Zee elopes with Sony 👀

Venture raises, Food tech, and FreshWorks goes live!

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Market summary: 📊

India felt some jitters yesterday, ending flat as outcome of the Chinese financial crisis looms in sight. US turned around swiftly, recovering some of Mondays brutal losses.


  • S&P 500 - up 0.95%

  • Nasdaq - up 0.99%


  • Nifty 50 - down 0.09% 

  • Sensex - down 0.13%

What’s brewing hot? ☕

Cash machine shaking — Facebook offered an unusual, mid-quarter warning to investors yesterday that the impact of Apple’s ad-tracking ban (which was rolled out with iOS14 a couple months ago) is harsher than previously imagined on its revenues. Facebook says its measurement algorithm seems 15% less effective generally, but was unclear how that translates into direct $$ impact. Spat between both companies is at an ALL time high, and investors are running for cover with $FB down 10% in the last 5 days. 

Everyone wants a piece — the India growth story continues to attract foreign capital passionately, with total foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows for the 4 months from April to August 2021 jumping nearly 112% YoY to $20.4 billion! The economy was frozen last year, so the numbers are a bit skewed, but the accelerated resumption still speaks volumes. Auto, Software, and IT services pulled in the biggest pot. 

Sony shows up to rescue Zee 🤝 

Zee’s fistfight with its shareholders saw an interesting twist when Sony barged in with a bag full of cash and an offer to buy out Zee, promising to smoothen out all governance problems. Zee sold!

The deets — technically, both companies will be merged, with Sony promising to invest about $1.6 billion into Zee to help sort governance problems and supercharge growth.

Together, the combined entity will own 75 TV channels, 2 HOT streaming properties and a content studio, churning ₹13,600 crores+ in revenues — making it one of the most formidable media operations in the country!

Between the lines — Zee’s current CEO Punit Goenka will run the combined ship, despite vehement shareholder protests earlier if you remember, which makes it apparent that he’s the one who brokered the deal as a FU move to protesting shareholders.

Anyway, the deal still has to pass regulatory approval, but we’re guessing that’s already been massaged otherwise so much hoopla for nothin’...

Bottomline both companies will leverage their content and distribution prowess to take on the incursion of media by Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, coupled with cash rich local players like Jio as well as disruptors MX Player, YouTube.

Who got the dough bruh 🔥

This party knows no stoppin’

💰 Buy-Now-Pay-Later is the flavor of the season — Indian BNPL player ZestMoney picked up $50 million as part of its ongoing Series C from Australian BNPL king Zip. ZestMoney basically works with online merchants to offer micro-loans at checkout (₹50 to ₹5 lakh), using alternative data and no credit checks to underwrite loans, reaching some 11 million users.  

FYI, globally, BNPL is catching fire, expected to top $100B+ in volumes this year — catalyzing a flurry of acquisitions (Square-AfterPay, PayPal-Paidy) and partnerships (Apple-Goldman, Amazon-Affirm etc.).

💻 Meanwhile, hobby-learning platform FrontRow closed a $14 million Series A round by Eight Roads Ventures. FrontRow works with accomplished artists, professionals, and influencers in singing, cricket, photography, film-making, and other fields, to sell hiqh-quality courses to over 50K users across more than 2,000 cities worldwide. Fresh funds will be put to scale courses and expand categories.


Quick look at a popular food-tech IPO 🧐

Fintech and food-tech nerds may already know, but Toast, a company that sells payment systems to restaurants in the west, is going public at a $20 billion valuation

Toast makes modular terminals that simplify online and offline payments for restaurants, and combines that with a bunch of software tools for everyday business management. 

Quick look at the numbers: 

  • ~$500 million in annual recurring revenue, growing ~128%

  • $38 billion in payments volumes annually

  • Lost $235 million last year. Huh

The gameplay — Toast led with a loss-making hardware business, selling low-margin payment terminals to restaurants, raking millions of dollars in losses on its way up. But now, the company is leveraging payment commissions and software (high margins) to perennially monetize its trapped base.

S-1 for the nerds.  


Closing out $FRSH is now trading sir👏

India’s venture ecosystem turned a chapter last night — with FreshWorks going public on the Nasdaq, raising a billion dollars in cash. Stock popped a nice 30% at open. Many more to come! 

What else are we snackin’ 🍿

💰 Pandemic comp - GOI will pay ₹50K to the families that lost a close one due to COVID, agreeing to a ruling passed by the SC last month. 

🏀 Big bucks - Dapper Labs, the company behind the fantasy basketball NFT game, NBA TopShop, raised $250 million at a $7.6 billion from investors. 

🥴 Hot damn - Google bombed $2.1 billion on buying a new office in NYC. Remote work, what?

Hit that 💚 if you liked today’s issue.

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