Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
Prosus terminates $4.7 billion deal to acquire payments firm BillDesk
Prosus, the global investment arm of South African multinational Naspers, has announced that it has cancelled a $4.7 billion deal to buy payments firm BillDesk through its subsidiary PayU, after conditions on the deal weren’t met.
The deal had received approval by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in September, though “certain conditions precedent” weren’t met by the deadline at the end of last month, Prosus said in a statement. The company didn’t elaborate on the conditions.
“Closing of the transaction was subject to the fulfillment of various conditions precedent, including approval by the CCI. PayU secured CCI approval on September 5.
However, certain conditions precedent were not fulfilled by the September 30 long stop date, and the agreement has terminated automatically in accordance with its terms and, accordingly, the proposed transaction will not be implemented,” the firm said.
Prosus has been a long-term investor and operator in India — investing close to $6 billion in Indian technology companies since 2005. According to Bloomberg, the takeover would have been Prosus’s largest acquisition to date and was meant to create a digital payment giant in India.
Since the deal was announced last year, the market for payments companies in India has weakened, and Prosus didn’t want to proceed after BillDesk missed the deadline. There’s no break fee associated with the deal.
XDC Network gets $50 million from LDA Capital
Enterprise-grade blockchain startup the XDC Network has bagged $50 million from global alternative investment group LDA Capital. The founders of the XDC Network have leveraged a portion of their personal token allocations to secure the capital which will be used to accelerate the expansion and development of layer 2 projects across the XDC ecosystem and to facilitate network adoption and real-world utility.
LDA support will help fund new ventures and entities laser-focused on increasing network adoption among retail and institutional participants, jumpstarting on-chain activity and total value locked (TVL), and supporting technological innovation, a statement said.
Vance nets $5.8 million in seed round led by Hummingbird Ventures
Global neo-banking platform Vance has secured $5.8 million in a seed funding round led by Hummingbird Ventures. Global Founders Capital, YCombinator, Soma Capital and angel investors such as Alan Rutledge and Gokul Rajaram, also participated in the funding round.
Vance was a part of YCombinator’s Winter 2022 batch and plans on going live in the UAE and UK by the end of 2022. By Q1 2023, the goal is to launch in five additional countries.
The startup aims to leverage its seed round to expand their 10-member team to 30 in the next 6 months. The funds will also be used to create products like remittances, savings accounts, and investments, a statement said.
Mufin Green raises $5.7 million from Incofin in Series A round
Electric Vehicle financing startup Mufin Green Finance has raised $5.7 million in its series A funding round led by Incofin India Progress Fund (IPF). The company is planning to disburse income-generating loans worth Rs 5,000 crore in the next 5 years, resulting in an overall reduction of 4 million tonnes of carbon emission, a statement said.
“This funding has put us at the forefront of organised EV financing sector. As India’s first listed NBFC dedicated to Climate- EV financing, we are planning to disburse income-generating loans worth Rs 5,000 crore in the next 5 years,” said Kapil Garg, co-founder and managing director of Mufin Green Finance.
The firm claims to have financed EVs worth Rs 160 crore across 9 States. While promoting a clean and green environment, the company said that it has helped reduced 100,000 tonnes of carbon footprints.
White.Inc bags over $1 million from Dholakia Ventures, Inflection Point Ventures and others
White.Inc, a house of digitally native brands, has raised over $1 million in a seed funding round led by Dholakia Ventures, along with Inflection Point Ventures and First Port’s participation.
Angel investors, including Suhail Sameer and Shashvat Nakrani from BharatPe, Guruvanth Vaid from 4G Capital Ventures, and Aniket Gore from Ceramet Group, also participated in the round.
The firm intends to use the fresh capital to further build its team, product development, brand development, and bolster its tech infrastructure.
Techfino receives a term loan of Rs 15 crore from SBI
In FY 2021-22, the firm claims to have disbursed loans worth Rs 100 crore across all of its portfolios. The company said that it will be adding around 2,500 quality customers monthly, slated to grow to over 3,000 in the next few months. Techfina said it has delivered a healthy Return on Equity (ROE) of over 20 percent while maintaining a solid portfolio quality.
Google to nurture 20 startups by Indian women founders
Google has announced the first class of 20 women-founded/co-founded startups, selected from close to 400 applications, for the inaugural cohort of ‘Google for Startups Accelerator-India Women Founders’.
The tech giant will place special emphasis on access to networks, access to capital, hiring challenges, mentorship, and many others which, for a variety of social reasons and low representation, prove challenging for female founders.
In addition to these, the curriculum will include workshops and support around AI/ML, Cloud, UX, Android, Web, product strategy, and growth, as well as provide access to a global community of women founders, said the company. Some of the startups selected are Aspire for Her, Brown Living, CoLLearn Education, Commudle, Dubverse, Elda Health, Fitbots and more.
QSR chain Wow! Momo enters into Metaverse
Wow! Momo Foods which operates with three brands – Wow! Momo, Wow! China and Wow! Chicken, has launched its three outlets in the metaverse. The brands are on a new metaverse platform called FESTEMVERSE – that curates Festivals of India across the year.
