Equity Tuesday: Everyone is raising money at the same time

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday Tuesday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here.

We are back from a long weekend here in America. But not break here in the States can stop the flow of global tech news. So, here’s the rundown:

Welcome back, America, to the week. It’s nice to see you, everyone else. Maybe Robinhood will file this week.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#belvo, #bigbasket, #china, #chip, #chipper-cash, #cloudera, #equity, #equity-monday, #equity-podcast, #europe, #fundings-exits, #idwall, #india, #ipo, #malt, #nio, #sennder, #spac, #sprinklr, #startups, #tata, #truebill, #wefox, #wejo, #zenyum


Air India passenger data breach reveals SITA hack worse than first thought

Three months after air transport data giant SITA reported a data breach, we are still learning about the damage.

Air India said this week that personal data of about 4.5 million passengers had been compromised following the incident at SITA, Indian flag carrier airline’s data processor. The stolen information included  passengers’ name, credit card details, date of birth, contact information, passport information, ticket information, Star Alliance and Air India frequent flyer data, Air India said in a statement (PDF).

CVV/CVC data of credit cards were not held by SITA, said Air India as it urged passengers to change passwords “wherever applicable to ensure safety of their personal data.”

The attack compromised data of passengers who had registered with the Indian airline over the past decade, between August 26, 2011 and February 3, 2021, Air India said in a statement.

The revelation comes months after SITA said it had suffered a data breach that involved passenger data. At the time, SITA said it had notified several airlines — Malaysia Airlines, Finnair, Singapore Airlines, Jeju Air, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand, and Lufthansa — of the breach.

The Geneva, Switzerland-headquartered firm — which is said to serve 90% of the world’s airlines — had declined to reveal the specific data that had been compromised at the time of disclosure in early March, citing an investigation — which is still ongoing.

Air India said that it was first notified about the cyber attack by SITA on February 25, but the nature of the data was only provided to it on March 25 and April 5.

The struggling Indian airline, which has been surviving on taxpayer’s money, claimed that it had investigated the security incident, secured the compromised servers, engaged with unnamed external specialists, notified the credit card issuers, and had reset passwords of its frequent flyer program.

Air India is the latest Indian firm to disclose a data breach in recent quarters. Payments giant MobiKwik said in late March that it was investigating claims of a data breach that allegedly exposed private information of nearly 100 million users.

Alleged records of nearly 20 million BigBasket (a top grocery delivery startup in India that is now owned by local conglomerate Tata) customers leaked on the dark web for anyone to download in late April. A security lapse at Indian telecom giant Jio Platforms exposed results of some users who had used its tool to check their coronavirus symptoms. Indian state West Bengal and giant blood test firm Dr Lal PathLabs suffered similar breaches. Air India’s peer, Spicejet, also confirmed a data breach last year.

Read more:

#asia, #bigbasket, #india, #security, #sita, #tc


Hacker publishes alleged records of 20 million BigBasket users

An alleged database of about 20 million BigBasket users has leaked on a well-known cybercrime forum, months after the Indian grocery delivery startup confirmed it had faced a data breach.

The database includes users’ email address, phone number, address, scrambled password, date of birth, and scores of interactions they had with the service. TechCrunch confirmed details of some customers listed in the database — including those of the author.

BigBasket co-founders did not respond to texts requesting comment.

The startup confirmed in November last year that it had suffered a data breach after reports emerged that hackers had siphoned off information of 20 million customers from the platform.

TechCrunch has asked one BigBasket co-founder whether the startup ever disclosed the data breach to customers.

A hacker who goes by the name ShinyHunters published the alleged BigBasket database — and made it available for anyone to download — on a popular cybercrime forum over the weekend. In newer posts on the forum, several threat actors claimed that they had decoded the hashed passwords and were selling it. ShinyHunters didn’t immediately respond to a text requesting comment.

The incident comes weeks after Indian conglomerate Tata Group agreed to acquire BigBasket, valuing the Indian startup at over $1.8 billion. The acquisition proposal is currently awaiting approval by the Indian regulator.

