This article is part of Inc42\u2019s special year-end series \u2014 2018 In Review \u2014 in which we will refresh your memory on the major developments in the Indian startup ecosystem and their impact on various stakeholders \u2014 from entrepreneurs to investors.\u00a0Find more stories from this series here.\r\n\r\n\u201cAll new news is old news happening to new people.\u201d \u2014 Malcolm Muggeridge, English journalist and satirist from the 20th century\r\n\r\nWe\u2019re taking a slight contrarian point of view here. Sometimes, in fact, often, new news is new news happening to old newsmakers. This is especially true of the Indian startup ecosystem.\r\n\r\nOf course, people come and people go \u2014 some fading into oblivion and others simply not doing things that are newsworthy anymore \u2014 but there are some who endure, whose names hit the headlines ever so often, whose every move is tracked (in fact, even anticipated and preempted) by the media and by others in the ecosystem.\r\n\r\nWe\u2019re talking about newsmakers among the Indian startup entrepreneurs who are influential, who are at the helm of companies that matter, whose decisions can make or break things \u2014 for them and for others.\r\n\r\nAs we at Inc42 went about our business of covering the latest developments in the Indian startup ecosystem this past year, we observed that the stalwarts of the ecosystem, the old-timers and the influentials, continued to make news \u2014 wittingly or unwittingly.\r\n\r\nPrime among them were Paytm chief Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who was in the news for both good and bad reasons and Flipkart co-founders Sachin and Binny Bansal, for their exits post the Walmart takeover. Of course, some new movers and shakers were added to the list \u2014 for instance, prodigy Ritesh Agarwal, who took OYO international with a vengeance.\r\n\r\nNew or old, there is one strong trend that defined the year for most of the newsmakers \u2014 they either quit their first venture and started out afresh or expanded their presence in the cross-border segment.\r\n\r\nHere\u2019s looking at the top seven newsmakers of the Indian startup ecosystem in 2018.\r\nBinny Bansal: A Lapse Of Judgement To Let Walmart In?\r\n\r\n\r\nUndoubtedly, Binny Bansal was the biggest newsmaker of the year in the Indian startup ecosystem. First came the accolades \u2014 US retail giant Walmart bought a 77% stake in India\u2019s biggest ecommerce company, Flipkart, in a landmark $16 Bn deal. Binny also became the chosen one when Walmart decided to keep him on as the Group CEO of Flipkart after the deal while Sachin Bansal was politely asked to move on.\r\n\r\nBut uneasy rests the crown on cofounders\u2019 heads once their companies are taken over by foreign\/bigger companies. Well before the end of the year, Binny was dethroned. On November 13, Binny Bansal resigned from Flipkart under the cloud of a \u201cserious personal misconduct\u201d charge following an internal investigation, according to a statement by Walmart.\r\n\r\nOnce the shock over the resignation had settled, reports surfaced that the complainant was a woman (a former employee of Flipkart) who had been in a consensual relationship with Binny in 2012. Here are some other claims that emerged:\r\n\r\n \tThe Bengaluru-based woman had complained to Flipkart in 2016 about Binny but the company couldn\u2019t substantiate the charge.\r\n \tIn July this year, the woman wrote to Walmart CEO Walmart CEO Doug McMillon alleging that Binny had sexually assaulted her in 2016.\r\n \tWalmart was irked that Bansal did not disclose the 2016 allegation during the Flipkart acquisition talks. The probe also found that payments had been made to the complainant.\r\n\r\nWalmart issued a statement saying that although the investigation did not find any evidence to corroborate the allegations against Binny, it did reveal other \u201clapses in judgement, particularly a lack of transparency, related to how Binny responded to the situation.\u201d Because of this, the company accepted his decision to resign.