ETtech Bytes on 18 Jan. 2021: Top 5 Tech News Today, in 10 Minutes


Good evening, ETtech reader.

The Delhi High Court on Monday said WhatsApp’s latest privacy policy update is “voluntary” and users can choose not to join the “private app”. Kavin Bharti Mittal’s Hike has shut down Hike Sticker Chat in order to pivot to other social products. Ola Electric is planning to raise $300 million from existing and new investors, and more.

Here’s a look at the top five tech news today:

1. WhatsApp gets relief from Delhi High Court

whatsapp

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy is “voluntary” and people can choose not to join that platform if they disagree with its terms and conditions,
the Delhi High Court said while hearing a petition challenging the Facebook-owned app’s updated privacy policy.

What happened? The court also said that if the terms and conditions of most mobile apps are read, “you would be surprised as to what all you are consenting to”. “Even Google maps captures all your data and stores it,” the court said.

Why it matters: The world’s largest messaging app
has already deferred the implementation of its new privacy policy to 15 May from 8 February after facing backlash from users who switched to rival messaging apps. On Sunday, WhatsApp
put out a status update for all Indian users, stating that it can’t read or listen to personal conversations and that it doesn’t share user contacts with Facebook.

The messaging app, owned by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Inc. hasn’t been able to allay fears around user privacy. As a result, its rival Signal
beat not only WhatsApp but also Facebook and Instagram in weekly India downloads.

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WhatsApp’s rebuttal: It is good for people to understand the business strategy behind apps they are using, WhatsApp’s Global Head
Will Cathcart told ET, even as the social media giant remained on the path to monetise the app.

In related news, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries
plans to embed its e-commerce app JioMart into WhatsApp within six months, the Mint newspaper has reported. This comes months after Facebook pumped Rs 43,574 crore into Reliance Industries for a 9.9% stake.

Also Read:
Outcry over WhatsApp privacy policy shows Indians value their privacy: Signal COO

2. ETtech Done Deals

Ola electric


Ola Electric
is planning to raise $300 million from existing and new investors, multiple people aware of the development told ET. The plan is part of Ola Electric’s larger strategy to become a full-range electric vehicle maker by adding motorcycles, three-wheelers and other modes of last-mile transport to its product portfolio.

■ Digital health startup
MFine
has raised $16 million in funding led by
Heritas Capital along with participation from Singapore-based family office of Y’S Investment Pte Ltd. The company plans to use the funds raised to increase its investments in artificial intelligence, mobile engineering and device integration, expanding its hospital network across the country.


Udayy, a live-learning platform for students of Grades 1 to 5,
has raised $2.5 million in a seed funding round led by Alpha Wave Incubation (AWI), which is managed by Falcon Edge Capital and InfoEdge Ventures. The funding round also saw participation from VC Better Capital, Cred founder Kunal Shah and other angel investors.

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Okinawa Scooters is in talks with multiple investors
to raise Rs 150 crore in equity to fuel its expansion plans, amid a foray into the business-to-business sales segment. The electric two-wheeler maker, which plans to set up a new manufacturing facility, is in talks with Zomato, Swiggy, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, etc. to supply its new electric scooter designed specifically for delivery operations.

3. Hike shuts down Hike Sticker Chat

Kavin-Bharti-MittalAgencies

Hike Founder Kavin Bharti Mittal.

Hike, backed by Tiger Global, Tencent Holdings Ltd. and SoftBank Group Corp.,
has shut down WhatsApp’s homegrown rival Hike Sticker Chat in order to pivot to other social products.

Backstory: The app debuted as Hike Messenger in December 2012 and had notched up about 100 million registered users as of August 2016. It was rebranded as Hike Sticker Chat with a sticker-centric experience in April 2019.

Why it matters: The shutdown comes at a time when several messaging apps—such as Signal and Telegram— are witnessing significant growth in user base, in a reaction to WhatsApp’s controversial privacy policy and terms of service. It also comes nearly a fortnight after Hike’s CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal announced plans to sunset the service in January 2021.

4. Letterboxd on a roll


After it was launched in 2011, Letterboxd, a social media website about movies, developed a following of cinephiles who wanted to track their movie-watching habits, make lists of favourites, and write and publish reviews.
According to The New York Times, the site’s growth was explosive in 2020. Letterboxd has seen its user base nearly double since the beginning of the pandemic: They now have more than 3 million member accounts, the report said, up from 1.7 million at this time last year.

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Why it matters: This jump comes at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic shuttered multiplexes and cinema halls. An increase in its younger user base also aided this growth. On the app, which the company said is how 75% of users access Letterboxd, the largest demographic is 18- to 24-year-olds.

5. Trump admin slams Huawei, halts shipments from Intel

Huawei 2

The Trump administration notified Huawei suppliers, including chipmaker Intel, that it is revoking certain licenses to sell to the Chinese company and intends to reject dozens of other applications to supply the telecommunications firm,
Reuters has reported.

Why it matters: The action is the latest in a series of decisions taken to weaken the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, which the US sees as a national security threat. In its final days, the Trump administration has gone on an offensive against Chinese firms.





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