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11 Indian Startup News Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [11-16 Mar]

11 Indian Startup News Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [11-16 Mar]

The model code of conduct and its pre-certified political advertising rules will apply to the social media

Homigo cofounders— Nikunj Bhatija, Jatin Mitruka and Aakash Verma — are said to be on a run along with tenants’ money

Paytm's ex-executive Sonia Dhawan gets bail

We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!

This week one of the biggest news came when the Indian Election Commission announced that the model code of conduct and its pre-certified political advertising rules will apply to the social media as well. Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora said that all major social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Google, WhatsApp and Share Chat — are committed to accepting only pre-certified political advertisements, sharing expenditure on it with the Election Commission (EC) and adhering to the “silence period” that comes into effect 48 hours before the polls.

Talking about the general elections scheduled for April-May 2019, social media companies are preparing their own case studies. On March 11, Twitter expanded its political ads policy and Ads Transparency Centre (ATC) to include India which would allow anyone across the world to view details about twitter ads, with comprehensive details such as ad spend, reach, payment information and targeted demographics.

At the same time, Facebook is reportedly planning to start an operations centre in Delhi, which will work with its offices at Menlo Park, Dublin and Singapore, on a 24×7 basis to monitor election content. With this, Facebook will constantly stay engaged with the Election Commission of India to explore how it can ensure to protect its platform from being misused.

Here’s a look at the other important developments for the week.

Important Indian Startup News Stories

Homigo’s Founders Missing, Tenants Claim Fraud Worth INR 30 Cr

The IIT Kanpur graduates and cofounders of Bengaluru-based coliving startup — Nikunj Bhatija, Jatin Mitruka and Aakash Verma — are said to be on a run along with tenants’ money (in crores) thereby affecting a large number of tenants residing in more than 100 of its leased properties across Bengaluru. The company’s office at BTM Layout, Bengaluru has been locked since the start of March 2019 and all employees have been handed over pink slips, as per Inc42 sources. However, the online platform is active and is still accepting bookings.

Breaking: Coliving Startup Homigo’s Founders Missing, Tenants Claim Fraud Worth INR 30 Cr

Former Senior Paytm Exec Sonia Dhawan Granted Bail

Sonia Dhawan has finally been granted bail by the Allahabad High Court, almost five months after the former senior Paytm executive and the long time secretary of founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma was imprisoned in October on allegations of being part of an extortion bid against Sharma.

CAIT, SJM Call For Boycott Of Chinese Goods

CAIT has launched a national campaign to boycott Chinese goods among the trading community of the country, calling the traders not to sell or buy Chinese goods. Ashwani Mahajan, a leader of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, took to Twitter to say that, “Now the time has come to withdraw most favoured nation (MFN) status from China, as your govt has already done in the case of Pakistan and impose restrictions on China products, especially telecom and electronics, defence equipment on security concerns.”

Google Paid $15 Mn To Ex-Employee Alleged Of Sexual Harassment

A Wall Street Journal report said that a shareholder lawsuit against Google revealed that it had agreed to pay a total of $135 Mn to Andy Rubin and Amit Singhal after they were accused of sexual harassment at the company. The WSJ report has now revealed that Google agreed to pay Singhal $15 Mn a year for two years and between $5 Mn and $15 Mn in the third year as long as he was not employed by a competitor.

Google Introduces YouTube Music And YouTube Originals In India

YouTube has introduced a free ad-supported version of YouTube Music while the premium paid version for ad-free music is for INR 99 per month. Also, a Google Play subscriber will get a YouTube Music Premium membership as part of their subscription each month. The company has announced YouTube premium for INR 129 a month which will give users access to ad-free, background and offline play across all of YouTube, as well as access to YouTube Originals including Cobra Kai, BTS: Burn The Stage.

Amazon Prime Tops India’s OTT Viewership Chart In Feb 2019

As per a survey done by Velocity MR, more than 70% of respondents claimed to watch Amazon Prime regularly at least once a week, followed by Netflix with 56% and Hotstar with 50%. Although there are many OTT players who have forged tie-ups with telcos, Velocity maintains that their subscription fee is more expensive than that of Amazon’s. On the other hand, Netflix was popular for its original content and is expected to remain the same as it has announced eight more India-based original content.

WhatsApp Needs To Do More To Secure Its Platform: India Head

WhatsApp India Head Abhijit Bose believes that while the company has been taking steps to curb the spread of misinformation, a lot more has to be done to secure the platform. Bose said that the messaging platform aims to help small entrepreneurs grow their business in the country. The company is also looking to build partnership across the country and develop the growing startup ecosystem and deliver critical India-first solutions at scale and speed.

