Report, Firework Raises $150 Million From Softbank, Blusmart Bags $50 Million

Delhivery makes decent Dalal Street debut as shares list at premium over issue price

Logistics firm Delhivery made a decent debut on Dalal Street on Tuesday, with the shares listing at a premium over their issue price. The stock changed hands at a premium of as high as 12 percent over the issue price, having listed at a premium of two percent.

On NSE, Delhivery shares climbed to as high as Rs 547 apiece, a premium of 12.3 percent over the issue price of Rs 487. The stock rose to as high as Rs 546.4 apiece on BSE, a premium of 10.8 percent over the issue price.

Delhivery’s IPO worth Rs 5,235 crore saw an overall subscription of 1.6 times.

The public offer was a combination of fresh issuance of shares worth Rs 4,000 crore and an offer for sale (OFS) worth Rs 1,235 crore. Shares were available within a price range of Rs 462-487 in multiples of 30, in a three-day bidding process that ended on May 13.

Oyo said to shelve plans for IPO in 2022 amid market volatility: Report

Hospitality giant Oyo is shelving plans for an initial public offering in 2022 after a market downturn that would hurt its valuation, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources.

The board of Oyo talked through a change in the offering’s timing during multiple meetings last week and earlier this week after consulting with its bankers and investors. If the company picks up the process again by year-end, the earliest possibility for an IPO would be in 2023, the report added.

The company, which filed preliminary IPO documents last year, is seeking regulatory permission to update its draft prospectus with fresh financial information after the close of the September quarter. Its bankers, led by Kotak Investment Banking, have filed the request with SEBI, the report stated.

FUNDING NEWS

Firework raises $150 million in Series B round via SoftBank Vision Fund 2

US-based live streaming commerce platform Firework has bagged $150 million in a Series B funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, which values the startup at $750 million. With the fresh funds, the firm aims to increase its headcount across engineering, product and marketing, while focusing on enhancements to its overall platform. “This investment will trigger accelerated growth across markets and particularly India,” said, Jeff Lucas, chief revenue officer, Firework.

“Over the last 24 months we have built a robust platform and business model and they have contributed to the customer successes we have had. The capital will not only help us continue building these success stories but also ensure that Firework, as a platform never loses step with the bleeding edge of next-generation customer experience,” added Lucas. Firework raised $55 million in March 2021 from existing investors GSR Ventures, IDG and Lightspeed. It also raised an undisclosed amount from Amex Ventures last November.

EV startup BluSmart raises $50 million in extended Series A round

EV startup BluSmart has raised $25 million in its follow-on Series A (Series A1) funding round, comprising $15 million in equity capital and venture debt of $10 million. The equity round was led by BP Ventures and Green Frontier Capital with participation from existing investors. The venture debt funding comes from Stride Ventures, Alteria Capital, BlackSoil and UCIC.

This follow-up to the series A round that closed in September 2021, brings the total of its Series A investment to $50.7 million. The company claims that this is one of the largest Series A fundraise in ride hailing and smart mobility space globally.

BluSmart plans to use the funds to scale up its all-electric ride-hailing fleet to over 5,000 BluSmart EVs and expand its network of EV Superhubs across the Delhi NCR. In addition to equity, BluSmart also recently secured EV financing of $35.7 million backed by IREDA.

“BluSmart has been able to scale 25x since launch. BluSmart is creating inclusive and equitable economic opportunities for driver-partners who can drive and earn without the hassles of asset ownership,” said Anmol Jaggi, co-founder and CEO, BluSmart.

Laminar gets $5.1 million in seed round from Leo Capital, AIV and others

Video streaming infrastructure platform as a service (PaaS) Laminar has raised $5.1 million in seed funding led by Leo Capital, Artha India Ventures, Garuda Ventures, Cloud Capital VC and Sampson Acquisitions. This fundraise will accelerate the company’s product development and market expansion, a statement said.

“Laminar will immensely benefit from the collective experience of our investors in rapidly scaling our business and expanding our global footprint. In Nielsen’s recent State of Play report, the number of people subscribing to four or more services has more than doubled in the US — this is a secular trend around the world. Such growth will only accelerate as consumers coalesce around (and pay for) content that speaks to their cultural reality,” said Narendra Nag, co-founder and CEO, Laminar.

