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    Startup Digest: US lobby groups cast doubts over India content appeal panel: Report, Delhi HC stays guidelines barring levying of service charge & Twitter gets fast-tracked Elon Musk trial

    Startup Digest: US lobby groups cast doubts over India content appeal panel: Report, Delhi HC stays guidelines barring levying of service charge & Twitter gets fast-tracked Elon Musk trial

    Startup Digest: US lobby groups cast doubts over India content appeal panel: Report, Delhi HC stays guidelines barring levying of service charge & Twitter gets fast-tracked Elon Musk trial
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    By Aishwarya Anand   IST (Published)


    Here's a quick wrap of all the startup stories that matter.

    Here are the top headlines from the startup space.
    PE/ VC investments increased by 28% to $34.1Bn Y-O-Y in the first half of 2022: IVCA-EY report
    Private equity and venture capital investments in the first half of 2022 increased by 28 percent to 34.1 billion dollars year-on-year, due to large growth and startup investments, as per an IVCA and EY report.
    Amid the funding winter, the Indian startup ecosystem received PE\VC investments worth $34.1 billion across 714 deals, including 92 large deals worth $23.7 billion in the first half of this year.
    The largest deals in 1H22 saw Bodhi Tree acquire a 40 percent stake in Viacom18 for $1.8 billion followed by CPPIB, Sofina, Sumeru Ventures and others investing close to $805 million in Dailyhunt.
    The sector that received the largest amount of PE/VC investments was fintech at $7.3 billion, followed by the e-commerce and technology sectors, both of which received around $4 billion. Media and entertainment, logistics and education were some of the new sectors that saw significant PE/VC interest recording a 2-3x increase in investments over 1H2021, the study stated.
    US lobby groups cast doubts over independence of India content appeal panel: Report
    US lobby groups representing Facebook and Twitter are concerned India's plan to form a government panel to hear appeals against content moderation decisions could lack independence, documents seen by Reuters show.
    The proposed policy change is the latest flashpoint between India and technology giants which have for years said stricter regulations are hurting their business and investment plans.
    The June proposal mandates social media companies must comply with a newly formed government panel which will decide on user complaints against content moderation decisions. The government has not specified who would be on the panel.
    But the US-India Business Council (USIBC), part of the US Chamber of Commerce, and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), have both raised concerns internally, saying the plan raises worries about how such a panel could act independently if the government controls its formation.
    The rules will create a Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) "which is entirely controlled by the (IT) Ministry, and lacks any checks or balances to ensure independence," USIBC stated in an internal July 8 letter addressed to India's IT ministry.
    Ather says high costs pushing back profit timeline: Report
    Electric-scooter maker Ather Energy said a surge in raw material costs and supply chain disruptions were delaying the company's path to profit despite high demand for its vehicles.
    "I was hoping to break even later this year itself. I would add a few quarters to that now," its Chief Executive and co-founder Tarun Mehta told Reuters.
    Ather has witnessed an addition of "several hundreds of dollars" in material costs due to firmer commodity prices, some of which have been passed on to customers, Mehta said.
    The company's production volumes have also been curtailed by a chip shortage and challenges in procuring lithium-ion cells for batteries, made worse by COVID-19 lockdowns in China and logistics disruptions, he added.
    The company, which launched the third generation of its 450X e-scooter on Tuesday, plans to ramp up production to 10,000 units a month by the end of the year and will fully utilise its annual output capacity of 400,000 units by end-2023, Mehta said.
    Delhi HC stays guidelines barring levying of service charge by restaurants and hotels
    The Delhi High Court has stayed the recent guidelines issued by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) prohibiting restaurants and hotels from levying service charge on food bills.
    Justice Yashwant Varma, while dealing with petitions by the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) and Federation of Hotels and Restaurant Associations of India challenging the CCPA's July 4 guidelines, said the issue requires consideration and directed the authorities to file their reply.
    Meanwhile, government sources told CNBC-TV18 that they were waiting for the exact written order given by the High Court on the service charge matter. "The CCPA guidelines are extremely clear. They were issued to protect, strengthen and safeguard the consumer rights. If required, the CCPA will file and appeal against any adverse observation by the HC," the sources said, adding that the HC observations are unfortunate as they are diluting consumer rights.
    The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) on July 4 barred hotels and restaurants from levying service charge on customers and issued guidelines in this regard to prevent unfair trade practices and protect the interest of the consumers.
    "The matter requires consideration. Consequently, until the next date of listing the directions as contained in para 7 of the impugned guideline of July 4, 2022, shall remain stayed," the court ordered on Wednesday.
    MSME sector contributes to 70% of job listings at Report
    India Inc seems to be on a hiring spree as jobs and professional networking platform, Apna has witnessed around a 13 percent increase in the SMBs joining the platform this quarter alone in comparison to the same time in 2021.
