Here’s a wrap of the top startup stories today.
Bill on cryptocurrencies to be sent to cabinet soon, says MoS Fin Anurag Thakur
MoS finance Anurag Thakur on Tuesday said the bill on cryptocurrencies is being finalised and will be sent to Cabinet soon. « Cryptocurrencies are not currencies, or securities or commodities. The current laws are inadequate to deal with them. Regulators Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Sebi India do not have the framework to regulate cryptocurrencies, » he said in the upper house of parliament.
« Inter-ministerial committee has given report. Meeting of Empowered Technology Group & Committee of Secretaries has taken place, » he added. CNBC-TV18 had reported earlier that the government is firm on introducing the law this month and may take the ordinance route to get it approved.
Sources tell CNBC-TV18 that the new bill may pave the way for government to launch its official digital currency as it seeks to ban private cryptocurrencies with some exceptions. Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of their units and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.
Twitter says seeking talks with India after order to remove accounts
Twitter said on Monday it was seeking talks with India’s technology minister, days after the country asked the US social media giant to take down 1,178 accounts it says are spreading misinformation about ongoing farmers’ protests.
The Indian government wrote to Twitter on February 4 asking it to remove the accounts, which it said were backed by Pakistan or operated by sympathizers of Sikh separatists, according to Reuters citing sources. ”We continue to be engaged with the government of India from a position of respect and have reached out to the Honourable Minister for a formal dialogue,” a spokeswoman for Twitter in India said, adding that the safety of its local staff was a top company priority.
Last week, India sent Twitter a notice of non-compliance, threatening its executives with jail terms and fines after the company did not obey another government order to block content that alleged Modi’s administration was trying to wipe out the protesting farmers.
On Monday, Twitter for the first time said it had formally acknowledged receipt of the government’s non-compliance notice. Twitter reviews all government reports promptly and takes action, while ensuring it upholds free speech, the California-headquartered company said. ”We strongly believe that the open and free exchange of information has a positive global impact, and that the Tweets must continue to flow,” the Twitter spokeswoman said. Twitter did not comment on whether it had complied with the government’s order.
Cure.fit acquires Fitternity, aims for a 5-100 percent bump in footfalls & revenue
Health & fitness platform Cure.fit has acquired fitness facilities aggregator Fitternity. With a collective user base of 3 million users, Cure.fit and Fitternity aim to own a greater market dominance in terms of empowering more than 5000 fitness centres spread across top 20 cities in India.
Cure.fit plans to get offline gyms to upgrade their technology, operating procedures for better utilization of resources, that could yield a 50-100% increase in footfalls and revenue in the future. Fitternity will continue to exist as a separate platform. With this move Cure.fit will look at scaling the ‘Cult Pass’ – the all-access pass to the best gyms and Cult centres in India.
Nazara Technologies raises Rs 100 crore funding through Hornbill Capital
Diversified gaming and sports media platform Nazara Technologies has raised Rs 100 crore through Hornbill Capital, which is acting as an advisor to Instant Growth Limited. The investment in Nazara was facilitated by Hornbill Capital Advisers, an India based investment advisory firm founded by Manoj Thakur in 2014.
Hornbill Capital acts as an advisor to Hornbill Orchid Investment Manager Private Limited which manages Hornbill Orchid India Fund, a Mauritius based hedge fund investing in India as a Foreign Portfolio Investor. The investment in Nazara was made through an investment vehicle, Instant Growth Limited (IGL). Earlier this year, Plutus Wealth Management and its associates acquired shares worth over Rs 500 Cr in Nazara from WestBridge Ventures II Investment Holdings, marking a complete exit for WestBridge Ventures.
Bangalore-based edtech startup, Newton School, raises $5 million Series A
Edtech startup, Newton School, has raised $5 million in Series A round of financing, led by RTP Global. The funding round saw participation from existing investors Nexus Venture Partners, Prophetic Ventures and Unacademy co-founders Gaurav Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh. Flipkart’s CEO Kalyan Krishnamoorthy, CRED’s Kunal Shah, Freshworks’ Girish Mathrubootham, Udaan’s Sujeet Kumar and Razorpay founders Harshil Mathur & Shashank Kumar along with a slew of angels also participated in the round.
Eduvanz raises $10 million in debt funding
Fintech Non-banking Finance Company Eduvanz has raised $10 million in debt funding from multiple financial institutions including InCred Financial Services, Vivriti Capital, and Northern Arc Capital. Eduvanz enables students to Study Now, Pay Later at 0 percent interest rates has disbursed loans worth Rs 300 crore supporting more than 25,000 learners.
