Dogecoin Stock- STARTUP DIGEST: Top stories of the week
There were several important developments in the startup space during the week. Here’s a wrap of all the startup stories this week.
WhatsApp had announced a controversial policy update in January 2021 and said that it would be compulsory for users to accept or their accounts would be blocked.
The policy update entails more sharing of data between WhatsApp and Facebook, especially user chats with business accounts on the platform. WhatsApp has been reiterating that the policy will not affect privacy of users’ personal messages. The update was originally to come into effect on February 8, but was pushed to May 15 following backlash.
In a statement WhatsApp said that a majority of users who have received the new terms have accepted it, and that it would continue to send reminders to those who have not.
The company moved the Delhi High Court against the CCI order, and a hearing on the matter is pending.
IPL 2021 suspended for the season due to rising COVID-19 cases
The 2021 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been suspended with immediate effect, the organisers announced today.
“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all stakeholders in mind,” the IPL Governing Council said in a statement.
“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the IPL GC said.
This came amid news reports of players across multiple teams testing positive for COVID-19 in recent days. The Council said that the BCCI would “do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage” of all participants.
The popular cricket tournament sees a host of startups line up as sponsors every year to catch eyeballs.
Startups such as Dream11 and Upstox were among the official partners for IPL 2021, while Chinese smartphone company Vivo was the title sponsor. Many startup unicorns were official sponsors for the cricketing event this year, including Unacademy, Cred, BYju’s, PhonePe and others.
Some of these startups have come out in support of BCCI’s decision to postpone the tournament.
Dream11 CEO Harsh Jain told CNBC-TV18 that, “We agree with BCCI’s decision to postpone the IPL. Focusing on tackling the current crisis in India, along with ensuring the health and safety of players , is far more than any business impact.”
Amazon to delay Prime Day in India, Canada as Covid cases surge
The company confirmed to CNBC that it’s pausing the two-day discount event in both countries, but didn’t offer a rescheduled date in either country.
Swiggy announces priority delivery of essential items
Food delivery services major Swiggy on May 6 announced the prioritisation of the Swiggy Genie deliveries, its pick up and drop service, for a range of necessities — from over-the-counter medicines to home-cooked meals and grocery.
The priority delivery of orders will be of immense help for those recovering at home and their caretakers who have medical necessities, grocery needs or home-cooked meals, the company said in a statement.
According to Swiggy, the prioritisation of Genie orders was announced amid an unrelenting second wave of the COVID-19 in India, with many recovering at home.
Swiggy is directly working with hundreds of “COVID heroes” who are providing meals to the affected families.
According to Swiggy, it has witnessed a 350 percent rise in the delivery of OTC medicines through Genie in the last 15 days, compared to the same period in March-April. The company said almost five lakh home-cooked meals and tiffin packets have been delivered in the period.
Now, all Genie orders will have dedicated customer care support. Swiggy Genie is present in 65 cities across the country.
This comes barely two weeks after rival Zomato rolled out its priority delivery feature for the COVID-19 emergencies. Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal had on April 21 announced on Twitter that Zomato rolled out a “priority delivery for COVID emergencies” along with “thousands of our restaurant partners” on its app. “This feature will allow our customers to mark *This order is related to a COVID-19 emergency* option during checkout,” he tweeted.
Restaurants are among the worst-hit businesses, especially in the second spate of the COVID-19 crisis with several states under the lockdown.
Earlier in the week, the platform also announced a 4-day work week for its workforce for May.
Google relaxes remote work plan, will let 20% of employees telecommute
Google now expects 20% of its employees to work from home after its offices reopen later this year.
The company, which owns extensive Silicon Valley real estate, had previously taken a more strict approach to the return to work as the Covid pandemic has forced companies to close offices and have employees telecommute. Now, as some technology workers see other employers offering greater flexibility, Google is relaxing its approach, as per a CNBC report .
In December the company announced a plan to have workers spend three days a week in the office.
Now, Google expects that 60% of its employees will be on site for a few days a week, with 20% working in new office locations and 20% working from home, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an email to employees, noting that most employees would like to be on campus sometimes.
“Before the pandemic, we had thousands of people working in locations separate from their core teams. I fully expect those numbers to increase in the coming months as we develop more remote roles, including fully all-remote sub teams,” Pichai wrote.
In June Google will tell employees more about how they can request to permanently work from home or work from different offices, Pichai wrote. The company will adjust people’s pay in either scenario.