\r\n\r\nThe explanation was hardly satisfying. Flipkart employees and startups watchers viewed Binny\u2019s resignation as Walmart\u2019s tactic to remove the other Bansal.\r\n\r\nHowever, Binny continues to serve on Flipkart\u2019s board. As per latest reports, he is negotiating the terms of his exit and may opt for an immediate cash payout of $100 Mn (INR 701.5 Cr) from his $850 Mn (INR 5,963.47 Cr) worth stake and the rest will be due by August 2020.\r\nYou may take his startup away from an entrepreneur, but you can\u2019t keep him away from entrepreneurship too long.\r\nLast heard, Binny was said to be launching a startup called XTo10X Technologies with former McKinsey consultant Saikiran Krishnamurthy. XTo10X will provide technology tools, learning, and consulting services to growth-stage startups looking to scale.\r\nSachin Bansal: Games Over, Now Back To Business\r\n\r\n\r\nIn hindsight, given Binny Bansal\u2019s unceremonious ouster from Flipkart, his cofounder Sachin Bansal\u2019s exit from the company seems much more dignified and staid. However, at the time it happened, it created a lot of buzz, with the headlines being dominated with Sachin\u2019s name for days and weeks on end.\r\n\r\nSachin saw the writing on the wall (the M&A agreement in this case) during the last stage of the Walmart-Flipkart deal talks at Bentonville, Arkansas, in late April. Walmart wanted only one founder on the board, and they chose Binny over Sachin.\r\n\r\nIt was reported that three Flipkart board members \u2014 Tiger Global\u2019s Fixel, Accel Partners\u2019 Subrata Mitra, and Naspers\u2019 Bob Van Dijk \u2014 were against Sachin having a strong operational role post the takeover. The investors felt Sachin Bansal had driven the company to the edge in 2015.\r\n\r\nThe investors got their way. Shortly after Walmart put out a release announcing the acquisition, Sachin announced his departure from Flipkart in a Facebook post. \u201cSadly my work here is done and after 10 years, its time to hand over the baton and move on from Flipkart. But I\u2019ll be watching and cheering from the outside,\u201d Sachin wrote.\r\n\r\nAdding insult to injury, Walmart excluded Sachin\u2019s name from its official post-deal press release and the photos shared with the media.\r\n\r\nBinny\u2019s emotional farewell letter on Flipkart\u2019s blog for Sachin acted as a salve, giving Sachin much-deserved credit for making Flipkart what it became. \u201cA visionary, Sachin was instrumental in making Flipkart a tech-driven company, and ensuring the latest innovations were developed,\u201d Binny wrote.\r\n\r\nAs they say, all\u2019s well that ends well. Sachin left Flipkart a rich man, having reportedly made around $1 Bn by selling his entire 5.5% stake in the company.\r\n\r\nAlso, looks like he\u2019s done with playing video games and brushing up his coding skills (as he had said he would do for a while after stepping down). He is back in the game and is looking to invest in startups.\r\n\r\nAccording to reports, Sachin has launched a holding company named BAC Acquisitions along with his new partner Ankit Agarwal, whom he has known from his IIT-Delhi days. His new fund is expected to be to the tune of $700 Mn-$1 Bn and he\u2019s eyeing the fintech and agritech sector.\r\n\r\nReports also said Sachin was planning to invest $50-100 Mn in Bengaluru-based electric vehicle maker Ather Energy and $100 Mn in Bengaluru-based cab aggregator Ola.\r\nLet\u2019s hope Sachin can do unto other founders what he did unto himself with Flipkart!\r\nVijay Shekhar Sharma: The Missing Piece Of The Extortion Puzzle\r\n\r\n\r\nVijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of digital payments company Paytm, has hardly ceased to make news since Prime Minister Narendra Modi\u2019s demonetisation catapulted the fortunes of his company by getting millions of Indians to switch from \u2018ATM karo\u2019 to \u2018Paytm Karo\u2019.\r\nThrough most of the year (2018), the Paytm boss was in the news for his new business moves, expansion activities, and the successes of his companies, apart from a couple of big fiascos.