Titan Capital, Ritesh Agarwal, others invest in Zingbus
Intercity bus travel startup zingbus has secured an undisclosed pre-Series A investment led by Venture Catalysts, Titan Capital, and Better Capital, along with Ritesh Agarwal of Oyo Rooms and Anupam Mittal of People Group.
The funding round also saw participation from 9Unicorns accelerator fund, AdvantEdge Founders, Smile Internet, MG Group, and other angel investors.
zingbus currently enables 2,000+ daily journeys across Delhi/NCR, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jammu, Haryana, and Punjab. The platform will utilize the funds to increase its operational footprint across the country and expand the scale of its fleet operations to 500 buses, with a view of fulfilling 1 million safe and hassle-free journeys in the next 12 months.
Agnikul Cosmos fires fully 3D printed rocket engine
Space-tech startup Agnikul Cosmos successfully fired it’s fully 3D printed higher stage semi cryogenic rocket engine – Agnilet. Agnikul has been testing engines at a smaller scale or those that were not 100 percent additively manufactured since September 2018. The Chennai-based start-up is building India’s first private small satellite launch vehicle. Their vehicle is – Agnibaan – a rocket that will be capable of carrying up to 100 kg of payload to low Earth orbits up to 700 km with a plug-and-play engine configuration.
Apple, Wistron say ready to restart Kolar plant
Wistron and Apple have said that they are ready to restart operations at the former’s Kolar plant in Karnataka. The plant has remained shut since December 12 after employees went on rampage over unpaid dues. However, both companies did not specify when the plant would restart. Apple said in a statement that « corrective actions » have been completed and that Wistron, which mainly makes the iPhone SE for the tech giant, has started the process for restarting operations.
However, Apple said that the probation on Wistron would continue. Apple found violations of suppliers’ code of conduct and had put Wistron on probation within a week following the violence at its Kolar plant. Wistron agreed that it found some of the workers were not paid correctly and had fired its India VP.
Nothing OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s latest venture Raises $15 million in Series A Led by GV (formerly Google Ventures)
London-based consumer technology company and OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s next venture Nothing has raised $15 million in a Series A round led by GV (formerly Google Ventures). So far, the venture had raised $7 million round in seed financing in December 2020 from a clutch of high-profile investors including notable tech leaders and investors such as Tony Fadell (also known as the « father of the iPod »), Casey Neistat (YouTube personality and co-founder of Beme), Kevin Lin (co-founder of Twitch), Steve Huffman (co-founder and CEO of Reddit), Josh Buckley (CEO of Product Hunt) and the most recent addition to this list was Kunal Shah (Founder of CRED). The new round takes the total amount of financing Nothing has raised to over $22 million.
With this latest funding round, the company plans to expand its operations in Europe, further invest in R&D while expanding its team and operations. While there is still no clarity on what range of consumer technology devices will Nothing have on offer, it is however certain that next up on the company’s to-do list is to launch its community and debut its highlight anticipated products in the coming months. In an official communication, Nothing also shared plans to open up for its community and the general public to invest as part of its Series A round.
Reddit’s valuation doubles to $6 billion after new $250 million funding
Reddit Inc, which has been at the heart of a recent social media-driven retail trading frenzy has raised more than $250 million in a new round of funding that doubled its valuation to $6 billion as per a Reuters report. The social media company was valued at $3 billion following a funding round in February 2019. « We decided that now was the right opportunity to make strategic investments in Reddit including video, advertising, consumer products, and expanding into international markets, » the company said in a blog post.
Reddit, which has more than 50 million daily active users, said in the blog post that advertising revenue rose 90 percent in the last quarter from a year earlier.
Bitcoin powers towards $50K as Tesla takes it mainstream
Bitcoin extended gains on Tuesday to a record high as per Reuters. The rally on the back of Tesla Inc’s $1.5 billion investment had investors betting on the cryptocurrency becoming a mainstream asset class for both corporates and money managers. Bitcoin has more than doubled over two months as institutional investors search for alternative wealth stores and retail traders ride the wave. Monday’s leap after Tesla’s announcement was its largest daily rise in more than three year. It traded at a record high of $48,216 late in Asian trade. Rival cryptocurrency Ethereum had made a record high of $1,784.85.
Bitcoin is up 62 percent this year, on top of a 300 percent rally in 2020.