Laminar enables content owners to launch a global video streaming service in 12-weeks or less. Among Laminar’s clients include Chaupal, a video streaming service that focuses on Punjabi, Haryanvi and Bhojpuri content.

The company claims that Chaupal launched its service in 110 countries, with country-specific plans, content, and user interface across mobile phones, televisions, and other streaming devices in 12 weeks. Laminar says it also has customers in the United States, South Asia and South-East Asia.

Elevation and Info Edge invests $4.2 million in Polymerize

Polymerize, a material informatics platform for R&D in chemical companies has raised $4.2 million in Series A funding led by Elevation Capital. The round also saw participation from InfoEdge Ventures who had previously invested in their Seed round.

Polymerize will use the new funds to ramp up hiring and to expand their geographical footprint, it said in a statement. The firm claims to have acquired customers across three markets – Japan, Singapore and India. It is currently focusing on companies across automotive, adhesives, paints and coatings, speciality chemicals and packaging.

Buildd gets $2 million from Picus Capital, Mankekar Family Office

Buildd, a Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform, has received $2 million in Pre-Seed funding from Germany-headquartered early-stage venture capital firm Picus Capital and the Mankekar Family Office.

The fresh capital will help the firm in product expansion in the buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) and card domains, as well as strengthen its tech team by adding 50 full-stack engineers to the rapidly growing Pune-based team.

“The Indian FinTech market is well equipped to deliver embedded finance infrastructure given the foundation laid new-age solutions such as IndiaStack – particularly eKYC, Open Credit Enablement Network (OCEN) and Account Aggreator (AA). This has enabled us to leapfrog sophisticated markets like USA, Singapore as well as innovation hubs of FinTech such as LatAm on multiple occasions.

Buildd will serve as a bridge between complex engineering/product rails on one hand and customer experience innovation on the other, and serve this rising tide of financialisation of commerce, logistics, and more,” said Sachin Gaikwad, founder, and CEO, Buildd.

Jovian secures $1.5 million in seed funding from Multiply Ventures and others

Data science and machine learning-focused edtech startup Jovian has raised $1.5 million in seed funding round led by Multiply Ventures, with participation from Y Combinator and Better Capital.

The round also witnessed participation from prominent angels such as Kunal Shah, (Founder, CRED), Phanindra Sama, (Co-founder, redBus), Aprameya Radhakrishna, (Co-founder, Koo), Christian Oestlien, (Director, Product Management, YouTube), Anand Madhavan, (VP of Engineering, EverLaw), Aakrit Vaish, (Co-founder and CEO, Haptik), and Ankit Bhati, (Co-founder, Ola & Amnic).

The fresh funds will be used to expand their team of data science experts to enhance their curriculum and provide mentorship to their growing student base. The company also plans to grow their engineering team and engage their data science community through courses, competitions, and learning resources, it said.

OTHER STARTUP NEWS

Krishi Network acquires edtech platform Rocket Skills

Agritech startup Krishi Network has acquired Rocket Skills, an edtech platform providing online training courses at affordable prices to farmers, for an undisclosed sum.

Through this acquisition, farmers aspiring to start a business with a small investment will get access to enhanced online mentorship and organised online courses, the firm said in a statement.

Rocket Skills technology combined with Krishi Networks agritech platform will empower their network of farmers via new business capabilities. It will also help ease information accessibility for farmers and enable them to generate higher profits from their land, it added.

With over 40 lakh farmers already on its platform, Krishi Network aims to boost up their operations and expand more ground presence with farmers. The startup will also rebrand Rocket skills as Krishi Safal and launch another entity called Krishi Plus, that will offer a complete offline subscription plan for 3 months, technical support on ground.

Adda247 to allow employees to take break after meeting rigorous deadlines

Adda247, a vernacular test-prep platform has announced ‘Unlimited Sick Leaves’ as well as introduced ‘Recharge Leaves’, which employees can utilize after meeting rigorous deadlines or just to take a break from work.

“With the announcement, Adda247 aims to create a positive work environment that promotes employee welfare amongst their workforce,” it said. Along with the recharge leaves, the company has also increased their ‘All Purpose Leave’ and have announced ‘Unlimited Sick Leaves’ policy for employees recovering from long illness, accidents, and injuries.