#asia, #bigbasket, #india, #security


Tata Group reaches agreement to buy majority stake in BigBasket

Indian conglomerate Tata Group has reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in grocery delivery startup BigBasket, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The salt-to-software giant is buying over 60% stake in BigBasket, valuing the Indian startup between $1.8 billion to $2 billion, the source said, requesting anonymity as the deal is still private. BigBasket had raised over $720 million prior to the deal with Tata.

Indian news network ET Now reported on Tuesday that the two firms were in advanced talks, signals of which began to emerge in local media two quarters ago. Two BigBasket co-founders and Tata Group did not respond to a request for comment.

Chinese backer Alibaba and a handful of other investors are getting a near complete exit from BigBasket as part of the deal, the source said.

The move comes as Tata Group looks to expand to more consumer businesses and works to develop a so-called superapp in the world’s second largest internet market.

Bangalore-headquartered BigBasket, which competes with SoftBank-backed Grofers and Reliance’s JioMart, operates in over two dozen cities in India and turned profitable months into the coronavirus pandemic as sales skyrocketed on the platform.

In a recent note to clients, Bank of America analysts estimated that the online grocery delivery market could be worth $12 billion in India by 2023.

“Competition is high in the sector with large verticals like BigBasket/Grofers and horizontal like Amazon/Flipkart trying to convert the unorganized market to organized one. Based on media articles, till recently the No 1 player in the space was BigBasket, ,with it hitting $1 bn annualized GMV & selling over 300K orders every day. RIL also threw its hat with the company launching its JioMart app in May-20 across 200 cites,” they wrote.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

#apps, #asia, #bigbasket, #food, #funding, #fundings-exits, #india


From India’s richest man to Amazon and 100s of startups: The great rush to win neighborhood stores

After spending more than a decade disrupting the neighborhood stores in the U.S. and several other markets, Amazon and Walmart are employing an unusual strategy in India to face off this competitor: Friending them.

Walmart and Amazon, both of which face restrictions from New Delhi on what all they could do in India, have partnered with tens of thousands of neighborhood stores in the world’s second-largest internet market this year to leverage the vast presence of these mom and pop stores.

In June this year, at the height of the pandemic, Amazon announced “Smart Stores.” Through this India-specific program, for instance, Amazon is providing physical stores with software to maintain a digital log of the inventory they have in the shop and supplying them with a QR code.

When consumers walk to the store and scan this QR code with the Amazon app, they see everything the shop has to offer, in addition to any discounts and past reviews from customers. They can select the items and pay for it using Amazon Pay. Amazon Pay in India supports a range of payments services, including the popular UPI, and debit and credit cards.

The world’s largest e-commerce giant also maintains partnerships that allow it to turn tens of thousands of neighborhood stores as its delivery point for customers — and sometimes even rely on them for inventory.

India has over 60 million small businesses that dot the thousands of cities, towns and villages across the country. These mom and pop stores offer all kinds of items, are family run, and pay low wages and little to no rent.

This has enabled them to operate at an economics that is better than most — if not all — of their digital counterparts, and their scale allows them to offer unmatched fast delivery.

Krishna Shah, a New Delhi-based doctor, on paper is one of the perfect customers of e-commerce services. She lives in an urban city, uses digital payments apps and her earnings put her in the top 5% income level in the country. Yet, when she needed to buy food for her cats and needed it as soon as possible, she realized the major giants would take hours, if not longer. She ended up placing a call to a neighborhood store, which delivered the item within 10 minutes.

That neighborhood store, which employs fewer than half a dozen people, was competing with over a dozen giants and heavily funded startups including Grofers and BigBasket — and it won.

At stake is India’s retail market, which is estimated to be worth $1.3 trillion by 2025, from about $700 billion last year, according to Boston Consulting Group and the Retailers’ Association India. E-commerce, by several estimates, accounts for just 3% of the retail market in the country.

If that figure wasn’t small enough already, consider this: Some of the biggest customers of Flipkart and Amazon are these small retail stores. An executive with direct knowledge of the matter told TechCrunch that during some sales, as high as 40% of all smartphone units are bought by physical stores. The idea is, the executive said, to buy the devices at a discounted price, sit on them for a few days and when Amazon and Flipkart are done with their sales, sell the same phones at their standard prices.