Any given Google employee can now temporarily work for four weeks per year from a location other than their assigned office, an increase from two weeks, Pichai wrote. Some employees might need to be at their facilities more than three days per week because of their roles, he wrote.
Employees can keep working from home through September, a spokesperson told CNBC in an email.
The ecommerce giant said it is working with USIBC, NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Health who are defining the distribution plan for these ventilators.
1,000 Medtronic ventilators to be delivered to India starting May 5.
Amazon will fully funding the first lot of 100 ventilators arriving in India starting today and will be sent to the hospitals with most urgent needs.
Last week, Amazon announced that it is sponsoring the supply of 100 ICU ventilator units worth $3.8 million from the US.
Zomato may invest $100 million in Grofers as e-grocer scraps listing plan: Report
Food delivery startup Zomato may invest $100 million in e-grocer Grofers after talks of a merger between the two companies fell through last year.
Maintaining focus on the food business, Zomato wants to expand into the grocery segment through a specialised company instead of building it by itself, a person privy to the deal details told the Economic Times.
WhiteHat Jr drops defamation suit against critic Pradeep Poonia
Byju’s owned WhiteHat Jr has withdrawn the $2.6 million defamation suit against its Pradeep Poonia. The lawsuit was filed in November 2020 at the Delhi High Court and was listed today, Poonia’s lawyer said. A WhiteHat Jr spokesperson confirmed to Moneycontrol that it has withdrawn the defamation notice but declined to offer further comment.
Last year, the Byju’s-owned startup accused software engineer Poonia of infringing trademarks and copyright of properties owned by WhiteHat Jr. Poonia’s social handle was WhiteHat Sr.
Ola Electric appoints Wayne Burgess as head of vehicle design
Ola Electric on Tuesday said it has appointed Wayne Burgess as Head of Vehicle Design. The company, which is slated to launch its electric scooter in July this year, said Burgess will lead vehicle design for its entire product range that will include scooters, bikes, cars and more.
Burgess has spent almost three decades designing vehicles for the majority of British premium automotive manufacturers, from Rolls Royce and Bentley in his early career, to Aston Martin and Jaguar Landrover to, more recently, Lotus, a statement said.
Notably, he was the Chief Designer for the Jaguar F-Type sports car, and then Studio Director for the Jaguar F-Pace SUV, it added. Ola Chairman and Group CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said Burgess is a fantastic addition to the leadership team and will bring global appeal and design aesthetic to the company’s industry-changing electric vehicles.
Kangana Ranaut’s Twitter account suspended
Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut’s Twitter account has been suspended for violating rules.
A Twitter spokesperson said, “We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behaviour that has the potential to lead to offline harm. The referenced account has been permanently suspended for repeated violations of Twitter Rules specifically our Hateful Conduct policy and Abusive Behaviour policy. We enforce the Twitter Rules judiciously and impartially for everyone on our service.”
LenDenClub turns profitable, aims at crossing Rs 1200 cr mark in loan disbursement in FY22
Peer-to-peer lending platform, LenDenClub has crossed the 500 crores mark in loan disbursements in financial year 2020-21. The company also added that it has turned operationally profitable in this financial year. LenDenClub registered loan disbursements close to Rs 600 crores in FY 20-21 as against Rs 60 crores in FY 19-20 and Rs 13 crores in FY 18-19. The company thus reported a Y-o-Y growth of 1000% and is eyeing a five-fold growth in the next two years and aims to disburse Rs 1200 crores worth loan in FY21-22.
LenDenClub has provided loans to over 1,30,000 unique borrowers and cumulatively 3,60,000 loans, primarily to young salaried professionals. Processing over 25,000-30,000 loan applications and disbursing about 15,000 loans every month, the P2P lender currently has a user base of over 15 lakh borrowers and 4.5 lakh lenders on its platform.
In funding news:
—Vernacular social gaming platform WinZO said its early investor, Hike has exited the company via a $12 million share buyback programme. Hike had participated in the USD 5 million series-A funding round in WinZO in 2019, and has received 4X returns within a span of 18 months, a statement said.
“This exit transaction, which has received a nod from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), saw WinZO buyback Hike’s share for $12 million, making it one of the largest buyback transactions by an early stage start-up in the Indian start-up ecosystem,” it added. The development comes after WinZO has raised $13 million capital from its existing investors- Stephan Pagliuca, Makers Fund, and Courtside Venture, it said. These investors had led the $18 million series-B fundraise in WinZO in September last year. With this, the company has raised a total of $38 million.