\r\nThe good news first: In January, Vijay hit the headlines for leading his unicorn Paytm to become a decacorn with a $10 Bn valuation after a secondary share sale of ESOPs worth $47.2 Mn (INR 300 Cr).\r\n\r\nThe second-biggest news was its ecommerce subsidiary Paytm Mall becoming a unicorn in April. Paytm Mall secured a $445 Mn funding, with SoftBank investing $400 Mn (INR 2,600 Cr) and Alibaba the rest.\r\n\r\nHere is the other news Vijay Shekhar Sharma\u2019s Paytm made this year:\r\n\r\n \tLaunch of wealth management unit Paytm Money\r\n \tWarren Buffet\u2019s Berkshire Hathaway\u2019s first Indian investment ($300 Mn or INR 2,178.75 Cr) in One97 Communications\r\n \tJapanese JV with SoftBank and Yahoo Japan to launch PayPay, a smartphone-based settlement service based on Paytm\u2019s QR technology\r\n \tLaunch of Paytm for Business app to enable merchants to sign up quickly and get a Paytm QR code\r\n \tRBI bans Paytm Payments Bank from onboarding customers due to breaches including close relations with its promoter group entity (One97 Communications)\r\n\r\nHowever, the going was not all smooth for the Paytm chief. In May, Paytm faced its biggest (then) controversy after Cobrapost released a 13-minute-long sting video showing Sudhanshu Gupta, VP Paytm, and Ajay Shekhar Sharma, Vijay\u2019s brother and a Senior VP at Paytm, allegedly discussing a covert political campaign and saying they had been requested by the Modi government to share user data.\r\n\r\nBy the end of the year, this was overshadowed by a bigger controversy when Vijay\u2019s former secretary and Paytm vice-president, corporate communications, Sonia Dhawan, allegedly made an extortion bid on the Paytm chief and his family.\r\n\r\nA series of twists and turns followed along with many contradictory and confusing developments.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe three accused are still languishing in jail as their bail pleas were rejected. Last heard, Sonia\u2019s lawyer had filed a fresh bail petition in Surajpur district court while Jain filed his petition in the Allahabad High Court. Rohit managed to get a stay on his arrest.\r\n\r\nNoida Police recently said that they had a breakthrough in the case, claiming that they had multiple witnesses against the three alleged conspirators.\r\n\r\nThere are so many missing links that the puzzle still hasn\u2019t be pieced. The big question, however, remains: What is this so-called \u201cpersonal data\u201d that could have affected the company and its founder if revealed in the public domain?\r\n\r\nHopefully, we will know in 2019.\r\nBhavish Aggarwal: Staying Put In The Driver\u2019s Seat At Ola\r\n\r\n\r\nOla cofounder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal found himself in the news quite often this past year \u2014 for everything from raising a billion dollars in funding, expanding to global markets, top leadership rejigs, driver protests, to saving its equity stake from SoftBank.\r\n\r\nOla started 2018 on the right foot, strengthening its strategy to enter foreign markets such as Australia, New Zealand, and the UK \u2014 all goals that it achieved as the year went by.\r\n\r\nAt a time when the Flipkart cofounders were cornered into exiting after the Walmart takeover, Bhavish was in the news most for deploying every trick in the book to hold on strong to Ola. His biggest fight is with Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, which owns 26% in Ola and has been eyeing a greater stake in Ola.\r\n\r\nEarlier this year, Bhavish and his cofounder-CTO Ankit Bhati amended Ola\u2019s Articles of Association to secure their rights and restrict the ability of its investors to increase their stake. Any transfer of equity shares by Ola investors representing 10% or more of the company\u2019s capital will need to be approved by the cofounders.\r\n\r\nNot one to give up easily, SoftBank is reportedly looking to invest $1 Bn (INR 7036.6 Cr) in Ola\u2019s next funding round. However, Bhavish is trying to keep Softbank at bay and may now look to a new investor to pad up its finances.