Sujeet Kumar, co-founder of Udaan, a Bangalore-based startup that works with merchants, said that even as smartphones and the internet have reached all corners of India, e-commerce hasn’t been able to disrupt the retail market.

“The problem is that it is very difficult for e-commerce companies to build a supply chain and distribution network that is more efficient than those established by neighborhood stores. These mom and pop stores operate on an insanely different kind of cost economics. E-commerce companies are not able to match it,” he said.

#amazon, #apps, #asia, #bigbasket, #ecommerce, #facebook, #finance, #flipkart, #food, #google, #grofers, #india, #instamojo, #khatabook, #mobile, #online-lending, #payments, #paytm, #phonepe, #udaan, #walmart, #whatsapp


YC-backed Cashfree raises $35.3 million for its payments platform

Cashfree, an Indian startup that offers a wide-range of payments services to businesses, has raised $35.3 million in a new financing round as the profitable firm looks to broaden its offering.

The Bangalore-based startup’s Series B was led by London-headquartered private equity firm Apis Partners (which invested through its Growth Fund II), with participation from existing investors Y Combinator and Smilegate Investments. The new round brings the startup’s to-date raise to $42 million.

Cashfree kickstarted its journey in 2015 as a solution for restaurants in Bangalore that needed an efficient way for their delivery personnel to collect cash from customers.

Akash Sinha and Reeju Datta, the founders of Cashfree, did not have any prior experience with payments. When their merchants asked if they could build a service to accept payments online, the founders quickly realized that Cashfree could serve a wider purpose.

In the early days, Cashfree also struggled to court investors, many of whom did not think a payments processing firm could grow big — and do so fast enough. But the startup’s fate changed after Y Combinator accepted its application, even though the founders had missed the deadline and couldn’t arrive to join the batch on time. Y Combinator later financed Cashfree’s seed round.

Fast-forward five years, Cashfree today offers more than a dozen products and services and helps over 55,000 businesses disburse salary to employees, accept payments online, set up recurring payments and settle marketplace commissions.

Some of its customers include financial services startup Cred, online grocer BigBasket, food delivery platform Zomato, insurers HDFC Ergo and Acko and travel ticketing service provider Ixigo. The startup works with several banks and also offers integrations with platforms such as Shopify, PayPal and Amazon Pay.

Based on its offerings, Cashfree today competes with scores of startups, but it has an edge — if not many. Cashfree has been profitable for the past three years, Sinha, who serves as the startup’s chief executive, told TechCrunch in an interview.

“Cashfree has maintained a leadership position in this space and is now going through a period of rapid growth fuelled by the development of unique and innovative products that serve the needs of its customers,” Udayan Goyal, co-founder and a managing partner at Apis, said in a statement.

The startup processed over $12 billion in payments volumes in the financial year that ended in March. Sinha said part of the fresh fund will be deployed in R&D so that Cashfree can scale its technology stack and build more services, including those that can digitize more offline payments for its clients.

Cashfree is also working on building cross-border payments solutions to explore opportunities in emerging markets, he said.

“We still see payments as an evolving industry with its own challenges and we would be investing in next-gen payments as well as banking tech to make payments processing easier and more reliable. With the solid foundation of in-house technologies, tech-driven processes and in-depth industry knowledge, we are confident of growing Cashfree to be the leader in the payments space in India and internationally,” he said.

#apis-partners, #apps, #asia, #bigbasket, #cashfree, #finance, #funding, #fundings-exits, #india, #payments, #paypal, #razorpay, #recent-funding, #shopify, #startups, #y-combinator, #zomato


India’s Milk Mantra secures $10M from US International Development Finance Corporation

Milk Mantra, a startup that procures, packages, sells and delivers milk and other dairy products, has raised $10 million in a new debt financing round as it looks to grow its business in India, where nearly a dozen startups have attempted and failed to serve this category in recent years.

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has committed a $10 million loan to Milk Mantra, said the Indian startup that has raised about $35 million by selling equity stake to date.

Headquartered in the state of Odisha, Milk Mantra has built the entire value chain for servicing dairy products, said Srikumar Misra, founder and chief executive of the startup, in an interview with TechCrunch.

