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Daily Tech Briefing: Zomato Delivery Staff Protest Against China Links, Fitternity Raises Funds & More

Daily Tech Briefing: Zomato Delivery Staff Protest Against China Links, Fitternity Raises Funds & More

Zomato delivery partners in Kolkata burnt their uniforms to protest against the company's Chinese investors

The company had allegedly terminated the jobs of 6-7 employees earlier in June over strikes

Fitness discovery and booking startup Fitternity has raised INR 4.75 Cr from existing investors

The anti-China rhetoric has gained further momentum with more developments in the Indo-China border tensions. In one such instance, foodtech unicorn Zomato is facing protests from its delivery executives in Kolkata, who set their uniforms on fire, to show their discontent about the company raising funds from China-based Alibaba.

The protests came to light on Twitter, which showed that a dozen Zomato delivery staff in Kolkata burnt their uniforms while protesting against Alibaba holds nearly 26% stake in Zomato. An ET report citing sources said that two weeks ago, the company had terminated jobs of around 6-7 employees near Behala police station in south Kolkata, as the people involved were trying to instigate a strike. The company has also filed a police complaint against them, the report added. 

Zomato Braced For New Competition

Zomato’s major investor Info Edge is sceptical of the success potential of new entrants, which are set to make life difficult for the food delivery giant. Speaking about the upcoming National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) food delivery platform as well as Amazon food delivery, which is currently in the pilot stage, Info Edge founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani said Zomato is well placed and has built up capabilities in the right areas to take on any new competition. 

He noted that restaurants will need to collaborate with NRAI for the success of the app, but they are also allies of Zomato, so they have some dependency on Zomato and other existing players as well. 

Talking about the entry of Amazon, Bikhchandani said it is too early to say as the company has small operations in Bengaluru. He said Zomato will wait and watch, while it pursues its business plans independently. Given the nature of the logistics in food delivery, which is very different from delivering other products through Amazon, Zomato might have an advantage. 

#Inc42Exclusive: Fitternity Gets INR 4.75 Cr

Mumbai-based fitness discovery and booking startup Fitternity has raised INR 4.75 Cr from its existing investors. According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs filings accessed by Inc42, the company had allotted 179063 preference shares to Sixth Sense India Opportunities Fund and Venktesh Investment and Trading Company at a face value of INR 20 with a premium of INR 245.3 per share. The company filings showed that the funds will be used for “available financial and investment proposals and to utilize for long term equity requirement and general corporate purposes.”

MSME Day Policies

State Bank of India is working on setting up an ecommerce portal for the marketing of products manufactured by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, its chairman Rajnish Kumar said on MSME Day 2020 on June 27. The portal called Bharat Craft would be jointly run by the bank and the government. “It is a work in progress. We have conceptualised how it should be done and the development work on this platform is going to commence soon,” Kumar said.

“This is one of the things that MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari once mentioned about Bharat Craft where SBI will develop this platform. We are very much dwelling on the subject. It requires a lot of elements to be put together. It is definitely on our radar and we are going to do it,” he said.

In terms of MSMEs, the World Wild Fund (WWF) India has said that only a few policies target the renewable energy startup ecosystem. In a report titled, ‘Clean energy policy landscape in the SME sector,’ it said, while almost 140 government interventions focus directly or indirectly on clean energy and startups, only 38 policies actually target them.

The report has highlighted that the remaining 102 policies set by the government either focus on cleantech or on SME/startups. Therefore, there is a very narrow grow for cleantech SME and startups to work on. It also notes that several of these cleantech segments come under the state agencies’ domain, but the bulk of the policy targeting the clean energy interventions are established by the central government or are under the programmes launched by the centre.

TikTok Competition Grows Amid Tensions

An Indian variant of TikTok, Chingari has crossed over 1 Mn (10 Lakh) downloads on Google Play Store as Indians look to move beyond China-based TikTok. It is now the second most downloaded application in India with 4.6 stars in recent weeks, second only to video conferencing platform Google Meet.

The app, which was developed by Biswatma Nayak and Siddharth Gautam in 2019, has been gaining traction as anti-China sentiment grows in all parts of India. Last week, the app crossed 5 Lakh downloads within 72 hours.

The Chingari app is available in multiple languages and allows users to download and upload videos, chat with friends, interact with new people, share content and browse through feeds. Users also get points per view, which can be redeemed. The users can also get creative with WhatsApp status, videos, audio clips, GIF stickers and photos.

Facebook Hit By Ad Exits

Shares of Facebook fell 8.3% at the closing last week, the most since coronavirus hit the US, after Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, joined other brands in boycotting ads on the social network. Unilever said it would stop spending money with Facebook’s properties this year. The share-price drop eliminated $56 Bn from Facebook’s market value.

Companies from Verizon to The Hershey Company have also stopped social media ads after critics said that Facebook has failed to sufficiently police hate speech and disinformation on the platform. Coca-Cola said it would pause all paid advertising on all social media platforms for at least 30 days.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg responded to the growing criticism about misinformation on the site, announcing the company would label all voting-related posts with a link encouraging users to look at its new voter information hub.

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