sharing misleading information about the coronavirus, according to NewYork Times.
Greene, R-Ga., has been an outspoken opponent of vaccines and masks as tools to curb the pandemic. In tweets on Sunday and Monday, she argued that Covid-19 was not dangerous for people under the age of 65 who are not obese, and said vaccines should not be required.
Twitter said Greene’s tweets were misinformation, and it barred her from the service until Tuesday. “We took enforcement action on the account @mtgreenee for violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically the COVID-19 misleading information policy, a Twitter spokesperson said.
The company also added labels to Greene’s posts about the vaccines, calling them “misleading, and pointing to information about the safety of the inoculations.
In a statement, Greene said Silicon Valley companies were working with the White House to attack free speech. “These Big Tech companies are doing the bidding of the Biden regime to restrict our voices and prevent the spread of any message that isn’t state-approved,” she said.
“Malicious Smear”: China on claims of massive hack of Microsoft servers
Chinese authorities on Tuesday denied carrying out a massive hack of key Microsoft servers, describing US allies’ allegations as “groundless” and “irresponsible”, according to the Associated Press.
The United States and several allies have publicly accused China of hacking Microsoft Exchange — an email platform used by corporations around the world.
In China’s first official response, embassies in Australia and New Zealand issued fiery statements of denial. The Chinese embassy in Wellington described the allegations as “totally groundless and irresponsible” and a “malicious smear”.
The embassy in Canberra accused Australia of “parroting” US rhetoric and described Washington as “the world champion of malicious cyber-attacks
US President Joe Biden’s administration has accused China of fostering an “ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain”.
“Given the virtual nature of cyberspace, one must have clear evidence when investigating and identifying cyber-related incidents,” the Chinese embassy in New Zealand said.
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