“These changes are intended to foster an employee-friendly culture where employees work towards a larger cause and derive work satisfaction. We are also looking at many more such initiatives in the future. Keeping the people’s focus in mind we are renaming our HR function as ‘People Enablers’ as that better justifies our objective”, added Neeti Kumar, Vice President, HR, Adda247.

Meesho onboards 6-lakh sellers, records a 7X jump since April 2021

Social commerce platform Meesho, claims to have crossed 6 lakh seller registrations on the platform, recording a 7X increase since April 2021.

An increasing number of small businesses have joined Meesho in the past year as a result of the company’s industry-first initiatives such as zero commission and zero penalties, it said in a statement.

The firm said that nearly 70% of all Meesho sellers hail from tier 2+ cities such as Amritsar, Rajkot, and Surat, among others. The company claims to have transformed one lakh, small business owners, into lakhpatis and over 5,000 into crorepatis since January 2021.

Forescout launches Forescout Frontline to tackle ransomware, cyber threats

Forescout Technologies, a US-based cyber security solutions company, has launched Forescout Frontline which helps organisations tackle ransomware and real-time cyber threats.

“Cybersecurity attacks are on the rise. On the other hand, cybersecurity teams are perennially understaffed and under-resourced. This has created a perfect storm,” Shawn Taylor, vice-president (Threat Defense) of Forescout, said.

The new solution will help discover, validate and prioritise a variety of cyber threats and vulnerabilities across all assets, including IT, IoT and IoMT, the company statement said.

Mumbai records highest salary hike, beats other metros: Naukri.com Report

The financial capital of India, Mumbai, has become the top destination for jobs. The city has bounced back after a pandemic-induced slowdown as it not only recorded the highest average salary hike of +18 percent in comparison to its metro counterparts but also witnessed a +41 percent growth in hiring activity in Q422 vs Q421, as per a report by Naukri.com.

3 out of 4 new jobs for undergraduates were added in Mumbai, according to the report. Similarly, the demand for mid-senior level professionals (10-15 years’ experience) also witnessed a significant growth of 50 percent during the same period.

Bengaluru and Delhi were the next best cities in terms of salary hikes, at 15 percent and 12 percent respectively. The IT industry, on a quarter-on-quarter basis, witnessed salary hikes of 33 percent. Most employers in Mumbai were looking to hire people in software and software services categories between January and March this year, the report revealed.

70% of patients consult experts when they are in an advanced stage of mental or emotion illness: LISSUN Report

70 percent of patients consult experts only when they have reached an advanced stage of mental or emotional illness, revealed a survey conducted by mental and emotional wellness startup LISSUN.

40 percent of the respondents said that for people, their immediate friends are their first contact when they face a mental or emotional health issue. While only 20 percent of the respondents said that patients approached their family first when they encountered emotional or mental trouble, the report added.

Meanwhile, 43 percent of respondents expressed the concern that family usually is hesitant to help patients avail proper treatment or go for therapy.

Shedding light on the primary reasons for anxiety or depression, 62 percent of the respondents believe that childhood bullying and child abuse have a role to play in it.

Furthermore, patients facing different physical challenges also experience underlying mental illness. As per 65 percent of respondents, patients with infertility issues are most likely to be susceptible to mental illness, followed by oncology with 60 percent, and nephrology with 55 percent.

“The primary challenge is the awareness of people, where a person is unable to take the very first step. If that is addressed, then the war is 50% won”, said Krishna Veer Singh, co-founder, LISSUN.

GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS

In a faceoff with Elon Musk, the SEC blinked

US securities regulators have pulled their punches in dealings with Elon Musk largely because an April 2019 court hearing on a statement he made about Tesla on Twitter didn’t go their way, sources told Reuters.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asked the court to hold the billionaire in contempt, saying a tweet by the Tesla CEO – which forecast production at the carmaker – violated a court agreement Musk signed the previous year to have some of his communications vetted by a lawyer.

By trying to rein in his comments, the SEC was veering into relatively uncharted territory. SEC rules require that public companies and their executives disclose accurate information that may be material to investors via channels that investors know to monitor. It doesn’t usually specify how companies should do that.