—Online teaching platform Teachmint, has raised $16.5 million in Series A round led by Learn Capital. This round saw participation from CM Ventures, existing investors Lightspeed and Better Capital.
Teachmint is a mobile-first, video-first, teaching platform that enables teachers to digitise their classrooms. The platform enables ease of content delivery, enhanced student engagement and seamless workflow tools. With over 7 lakh teacher registrations, Teachmint claims to be the world’s largest live teaching platform outside China, the company said.
—Fintech startup Nivesh.com, has raised $1.6 Million led by IAN Fund. The round also saw participation from other co-investors including angel investors from Indian Angel Network, LV Angel Fund as well as angel investors such as Vir Mehta and Raghav Kapur. The capital will be used to expand the product portfolio, specifically Insurance and Lending Products, in addition to bringing more investment products for its partners and customers, the company said. Nivesh plans to add more Indian languages to its product suite as it expands across India.
—Wealth Management and Investment Advisory firm Arthya Wealth & Investments has raised $1 million in pre-series A funding led by Family Offices of industrialist Rishi Kumar Bagla (Bagla Group) and Krishen Lal Khanna (Trenton Investments). The funds will be used for strengthening operations, growing the team and in market expansion, the company said.
Ether cryptocurrency price rises to new record high at over $3,600 as investors divert focus from Bitcoin
Ether, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, on Thursday extended a breakaway rally to a new record high of $3,616.10 (roughly Rs. 2,66,400), gathering momentum as investors diverted focus from its main rival, as per Reuters.
On the Bitstamp Exchange, Ether was last up about 4.0 percent at $3,568.92 (roughly Rs. 2,62,900). Bitcoin was down 0.3 percent at $57,353.03 (roughly Rs. 42,25,000) and about 11 percent below its record intraday high at $64,895.22 (roughly Rs. 47,80,600) set on April 14.
Ether, the token traded over the Ethereum blockchain, topped $3,000 (roughly Rs. 2,21,000) for the first time on Monday. It is up more than 385 percent this year, compared with 96 percent for Bitcoin.
Meme-based cryptocurrency Dogecoin soars 40% to all-time high
Meme-based virtual currency Dogecoin soared to an all-time high on May 5, extending its 2021 rally to become the fourth-biggest digital coin, Reuters reported.
Dogecoin, launched as a satirical critique of 2013’s cryptocurrency frenzy, has climbed 41% in the last 24 hours to a record $0.68, according to CoinMarketCap.
This year alone it has soared over 14,000%, from $0.00468 on Dec. 31, taking it past more widely used cryptocurrencies such as the Tether stablecoin and XRP to become the fourth-largest by market capitalisation.
Dogecoin – whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the centre of the meme – remains little used in commerce or payments. Like other digital coins, it is highly volatile and its price is heavily influenced by social media users.
On Tuesday, the New York crypto exchange Gemini said it would start letting users trade and custody the token.
Dogecoins are now cumulatively worth $88 billion, compared to bitcoin’s $1 trillion and ethereum’s $391 billion.
Crypto platform WazirX crashes due to Dogecoin frenzy
WazirX, one of India’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms crashed for about an hour on May 4, 2021 due to a spike in Dogecoin’s price, resulting in frenzied trading, Moneycontrol reported.
Dogecoin, originally started as a joke in response to a meme about dogs, was popularised by Tesla CEO Elon Musk when he repeatedly tweeted about it.
From 8 pm or so on Tuesday, users complained on Twitter about WazirX not working. However CEO Nischal Shetty told Moneycontrol that the website and app are back to normal now and that it was down for about 45 minutes to an hour.
“What happened is that a ton of people suddenly came up because of the Dogecoin activity. Some of our systems thought it was an attack, and thus ended up preventing some people from accessing the platform,” he said.
Some people weren’t able to access their accounts at all, while others saw a delay in trades getting executed.
“Normally we have tens of thousands of people signing up every day. Today that doubled. And active traders have also increased by 70 percent,” Shetty said. However, he clarified that the crash was due to the system reacting as a security measure, and not because its servers could not handle the load. He did not specify the number of users who have signed up.
Dogecoin was created as a joke in 2013 by software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer and was never meant to be a serious cryptocurrency. However, it has risen in popularity due to celebrities such as Musk talking about it on social media. Dogecoin is currently trading at about $0.5 a coin, it’s all-time high price.
