Also in this letter:
- Unacademy to give its teachers stock options
- Coming soon: NFTs for
- Update iPhone, iPad OS immediately, warns
Oyo’s valuation hits $9 billion in Microsoft investment
Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal
Microsoft has finalised a strategic investment — of an undisclosed amount — in Softbank-backed Oyo Hotels & Homes, valuing the hospitality company around $9 billion, sources told us.
Sources said Oyo is likely to use the money to scale up its technology play and grab more market share.
- The hospitality sector is seeing some initial signs of a recovery. Hotel occupancies in all the major cities saw a month-on-month increase thanks to a rise in leisure travel in June, according to HVS Anarock’s latest Hotels & Hospitality Overview report.
Oyo’s fundraising: Microsoft’s investment comes a fortnight after Oyo raised $660 million in debt funding from global institutional investors. The round was oversubscribed 1.7 times.
Oyo is currently backed by investors such as SoftBank Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Ventures, Airbnb and Hero Enterprise. Investment bankers said the company could look to add more marquee strategic investors ahead of its initial public offering (IPO).
Microsoft’s India bets: Of late, Microsoft has shown an interest in making strategic investments in emerging markets such as India.
According to reports earlier this month, the company is in talks with the Telangana government to set up a $2-billion data centre there.
Last June, Microsoft opened its venture fund office M12 in Bengaluru, its fifth such office in the world. The company is reportedly keen on pursuing investment opportunities in the B2B software start-up space, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), business applications, infrastructure, security, and vanguard technologies.
In August 2019, Reliance Jio Infocomm announced a 10-year partnership with Microsoft, aimed at ‘accelerating digital transformation’ in India.
Unacademy to give teachers $40 million in stock options
Edtech firm Unacademy said yesterday that it will offer stock options to teachers on its platform over the next few years.
A stock option gives the holder the right — but not the obligation — to buy or sell a stock at an agreed upon price and date. They are typically reserved for a company’s permanent staff and used to attract talent from other firms.
Chief executive Gaurav Munjal said stock options would give teachers on its platform “skin in the game”.
The fine print: Unacademy teachers will be eligible for fully vested stock grants on completion of three, four and five years with the company.
“On Day One (which is today) we already have more than 300 educators eligible for the grant, which they will get immediately. Over the next few years we will give grants of over $40 million to our educators,” Munjal wrote in a series of tweets on Thursday.
“The stocks will continue to compound as the valuation of the company grows. You can expect the stock to grow [manifold] and by the time we do an IPO, the value of your stock would’ve grown a lot,” he said in a video posted on Loom.
The company hasn’t announced a definite timeline for an IPO yet.
Munjal claimed that Unacademy’s revenue and valuation has grown 10-fold in the past 18 months.
The company is backed by investors including Tiger Global, SoftBank Vision Fund II, Dragoneer Investment Group, Facebook, General Atlantic, and Sequoia India, among others.
Also Read: Startups have an Esops fable to tell
Tweet of the day
ETtech Done Deals
■ Vauld, a crypto platform for financial products, has landed $25 million in its Series A round led by PayPal founder Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures. Existing investors Pantera Capital, Coinbase Ventures, CMT Digital, Gumi Cryptos, Robert Leshner, and Cadenza Capital also participated.
■ Supply chain planning and logistics company 3SC has secured $15 million in a Series B funding round led by GEF Capital’s South Asia Fund, its founder Lalit Das said. The company will use the money to expand operations and explore new tech-based products.
■ Strata, a tech-enabled real estate investment platform, has raised $6 million in Series A funding from Kotak Investment Advisors, Gruhas Proptech, Sabre Investments of DLF’s Rahul Talwar. Elevation Capital, Mayfield India and Gemba Capital were among the existing investors that participated in the round.
■ Former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has invested $2 million in JetSynthesys. Tendulkar and JetSynthesys have a joint venture called 100MB, which is a digital destination for all things cricket and immersive cricket games such as Sachin Saga Cricket Champions and Sachin Saga VR.
■ Fixcraft, a tech-enabled car bodyshop, has raised $1 million in equity and debt from a marquee angel investor and Ubiquity Capital, respectively.
NFTs set to change cricket collectibles business
Indian tech firm Rario is in the process of launching the world’s first cricket-based digital collectibles platform. It will allow users to own these digital collectibles through non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Rario will start operations in August.
In India, NFTs have been used only for digital art until now but platforms such as Rario could change that.
“We are living in a mobile-first world and all our interactions are primarily digital. But fandom is still predominantly offline. Rario aims to change all that,” founder Ankit Wadhwa said.
New tech vertical will drive significant growth:
Tech Mahindra expects to sustain its first-quarter growth momentum through the year.
In an interview with ET, chief executive
Quote: “5G is not only for the communication sector, it is a network service, and we have seen consumption coming from enterprises as well. Overall, I would think tech as a sector will require a different level of engineering capability. So, we have created this new vertical which is focusing on unicorns which are focusing on product engineering and hyper scalers.”
Tech Mahindra’s first-quarter net profit rose about 39% to Rs 1,353 crore, while revenue was up 12% at Rs 10,198 crore.
Yesterday, IT services provider Cognizant said it was looking to hire around 100,000 experienced professionals in 2021 and to train close to 100,000 associates to offset high levels of attrition.
Update iPhone, iPad OS immediately, warns CERT-In
India’s top cyber agency has told iPhone and iPad users to update to the latest versions of
What it said: “A vulnerability has been reported in Apple iOS and iPadOS which could be exploited by a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code and gain elevated privileges on a targeted system,” the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) said in an advisory. “This vulnerability is currently being exploited” and users are advised to “apply patches urgently”, it added.
Shadow of Pegasus: An investigation by an international media consortium recently revealed that more than 50,000 phone numbers were targeted by a spyware created by NSO Group, an Israeli software company. The spyware exploits undiscovered bugs in Apple’s and Google’s mobile operating systems to gain complete access to devices.
The 50,000 numbers included 300 verified ones in India, including those of ministers, opposition leaders, a sitting judge, more than 40 journalists, and several activists and business persons. Read our explainer on Pegasus spyware and how it works here.
Also Read: Hold NSO accountable, says WhatsApp chief
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Tata Sons to acquire majority stake in Tejas Networks: A Tata Sons subsidiary is buying a controlling stake in Bengaluru-based telecom products major Tejas Networks to gain access to crucial technology for 5G and 4G telecom gear. Panatone Finvest, a unit of Tata Sons, has signed an agreement to acquire a 43.35% stake in Tejas Networks for Rs 1,850 crore.
Facebook’s future lies in virtual ‘Metaverse’, Mark Zuckerberg says: Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t just want you logging in to his company’s products. He wants you living, working and even exercising inside them.“In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company,” the Facebook CEO said.
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