Snap says economy deteriorated fast, slashes forecast

Snap said the economy had worsened faster than expected in the last month and the social media company slashed its quarterly forecast, triggering an after-hours sell-off.

Since late April, “the macroeconomic environment has deteriorated further and faster than anticipated. As a result, we believe it is likely that we will report revenue and adjusted EBITDA below the low end of our Q2 2022 guidance range,” the company said in a US securities filing.

Snap chief executive Evan Spiegel told employees in a memo seen by Reuters that the company will slow hiring for this year and laid out a broad slate of problems.

“Like many companies, we continue to face rising inflation and interest rates, supply chain shortages and labor disruptions, platform policy changes, the impact of the war in Ukraine, and more,” he wrote.

In the memo, Spiegel said Snap would evaluate the rest of this year’s budget and “leaders have been asked to review spending to find additional cost savings.” Some planned hiring will be pushed into next year, though the company still expects to hire more than 500 people by the end of this year, he said.

Zoom raises full-year profit view on strong enterprise demand

Zoom has raised its full-year adjusted profit forecast, betting on robust demand from large businesses in a hybrid work environment, sending shares of the company up 15% in extended trading.

Revenue from Zoom’s high-paying enterprise customers jumped 31% in the first quarter, representing 52% of its total revenue, Reuters reported.

“We expect revenue from enterprise customers to become an increasingly higher percentage of total revenue over time,” Chief Financial Officer Kelly Steckelberg said in a post-earnings call with analysts.

The company said adjusted operating margin rose 37.2% in the quarter ended April 30 as efforts to expand its enterprise offerings to customer service contact centers, cloud calling and analytics companies paid off.

Zoom had recently announced the acquisition of Solvvy, an AI startup, and launched Zoom IQ, a call analytics tool for sales departments. For the full year, Zoom forecast adjusted profit per share to be between $3.70 and $3.77, compared with earlier expectations of between $3.45 and $3.51

Facebook-owner Meta to share more political ad targeting data

Facebook owner Meta Platforms will share more data on targeting choices made by advertisers running political and social-issue ads in its public ad database, as per a Reuters report.

Meta said it would also include detailed targeting information for these individual ads in its “Facebook Open Research and Transparency” database used by academic researchers, in an expansion of a pilot launched last year.

“Instead of analyzing how an ad was delivered by Facebook, it’s really going and looking at an advertiser strategy for what they were trying to do,” said Jeff King, Meta’s vice president of business integrity, in a phone interview.

Meta said the ad library will soon show a summary of targeting information for social issue, electoral or political ads run by a page. Meta said the additional information in the ad library will be added in July. It said the data for vetted researchers will be available at the end of May and will show information since August 2020.

Airbnb to shut domestic business in China from July 30

Vacation rental company Airbnb will shut down all listings and experiences in mainland China from July 30, joining a long list of Western internet platforms that have opted out of the Chinese market, as per Reuters.

The company made the announcement on its official WeChat account without elaborating on the reasons behind the decision. The San Francisco-based company said Chinese users would still be allowed to book listings and experiences abroad.

“We have made the difficult decision to refocus our efforts in China on outbound travel and suspend our homes and Experiences of Hosts in China, starting from July 30, 2022,” Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk wrote.

The Global Times newspaper, citing a source close to the company, said Airbnb had decided to shut the domestic business because it was too costly and complex to operate, which had been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uber seals taxi deal to expand its business in Italy

Uber has clinched a deal to integrate its ride-hailing app with Italy’s largest taxi dispatcher as it seeks to boost its presence in the eurozone’s third-largest economy, Reuters reported.

The move is part of Uber’s strategy of working with established taxi operators, tapping into a recovery in demand after the pandemic-driven downturn. Under the agreement with IT Taxi, over 12,000 taxi drivers in Italy will have access to the Uber platform.

It will make the app available in over 80 new cities and grow Uber’s existing business in big cities such as Rome, Milan, Turin, and Bologna. The partnership, which will start in June, follows similar deals in Spain, Germany, Austria, Turkey, South Korea, Hong Kong as well as in New York, and San Francisco. The company wants to have every taxi available on its app by 2025.

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