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn the latest news, the Ola cofounders split the company\u2019s responsibilities, with Bhavish overseeing its international expansion as Ankit leads the charge against Uber in the domestic market. According to reports, Bhavish is expected to become group CEO while Ankit takes up the role of CEO.\r\nClearly, Bhavish has bigger plans for 2019 and doesn\u2019t want to cede any market share to Uber as he expands Ola abroad.\r\nRitesh Agarwal: No Reservations About Taking On The World\r\n\r\n\r\nIn the year gone by, Indian startup prodigy Ritesh Agarwal added as many feathers to his cap as his company OYO added rooms to its inventory \u2014 50K a month to be precise. At this pace, OYO, which has 330K rooms across 500 cities and 12,000 franchised hotels at present, will have 2.5 Mn rooms by 2023, surpassing Marriott (exactly what Ritesh is aiming at) with 1.4 Mn rooms.\r\n\r\nThe 24-year-old founder, who has taken OYO to superlative heights in just five years, achieved every entrepreneur\u2019s dream \u2014 entering the unicorn club with an $800 Mn funding\u00a0\u2014 this year. The round, led by SoftBank and with participation from existing investors Lightspeed India Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Greenoaks Capital, valued OYO at $5 Bn. The funds will be used to solidify OYO\u2019s position in India and expand further internationally.\r\n\r\nIn December, Singapore-based cab-hailing company Grab invested $100 Mn as part of the same round in OYO.\r\n\r\nRitesh has been expanding OYO internationally at a rapid pace since he shifted its business model from hotel aggregation to franchise in 2017 and 2018 was a landmark year in this regard. Let\u2019s take a look back:\r\n\r\n \tIn June, OYO announced its China launch with 11,000 rooms in 26 cities, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Xiamen\r\n \tAround the same time, OYO forayed into Jakarta, Indonesia, with three hotels offerings\r\n \tIn September, Ritesh launched OYO in the UK with four properties and 80 rooms in London\r\n \tIn October, OYO started testing waters in Japan, offering rooms in 15 properties in and around Tokyo\r\n \tIts latest overseas expansion has been in Spain and Portugal\r\n\r\nRitesh also managed to fix OYO\u2019s relationship with online travel aggregator MakeMyTrip Ltd after a two-year breakup, making OYO rooms available on MakeMyTrip and GoIbibo.\r\n\r\nWhen you create so much impact (read disruption) in a market, it is bound to have an equal and opposite reaction. OYO, with its unicorn tag and marquee investors, is now facing the brunt of budget and mid-market hotels across the country, who claim that their businesses are suffering due to deep discounting, high commissions, and arbitrary contract changes by OYO. The company, however, dismissed the allegations as \u201cmisguided and misplaced\u201d.\r\n\r\nAfter a blockbuster year, OYO approved the addition of 2,000 stock options to its ESOP, with the aim of \u201cmotivating employees and giving them a chance to enjoy the benefits of phenomenal growth the firm foresees.\u201d\r\nRitesh was also named the \u2018youngest self-made entrepreneur\u2019 in the Barclays Hurun India Rich List 2018.\r\nFor the future, Ritesh has his eyes trained on consumer needs. \u201cHaving your ear close to the ground helps build unparalleled conviction about the severity and scale of the problem you\u2019re solving,\u201d he said at a Lightspeed event.\r\n\r\nWe\u2019re sure it\u2019s the conviction that has brought the young entrepreneur this far and will take him further in the new year.\r\nKunal Bahl: The Second Coming Of Snapdeal\r\n\r\n\r\nEcommerce startup Snapdeal\u2019s story will go down as an inspiration in the annals of startup history. From a near-death situation to cash-flow positive, Snapdeal cofounders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal have scripted a turnaround story like no other.