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Daily Tech Briefing: TPG Close To Investing In Jio; SoftBank Vision Fund Layoffs & More

Daily Tech Briefing: TPG Close To Investing In Jio; SoftBank Vision Fund Layoffs & More

US private equity group TPG is in talks to invest in Jio Platforms

The investment amount could go as high as $1.5 Bn

Meanwhile, SoftBank Vision Fund is reportedly looking to lay off 15% of its team

After attracting a slew of mega investments from private equity firms, sovereign funds as well as Facebook, Reliance Jio Platforms is now close to bagging more funds. US-based private equity group TPG Capital is reportedly close to signing an investment deal with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Platforms.

According to an ET report, TPG has been in talks for the past few weeks and is expected to be nearing a deal that might see it invest $1-1.2 Bn or even as high as $1.5 Bn. TPG, which has backed Uber, Airbnb among others, would join fellow US private equity firms such as KKR, Silver Lake and General Atlantic with a stake in Jio Platforms. Silver Lake’s investment in Jio Platforms has increased to INR 10,202.55 Cr, acquiring a 2.08% equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis.

Hack-For-Hire Firm In Delhi Caught

After reports about Indians being the target of cyber attack groups from around the world, a Delhi-based IT company has been named in multiple hacking cases in the US and across the world. BellTroX InfoTech Services reportedly sent tens of thousands of malicious messages designed to trick victims into giving up their passwords between 2013 and 2020.

The targets of BellTroX included high-profile personalities including judges in South Africa, politicians in Mexico, lawyers in France and environmental groups in the United States as well as few gambling tycoons in the Bahamas, and well-known investors in the United States including private equity giant KKR and short-seller Muddy Waters. BellTroX’s hacking spree aimed at American targets is currently under investigation by US law enforcement.

Layoffs At SoftBank’s Vision Fund

One of the world’s largest venture capital firm SoftBank Vision Fund is reportedly looking to reduce 15% of its team. This has come after the company had reported losses amounting to $18 Bn in the financial year 2020. According to sources quoted in a Bloomberg report, head of the London-based Vision Fund Rajeev Misra is going to lay off around 80 people from a team of 5000 employees. This is eventually 5% more than the layoffs that the company intended to do in May.

Meanwhile, SoftBank’s other arm — SoftBank Group International — is looking to lay off around 26 employees out of the 230 members strong team. SoftBank Group International is led by Marcelo Claure.

Panic Over Fake ‘Aarogya Setu’ Spyware App

As the Aarogya Setu app gained popularity, many apps tried to replicate the functionality or simply used the name to gain downloads. Mumbai Police found that a fake Aarogya Setu application has allegedly become the new tool of Pakistan’s intelligence unit ISI to spy on Indians. Yashasvi Yadav, IG cyber department, Maharashtra Police, said that the department has come across potentially very dangerous malware, through which sensitive data can be stolen.

Yadav also revealed that the fake application was allegedly designed by Pakistani hackers to access sensitive information from the phone of our bureaucrats and defence personnel. Once installed, the application is said to give access to all data stored on the phone. The app is also said to activate the phone’s microphone and snoop through WhatsApp and text messages easily.

Meanwhile, Internal of Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), a Bengaluru-based defence public sector undertaking (PSU), was found to be available on the dark web. The actual leak took place on May 25 and the files were downloaded using email accounts of seven BEML employees. The hackers, who are suspected to be hacktivist or an unknown entity, also got access to employees’ internal email addresses and login passwords. The leak included customer data, BMEL’s financial budget for the year 2020-2021, several freight details and more.

Microsoft’s Venture Fund Opens Office In Bengaluru

Tech giant Microsoft’s venture fund M12, on Wednesday (June 10), announced the opening of its first office in India at Bengaluru. M12 is a venture fund that invests in enterprise software startups which are in their Series A to C funding stages.

With this fund, Microsoft is focusing on betting on applied AI, business applications, infrastructure, security, and vanguard technologies. The fund has been working remotely and investing in India since 2019. The current portfolio includes startups like Innovaccer and FarEye.

Tiger Global To Challenge Ruling In Delhi High Court

After a setback from India’s tax authorities, venture capital firm Tiger Global is now planning to move to the Delhi high court seeking relief from paying capital gains tax from the Flipkart exit.

Tiger Global has appointed Mumbai-based law firm Nishith Desai Associates to advise the company on this battle against Indian taxation departments along with a couple of other tax firms.

Earlier, ARR and income tax department had refused Tiger Global’s plea, citing “transaction was designed prima facie for the avoidance of tax” and concluded that the “head and brain” of these companies were based in the US and not in Mauritius.

WTO Members Pressurise India To Rollback Electronics Tariffs

Six members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including the US, China and Japan, have asked India to rollback the custom tariffs imposed on electronics such as telecom equipment, mobile phones and other products.

These countries are alleging that the tariffs are inconsistent with India’s multilateral commitments with other countries. According to a Geneva-based trade official, India, on Monday (June 9), defended customs tariffs by reiterating that the items were not covered under the IT Agreement and hence no rules were flouted.

US Visa Policies Pushes Indian Techies To Canada

According to the data published by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), the number of Indians studying graduate-level computer science and engineering courses at the universities based in the US has declined by 25% between 2016-17 and 2018-19.

Interestingly, the data revealed that the number of Indian students in Canada spiked to more than double between 2016-17 and 2018-19. In 2016-17, there were 76,075 students in Canada while in 2018-19, this number increased to 172,625.

According to NFAP, some of the key factors behind Indians moving out of the US towards Canada include more Donald Trump government brought restrictive immigration and international student policies and the difficulty of obtaining green cards in the US.

Flipkart Adds Voice Assistant For Grocery Shopping

Walmart-owned ecommerce major Flipkart has rolled out a voice assistant to help buyers in their grocery shopping on the Supermart platform. The assistant is expected to help consumers buy products easily using voice commands.

Flipkart’s chief product and technology officer Jeyandran Venugopal said while the company has seen great adoption for its video and vernacular offerings, the next step in that direction is to solve for the voice capability for ecommerce. As of now, the assistant is available in Hindi and English.