Close that raise ✋

Throttled phones, language learners, and squeezed merchants.

Hi 👋, Tanvi here.

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Market summary: 📊 

After a good run up for the past few days, Indian markets turned course in the middle of the day yesterday. US gained some ground as investors set hopes for another stimulus.

US:

  • S&P 500 - up 0.39%

  • Nasdaq 100 - up 0.76%

India:

  • Nifty 50 - down 1.29%

  • Sensex - down 1.31%


Quarantine learners 💰

Language-learning platform Duolingo scooped up $35 million from Durable Cap and General Atlantic, taking the company’s valuation to $2.4 billion, up 45% from previous rounds. 

Much like other ed-tech and upskilling platforms, Duolingo won big from locked down consumers looking to make some productive use of their time. User base has grown by almost 30% so far this year, with usage in Asia growing at a much faster pace. The company also reported that revenue nearly doubled this year, continuing a 3 year streak of 100%+ growth rates.

Also, the company is designing a separate app called Duolingo ABC, specifically to help children read and write in various languages. New capital will accelerate investments in R&D and support global expansion.


Show is over, for now 🔐

Reliance Retail has finally closed its forever running capital raise, giving away some 10.1% to 9 outside investors, and collecting checks for ₹47,000 crore in return.

The investor list obviously has considerable overlap with Jio Platforms and most investors see apparent synergies with the rest of the digital portfolio. Post raise, Reliance now owns about 85% of the retail arm, while Silver Lake, KKR, General Atlantic, Mubadala and a few others share the rest of the spoils.

What matters ahead—the worst of COVID led economic devastation is done and as consumer spending and the markets recover from this crisis, a debt-light, cash loaded, well integrated Reliance is ready to ramp up assault and capture outsized share.

While we’re on the subject of big-business 💍

Titan management highlighted that business across all areas saw a solid rebound for the festive month running upto Diwali, with sales of jewellery particularly growing at healthy ~15% rates. Investors cheered the news and the stock promptly jumped despite broad market losing yesterday. 

The demand levels are kinda counter to what Bloomberg had seen from small merchants a couple days ago, which makes us believe that if big-box retail has benefitted in these conditions, then it's probably come at the expense of small merchants nationwide.

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Nvidia carves out some perfection 🎮

If you’re a gaming or a semiconductor nerd, you probably wanna know—NVIDIA’s last quarter was an absolute blowout, aided by continued strength in gaming, work-from-home installations, and GPUs in cloud datacenters.

The company beat on all expectations and raised its outlook for the next quarter.

Some quick highlights for y'all

  • Total revenue for last quarter of $4.73 billion, up 57% YoY

  • Gaming revenues up 37% YoY

  • Datacenter revenues up 162%—helped by 83% growth in Mellanox, a networking business Nvidia had acquired last year to boost its portfolio 

  • Automotive sector demand declined, as people shy away from spending on expensive vehicles right now. 

Nvidia’s segment of professional visualization, which supplies GPUs for corporate workstations and other design heavy setups suffered too as office installations of hardware have stalled due to remote work, but investors overlooked these blips. 

Looking ahead, with the launch of two new gaming consoles this week from Sony and Microsoft and with the holiday season coming up, expectations are set for a blockbuster next quarter. 

Also, can’t ignore the fact that NVIDIA grew revenues 57% while Intel’s revenues dropped 5% last quarter, as the old guard stands disrupted.


Batterygate 🔋

Iphone users might feel this close to heart—but ever wondered how the phones slow down after about 2 years of use? Well, a bunch of people had sued Apple, claiming Apple knowingly throttles phones to drive consumers to buy newer models when they launch, and now Apple is paying them $113 million to “settle” the charges outside court.

36 states across the US joined the class action lawsuit. Apple won’t confess to the deeds, but when an elaborate journalistic investigation had blown the horn on them back in 2017, Apple in its defense had said it in fact does throttle phones to “optimize battery usage”. 

Earlier this year Apple had paid out another $500 million in a similar lawsuit, so we don’t think the new fine would change much at camp Cupertino—a rounding error on the $250 billion revenue line.

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Closing out on some world politics 👋

The Australians are burying their faces in shame after a lengthy investigation corroborated allegations of war crimes committed on the people of Afghanistan, when special forces were deployed there over the last decade. The generals are profusely apologizing now and calling the episode the worst crisis in the history of the Aussie military. Only if words would mean something. Expect news of protests and citizen uproar.


What else are we snackin’ 🍿

🐦 Launch day firefighting - Twitter is planning to slow down the rollout of its fleets worldwide to fix some performance issues. Despite having tested the feature in India, Brazil, South Korea and Italy before, global engagement exceeded expectations and some users saw fleets take time to load or refresh. 

🙌 Local innovation promises - researchers at IIT KGP developed cellulose nanocrystals from cucumber peels in an attempt to possibly create environment friendly packaging materials for consumer use. The study shows that the cellulose nanocrystals have better biodegradability and biocompatibility and can possibly act as a replacement for single use plastic.


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