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First things first ☕
1️⃣ Armed up and ready—the central government has begun ensuring that the logistical arrangements are through to execute one of the largest vaccination drives the world will ever see. GOI is also going full throttle with the use of tech. A new platform called CoWIN will be leveraged to monitor the nationwide effort, with an active database of vaccines delivered. Unsure if there’s a portal where citizens can log in and check progress though.
The vaccination drive will officially kick off on Jan 16th.
2️⃣ Emerging markets & fintech, like sambar and chutney—Philippines based fintech platform called Mynt, essentially a P2P payment service like PayTM, raised $175 million in capital (at a $1B+ valuation) on the back of pandemic driven boom. Oddly, Mynt isn’t really an upstart and is launched by one of the largest mobile carriers in that market (like Jio)—an increasingly common theme for old companies struggling with reinvention in emerging markets. Anyway, with roughly a 100 million population, and 65%+ internet penetration rates, the south-east Asian country is on the hot-list of global investors.
Coming out stronger 💪
Tis’ the earnings season—the time when investors look up to market leading companies to get some clarity on how the past quarter looked like, based on whether they met, exceeded or flunked expectations, and how things are going to look like for the economy going forward.
First up, TCS over the weekend came out smashing all projections for growth in the most recent quarter—certainly not an easy feat for an IT “services” company that’s looking to reinvent its product offerings when the needle is slowly moving towards cloud-products.
Quick look at their Sep to Dec 2020 quarter:
Revenues up 5.4% to $5.7 billion
Profits up 3.2% to $1.1 billion
Operating margins at 26.6% vs. 26.2%—a tiny improvement, that’s commendable in the current conditions
Then management also paid out a small dividend of ₹6 per share
The company also seemed pretty upbeat about returning to double-digital growth rates by next —which investors seemed pretty excited about.
Over the last 6 months or so, the IT giants had to actively rewire their offerings to suit modern agendas aka cloud tech. The shuffle put them at risk of losing existing contracts, and client relationships, or even worse, some of their prized customers may never make it out of COVID with business humming as before.
To hedge against the shift, giants like INFY for example went all in on acquisitions, spending at least $300M+ in 2020 in acquiring cloud-first consulting companies to beef up their talents and delivery expertise.
Anyway, TCS’ numbers breathe confidence in seasoned investors that recovery is going just as planned. The results also read very well for INFY, Wipro, HCL, and others who are scheduled to announce their performance soon.
On the other hand, Dmart painted a solid picture of consumer demand 👏
The company easily met expectations for quarterly performance as festive demand held up better than anticipated.
Quick rundown of the highlights:
Revenues of ₹7,542 crores, up 11% vs. last year
Operating profits up 15%—shows improvements in cost structure
Operating margins of 9.1% vs. 8.8% a year ago
Management highlighted that while most segments were recovering well, business coming from apparels, footwear, clothing, was a bit meh, taking its own time to bounce back—kinda what you expect in this environment.
However, to ensure expectations were well balanced, management also claimed December sales were slightly weaker than October and November (which is peak festive spending season in India), claiming they’re not sure if Jan demand would be as enthusiastic overall.
Bottomline: in all, so far the markets are getting good fundamental signs that the 4th quarter of 2020 was pretty damn good—in terms of companies returning to growth trajectories, and lingering gridlocks from lockdowns ironing out. With blowout beats, expect the markets to not calm down for a while.
Bad boys unwanted everywhere 😏
All of the leading tech platforms—YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, you name it, have taken actions to block and terminate Donald Trump’s online presence.
Now in an unprecedented move, Apple after repeatedly asking right-wing social media platform Parler (a clone of Twitter) to police and moderate its platform for fake news and hatred, finally took it down last night. Apple had warned them to police for bad content within 24 hours, but Parler barely had the cash or the talent to do any kinda moderation immediately.
Google then blocked the app from its Play Store as well. Soon thereafter, AMZN told the company that it will be kicked off the AWS servers which the app uses for hosting. A brutal all out assault.
FYI, the app is no joke—it has over 8 million+ new installs in total (with probably around 3-4 million monthly active users), and has been growing 200%+ since Trump’s circus began this week.
Why care—politics and technology obviously do not gel well, but this is the first time we’re seeing tech platforms gather the balls to take openly partisan positions. Politicians on the right side of the aisle cry foul. Global leaders who had been over reliant on tech platforms to directly form relationships with their voter bases (you know who) are put on notice.
Tech on the other hand had always maintained the position that they were “enabling” platforms with no right to take sides, using that as a defense whenever regulators had taken them to task for lack of moderation. Now that no longer seems to be a viable excuse.
Critics say the fact that one party has control of the presidency, house, and senate in the US (which makes it easy to bring damning regulation against big tech) is what’s driving the favorable actions and forcing tech companies to act in unison against the other party. The world we live in.
Meanwhile, shareholders of social platforms are grinning—controversy drives engagement, and engagement isssaaaa good for biznesssss. 🤙
What’s hot on Venture avenue? 💰
Food and grocery wholesale platform Jumbotail got a $14.2 million check in their Series B round from VII Ventures, with Nutresa, Veronorte, JumboFund, and multiple other VC platforms pitching in, as B2B commerce continues to intrigue big money buyers.
What do they do—Jumbotail basically makes it easy for Kirana stores to source their produce. The value proposition is simple—instead of going after multiple wholesalers to source your goods, just use a web app to order everything you need. Better prices, better visibility, more control.
So far some 30,000 kirana stores have been onboarded on the services, and with investments in a robust last-mile supply chain and logistics infrastructure—a useful asset in this game. Also, the company’s been looking at providing merchants with financial products, partnering with banks for working capital loans, which is a sweet value offering. Team claims profitability for the past 3 quarters.
Bottomline: Just last week we saw Udaan raise a big round for its broad B2B sourcing platform, and we’ve had multiple big ecommerce platforms leveraging their relationships with merchants as a hook to push their own B2B commerce solutions. The game is hot, and Jumbotail’s prospects in fresh produce segment look promising.
Quickly moving onto to Zerodha’s surprise,
So far Nithin Kamath has had phenomenal success with Rainmatter—Zerodha’s fintech incubator and accelerator. Now the company’s doubling down on more ambitious projects with a $100 million commitment to funding startups exclusively fighting climate change in India.
Launching as a non-profit called Rainmatter Foundation, the project will focus on 3 key areas—Afforestation, Ecological Restoration, and improving livelihoods. Key hires have been made and two checks have already been signed. One goes to Terra, a virtual school for the training of climate entrepreneurs, while the other to Blue Sky Analytics which sells real-time climate data and predictive environmental intelligence.
If you’re in that game, worth considering for sure.
What else are we snackin’ 🍿
💪 Biden admin loaded with Indian-Americans - Sabrina Singh becomes the latest to be named as the White House Deputy Press Secretary in the upcoming Joe Biden administration. Prior to this she was a senior spokesperson on the Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign and National Press Secretary for Cory Booker's presidential campaign.
💬 FB’s tinkering see no end - Facebook has now removed the like button from all of its public pages with the aim of simplifying its overall design for users. FB will now show only the number of followers along with a news section for users to engage and join conversations.
Hit that 💚 if you liked today’s issue.
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