Also in this letter:
- India goes
- Govt tweaks CoWin to thwart techies
- PUBG to return to India
Zomato is taking a second shot at groceries
Hi, it’s Samidha. We are back, breaking news on two of the hottest sectors that have thrived during Covid-led lockdowns — online food delivery and grocery e-commerce.
IPO-bound Zomato has ambitions in the grocery sector, and would like to partner with Grofers which already is clocking 110% annual growth, per the company. The idea is to use Zomato’s delivery fleet of 1,50,000 to facilitate Grofers’ grocery commerce capabilities.
Why’s Zomato keen on grocery, again? After experimenting with grocery deliveries at the start of the pandemic, Zomato said it would halt the service. Zomato Market, as it was called, had tied up with Grofers to sell food products and essentials. But as food delivery numbers improved due to a demand surge in the second half of last year, groceries took a backseat for Zomato.
But with Swiggy continuing to push its quick grocery delivery service Instamart and daily essentials delivery platform Supr Daily in its attempt to diversify offerings, Zomato too is now sensing an opportunity it doesn’t want to miss.
What happens to the Grofers SPAC? We reported on February 24 that Grofers was closing in on a US listing via one of Castor Fitzgerald’s blank-cheque vehicles. That looks doubtful now. Grofers wants to stay private, raise more capital, and possibly chart a path with Zomato as it competes with heavyweights in the grocery e-commerce sector.
Read our explainer on SPACs here.
The Goyal-Dhindsa connect: It’s no secret that the two founders — Deepinder Goyal and Albinder Dhindsa — are good friends and former colleagues from the time Dhindsa was heading international operations at Zomato.
While Zomato’s $100 million proposed investment is not a big sum to move the needle for Grofers, this may eventually become a bigger bet for Goyal. Zomato has more than $1 billion in cash already, and is expected to mop up an equal amount through its public offering. This capital will likely be used for acquisitions and investments as stated in its IPO filing.
Doge has its day in India
The Dogecoin mania has reached Indian shores. Cryptocurrency exchanges in the country are now seeing record-breaking trading volumes of Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that was created as a joke in 2013.
- Dogecoin’s price has risen over 10X in the past three months, and it had a market cap of almost $80 billion on Thursday.
CoinSwitch Kuber, backed by Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global, registered 200% growth in Dogecoin volumes month on month, with a jump of 1,300% for Dogecoin in the past two weeks alone.
On Wednesday, Binance-owned WazirX’s Doge/INR trading slowed its system as the platform saw record traffic that it did not have the capacity to support.
What’s driving this frenzy? Dogecoin’s prices is shooting up ahead of the much-anticipated appearance of Musk on Saturday Night Live, an American comedy sketch show, on May 8. Musk has hinted at discussing Dogecoin during his appearance on SNL, driving thousands to invest in the crypto asset.
A word of caution: “With no checks in place, the risks of some of the currencies like Dogecoin being a pump and dump scheme is quite high,” Nithin Kamath, chief executive, Zerodha.
Tweet of the day
Govt shuts down real-time data on CoWin to thwart techies
The government is shutting off access to real-time data on vaccine slots available on its CoWin platform. It did so after it found that some technology professionals had written code to exploit the portal’s transparency and give them the edge over others on booking vaccination slots.
The CoWin portal uses open application programming interfaces or APIs. An API is a piece of code that allows two programmes to talk to each other and share information. These were made public so that private hospitals could integrate them into their systems to facilitate faster vaccination.
Some programmers have even set up websites and Telegram channels to send alerts to people looking for vaccination slots, resulting in hundreds of slots being booked in minutes.
PUBG Mobile to return to India as BMI
South Korean video game maker Krafton is relaunching its popular gaming title PUBG Mobile in India under the brand name ‘Battlegrounds Mobile India.’
Backstory: The Indian government had banned PUBG last year along with over 260 Chinese apps such as TikTok, Shareit, Helo, and UC Browser after border skirmishes with China. Chinese internet giant Tencent was earlier the publishing partner of the original game in India.
What’s changed? Krafton said it will work with partners to “ensure data protection and security at each stage, with privacy and data security being a top priority. This will ensure privacy rights are respected, and all data collection and storage will be in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations in India and for players here.”
Why it matters: India is the biggest market for PUBG, accounting for more than 28.8% of the game’s 644 million downloads as of September last year, according to app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. Before the ban, the game had about 40-50 million monthly active users in India. It still had over 10 million users in the country as of last month, according to TechCrunch, with several gamers sidestepping the ban with VPNs and other workarounds.
SoftBank Vision Fund (SVF) is the largest shareholder in Grofers with about 50% stake.
Second wave hurts
Uber’s business in India has been adversely affected by the second Covid-19 wave and fresh lockdown-like curbs across the country, chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said during the ride-hailing giant’s first-quarter earnings call.
- This is in contrast to markets like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, where the company is witnessing a strong recovery in booking. US bookings have recovered to 62% of April 2019-levels, while overall bookings in the UK have rebounded to 80% due to high vaccination rates in these countries.
Riding on food delivery: Uber’s food delivery business Uber Eats more than doubled its bookings to $12.5 billion for the quarter, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the company’s overall bookings of $19.5 billion
India’s mobility sector recovered to around 69% of its pre-pandemic levels in March, according to market tracker RedSeer Consulting. But this is expected to see a sharp drop with major markets such as Maharashtra, Delhi and Karnataka under lockdown.
Cognizant makes 28,000 campus offers for 2021
IT services provider Cognizant said that it had made over 28,000 campus offers across the country to meet rising demand.
- “We have upped (campus hires) to 28,000 plus. That’s what we offered in 2021,” said Rajesh Nambiar, chairman and managing director, Cognizant India.
By the numbers:
- The company also raised its revenue growth forecast to 7-9% for FY2021.
- It foresees 10.5-11.5% growth in the second quarter.
- Its campus acceptance rate among India’s top engineering colleges has risen to about 81%.
- Cognizant, based in Teaneck, New Jersey, follows a January-December financial year.
Top Stories We Are Covering
‘Self-sufficiency in chips manufacturing is critical for India’: It is in India’s critical national interest to become self-sufficient in manufacturing semiconductor chips, a top IBM executive told ET. Semiconductors are at the heart of everything and are becoming an almost infrastructure-like necessity such as electricity, said Mukesh Khare, the vice president of hybrid cloud research at the Big Blue tech firm.
Developers on Play Store to share details of data collected: Google on Thursday said developers on Play Store will have to share details of the type of data collected and stored by their app and explain how the information is used, a move aimed at enabling users to get more control over their data.
Michael Dell says tech prevented a complete societal meltdown due to pandemic: Michael Dell, chief executive officer, Dell, said technology has played a major role in ‘preventing a complete societal and economic meltdown’ due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Wipro to reimburse cost of treatment beyond insurance coverage: Wipro has taken a slew of measures to protect and support employees and their family members during this “devastating” second wave of Covid and said it would reimburse employees and family members affected by it, if their treatment costs exceed the insurance coverage.
Global Picks We Are Reading
■ Facebook confronts human rights dilemma on political speech (Reuters)
■ Apple’s privacy changes could be great for Amazon’s ads business (CNBC)
■ The inside story of TikTok’s tumultuous rise—and how it defeated Trump (Forbes)