Also in this letter:
Ola Electricraises $200 million from Falcon Edge, others OfBusinessvaluation nearly doubles to $3 billion
- Alteria Capital closes second fund at Rs 1,800 crore
Paid Rs 52 crore, not Rs 8,546 crore in legal fees in FY20, Amazon tells minister
Amazon has written to commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, claiming its legal fees in India for the financial year 2020 were Rs 52 crore and not Rs 8,546 crore, as reports have claimed.
Catch up quick: Last week, news portal The Morning Context reported that Amazon had launched an internal probe after a whistleblower alleged that a part of the fees paid to New Delhi-based advocate Vikas Chopra, who represents the company as an outside counsel, had been used to bribe government officials.
Amazon’s response: In its letter to Goyal, dated September 28, the company said the reports were inaccurate and “appear to stem from a misunderstanding” of some filings, in particular a “legal and professional expense” line item that includes substantial non-legal expenses.
The letter said these reports “incorrectly suggested” that an entity called Amazon India Ltd was an Amazon subsidiary, and improperly attributed its legal expenses to Amazon.
Quote: “Last week some media outlets began reporting that Amazon’s India operations spent a combined Rs 8,456 crore in ‘legal fees’ during 2019 and 2020. Making these claims, the article cited ‘public filings’ made by Amazon… Several of the articles incorrectly suggest that an entity called “Amazon India Limited” is an Amazon subsidiary and have attributed it’s legal expense to Amazon,” the letter read.
Amazon attached to its letter a list of shareholders of Amazon India Limited, which is publicly available with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. According to this list, two real estate companies — Parsvnath Developers Limited and Aadharshila Contractors Private Limited — own Amazon India Limited.
Ola Electric gets $200 million funding at $3 billion valuation
Ola Electric CEO Bhavish Aggarwal
Ola Electric has raised more than $200 million from Falcon Edge, SoftBank Group and others at a valuation of $3 billion, the electric vehicle (EV) arm of the ride-hailing startup said.
The funding will strengthen Ola’s “Mission Electric”, which urges industry players and consumers to commit to electric so that no petrol two-wheelers are sold in India after 2025, the company said in a statement.
Quote: “We’re proud to lead the EV revolution from India to the world. India has the talent and the capability to build technologies of the future for the industries of the future for the entire world. I thank our existing investors and welcome new ones to Ola,” said chairman and group CEO Bhavish Aggarwal.
This is Ola Electric’s fifth fundraising round, excluding the $10 million it received from Bank of Baroda last year. Its investors include Hyundai, Tiger Global, Matrix Partners India and Ratan Tata.
Scooter sales: Earlier this month, Ola said that sales of its S1 and S1 Pro electric scooters, which it unveiled in August, crossed Rs 1,100 crore in two days.
Ola has completed phase-1 of its 500-acre EV manufacturing plant in Tamil Nadu. Earlier this month it said the factory will eventually be run by 10,000 women. It said the plant, when completed, would have an annual capacity of one crore vehicles, representing “15% of the world’s total two-wheeler production”.
IPO plans: In late August, we reported that ride-hailing firm Ola was looking at a public float of up to $2 billion and was considering listing the company in India and abroad. Bankers are being finalised for the issue, which could hit the markets later this year or in early 2022. Bloomberg reported, citing sources, that the company could seek a valuation of $8 billion for its IPO.
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OfBusiness valuation nearly doubles to $3 billion
OfBusiness, a business-to-business (B2B) commerce startup, has raised $207 million in fresh funding led by New York-based investment fund Tiger Global.
- This is the third major fundraise by OfBusiness this year, reflecting the broader trend of record capital being pumped into the startup economy.
Valuation zooms: Its valuation post-money has nearly doubled to around $3 billion from July, when Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund II led a $160 million round. In April, after a $110 million round, the company was valued at $800 million.
Details: Tiger Global has put $150 million into the New-Delhi based startup. The company is likely to add another $15-$20 million in the existing round.
Both SoftBank as well as Falcon Edge-managed Alpha Wave Incubation have participated in the funding round, OfBusiness cofounder and chief executive Asish Mohapatra told ET.
Quote: “Since SoftBank invested in us, we have grown 2.5 times by revenue. Over the last three months, we continue to grow 30% on a month-on-month basis,” Mohapatra said.
In other deal news
■ Social commerce startup
■ 10club, which acquires, operates and grows ecommerce first businesses, has acquired fitness equipment maker Skudgear. The financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed. For 10club, Skudgear is its second acquisition and the first sportsgear maker in its house of brands. It recently acquired My NewBorn, a brand selling baby products on Amazon India.
■ BP Ventures has made its first direct investment in India by pumping in $13 million in integrated EV ride-hailing and charging company BluSmart. It led a $25 million Series A round that also saw support from Mayfield India Fund, 9Unicorns and Survam Partners, alongside other existing investors. As part of the deal, Sophia Nadur, managing partner at BP Ventures, will join BluSmart’s board.
Alteria Capital closes its second fund at Rs 1,800 crore
Alteria Capital has announced the final close of its second fund at Rs 1,800 crore, the largest venture debt fund to be raised in India so far. It closed its first fund at Rs 1,325 crore in April.
Details: The second fund includes a target corpus of Rs 1,000 crore and a green shoe option of Rs 800 crore, said Vinod Murali, founder and managing partner of Alteria Capital.
The investors are a mix of domestic institutions, large family offices, senior corporate professionals and venture capitalists/founders from the startup ecosystem.
According to Murali, around 300 limited partners (LPs, investors in such funds) have brought in capital, with existing fund-I investors chipping in half the corpus. The fund is looking to back more startups through its debt solutions, Murali said.
Facebook sees 35% year-on-year jump in creators monetising in India
Facebook India MD Ajit Mohan
The number of monetising creators and video publishers on Facebook in India has grown more than 35% year-on-year, and their revenue has grown by more than 160%, the social media giant announced while launching a creator education programme in India.
Zuckerberg recently told its investors that he wants Facebook to be known as a “metaverse company”. Metaverse is essentially an online world where people exist in shared virtual spaces through avatars. This digital economy with hundreds of millions of people can be monetised through ads and commerce.
Quote: “The company has been public about saying we see ourselves as investing in and playing a meaningful role in the new metaverse that’s being built around the next 5-10 years,” Ajit Mohan, vice president and managing director at Facebook India, told ET. “And the interesting part is, we believe that even more so than in the internet economy that creators will play even a bigger role in the metaverse economy.”
Also Read: What is metaverse and how does it work?
Meanwhile, WhatsApp said it has redesigned its app to make sending payments easier for users in India. The Facebook-owned messaging app unveiled the ₹ symbol in its chat composer, and a camera icon that lets users scan any QR code to pay at more than 20 million stores across India.
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