The spike in price and WazirX’s crash also comes at a time when cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin have become hotter than ever globally after crypto platform Coinbase went public on Wall Street at a USD 100 billion valuation. This was seen as a sign of legitimacy by industry insiders and outside investors like.
In global news,
Twitter adds ‘tip jar’ to pay for good tweeting
Twitter has launched a new “tip jar” feature that lets people send money to others on the social network.
The company says the feature is “an easy way to support the incredible voices that make up the conversation”.
To begin with, only a select group of people can receive tips – a group Twitter said was made up of “creators”, journalists, experts, and non-profits.
But the feature has also been criticised for exposing personal information such as email addresses, the BBC reported.
The tip jar function essentially adds a small icon to a user’s profile – on mobile devices only for now – with a drop-down menu for other payment providers such as PayPal, Venmo, or the Cash App, the latter two of which are popular in the United States.
Twitter acquires news startup Scroll in push for subscriptions
Twitter Inc has bought news technology company Scroll, which it will use as part of an upcoming subscription offering.
Twitter has been working to offer new types of content on its social media site, including audio and long-form content, after previously acquiring newsletter platform Revue.
Scroll allows users to subscribe and read news articles from publishers including Insider, BuzzFeed and USA Today without ads. The company says publishers who work with Scroll earn more money than they would by selling advertising.
The deal will help Twitter build a subscription feature, such as letting users access premium features from news outlets or a writer’s Revue newsletter, Twitter added. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Facebook will uphold Trump ban but reassess the decision over coming month
Facebook’s independent Oversight Board ruled to uphold the company’s January decision to suspend the Facebook and Instagram accounts of former President Donald Trump.
But, the board said, the indefinite timeframe of the suspension “was not appropriate.” The board effectively punted the decision back to Facebook, saying it “insists” the company “review this matter to determine and justify a proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform.”
The board asked that Facebook complete the review within six months and made suggestions for how to create clear policies that balance public safety and freedom of expression, CNBC reported.
“We will now consider the board’s decision and determine an action that is clear and proportionate,” Facebook said in a blog post following the announcement. “In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s accounts remain suspended.”
Twitter blocks accounts for attempting to evade Donald Trump‘s ban
Twitter suspended several accounts this week that were set up to share statements from a new part of former US President Donald Trump’s website, saying they broke its rules against evading an account ban, as per Reuters.
Trump was banned from Twitter, where he had more than 88 million followers, and multiple other social media platforms following the deadly January 6 siege of the US Capitol by his supporters.
“As stated in our ban evasion policy, we’ll take enforcement action on accounts whose apparent intent is to replace or promote content affiliated with a suspended account,” a Twitter spokesman said in a statement.
Twitter, which has said that its ban on Trump is permanent even if he runs for office again, has said users can share content from the Trump page as long as it does not fall foul of its ban evasion rules.
Australia’s Seven West Media signs Google, Facebook deals after media law feud
Australian television and newspaper firm Seven West Media Ltd signed multi-year content deals with Facebook Inc and Google as tough new media laws enabled the industry to secure new revenue sources and adapt to the internet age, Reuters reported.
The top-rating free-to-air broadcaster and publisher of Perth city’s main metro daily said it would supply content for the Alphabet Inc unit’s News Showcase platform for five years and to a similar Facebook product for three. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.
The arrangements mean the U.S. “Big Tech” platforms are now committed to paying two of Australia’s three largest traditional news outlets for content, marking an about turn just two months after they had vowed to quit the country over laws forcing them to pay for the links that drive traffic to their websites.
“These partnerships have been made possible by the introduction of the Media Bargaining Code,” said Seven CEO James Warburton in a statement, referring to the law which gives the government power to intervene if domestic media companies can’t reach agreement with a large internet provider.
“They underpin our sustainability and enable us to continue to build our digital platform.”
Representatives of Facebook and Google declined to comment beyond the confirmation of Seven’s statement.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns about two-thirds of Australian newspapers, signed global deals with the platforms in the past two months.
Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd, which competes with Seven in free-to-air and publishes the Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review newspapers, has said it signed a Google deal but is yet to finalise arrangements with Facebook. A Nine spokesman declined to comment.
Many smaller Australian media outlets, including the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp, have signed deals with Google or said they are open to doing deals with Facebook, which blocked all third-party content in Australia for a week in February to protest the laws.
Separately, Google said it passed the milestone of having 100 Australian news titles contracted to supply content for News Showcase with a deal with regional publisher Times News Group, owner of seven regional mastheads in the country’s south.