What’s brewing hot ☕
✅ Punk style marketing — credit-card processor Visa, bombed $150K on the purchase of a crypto-punk NFT, basically a unique image of the pixelated dude you keep seeing as profile pictures on Twitter. If Blockchain succeeds, Visa is probably looking at a walk to the graveyard, so the counter-intuitive move here certainly generated buzz worth more than $150K, which was probably Visa’s intention right from the start. BTW, NFT volumes traded for the month of August have spiked to $1B+, nearly 10x from the year before. Some wild shit out there!
✅ Sell it all — GOI laid out a comprehensive 4 year plan to divest upto ₹6 lakh crores worth of government assets across sectors including Railways, Power, Petro, Telco, Aviation etc. giving more color to its earlier stated intentions. Some of the money will help GOI fix budget shortfalls, while the broader mandate is to bring some “outside” pressure into churning higher-utility from these assets than politics and laziness infested bureaucracy could so far deliver.
What’s popping in Venture City? 🔥
Mondays are always busy fundraising days! Here’s a quick rundown...
👨💻 In edtech world — as talks of a Byju's takeout go stale, Vedantu is turning to Tiger Global for a $100 million round that will value the business at over a billion! For those catching up, the company runs a freemium based edtech platform offering live coaching to K-12 students as well as IIT aspirants, serving over 93 million monthly users. Paid subs have 4x’ed during COVID to 200K, and revenues apparently top $60 million.
🌿 Then agri-tech startup AgNext, which basically runs a marketplace connecting verified farmers with buyers on another end, with inbuilt fair-price matching and quality tracking mechanism, closed on a $21 million Series A round from Alpha Wave Incubation, and others. AgNext helps several leading consumer companies including ITC, Godrej, etc. to automate their grain quality check processes.
🎙️ Lastly, in content — despite China running away from Indian tech for the past 2 years, Tencent is apparently keen on leading a $25 million round for vernacular audio-content platform Pocket FM, alongside Brand Cap and Lightspeed. Pocket, kinda like the Audible +Spotify for local languages, offers audiobooks and podcasts with a 10,000 hours long catalog, quite popular in heartland India.
Quick look at a space SPAC deal 👀
What’s up — Virgin Orbit, the contract satellite launch service from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, will be going public via a SPAC merger that will value the business at $3.2 billion.
Virgin Orbit is basically a space-transportation player that helps third-parties put small satellites and payloads into Earth’s lower orbit, a business that is expected to be one of the early beneficiaries of the space race, as global corporations rush with space infra buildout.
FYI, Branson’s space giant Virgin Galactic (which makes rockets) already trades under the ticker $SPCE.
Softbank pulls out the big guns in Africa 🔫
Softbank continues to invest aggressively in emerging markets — leading a splashy $400 million round in African-fintech player Opay, valuing the business at $2 billion. Doesn’t happen everyday in Africa!
Opay is essentially the Paytm of Africa, a money super app that allows a widely-underbanked citizen base (mostly in Nigeria) to pay bills, send money, while merchants can process payments, send invoices, etc. Opay processes $3B+ in each month, and has seen a 4x boom since COVID.
Meanwhile, HDFC and PayTM dance together back home, 💃🏾
In the most unusual of partnerships, HDFC’s sales force will now start to market PayTM’s products, clubbed with its banking services to merchants across India. Basically, want a loan? How about we kick in PayTM powered payment processing + wallets + software tools at a discounted price.
Several of PayTM’s competitors are choosing a boots on the ground strategy to pitch their products, and partnering with a bank that’s known for its excellent distribution engine is certainly one way to come out at the top.
Closing out — Bharat Forge’s EV plans 🔌
Bharat Forge, run by Billionaire Baba Kalyani, is one of India’s largest auto-parts manufacturers, mostly exporting its wares to foreign countries.
Yesterday, BF disclosed it’s throwing its hat into the electric-vehicles business, launching a 2 and 3 wheeler vehicles models, with a line-up ready to go live by end of 2021.
What do we know so far?
- Will launch through Tork Motors, a subsidiary of Bharat Forge, which is known to make electric power trains
- Will contest solely in the 2 and 3 wheeler line
- Has a $500M revenue base to aggressively invest, coupled with global relations into mature EV markets for quick learning
FYI, Tork had also been building its own performance EV bike for more than a few years now, and Bharat Forge could just build on that existing platform, accelerating timelines.
Bottomline — with Tata, Hero, Hero Electric, Hyundai, Mahindra, as well as with disruptors Ather and Ola, the EV space suddenly started looking quite crowded
What else are we snackin’ 🍿
💰 Done deal - Pfizer wrapped up its deal for cancer drug developer Trillium Therapeutics by paying another $2.26 billion. Meanwhile, Pfizer also got its COVID vaccine fully approved by the US FDA. Good day!
🗣️ Fix it - the finance ministry asked INFY to get all the income tax portal glitches fixed by September 15. Lots of all-nights coming!