Currently, FESTEMVERSE is available for android users; soon to be available on IOS devices too. All the consumers need to do is download FESTEMVERSE from the pay-store or Apple App Store, create their avatar and plunge into the immersive experience of the platform, a statement said.
The brand aims to start trading from their metaverse and consumers can trade on Metaverse stores and convert NFTs and redeem it on physical outlets.
“Metaverse is an investment for the future; whilst we are launch partners for FESTEMVERSE today; our aim is to grow this and at the same time also be part of all the popular metaverse platforms,” said Sagar Daryani, CEO and co-founder, Wow! Momo Foods.
T-Hub & RNTBCI award Rs 40 lakh grant to 4 startups
Startup incubator T-Hub along with Renault Nissan Technology and Business Centre India (RNTBCI), awarded Rs 40 lakh to four startups for their winning solutions to develop their Proof of Concepts (PoCs).
The startups that received the capital include Imaginate, mSense, MayaMD, and RACEnergy. In addition, they also received an opportunity to pitch to RNTBCI leadership and gain access to their global mentorship network, a statement said.
T-Hub and RNTBCI earlier this year partnered for the Open Innovation Challenge that offered startups an opportunity to participate under themes like Mobility as a Service, First and Last Mile Connectivity, Circular Economy, and Digitization. A cohort of 20 startups participated in a pre-pitch session, and a further 10 were chosen to work on specific use cases.
Over 14 million cyber-attacks blocked daily: Indusface Report
The rapidly changing geo-political scenarios such as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war have made a significant impact on cybersecurity, according to a report by Indusface, a software-as-a-service security firm.
As per the report over 418 million attacks were blocked in August-September after 40,756 open vulnerabilities were found in applications. 30 percent of vulnerabilities have been open for more than 180 days, the report added.
It also highlighted that the top vulnerability categories identified include insecure content security policy, application error message, email address disclosure, and HTML injection, among others.
695 websites experienced a bot attack but were successfully blocked by AppTrana and most of the bot attacks originated from Russia, it added.
46 percent share of firms who got attacked were with revenues of $10 million-$1 billion and 31 percent of companies are large enterprises with more than $1 billion in revenue.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
Tencent shifts focus to majority deals, overseas gaming assets for growth
Tencent is resetting its M&A strategy to put more focus on buying majority stakes mainly in overseas gaming companies, as the tech giant eyes global expansion to offset slowing growth at home in China, Reuters reported.
Tencent has for years invested in hundreds of up-and-coming businesses, mainly in the onshore market. It has typically acquired minority stakes and stayed invested as a passive financial investor. However, it is now aggressively seeking to own the majority or even controlling stakes in overseas targets, notably in gaming assets in Europe.
The shift comes as the world’s number one gaming firm by revenue is counting on global markets for its future growth, which requires a strong portfolio of chart-topping games, the report added.
Italian court scraps antitrust fine on Apple and Amazon
An Italian administrative court scrapped a fine imposed by the country’s antitrust authority on US tech giants Apple and Amazon for alleged collusion, as per documents seen by Reuters.
The antitrust authority fined both companies a total of more than 200 million euros ($195.3 million) in 2021, citing alleged anti-competitive cooperation in the sale of Apple and Beats products.
Earlier this year, the fine was reduced to an overall 173.3 million euros due to a “material error” in the first calculation. Amazon said in a statement it welcomed the court’s decision.
NFT sales plunge in Q3, down by 60% from Q2
Sales of non-fungible tokens dropped sharply in the third quarter, according to blockchain tracker DappRadar, as crypto investors hunker down for a “crypto winter” and demand for the highly speculative digital assets shows little sign of returning.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a kind of blockchain-based asset representing a digital file such as an image, video or item in an online game. They exploded in popularity in 2021, as crypto-rich speculators rushed to cash in on rising prices, but sales volumes have slumped in recent months.
The third quarter of 2022 saw $3.4 billion in NFT sales, down from $8.4 billion the previous quarter and $12.5 billion at the market’s peak in the first quarter of the year, DappRadar said.
While the nascent NFT market benefited from cryptocurrency price gains and high-risk appetite among investors in 2021, these conditions have turned sharply in 2022, as central bank rate rises prompt investors to ditch risky assets. Bitcoin is trading at around $19,000, down from its November peak of $69,000.
Mobile phone critic Pope Francis meets Apple chief Tim Cook
Pope Francis, who has often said people should limit their use of cellphones and give preference to personal communication, granted a private audience on Monday to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook.
Cook, head of the $2.4 trillion company whose iPhone has revolutionised personal communication, was on the pope’s daily audience list. As is customary, the Vatican did not disclose what was discussed during the private conversation.
The 85-year-old pope has a mixed relationship with cell phones. Last year, he interrupted his general audience when an aide passed him a cellphone and took an urgent call from a senior Vatican official.