Milk Mantra works directly with farmers, tests and processes the milk, and then sells it through more than 10,000 mom-and-pop stores in several cities in Odisha, said Misra. In the past one year, Milk Mantra has also launched a daily subscription service that delivers milk to customers’ homes.

The startup’s heavy reliance on these tiny store fronts is in contrast with how most other young firms operating in this space have attempted to cash in on India’s gigantic milk market that is the world’s largest in the dairy herd and where more than 170 million metric tons of milk is produced each year.

A wave of startups in recent years have tried to buy milk from informal collectors and then use an army of delivery people to distribute it. But because of the razor thin margin on milk, they have struggled to make economic sense that has resulted in a major consolidation and other exits in the market in recent years.

In the past two years, online grocery delivery firm BigBasket has acquired DailyNinja and RainCan, two startups that delivered milk, while a similar startup SuprDaily was snatched by food delivery startup Swiggy, and Doodhwala closed shop.

Milk Market’s founder and chief executive Srikumar Misra is also part of a task force setup by New Delhi-based think tank Niti Aayog to build an agri-stack for the country

Misra said having full-time delivery people is currently not sustainable for the milk business. Even for its to-door service, he said, Milk Mantra’s delivery force only parts three to four hours of their day to the startup. “As we scale our subscription service, it may account for 10 to 15% of our sales,” he said.

Relying on middlemen also means that the quality of milk gets deteriorated as they often add water, or powdered milk to artificially increase the volume. Misra, who started to explore this space after returning to India in 2009, said Milk Mantra has spent years to re-engineer how milk is sourced and sold in the country.

“In India, people still boil milk after getting it from their local parlour or delivery people because of trust deficit and other issues. So we re-engineered the packaging milk that prevents it from light exposure,” he said. The startup calls this milk product Milky Moo, the motto of which is “no need to boil.”

The startup works with more than 65,000 farmers today and has deployed IoT products and used data analytics to control quality and pricing. This has also helped farmers increase their income as the startup brings transparency on how much their milk is worth, said Misra.

Milk Mantra will deploy the fresh capital to build a digital financial services platform for its network of farmers. “This platform will drive financial inclusion for farmers, especially women farmers. It may be noted that there are nearly 100 million dairy farmers in India with a significant proportion being women,” the startup said.

It is also working to build a full-fledged chain in Kolkata, where it currently has limited presence.

#asia, #bigbasket, #food, #funding, #india


JioMart, the e-commerce venture from India’s richest man, launches in additional cities

The rationale behind the deluge of dollars flooding into billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Platforms is beginning to become more clear as his e-commerce venture JioMart starts rolling out to more people across India.

An e-commerce venture between the nation’s top telecom operator Jio Platforms and top retail chain Jio Retail, JioMart just launched its new website and started accepting orders in dozens of metro, tier 1 and tier 2 cities including Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Pune, Bokaro, Bathinda, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, and Dehradun.

Before the expansion on Saturday, the service was available in three suburbs of Mumbai. The service now includes perishables such as fruits and vegetables, and dairy items in addition to staples and other grocery products as it makes its pitch to Indian households across the country.

Ambani’s Reliance Jio Platforms, which has raised more than $10 billion in the last month by selling a roughly 17% stake, has amassed over 388 million subscribers, more than any other telecom operator in the country.

The money comes as Ambani’s various companies begin entering a market already teeming with fierce competitors like Amazon, Walmart’s Flipkart, BigBasket, MilkBasket, and Grofers.

Earlier this week the American e-commerce giant entered India’s food delivery market to challenge the duopoly of Prosus Ventures-backed Swiggy and Ant Financial-backed Zomato. Amazon is making a massive hiring push in India, and is looking to hire close to 50,000 seasonal workers to keep up with the growing demand on its platform.

Meanwhile, Ambani’s Reliance Retail, founded in 2006, remains the largest retailer in India by revenue. It serves more than 3.5 million customers each week through its nearly 10,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns.

JioMart may have Amazon and Flipkart in its sights, but in its current form, however, the company is going to be more of a headache for Grofers and BigBasket, the top grocery delivery startups in India.