    The SMEs and MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) contributed more than 70 percent of the hyperlocal jobs on the platform this season, according to a report by Apna.
    The firm has also recorded an increase in employers hiring in manufacturing, real estate, hospitality, aviation, beauty and wellness. As per the report shared by apna, employers across the country are hiring for roles such as Telecallers, BPO executives, computer data entry operators, back office staff, delivery partners, sales executives, accounts and finance executives amongst other roles.
    “The Indian job market is now working towards closing the demand-supply gap, resulting in increased hiring,” said Manas Singh, Chief Business Officer,
    Gupshup onboards Krishna Tammana as CTO
    Gupshup, a conversational engagement platform, has appointed Krishna Tammana as Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
    Krishna will lead technology strategy, engineering and integration, supporting Gupshup’s product-led growth and market expansion. With over two decades of experience, Krishna brings rich expertise in IT infrastructure Data Architecture, Security and SaaS.
    “As we gear up for the next phase of growth, I am excited to welcome Krishna, a seasoned tech veteran from Silicon Valley. He brings deep expertise in building high-scale products and extensive experience in managing high-performing tech teams,” said Beerud Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, Gupshup.
    Twitter gets fast-tracked Elon Musk trial over $44Bn deal
    Twitter will get an October trial in its legal fight to hold Elon Musk to his $44 billion takeover, after a Delaware judge said on Tuesday the social media company deserved a quick resolution of the deal's uncertainty.
    The ruling is a blow to Musk, who pushed for a trial in February to allow for an extensive investigation into his claims that Twitter has misrepresented the number of fake or spam accounts.
    Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick of the Court of Chancery in Delaware said on Tuesday that the company deserved a swift decision on its claims.
    McCormick asked the parties to work out the schedule for the trial, which she said would last five days.
    Meta hit with trademark lawsuit by virtual-reality company MetaX
    Facebook owner Meta Platforms was hit with a trademark lawsuit in Manhattan federal court by MetaX LLC, a company that creates immersive virtual-reality experiences, for allegedly stealing its name for its pivot to the metaverse, Reuters reported.
    New York-based MetaX told the court it had been "crushed" by Facebook's rebrand and said its "ability to operate as Meta has been eviscerated."
    It accused Meta Platforms of infringing its federal "Meta" trademarks, and requested a court order that blocks the social media company from using "Meta" for goods and services that overlap with MetaX's as well as an unspecified amount of money damages.
    Apple reaches $50M settlement over defective MacBook keyboards
    Apple has agreed to pay $50 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by customers who claimed it knew and concealed that the "butterfly" keyboards on its MacBook laptop computers were prone to failure.
    The proposed preliminary settlement was filed late Monday night in the federal court in San Jose, California, and requires a judge's approval, as per Reuters.
    Customers claimed that MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro keyboards suffered from sticky and unresponsive keys, and that tiny amounts of dust or debris could make it difficult to type.
    Apple outlines health technology strategy in new report
    Apple has released a report outlining a two-pronged strategy in digital health markets, courting consumers with health and fitness features on one hand while engaging with traditional healthcare systems on the other.
    Spearheaded by Apple's chief operating officer, Jeff Williams, the report is the first time Apple has offered a comprehensive view of its approach to healthcare markets in the eight years since it began releasing health features such as a medical records storage system on iPhones. It has also started partnering with institutions such the Stanford University School of Medicine to conduct large-scale formal medical studies.
    In the report, Apple said its focus for consumers is on providing a secure place for users to store their health and medical information on iPhones while using tools like the Apple Watch to warn and nudge users toward better health. The device can alert people to heart irregularities and detect when a person takes a hard fall to alert an emergency contact, among other features. Apple said its system can now store 150 different types of health data that is encrypted so that only users, not Apple, can access it.
    Netflix to acquire Australian animation studio Animal Logic
    Netflix plans to acquire Sydney-based Animal Logic, an animation studio that has worked on hits from "Happy Feet" to "The Lego Movies," the companies said.
    The move will accelerate Netflix's efforts to build end-to-end animation production capabilities, the statement said.
    The streaming service has produced several animated titles including Oscar-nominated films "Over the Moon" and "Klaus."
    Amazon-owned self driving firm Zoox seeks to test robotaxi in California
    Zoox, a self-driving technology firm owned by Amazon is gearing up to launch its robotaxi business, self-certifying that its vehicle with no pedals or steering wheel meets US federal regulations and applying for a permit in California to test-drive it.
    “We really invested the extra time and resources to build a vehicle that doesn't require exemptions and then that basically lets us control our own destiny and also deploy our vehicles at scale,” Jesse Levison, Zoox’s co-founder and chief technology officer told Reuters.
    Zoox’s vehicle, called VH6, has room for four passengers, with two facing each other - a layout that looks like startup Cruise’s Origin vehicle unveiled in January, 2020. Cruise is controlled by General Motors Co.
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