Covid lockdowns in Maharashtra, Delhi and other places have come with confusing and contradictory rules for e-commerce companies. Karnataka on the other hand is keeping it simple by allowing “all e-commerce and home deliveries” during its 14-day lockdown.
Also in this letter:
- CP Gurnani interview
- Pi Ventures gets Sebi nod to launch its 2nd fund
- Big Tech comes to India’s aid
E-comm firms catch a break in Karnataka
Karnataka will go into lockdown for two weeks from tonight, but the state government has said that e-commerce deliveries of all kinds will be allowed to continue as usual.
Zoom out: This is in stark contrast to places such as Maharashtra and Delhi, where governments have only allowed e-commerce deliveries of “essential” goods. However, each government has its own definition of “essential”, which has caused a logistical nightmare for e-commerce firms.
Karnataka’s plan: Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa announced new restrictions after the Cabinet meeting on Monday. Everything barring essential services, manufacturing and construction would be shut until May 11, he said.
- The guidelines made no distinction between essential and non-essential products and said the delivery of “all goods through e-commerce and home delivery” would be allowed.
- Though shops selling groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat will be open for just four hours a day, from 6 am to 10 am, they will be allowed to deliver round the clock. The state government said it was encouraging 24×7 deliveries of essential items to “minimise the movement of individuals outside their homes”.
Reactions: “This is what we’ve been asking all along,” said a senior executive at a leading e-commerce marketplace.
Another executive said, “Despite the heavy caseload in Bengaluru, the Karnataka government has taken a view that the economy is important too. We will work with offline stores as well.”
Orders surge: Hari Menon, co-founder and CEO BigBasket, said that orders from the state surged soon after the new restrictions were announced on Monday.
Rival Grofers said it saw orders spike by 3X in Karnataka after the announcement.
Menon had told ET last Thursday that BigBasket orders have jumped 23-25% across India between March and April.
Confidence level of US, Europe high, says Tech Mahindra CEO
Tech Mahindra chief executive CP Gurnani told ET that the IT services provider is on a growth path as its core telecom customers, as well as enterprises, step up spending on digital technologies.
- “Running an IT business is like playing Snakes and Ladders. Three weeks ago, who would have thought (the second wave) would practically close down most of India. It is always a concern. The best part is the confidence level of the US, and many parts of Europe is much higher than it used to be. Frankly, even in the India situation, the way various foreign governments, embassies are working to get the requisite medical supplies and equipment into the country, I think in a few weeks you will start seeing the stress levels going down dramatically.” – CP Gurnani
Tech Mahindra has forecast double-digit growth for the current fiscal, in line with bigger peers Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and HCL Technologies, as more businesses go digital.
Meanwhile, the company has also announced the acquisition of US-based consulting and technology service company Eventus Solutions for up to $44 million. The acquisition is expected to boost its capabilities in customer experience and customer management.
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Pi Ventures gets Sebi nod to launch its second fund
Pi Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund that backs artificial intelligence and deep tech startups, has got approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to launch its second fund with a target corpus of Rs 565 crore.
- The fund will be two to three times larger than its first, which closed in 2017-18 and had a corpus of Rs 225 crore.
Targets 25 startups: The firm said it will continue to back companies in the early stage (seed, pre-Series A and Series A) and shift its focus beyond digital deep tech startups to space technologies, material sciences, biotech and life sciences. It plans to back 25 startups through the fund.
Meanwhile, educational technology startup Lead School, which helps private schools digitise their curricula, has raised $30 million in Series D funding, led by Silicon Valley-based GSV Ventures. Existing investor WestBridge Capital also participated in the round contributing almost half the fresh capital.
Big Tech comes to India’s aid in Covid fight
Tech giants are pitching in to help India tide over the Covid-19 crisis.
Google said it would contribute Rs 135 crore. This includes two grants totalling Rs 20 crore from its philanthropic arm Google.org for:
- Online donation platform Give India, to provide cash assistance to crisis-hit families to help them with their daily expenses.
- UNICEF, to help get urgent medical supplies, including oxygen and testing equipment, to places where it is most needed.
Google has also provided an additional Rs 112 crore in Ad Grants to local health authorities and nonprofits for public health information campaigns in multiple Indian languages.
Microsoft said it will continue to “use its voice, resources, and technology to aid relief efforts”. It also committed to support the purchase of critical oxygen concentration devices.
Amazon joined hands with ACT Grants, Temasek Foundation, and Pune Platform for Covid-19 Response (PPCR) among several industry partners to airlift over 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines from Singapore. It said the equipment will be donated to hospitals and public institutions in various cities.
WhatsApp group admins not liable for objectionable posts by others
A WhatsApp group administrator cannot be held criminally liable for an objectionable post by another member of the group, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court said while quashing a case of sexual harassment lodged against a 33-year-old man.
The details: The bench noted that a WhatsApp group admin has only limited powers of adding or removing members from the group and does not have the power to regulate or censor the content posted in it.” Once the group is created, the functioning of the administrator and that of the members is at par with each other, except the power of adding or deleting members to the group,” it said.
Blackstone leads $2.8-billion bet on Mphasis
Blackstone Group Inc. has offered $1.1 billion to buy an additional 26% stake in Mphasis, an IT outsourcing services provider it had bought from Hewlett Packard in September 2016.
- The world’s largest PE fund said it is making a $2.8 billion commitment to buy up to 75% of the company. Blackstone will be joined by a consortium of its limited partners, sovereign funds and marquee US endowments such as Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, GIC of Singapore and UC Investments as co-investors, the fund said in a stock exchange filing.
U-turn: The development comes after Blackstone’s attempts to sell the company to other PE investors such as Carlyle hit a wall.
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