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Market summary: 📊
Overall a good week in India driven by positive post Diwali spending signals. US markets however cut back a bit after a solid run up so far in November.
S&P 500 - down 0.68%
Nasdaq 100 - down 0.66%
Nifty 50 - up 0.68%
Sensex - up 0.65%
Yeh nautanki idhar nahi chalega ✋
That’s the last word Indian regulators gave Amazon, by finally approving Reliance’s $3.4 billion acquisition of Future Retail, with zero regard given to Team Bezos’ appeals and basically telling the Singapore Arbitration court to….. you know.
To remind you, Amazon was seeking to block passage of the acquisition citing rights it holds to invest in Future at a later date, per its agreement with the company when it invested in Future Coupons a few years ago. We wrote about the cheesy mess before.
What now—well, Amazon has also appealed to SEBI, so last word from there will be awaited. But they’re clearly running out of options fast, something you don’t often see happening to Bezos. Odds are they’re going to back down, considering their $7B+ investment in India so far to bankroll their ecommerce operations, which could easily be threatened by continued meaningless aggression.
While we’re here, something that might interest future managers,
AMZN is kicking off a 2-month incubator program for MBA grads, where emerging talent can work closely with the company and try out potential leadership roles. XLRI pilot will begin soon, and a range of other institutions are on the charts. Interests you?
Quick venture raise 💰
Prescribe, the Shopify for healthcare in India, raised a sweet ₹1 crore seed round led by Titan Capital and a bunch of other angels.
The company makes it easy for hospitals, doctors, clinics, labs and other stakeholders to run practice digitally, seamlessly enabling customer contact as well as payments, doc sharing etc. via Whatsapp and other messaging tools. So far some 50+ hospitals and facilities use its service.
Worth noting: The Shopify for X model is selling like hot cake right now, with great success in other verticals including insurance, SME digitization, agriculture etc. The healthcare extension is truly ingenious. Also, the fact that hurdles around healthcare-data management are kinda low in India helps with innovation in these arenas, allowing easy experimentation.
Anyway, fresh funds will be deployed to expand the sales team and explore strategic partnerships with pharma companies and hospital chains. We say good luck.
Add some Buzz to my Feed baby 🐝
Clickbait king BuzzFeed will acquire HuffPost—scooping up the media operation from its current parent Verizon, as the broad media industry struggles to make headway in the digital world.
Verizon Media owns a bunch of such websites, few of which it scooped up over the past decade along with Yahoo, thinking it can mount a respectable opposition to the Google, FB dominated digital ad hegemony. It didn’t work out, and now the company is resorting to minority ownerships while it focuses on frying bigger fish like 5G, or video streaming.
Anyway, this deal will give Verizon a tiny ownership stake in Buzzfeed, which values BuzzF at a royal $1.7B. Imagine making billions showing cat videos and memes. TF. Last year BuzzF reportedly made $320 million in revenues, and considering locked down users + more digital engagement in 2020, wouldn't be surprised if they crossed $400M+ this year.
For HuffPost, no matter how well they sugarcoat it, this is a tragedy that marks the demise of yet another media giant that thought clean journalism was the way to win over the internet. Also, interestingly, Buzzfeed’s founder, Jonah Peretti actually co-founded Huffpost 15 years ago, who will now lead the combined entity. Sweet reunion there.
What’s the signal—the gap between laggard media and those that have figured out how to drive eyeballs in a digital world will keep widening. Lucky ones will be sold, rest will burn to the ground. Consolidation will be inevitable.
Meanwhile, independent journalists let go by these companies or just tired of figuring out the complexity of “business” will build media empires of the next generation here on platforms like Substack.
RBI prepping for Lap 2 😎
Certain factions within the RBI apparently believe that, under limited constraints, it's probably time to allow renowned business houses in India to easily set up banking businesses.
If the RBI has learnt anything from India’s financial woes, it's that it can’t continue to be the deep-pocketed father financing the misdeeds of miscreant children forever, and that at some point it has to harness the power of the free markets (whatever little we have) to setup a better enforcement system, by putting strong constraints and limitations in place of course.
Like for example, RBI is thinking of perhaps asking promoters or family members who would want to start such banks to stake more personal stock ownership to be able to get licences. Checks and balances put in place appropriately could work.
Anyway, this has actually been a very divisive issue given the politics around “making the rich richer”, but RBI hopes it can find middle ground to make use of the talent, executive leadership and innovation buried in corporate India to more widely bring financial services to the masses as well as create a robust capital system at the disposal of Indian businesses.
Lastly, Google’s grand super-app plans 📱
Consumer platforms with reach in the billions are slowly morphing into fintech players, and Google just gave a glimpse into its own grand ambitions. The redesigned Google Pay offers everything—digital wallets, payments, tap-to-pay, personal-finance aggregation, you name it. Online banking products are on the charts as well, with key partnerships already in place in the US.
The breadth of elements the app has such as spending groups like Splitwise, and then analytics on spending etc. are giving analysts confidence that Google isn’t messing around this time. With 3B+ people on Android, a global roll out could be truly explosive and consequential.
Tweet of the day — 🐦
What else are we snackin’ 🍿
🙌 Spurring AR innovation - Samsung India has launched the Samsung AR-VR Innovation Lab at IIT-Jodhpur and will train students on the new tech. The lab is part of Samsung Digital Academy, a CSR initiative the company is pioneering to bridge the digital divide and proficiency gaps with tech in local communities.
👊 SEBI deals Roy a death blow - Sebi has asked ex-Sahara Chief, Subrata Roy to pay $8.4 billion immediately to stay out of jail on bail. The amount includes all outstanding liability of the Sahara India Pariwar’s two companies and those of Roy, including interest. Damning!
🎄 Things we gotta do - Netflix has announced plans to make their platform free for everyone for the December 5-6 weekend in India. Anyone in India will be able to access the platform and watch all the blockbuster films, the biggest series, award-winning documentaries and reality shows for two days, as the company struggles to drive growth in India.
Hit that 💚 if you liked today’s issue.
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