RBI To Check WhatsApp Pay’s Adherence To Data Localisation, Says SC

Myntra To Continue Focus On Franchise Offline Stores

Denying the recent reports of Myntra’s offline stores running into losses and a change in its offline strategy, Myntra said it will continue to focus on its franchise offline stores. However, according to an Inc42 source who confirmed the shut down of these two stores — “the Roadster store was shut down because of the property’s building compliance issues and it will be relocated to a different location. For the Mango store, the source said that a women only Mango store will be opened in the place of the existing unisex store.”

Facebook To Support Indian Startups With 9 Hubs

Facebook has partnered with 91springboard, for a yearlong programme, which will include coworking community hosting, planning and organizing structured activities like learning and skill development programs for startups and entrepreneurs to help scale their businesses. Facebook Hubs will help foster innovation and support for the community, by hosting mentor hours and trainings, workshops, roundtable discussions across 20 locations in nine cities including Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Navi Mumbai and Goa.

Keep Ecommerce And Data Policies Separate, LocalCircles Tells DPIIT

Within the Ecommerce Policy, Sachin Taparia is of the view that the government can also think about how retail, both online and offline, can be integrated as it falls under the DPIIT. LocalCircles has also recommended allowing Indian startups and businesses to share their ‘anonymised data’ with their group companies abroad. Taparia explains, “Once a foreign company acquires an Indian startup, the latter will become the former’s group companies, and they should be allowed to share data between them.”

Foreign Investment Managers Oppose SEBI On Sharing Foreign Investors’ Details

Global investment management firms such as Franklin Templeton, Fidelity Investments and BlackRock have reportedly opposed the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) proposal to prepare a central database with the personal information of all beneficial owners of foreign funds. They have argued that sharing such a database with an external agency in India would violate their domicile country’s law.

Sebi Proposes Changing Certain Norms For Startup Listing

Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week

Paytm Payments Bank Launches Mobile Banking App

The mobile app will enable customers to check their balances, raise request for physical debits cards, access digital debit cards, etc. Customers will also be able to receive 24×7 help and support through this mobile banking app.

PeeBuddy, Sirona Launch PregRX

Deep Bajaj, Founder of PeeBuddy, and the Sirona range of Unique Intimate and& Menstrual Hygiene Products, have launched  PeeBuddy PregRX, the product will be one-of-a-kind unique funnel with strategically-integrated HcG test strip. With PregRx, women can now simply pee and instantly check their pregnancy status. Not only does it eliminate the need for any plastic bottle/tumbler/dropper, but also makes for an easy-to-use and eco-friendly home testing process for pregnancy.

Truecaller Plans To Launch Digital Lending Service In India

Sweden-headquartered caller identification app TrueCaller is looking to leverage its latest acquisition, online payments app Chillr to enable a full spectrum of financial services with a focus on digital lending service. The ticket size for online lending will be around INR 50K ($723) and INR 5 Lakh ($7,230). Initially, the loan services will be available across 22 cities. The company is set to run a pilot test soon and plans to officially launch the service by May.

Stop Sale Of Signal Boosters: COAI To Etailers

Any intermediaries are required to own Dealer Possession Licence (DPL) under the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act in order to be able to sell the wireless equipment. According to Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the sale of such products without valid license amounts to an offence and is punishable by fine and imprisonment of up to three years or more.

Amazon India’s Global Store Shrinks

In another aftereffect of the foreign direct investment in the ecommerce policy, Amazon’s Global Store is reportedly losing its virtual presence in India after it witnessed a sharp fall in the items listed on the platform. Only 6,000 products main global store entity Amazon Exports Sales LLC was available last month as compared to 6 Mn products before February.

Swiggy Boosts Healthcare, Financial Access For Delivery Fleet

Swiggy Smiles focuses on their welfare, personal development and motivation. Rewards for delivery partners who provide pickup and delivery services on a principle to principle basis include exclusive vouchers and special privileges based on various parameters like frequency, order completion and their tenure of association. Till date, Swiggy’s delivery partners have availed benefits worth INR 14 Cr ($2 Mn) on a host of rewards such as shopping, education and upskilling.

Wattpad, Times Bridge Announce Partnership

The partnership will give Wattpad a strategic advantage in expanding its Indian operations. Working with Times Bridge, Wattpad will grow its local community of readers and writers, establish new strategic partnerships, and create opportunities for Wattpad Studios to work with local partners to turn Wattpad stories into books, TV shows, films, and digital projects.

Sagacito Technologies Launches Rev-X

Media tech player Sagacito launched Rev-x ( revenue multiplier), a unique AI based tool to help prospecting and pitching for the ad sales teams of various media organisations in India and the globe. The product is jointly powered by data from TAM media research services, the leading media research firm as well as proprietary AI algorithms built by the Sagacito teams.

Stay tuned for the next week edition of Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week!