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Market summary: 📊
Investors booked profits going into Diwali weekend, taking the markets slightly down but ending an awesome week in the Indian markets. US continued to circle in place.
S&P 500 - down 1.00%
Nasdaq 100 - down 0.55%
Nifty 50 - down 0.46%
Sensex - down 0.54%
First things first 💰
Google’s $4.5 billion investment in Jio platforms has been greenlit by Indian regulatory body, paving way for Pichai led empire to own 7.73% stake in India’s top-most telecom venture.
Both companies will now work together to develop an entry-level Android smartphone, and make the low-cost device accessible to millions of emerging internet users in India.
Apparently the Competition Commission took time to closely review the data-sharing agreement between Google and Jio to understand if there’s anything fishy going on that will hurt other competitors. The analysis was satisfactory and all concerns were allayed (wink wink).
While we’re talking about Big Tech, 👻
Snap has made a surprise bet, acquiring Israel-based voice assistant solutions startup Voca.ai for $120 million. Voca’s voice recognition tech basically understands human voice and responds to requests.
The company currently sold a service called “Voca Agents” that screens customer service calls, addresses simple queries before handover to human agents. But Snap doesn’t play with any customer service so it's unclear what they have in mind. Perhaps intelligent “avatars” capable of communicating with users?
Hard to read what’s up here but Snapchat is cooking some crazy stuff in Virtual Personas, AR, Gaming, and other intelligent arenas and spending $120 million certainly highlights some grand plans under the hood.
Biocon Biologics secures runway for IPO 💪
The IPO bound Biocon Biologics, subsidiary of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s Biocon, which exclusively focuses on the business of biosimilars has raised $150 million from Goldman Sachs, at a whopping $3.9 billion valuation.
The company has one of the largest biosimilars portfolios globally, spanning rh-insulin, insulin analogs, monoclonal antibodies and therapeutic proteins for oncology, immunology and other chronic disease areas (biosimilars are basically alternate meds similar to another approved biological medicine). Management is aiming to reach over 5 million patients, and $1B+ in revenues before 2022.
India’s pharma ventures were blessed with new life by the pandemic and China’s problems, and Biocon hopes to capitalize on the wave, with investments in R&D, high-quality manufacturing, all directed to establish a wide global commercial footprint.
Not kidding around 🎙️
Spotify splurged $235 million to buy podcast publishing and advertising platform Megaphone, further establishing the company’s commitment to the growing podcast and original content arena.
Megaphone basically allows brands to record and publish podcasts across various apps, while connecting them with an ad platform in the background to monetize. Post acquisition, all of Megaphone’s sizzling customer relationships will be at Spotify’s disposal, allowing Spotiofy to widen its funnel and capture more creators.
Also, Spotify plans on bringing its class leading ad-insertion tech to Megaphone. Basically, the system dynamically inserts personalized ads based on what data it knows about “users”, which helps improve ROI compared to the current method of showing ads on podcasts where the recorder reads out a script hoping people would notice.
Bottomline: Spotify podcast game should give Apple and others the chills. The company has now spent almost over a billion spent on chasing the podcast game through acquisitions alone, including purchase of Gimlet Media ($200 million), Anchor ($140 million), The Ringer ($196 million), Parcast ($56 million) and then other production costs such as the notorious deal with Joe Rogan. So I guess your turn, Tim Apple!
No mo’ gaali galoch 🤫
Sacred Games and Mirzapur ran wild while they could, now the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting wants to tame the horses a bit. Extending its purview from theater releases and TV broadcasting, the I&B ministry has now now sought to regulate digital content as well, ensuring nothing “un-kulchaad” is broadcasted. SMH.
The new rules have been signed by President Kovind, and have been published on the government website for review. So, the TV platforms who generally have to follow similar rules, “self-regulate” themselves, with a body that works closely with the I&B ministry. The streamers will likely be asked to work with a similar arrangement too, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that there’s going to be quite a lot of strong arming behind the scenes.
So far, streaming platforms citing the “power bestowed upon us by the internet” would usually moderate their own content, choosing what to stream and what not to. But the government is arguing that 600 million people use the internet in India and the base cannot be left unchecked for malicious platforms to exploit them. Some filtering needed to exist.
Reactions—obviously India is livid. Streamers took Indian content by the storm, boldly chasing talent and funding scripts that depicted raw stories without artificial cleansing. So much so that the secondary effects of this high-quality output meant people openly dissed traditional content from Bollywood in favor of original content on Netflix, Amazon etc.
While the big streamers do have the money and capacity to lobby I&B and work around self-regulation, things will likely not be the same as before. Once regulators start meddling with art and creativity, there’s no going back. What’s worse is that the regulators have purposely kept these rules ambiguous and without clarity. 🙄
Aaeeeyyoooooo 👋 we wish you guys a very happy and joyful Diwali!! Spend some time with your loved ones, steal a moment of quiet and joy for yourself. You deserve it for getting through this tumultuous year.
The #coffeemafia will be chilling this weekend, so no newsletter on Saturday. Also, it's been 6 months since we started writing this NL. THANKS A BUNCH for your love. You matter to us. ❤️
What else are we snackin’ 🍿
💉 Being proactive - As trials look promising, Serum Institute of India has readied 4 crore doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine under the at risk manufacturing and stockpiling license from DCGI. First doses will go to frontline warriors, pending approval of course.
💳 Slowly catching up - MobiKwik has partnered with Amex to launch a prepaid payment card with a flexible credit limit. MobiKwik plans to expand from being a wallet operator to financial services-led fintech player, like rival PayTM.
🎵 Embedded fintech FTW - Tiktok is planning to test a new feature which will allow users to raise funds directly from their profiles, for charities and causes they care about. When a visitor will click on the name of the organization on the person’s profile, they will be taken to a screen that allows them to make a donation. What's next, wallets?
🎮 PUBG plans comeback - Multiplayer game PUBG mobile has announced its relaunch in India in the form of a new game made specifically for the Indian market. For the new version of PUBG, the company will set up an Indian subsidiary with a local office in the country and will also hire 100 employees for starters.
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