Salary Bubble

Good morning,

Today we explore why techies are turning down almost half of all job offers even as salaries are rising to “unprecedented” levels.

Also in this letter:

💰 Catamaran Ventures eyes minority stake in Udaan
🚨 NPCI spins off Bharat Bill Payment System
📲 Sharechat tries out political ads

Why tech salaries are shooting up


Hiring is getting expensive, especially for early-stage startups, several founders and recruiters have told ETtech.

Why? Covid, of course. The demand for technology talent has shot up as more businesses shift online because of the pandemic.

This means tech startups are now in competition with offline businesses that are being forced online, and with multinational firms that have to invest in WFH solutions.

Another reason is that the recent funding boom has left many startups flush with cash.

‘Unprecedented’: “Tech hiring in the past four or five months has been peaking to unprecedented levels,” said Anshuman Das, chief executive of CareerNet and Longhouse Consulting.

  • In general, engineering and tech talent used to ask for a 15%-20% hike but this has now risen to around 30%-40%, said one recruiter.
  • Meanwhile, the proportion of job offers being declined has shot up from 25%-30% to 45%-50%, according to Das.

Catch 22: The huge sums that investors are pouring into startups come with an expectation to grow faster, which requires quality talent, said Deepak Abbot, founder of gold monetisation platform Indiagold.

  • “The problem is for startups in the middle, [which have] suddenly become big too quickly. The money has to go into hiring. When startups want to quickly hire many engineers, that’s where the trouble begins,” he added.

Flashback: Founders and investors said the current bubble is reminiscent of 2014-2015, when the initial funding boom in Indian startups led to inflated salaries.

  • “The hiring boom will lead to the same issue that happened in 2015 when salaries were inflated at junior levels. It becomes unsustainable, which leads to companies not becoming profitable anytime soon,” said Ashish Dave, CEO of Mirae Asset Venture Investments.

Narayana Murthy’s firm may buy minority stake in Udaan

B2B marketplace

Catamaran Ventures, the private investment firm launched by Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, is in talks to purchase a minority stake in Udaan.

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Catamaran could acquire a 2% to 3% stake in the business-to-business marketplace from some of its employees, who are seeking to offload their vested stock options.

  • Udaan was last valued at $3.2 billion, when it raised $280 million from new and existing investors as an extension of its Series D fundraise in January.

Why it matters: For Murthy’s investment firm, this deal comes almost two years after it increased its holding to 76% in Cloudtail, a joint venture with Amazon. Cloudtail is the biggest seller on Amazon India’s online retail marketplace. A stake purchase in Udaan will provide Catamaran with an entry into the fast-growing business-to-business e-commerce space as well.

Udaan competes with retail behemoths including Reliance Industries, Amazon and Walmart, all of which are vying to serve millions of corner stores in the country.

Also Read: India’s e-commerce sector sees big growth in 2021

Tweet of the day

RBI orders MobiKwik to probe data breach

The Reserve Bank of India has ordered digital payments firm MobiKwik to investigate the alleged data breach of nearly 110 million customers, Reuters reported on Thursday.

In the event of “lapses” the company could also face fines, the report said, citing unnamed sources, adding that “RBI was not happy with the company’s initial response”.

What happened? Over 8 terabytes (TB) of personal user information was allegedly taken from Mobikwik’s main server by a hacker named Jordan Daven and put on dark-web forums. The breach was first reported about a month ago. However, Mobikwik continues to deny the breach and has been trying to discredit the researchers that reported it.

What MobiKwik is saying? “We take the privacy and security of our user data very seriously. We are working closely with requisite authorities to conduct an independent forensic audit,” a spokesperson of the company told ET.

The Gurugram-based fintech company had on Wednesday denied the data leak. In a statement posted on Twitter, Mobikwik founder Bipin Preet Singh said that Mobikwik was not to blame for user information available on the dark web as “users could have uploaded their information on multiple platforms”.

New rules: Following a slew of data breaches at Indian tech startups over the past few months, RBI has tightened its rules for payment companies storing customer data. All licensed payment system operators will have to submit detailed “compliance certificates” to RBI twice a year.

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ETtech Done Deals


  • Singapore-based neo-banking startup StashFin has raised $40 million in a Series B equity round from a clutch of global investors including Altara Ventures and Uncorrelated Ventures. Others such as Integrated Capital, Kravis Investment Partners, Saison Capital and Tencent Cloud Europe BV, and existing investors Alto Partners, Snow Leopard Ventures and Positive Moves also participated in the round.
  • Mobile entertainment solutions provider OnMobile is leading a $13 million financing round in homegrown short video app Chingari in return for a 10% stake. Following the investment, OnMobile will integrate and distribute its direct-to-consumer gaming platform, Onmo, on the Chingari app.
  • Fintech startup Easebuzz has picked up $4 million as part of its Series A funding round led by 8i ventures, Varanium capital and Guild Capital. Amrish Rau and Jitendra Gupta, founders of Citrus Pay and now leading Pine Labs and Jupiter, respectively, also participated in the financing.
  • Wipro on Thursday said it would buy Australia-based cyber security, devops and engineering services company Ampion for $117 million in an all-cash deal. The acquisition is part of Wipro CEO Thierry Delaporte’s strategy to go inorganic to add clients and local employees in key markets.

Infographic Insight

Job Offers

NPCI spins off Bharat Bill Payment System

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has hived off its automated bill payment business Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) into a new subsidiary called the NPCI Bharat BillPay Limited (NBBL).

  • BBPS is an interoperable bill payments platform used by banks, fintech companies and biller merchants to automate bill collection and request solutions. BBPS processed 35 million transactions worth Rs 5,196 crore for more than 19,000 billers in March, according to data released by NPCI on Thursday.

Why now? The Reserve Bank of India is learnt to have directed NPCI to set up a separate subsidiary to scale the interoperable bill platform by the way of increased autonomy in operations and onboarding of new billers, according to sources.

Sources told ET that both NPCI and RBI believe that BBPS has a massive growth ceiling, especially as a B2C payment platform for small businesses offering monthly solutions to customers.

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This comes a day after the RBI extended the deadline for banks, card companies and online merchants to comply with its new rules for recurring payments by another six months.

Also Read: Six consortiums apply to RBI for NUE licence for retail payments

ShareChat tries out political ads

Homegrown social media firm ShareChat is experimenting with political advertising on the platform as part of its monetisation strategy and to help political parties engage with their constituents.

What’s happening? Tamil Nadu’s rival Dravidian parties, DMK and AIADMK, have been the first to run campaigns on the platform, which allows conversations in local languages.

The platform, which has close to 160 million monthly active users and is available in 15 local languages including Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali and Assamese, will look to replicate the model for national parties in the future.

In February, ET reported that ShareChat, which is backed by Twitter, is in talks with Chinese technology giant Tencent to raise $200 million through optionally convertible debentures.

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