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Market summary: 📊
Indian markets lost some more yesterday, although not as bad as the previous session. US turned a solid green with tech particularly gaining more ground.
S&P 500 - up 1.19%
Nasdaq 100 - up 1.87%
Nifty 50 - down 0.50%
Sensex - down 0.43%
Shopify dances with TikTok 👯
TikTok made its boldest and biggest move towards embracing social commerce yesterday by forging a bold data partnership with independent store platform, Shopify.
The arrangement will make it easy for Shopify merchants to directly manage and run their ad campaigns from their Shopify dashboard, and allow them to seamlessly target hundreds of millions of TikTok users. Also, merchants will be offered a $300 introductory ad-card to run cost free ads on TikTok. A bunch of other incentives have been outlined as well to support merchants who come from underprivileged and marginalized backgrounds.
Why it matters: the next big thing in social media and the next big thing in commerce joining hands is not something we can ignore. Shopify helps digital entrepreneurs build native stores online, cutting reliance on Amazon and its peers. TikTok is a detachment from the Google-FB social duopoly that’s growing like crazy,
Within no time, the two could catalyze enough commerce to start meaningfully hurting top-lines of all industry incumbents. Also, damn, how fast does the tech world evolve!!
While we’re on this subject,
Shopify reported its quarterly earnings numbers yesterday—and its FREAKING NUTS!
Total merchandise sold on the platform doubled to $31 billion last quarter
Total revenue of $767 million, up 97%
Company’s market cap = $120 billion!
Ecommerce is absolutely killing it and this company has become the equivalent of a neighborhood mall that rents space to digital stores.
Who gaats some cash in India? 💰
The Shopify for electronics vendors in India, Arzooo, scooped up $7.5 million in Series-A funding led by American VC firms WRVI Capital and 3Lines Ventures.
Arzooo’s tech makes it easy for retail vendors to set up an online store and serve customers a digital-native experience. By arming up neighborhood retailers, the company hopes to level the playing field for these vendors against incursion from Amazon, Flipkart and the likes—who only invite these vendors to sell with them if they shell out a 20-30% commission.
Anyway, Zoom founder Eric Yan as well as prominent angel Bill Tai have been investors in the company before and their game looks legit. New capital will go to further scale operations in eastern and western regions of India as well as towards tech improvements. Fun fact? The founders used to work at Flipkart, so it's fair to assume they know their ecommerce game.
What matters: if Shopify’s climb to over $100 billion in gross annual sales (GMV) taught us something, it's that the ecommerce wars won’t be won just by big-box online platforms. Tech savvy Independent retailers as well as the platforms arming them up with DIY tech tools have an equally solid shot.
Finally, turning heads to a quick Agri-tech raise,
FreshtoKartz, a Rajasthan based startup that provides tech-enabled solutions to small farmers raised a sweet $1.4 million Pre-Series A round from Rajasthan VC Fund (RVCF) and AWE (Achieving Women Equity) Funds.
The company’s tech makes it easy for farmers to get crop information, pricing data, farming advisory, as well as connects farmers to lenders, insurers, buyers -- a blooming niche area we have seen countless startups emerge in lately. Freshokartz is currently operating 40 regional centers as well, where they make their services available offline, reaching some 90,000 farmers who rely on them. The capital will help scale to 1 million+ farmers over the next year.
It’s really heartening to observe tech assume a central role in attacking a problem that has plagued India for decades.
In the giant’s tummy 🍎
Apple has acquired Vilynx—a Spanish video-based AI startup, with the intention of using the team to improve Siri—Apple’s virtual assistant on with iPhone, Mac, and Apple watch.
When it comes to acquisitions, Apple notoriously plays it too close to the chest, rarely making moves -- which makes it all the more interesting to understand what they’re thinking about whenever they do make a purchase after all. This time, its digital assistants.
Vilynx essentially makes software that helps with “video-previews”—understanding video content, combined with user-data to decide what previews should be shown to which user, basically enhancing the odds of users engaging with content. Apple hopes the tech helps bolster its suggestions for video content delivered through Siri as well as for Apple Photos apparently. Analysts peg the deal’s value at around $50 million.
Well, I guess it does sound smart—if you look at any review online, it doesn’t take much to realize Siri is absolutely dumb compared to Alexa or Google’s Assistant and its about time Apple dials up resources here a bit to improve its game.
The latest from the number mills 📉
Another datapoint highlighting decent recovery in India coming out of the pandemic is auto sales numbers rolling out of the Maruti Suzuki camp -- particularly Maruti’s respectable small car sales numbers which indicate better than anticipated recovery in the market. Quick look:
Revenues grew 10% to ₹18,744 crores
Earnings before any taxes or financial charges (EBITDA) grew 20% to ₹1,933 cores
Maruti improved its margins as well
Compare that to a slap in the face 80% drop in sales the company had seen during the last quarter, having to freeze supply chains and throw workers in a limbo. From there, the company’s bounce back to selling nearly 4 lakh cars in the last 3 months is absolutely amazing!
While we’re talking about this,
The Misty Family and Tata Sons who have been fighting a bitter fight in the Supreme Court after Cyrus Mistry was kicked out as the Chairman of Tata Sons, have finally come up with a solution to end the battle -- in which the Mistry’s have agreed to reducing their 18.4% stake in Tata Sons in exchange for stake in publicly listed Tata group companies.
The arrangement will help Tata sons avoid taking any debt to liquidate Mistry’s ownership. The Mistry’s had thought earlier of pledging their stake in Tata to raise cash to fix their liquidity problems, which had landed the two parties in the Supreme court. Damn, more drama than a bunch of teenagers.
What else are we snackin’ 🍿
💉 Some positive hopes - Adar Poonawala of the Serum Institute believes the coronavirus vaccine candidate of Oxford University and Astrazeneca could be ready for use as early as December if the Government allows emergency authorization. Serum is the India production and distribution partner of the vaccine and Adar’s cheerleading makes us wonder if R&D is close to wrapping up. This could be awesome if true.
🖥️ Upskilling is the new battleground - Linkedin is planning to launch a new career explore tool which will allow users to change into a new job while simultaneously providing insights into what courses could help them make the change. The pandemic has left 140 million people unemployed worldwide and LinkedIn is at the best position to make the most of this opportunity.
🌊 Unsure how this will end - Wonderla, Bengaluru's popular theme park is set to open its gates for the general public from 13 November. The park will be open only on Fridays to Sundays and to ensure a contactless experience bookings will be made online. The park will also allow 12k covid warriors to come and enjoy all facilities in a bid to honour their efforts and commitment towards the fight against COVID-19.
☀️ INFY claims green victory - the company claims it has hit the goal of going Carbon neutral 30 years before the deadline set by the Paris agreement, having reduced per capita consumption of electricity by 55%.
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