Education technology platform Byju’s valuation has surged to over Rs 37,000 crore, or around $5.4 billion, after a fresh funding of $25 million from existing investor General Atlantic. Byju’s is now the fourth most-valued private internet company in India. Byju Raveendran’s 36% shareholding in the edutech start-up is now valued at Rs 13,267 crore, or $1.9 billion. Byju’s is also one of the only major venture capital-backed companies where founders still hold over 30% stake.
Facebook-owned Instagram on Tuesday forayed into the potentially lucrative e-commerce by adding an option to buy products displayed in posts by selected brands. A new "checkout" button for instant purchasing has been launched in a beta version of the app in the US with a selected number of businesses. "When you find a product you love, you can now buy it without leaving the app", Instagram said. Brands taking part in the checkout feature included Adidas, Burberry, Dior, H&M, Nike, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, and glasses retailer Warby Parker.
Just ahead of the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Star India’s video streaming platform Hotstar has launched a new and cheaper subscription pack, ‘Hotstar VIP’. The new pack will offer live sports, web originals (Hotstar Specials) and Star India’s local content at Rs 365 per year, making it cheapest among paid video OTT services. However, the new pack will not have premium English content from the HBO, Disney, Hooq or even 21st Century Fox. Hotstar already has an annual ‘Hotstar Premium’ subscription plan at Rs 999 a year besides a sports only pack for Rs 299 annually.
Hyundai Motor Group (the Group) and cab-aggregator platform Ola on Tuesday announced a strategic partnership under which Hyundai Motor Company (Hyundai) and Kia Motors Corporation (Kia) will invest a total of $300 million in Ola. The agreement will see the three companies collaborate to co-create solutions to operate and manage fleet vehicles, and building India-specific electric vehicles and infrastructure. The partnership will offer Ola drivers various financial services, including lease and instalment payments, vehicle maintenance and repair services. Ola aims to create over two million livelihood opportunities in the mobility ecosystem by 2022.
Udemy, the global marketplace for learning and teaching online with over 30 million students and 42,000 instructors worldwide, has announced the expansion of their operations in India with an employee hub in Gurgaon. India is one of the company’s fastest growing markets, with revenue and students growing 100% year-over-year. Udemy was founded in 2010 as an online learning destination that offers courses in over 50 languages to help individuals, and companies gain the required skills. Udemy students can also download and view the courses offline.
Spotify had last week filed an anti-trust complaint with the European Union alleging iOS App Store rules to be unfair. In its complaint, Spotify said that Apple requires it and other digital services to pay a 30% tax on purchases made through Apple's payment system, including upgrading from a free to premium subscription. Apple slammed Spotify for wanting "all the benefits of a free app without being free". "A full 84% of the apps in the App Store pay nothing to Apple when you download or use the app. That's not discrimination, as Spotify claims," Apple said.
The food safety section of Uttarakhand health department has served notices to officials of food delivery firms, Swiggy and Zomato, in Haridwar for delivering non-vegetarian food in restricted areas of the holy city and hurting local sentiments. RS Pal, deputy food safety officer, said the state food safety department investigated the matter after receiving complaints from the locals. The two companies failed to show Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) licence to the teams that had gone to inspect their offices. The firm also did not obtain No-objection certificates from the municipal corporation to deliver non-veg products.
Blackbuck has raised $43 million from Goldman Sachs and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital in its latest fundraising. With the latest fund infusion, Blackbuck, which was launched in first half of 2015, has also become India’s second most-valuable logistics startup. Blackbuck operates as a marketplace for trucking logistics. The startup’s valuation has hit the $862 million (Rs 6,039 crore) mark and is now close to achieve the unicorn tag.
YouTube said it is continuously monitoring the content on its platform to check spread of any misinformation and fake news ahead of the upcoming general elections in India. YouTube has witnessed a sudden surge in interest on its platform after the announcement of the elections. Google has committed $25 million to filter fake new on its platform. In India, YouTube has partnered with 10 third-party entities to do a fact check on the information uploaded on its platform.
Paytm Payments Bank has launched a separate mobile application for its mobile banking services. The mobile app will enable customers to check their balances, raise request for physical debits cards, access digital debit cards and get 24x7 help and support. Paytm Payments bank was launched in May 2017. PPB has enrolled over 43 million saving bank customers and has issued over 2 million physical and virtual debit cards. The new app is presently available for download on Google Play store and shall shortly be available on the Apple app store.
Uber Technologies Inc. is in advanced discussions to sell a $1 billion stake in its costly self-driving car unit to a consortium of investors led by SoftBank Group Corp. The deal would value the autonomous-vehicle business of Uber between $5 billion to $10 billion. Uber would still retain a majority stake. SoftBank is also Uber’s largest shareholder.
HSBC Global Research has valued restaurant discovery and food delivery service firm, Zomato, at $3.6 billion, or about Rs 25,000 crore. The latest valuation is 70% higher than the valuation commanded by Zomato during its recent fund raising exercise. The jump in valuation now ranks Zomato above its arch-rival Swiggy that was valued at $3.3 billion after a $1 billion funding announced in December. According to Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal, the company currently loses about Rs 24 per order.
The CBDT has asked tax officials to avoid taking “coercive measures” against companies that have received angel tax notices. The department also asked Income Tax Commissioners to resolve disputes with startups on a priority basis. More than 2,000 start-ups have received income tax notices under section 56(2)(viib) and 68 of the Income Tax relating to taxing of high share premiums received and unexplained cash credit respectively. Tax officers had frozen the bank accounts of startups in cases where notices were issued.
The government has warned Twitter that its top executives could face up to seven years in jail along with financial penalties for their failure to remove content and accounts carrying "objectionable and inflammatory content". Failure to comply with government’s request to remove such contents may tantamount to violation of country’s IT laws. Twitter has been "warned and asked to comply with the provisions under the Indian IT Act or face action under Section 69A of the IT Act”, sources said.
Softbank backed hospitality chain, Oyo Hotels & Homes, which is present in 259 cities with 173,000 rooms, has committed to invest Rs 1,400 crore to expand its India and Nepal operations in 2019. The company also announced the launch of a new brand, Collection O hotels. The company currently has over 13,000 franchised or leased hotels and over 6,000 homes as a part of its network. OYO is now present in nine countries -- India, Nepal, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, the UAE, the UK, Philippines and Saudi Arabia.