Reliance Industries, the most valued firm in India and parent entity of Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail, plans to expand JioMart to more than a thousand districts in a year and also widen its catalog to include electronics and office supplies among a variety of other categories, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. A Reliance Jio spokesperson declined to comment.

The expansion to more cities comes a month after JioMart launched its WhatsApp business account, enabling people to easily track their order and invoice on Facebook -owned service.

Facebook announced it would invest $5.7 billion in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms last month and pledged to work with the Indian firm to help small businesses across the country. JioMart’s WhatsApp account currently does not support the expanded regions.

Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man and the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, first unveiled his plan to launch an e-commerce platform last year. In a speech then, Ambani invoked Mahatma Gandhi’s work and said India needed to fight another fresh battle.

A handful of firms have attempted — and failed — to launch their e-commerce websites over the years in India, where more than 95% of sales still occur through brick and mortar stores. But Ambani is uniquely positioned to fight the duopoly of Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart — thanks in part to the more than $10 billion in investment dollars the company recently raised from KKR, FacebookSilver LakeVista Equity Partners, and General Atlantic. In addition to scaling JioMart, the fresh capital should also help Ambani repay some of Reliance Industries’ $21 billion debt.

“We have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonization. For India to succeed in this data-driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India — in other words, Indian wealth back to every Indian,” Ambani said at an event attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi .

#amazon, #ant-financial, #asia, #bigbasket, #ecommerce, #facebook, #flipkart, #grofers, #mukesh-ambani, #narendra-modi, #prosus-ventures, #reliance, #reliance-industries, #reliance-jio, #walmart, #whatsapp, #zomato


India’s NoBroker raises an additional $30M from General Atlantic

NoBroker, a Bangalore-based startup that helps those looking to rent or buy an apartment connect directly with property owners, has extended its previous financing round to add $30 million to it.

General Atlantic has invested $30 million in NoBroker’s Series D round, which the startup unveiled in October last year. The round, now closed at $80 million, pushes five-year-old NoBroker’s to-date raise to $151 million, the startup’s founders told TechCrunch.

NoBroker helps people looking to buy or lease an apartment avoid brokers, who charge a significant fee. The startup has expanded to six new cities in the last three months (now serving a dozen cities in total), and has expanded to new categories including gate keeping, moving and packing, helping tenants secure home loans, formulating agreements between tenants and the property owner, and fulfilling furniture and other decor needs.

The most remarkable thing about this fundraising is, of course, its timing. In a joint interview with TechCrunch, NoBroker’s founders Amit Kumar Agarwal, Akhil Gupta, and Saurabh Garg said the investment is an “endorsement” to the faith General Atlantic, its biggest investor, sees in the startup. The new capital will also give enough runway to NoBroker, they said.

Several prominent investors in India have cautioned startups that they might face additional challenges in raising fresh capital as they enter the “worst” times.

NoBroker founders acknowledged that the demand has weakened in the market, but said they were hopeful that it would bounce back as soon as schools reopen, which sees tens of thousands of families move to different cities each year.

New Delhi ordered a 21-day nationwide lockdown last month — which it has since extended to May 3 — that has restricted people’s movements and shut schools, malls, theatres and other public places.

“Our plan is to keep adding more properties to the platform, and serve more customers,” said Kumar, who serves as the chief executive of NoBroker. “We also want to grow our other services to become a one-stop solution for all of a tenant’s needs and maintain the market leading position,” he said.

These new categories also allow NoBroker to levy a cut of 10 to 20% on leads it generates. One of the areas that the startup has expanded to is society management, which helps people keep a log on visitors and their approval to enter the premises and stay connected with one another.

This service has been adopted by over 2,000 societies that house more than 500,000 residents. NoBroker recently also partnered with BigBasket to help in grocery delivery.

“NoBroker Pay, NoBroker Hood, NoBroker Home Services and several such innovations are deepening the engagement of owners, tenants, buyers and community residents with its platform making it a go-to-destination beyond its core offering of rental and sale transactions,” said Shantanu Rastogi, Managing Director at General Atlantic, in a statement.

NoBroker has more than 3.5 million properties registered on its platform and has served more than 8.5 million individuals.

#asia, #bigbasket, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #covid19, #funding, #general-atlantic, #nobroker, #payments, #real-estate