\r\n\r\nWhile this year-ender special is about Kunal\u2019s reasons for making news this year, here\u2019s the backstory of Snapdeal\u2019s struggle for those not in the know.\r\n\r\n2018 has been the second coming of Snapdeal. It all restarted with the launch of Snapdeal 2.0 in August 2017, once the cofounders had warded off a hostile takeover bid engineered by its investors.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe were going to fall off a cliff if a call was not taken immediately to continue to build the business,\u201d Kunal was cited as saying. They envisioned Snapdeal 2.0 to make a gross profit of $23.3 Mn (INR 150 Cr) in the next 12 months.\r\n\r\nSnapdeal 2.0 was a pivot to a pure-play marketplace and a move to divest Snapdeal\u2019s logistics and digital payments non-core assets. It was the sale of FreeCharge to Axis Bank for $60 Mn that brought back lost hope for Snapdeal to revive from the ashes.\r\n\r\nAnd revive it did.\r\n\r\nIn July this year, Kunal and Rohit shared with their Snapdeal \u201cfamily\u201d in a letter that the company had become cash-flow positive in June.\r\n\r\nIn November, Snapdeal was reported to be back on track. In FY18, the company trimmed its losses by 87%, recording a loss of $84.7 Mn (INR 613 Cr) in comparison to $642 Mn (INR 4,647.1 Cr) in FY17, on a consolidated basis.\r\n\r\nKunal even shared the story of Snapdeal\u2019s struggle, and success, in a post on Linkedin that started: \u201cA day doesn\u2019t go by when someone doesn\u2019t ask me this question \u2013 \u2018So, how are things now at Snapdeal?\u2019\u201d\r\n\r\nApart from pivoting and selling non-core assets, here\u2019s what the Snapdeal team did to affect the turnaround:\r\n\r\n \tFixed the economics of the business, and then resumed growing it\r\n \tWent back to its roots of catering to the needs of the value conscious buyer\r\n \tImproved the experience for its buyers and sellers, keeping the economics in place\r\n \tStabilised the culture and ensured the team was aligned to the company's plans\r\n \tImplemented a time-bound plan to become cash-flow positive and free the company from fundraising cycles\r\n\r\nAmid its climb back to profitability, Bahl and Snapdeal was also dragged to the court by its sellers Veepee Electronics and Spacewood Furnishers over alleged non-payment of dues.\r\n\r\nMeanwhile, Snapdeal converted the preference shares of all its stakeholders, including SoftBank and Nexus Venture Partners, into equity shares. The move will help attract new investors if the company wants to stick to the private route.\r\nAs Kunal wrote in his Linkedin post, \u201cWhat one needs to muster, right when you are at the bottom of the abyss, is the grit and courage to continue.\u201d\r\nWell, the Snapdeal cofounders mustered that grit and courage. And the results are for all to see.\r\nKunal Shah: Full Reward Points For Launching Cred\r\n\r\n\r\nAfter three years of staying under the radar, serial entrepreneur, Freecharge co-founder, and Delta-4 theorist Kunal Shah made a comeback this year and how. He launched a startup based on the most ingenious of ideas \u2014 incentivising paying one\u2019s credit card bills on time.\r\n\r\nHis new venture, CRED, has taken some time in the making and Shah has let the idea simmer well and proper and ripened it to perfection. Which shows in the resounding reception CRED has received. Shah\u2019s Twitter timeline is full of posts by people thanking CRED for everything from Sleepy Owl gift hampers to paying their phone EMI.\r\n\r\nGet paid for paying your credit card bill! Who else could\u2019ve thought about such an idea! Mind blowing, awesome, seamless experience!! Makkhann as they say!! Kudos @kunalb11 and team #Cred ! #killthebill\r\n\u2014 Varun Doshi (@Varunrd) December 5, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\nSo why is CRED making all this buzz? Well, the startup, which is in its beta phase, targets consumers with high credit scores and allows users to pay their credit card bills, rewarding them with \u2018CRED Coins\u2019, which they can redeem against various products and services. It has partnered with over 30 brands, including UberEats, Sunburn, CureFit, and Ixigo and has about 100 more lined up.