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Market summary: 📊
With Tuesday ending on a good note, Indian markets are looking strong so far this week. Things were looking good in the US until the President tweeted about delaying additional stimulus until after the elections, and investors ran for cover in no time.
S&P 500 - down 1.40%
Nasdaq 100 - down 1.89%
Nifty 50 - up 1.38%
Sensex - up 1.54%
First things first… 🤜
The US House of Representatives (lower house of elected representations akin to the Indian Lok Sabha) handed Big Tech a shocker — concluding investigations of a 16-month probe into the power of big-tech platforms, the antitrust subcommittee ascertained that Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook have gotten too big, enjoy “monopoly-powers” and that anti-trust laws need to be updated to control their activities.
In a 450-page report, the committee highlighted the need to stop Big-Tech companies from making adjacent acquisitions and to break them up into smaller companies if need be to protect the free marketplace. Here’s CNBC on the topic.
Does this matter?—committees make recommendations all the time, and any meaningful changes will need buy-in from other lawmakers, particularly those on the other side of the aisle. But this is the most damning formal notice big-tech has ever received and if they don’t act to address issues urgently, they’ll be walking on thin ice.
Notable capital raises 💰
In a high-flying fintech raise, Uni—a promising new seed stage venture founded by veteran entrepreneur Nitin Gupta, raised a whopping $18.5 million from Lightspeed India and Accel.
The deal marks one of the biggest seed funding rounds in India to date and highlights investor confidence in Nitin’s ability to deliver on the promise. Considering Nitin’s history of cofounding PayUMoney and then running financial services at Ola India, things sure look promising.
The still-under-the-wraps project aims to attack and disrupt India’s credit card market with a product that fixes the limitations of the junk sold by traditional banks. With just under 35 million CC users in India, there’s definitely ample room for the company to add value but its likely going to be an enduring journey as India still learns to use credit responsibly. But with cash in the pocket, shouldn’t be a problem for Uni.
Moving on to a surprise partnership, 🤝
Payment processor and digital commerce infrastructure operator, Infibeam, signed a surprise deal yesterday, licensing its enterprise-grade ecommerce and payment operations software to Reliance Jio's digital platform. There’s little clarity on the scope of the partnership or the value of the contract yet, but Infibeam shareholders seemed to be rejoicing when the news broke out.
Infibeam is kinda on a surprising roll here, having won another huge contract to digitize the government’s public e-procurement system a while ago and this deal adds another feather to its cap. The company essentially permits enterprises to transact on-line, handle orders, manage stock and logistics, etc. etc. and has been winning from laggard Indian companies making a hard pivot to digital commerce in these times.
Considering breadth of interconnected ventures Jio is chasing—Infibeam’s product inevitably shines here. The bigger question however is—could there be an eventual acquisition brewing? 🤔
Interesting gaming IPO 🔥
One of the world’s fastest growing yet little known gaming companies, Roblox, is planning to go public in the US over the next few months, targeting a whopping $8 billion valuation, in what is turning out to be a record year for digital gaming so far.
Some context: Roblox is a favorite among kids and teenagers, mostly in the western world. Unknown to the mainstream for a long period of time, the company has had a grinding rise to prominence. They run an app store as well as a game creation platform for developers, where users create a single profile and play games, socially or solo.
If you ask any kid between 5-15 in the western world, odds are that’s where they spend most of their time these days — instead of Snapchat or Instagram. Which gives investors a ton of hope about what the Roblox platform could grow into in 10 or 20 years from now? Roblox Social, Commerce, Communications? 📈
Anyway — so far Roblox says it reaches more than 150 million monthly active users and more than 1.5 billion hours of monthly engagement. The company is debating whether to do a direct listing or a traditional IPO.
Some updates from Space 🚽
For the space nerds amidst us—NASA sent a bunch of cargo to the International Space Station last Friday, which most notably includes some commercial test products, cancer treatments drugs meant for specialized tests under zero gravity, and a female-friendly space toilet — all weighing some 8,000 pounds.
A private re-supply spacecraft called the Cygnus, made by Northrop Grumman, blasted off with the essentials from NASA’s flight facility in Virginia USA. The mission is a small step to make space establishments more female-friendly, as NASA prepares itself and its facilities in the space for more gender-equal missions in the near future, including those that will pave way for Mars and Moon missions soon.
The cargo also included a range of new types of crops including a breed of radish to be tested in enduring conditions, to help astronauts cultivate more crops on ISS and prepare for mass farming when human capacity increases. Last, a cancer drug called onco-selective, is part of the voyage to observe its performance in microgravity.
Key takeaway: we often fail to notice but the pace at which space research has moved beyond logistics to enabling “sustainable living” up there, is amusing and interesting.
While we’re on the subject, 🚀
Elon Musk's SpaceX has landed a $149 million contract to build missile-tracking satellites for the US Military's Space Development Agency (SDA). SpaceX will apparently be using its Starlink assembly plant to build four satellites fitted with a wide-angle infrared missile-tracking sensor supplied by a subcontractor, that is capable of detecting attacks from intercontinental ballistic missiles! 🤙
Tweet of the day —
Nvidia surprised everyone from Silicon Valley to Wall Street at its AI focused annual technology conference. Here’s an amazing summary of the hottest…
What else are we snackin’ 🍿
🤮Brace yourself - LinkedIn is launching its story feature in India from October 6, following successfully annoying launches so far in North America, Europe, Australia and UAE. Users will be able to post photos and videos upto 20 seconds, lasting 24-hrs.
💪 Make in India continues to win - Samsung will apparently start the production of TV sets locally by December 2020, after GOI had put TV sets on the restricted list of imports to discourage imports from China and boost local manufacturing. Victory!
👏 Accenture adds to the ranks - the consulting company has elevated Bhaskar Ghosh to the role of Chief Strategy Officer, giving him the mantle of guiding the company’s key strategic investments and growth opportunities at a critical time when COVID had initiated a global IT services slump.
🏛️ J&J fined for cancerous powder - Johnson and Johnson will pay more than $100 million to settle over 1,000 lawsuits which allege that the company’s baby powder caused cancer. In May J&J said that it would stop the sale of talc in the US and Canada after demand had plunged. WTF?
🙄 What’s in a name - Google will replace GSuite with a new comprehensive enterprise tool offerings named Google Workspace. Although the pandemic has altered the trajectory of this category, Google so far has seen only little uptick in demand.
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