RIP subscription economy ⚰️

Air India rumors, EV updates, and the week before.

Market summary: 📊

Turned out to be one of the crappiest weeks in India after a long time, with major indices ending ~3% lower. US turned around nicely on Friday, but still ended the week down. Thanks Evergrande!


  • S&P 500 - up 1.45%

  • Nasdaq - up 1.00%


  • Nifty 50 - down 0.49% 

  • Sensex - down 0.61%

Saturday shot of espresso ☕

Sold or not — Bloomberg broke news that GOI has already decided to hand over Air India to the Tatas, leading to a social media storm welcoming the decision — and a homecoming for the Airliner. GOI however was prompt to dismiss the rumors, saying its decision has not been made yet. 🙄 FYI, the airline was actually founded by JRD Tata in 1932 as Tata Airlines, which GOI had bought into post-Independence, which was later merged with Indian Airlines and then basically ran into the ground by babus — collecting a debt of nearly ₹60,000 crores along the way!

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RBI canceled your subscriptions lol 🤥

What happened — starting yesterday, a new set of auto-debit rules brought by the RBI will basically stop most automatic recurring payments in India — from subscriptions, to recharges, to other mundane transactions.

Banks, financial apps, and other products, and services will need to request explicit consumer permission every time there is a need to process charges, and for payments above ₹5,000, 2-factor authentication via OTP will be mandated — a move meant to protect unassuming citizens from getting duped.

But, the blanket ruling also applies to various subscription products — right from your SaaS tools to your average D2C subscription box, adding a point of friction that could threaten countless business models.

FYI, auto-transactions set up for monthly SIPs, Loan installments, and other heavily regulated payment categories, will still be allowed without changes.

What matters — RBI’s motivation to limit fraudulent transactions and protect consumers is laudable… but autonomous finance does have the potential to unlock plenty of innovation, which makes the move NOT exactly a favorite in the venture community.

Quick updates from the EV nation 📈

Electric vehicle dreamers had a good week… quick look

  • Ola secured the bag a mind-blowing launch and record bookings for its upcoming electric bike helped Ola Electric pull in $200 million from Falcon Edge, Softbank and others, more than doubling valuation to $3 billion. That’s as much as the ride-hailing business, which is quite an admirable feat! Funds will be used to accelerate production, fulfil deliveries and fund further R&D. 

  • Then at the early stage — a ride-hailing company that runs a 100% electric vehicle fleet, called BluSmart, wrapped up a $25 million Series A round from petro-giant BP’s VC arm, along with Mayfield India Fund and others. The business currently operates in Delhi, and outside of all-electric fleet, the company is pitching guarantees of no cancellation and sanitized cars at this point. Uphill battle taking on competition though.

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That’s it for today folks! Quick rundown of the big things that kept this week busy… 👇

🥱 Zee and Invesco slap each other Invesco and its friends, who are leading the coup against Zee CEO Punit Goenka weren’t too happy with the Sony merger deal and were quick to approach the National Company Law Tribunal, claiming Zee is in the wrong for NOT calling a general meeting immediately to oust its current board and CEO. Judgement was in favor of Invesco but Zee refuses to comply still.

🙄 China’s power problems China is forced to halt electronics production in some parts of the nation over shortages in power supply, adding fire to fuel in the global trade problems. Giants like Apple, Tesla are being affected, delaying deliveries on major products. Authorities blame surging coal and natural gas prices for the shortages, along with tightening energy-policy.

🙌 Lava mobiles going public Lava International filed its docs with SEBI for IPO. Pre-COVID the company made about $1.2 billion in annual revenues, while owning 5% share in the smartphone segment, and 20% share in the feature phone market in India. And with 300-400 million users still waiting for internet access, the demand is piping hot.

🎮 Netflix made an acquisition NFLX made its first gaming related acquisition supporting its expansion into the $150B vertical — buying out Night School Studio. Night School is well known to make simple narrative based games with rich graphics, designed for folks who aren’t power-gamers — which offers a read into the casual-gaming and interactive content direction Netflix wants to chase.

💔 Zoom’s acquisition deal falls through — Zoom had made its first mega acquisition a while ago, buying call center software provider Five 9 technologies for $14.7 billion. However, Five 9’s shareholders decided to reject that offer yesterday, because Zoom had agreed to pay in all-stock, and since the deal, Zoom’s share prices have tanked almost 30%. Five 9 was supposed to be Zoom’s way of keeping growth running, as video conferencing business matures.

😎 And lastly, ending with some major raises this week: 

  • Delhivery raised another $125 million from Addition Capital, topping off the $76 million the company raised from the same investors about a month ago.

  • Reliance splashed $300 million on content platform Glance — we’re guessing to secure content distribution and ad-tech for its upcoming low-cost smartphones. FYI, Glance reaches some 130 million users a month, mostly in Heartland India, which is what Reliance is after.

  • Vedantu became India’s 5th unicorn in the ed-tech space after raising $100 million from ABC World Asia, Tiger Global and a few others, doubling valuation to $1 billion

Hit that 💚 if you liked today’s issue.

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