\r\n\r\nKunal, who\u2019s very active on Twitter, announced the launch a couple of days before Diwali (November 7) introducing CRED as \u201ca platform to celebrate and reward the most creditworthy people of India.\u201d\r\n\r\nExcited to announce Cred, my new startup after 3+ years of playing on the sidelines.\r\nA platform to celebrate and reward the most creditworthy people of India \ud83c\uddee\ud83c\uddf3\r\n\r\nTeam working hard to get the beta out in a few weeks.\r\n\r\nHappy Diwali everyone. pic.twitter.com\/TbQaSO4OFo\r\n\r\n\u2014 Kunal Shah (@kunalb11) November 5, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\nAlthough Shah did a good job of keeping CRED under wraps, he hinted at the comeback with the following tweet in January:\r\n\r\nAfter enriching 2016 with YC, 2017 with Sequoia and perpetual insight hunting, excited to startup again in 2018.\r\nTinkering with some ideas in healthcare and education.\r\n\r\nOnwards and Upwards.\r\n\r\n\u2014 Kunal Shah (@kunalb11) January 24, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\nHe also uses Twitter to promote the startup and as a sounding board to validate his ideas by running polls on credit card usage such as \u2018How do you load your digital wallet\u2019 and \u2018Did you ever get an incentive or benefit for paying your Credit Card bills on time?\u2019\r\n\r\nIn June, reports surfaced that Shah had secured a $30 Mn funding from Sequoia Capital and multiple foreign investors for his new venture. Sequoia and Ru-Net had also invested in Shah\u2019s earlier venture, FreeCharge. Shah, who has a strong bond with Sequoia, which he leveraged again this time around.\r\n\r\nShah has been a serial entrepreneur with ventures like PaisaBack and the coupon-based app for mobile recharge, FreeCharge, launched in 2010. FreeCharge was bought by Snapdeal for $450 Mn and was later sold to Axis Bank for $60 Mn.\r\n\r\nA philosophy graduate, Kunal likes to keep things under the radar and his reclusiveness during launching CRED only had the media hounding him.\r\n\r\n\u201cBefore implementing an idea, one must make sure that the business will be at least \u0394e=4 to make it brag-worthy,\u201d Kunal has been famously quoted. Kunal\u2019s Delta-4 theory, if understood correctly, can help businesses across sectors do well.\r\n\r\nWe\u2019re sure Kunal must have applied his Delta-4 theory to CRED as well, as his new idea is completely brag-worthy!\r\nOther Newsmakers Who Deserve Mention\r\nSome who did not make it to our list of 2018\u2019s newsmakers also deserve mention. Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Softbank, for disrupting the venture capital business in India with his aggressive investments \u2014 from Flipkart and Paytm to OYO and PolicyBazaar. Kalyan Krishnamurthy, who was appointed group CEO of Flipkart after Binny Bansal\u2019s resignation, for surviving the Walmart acquisition when the co-founders couldn\u2019t.\r\n\r\nSmriti Irani deserves special mention for her premature comments on the Indian government\u2019s bid to regulate digital media, which eventually resulted in her having to step down as the Union minister for information and broadcasting.\r\n\r\nOn April 3, the I&B ministry issued an amendment to the guidelines for the accreditation of journalists in an attempt to curb fake news. Within 24 hours, the notification was withdrawn following instructions from the Prime Minister\u2019s Office (PMO).\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s a big win for digital media, and we hope it remains that way. If the media\u2019s voice were to be muffled in the garb of regulation, how would we bring you all these news and developments from various quarters, stories of failure, courage, and success of newsmakers such as the ones above?\r\n\r\nAs we make a new start in the new year, we promise to keep bringing you all that\u2019s newsworthy from this year\u2019s newsmakers and others. And we wish greater success to the Indian startup ecosystem!