Also in this letter:
■ Ola chief to focus on future projects, CFO to drive daily ops
■ Zilingo suspends CEO Ankiti Bose, she calls it a ‘witch hunt’
■ CoinSwitch Kuber temporarily halts rupee deposits
After Zomato, Ola, Swiggy explore quick food delivery
The quick delivery space is seeing increased activity after Zomato announced it planned to pilot 10-minute food delivery last month.
What’s going on? Ola has begun offering select dishes in some parts of Bengaluru within 10 minutes through its quick commerce arm Ola Dash. Items on the menu include khichdi, pizza and rolls, which Ola described as “freshly prepared”.
Swiggy is also exploring faster food delivery, though it isn’t clear if it is targeting 10 minutes.
One ring to rule them all: Ola will use the facilities of food robotics startup Mukunda Foods, which recently picked up $5 million from Zomato for a 16.66% stake.
It will also play a key role in the pilot of Zomato Instant, the company’s 10-minute delivery service.
Swiggy has also held talks with Mukunda Foods to use its smart robotic equipment to automate food preparation in its cloud kitchens for some of its private labels, its CEO Eshwar Vikas said.
The company makes machines that it claims can reduce cooking time by 20-50% for Chinese and Indian dishes.
Criticism: When Zomato said last month it would pilot 10-minute food delivery at four locations in Gurugram from April, many criticised the company, saying the move would put undue pressure on delivery partners and force them to drive dangerously. But CEO Deepinder Goyal denied this was the case, saying Zomato would use algorithms that predict demand levels, and robotics to deliver food in 10 minutes.
Ola chief Bhavish Aggarwal to focus on future projects, CFO to drive daily ops
On March 29, Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal sent out an email to employees, saying he would be stepping away from day-to-day operations at many of the mobility firm’s core businesses.
Aggarwal’s note, which we have reviewed, came two days after an Ola S1 Pro electric scooter caught fire in Pune.
What’s the plan? Aggarwal plans to use his time to focus on engineering, product and team building at Ola’s nascent businesses such as electric vehicles (EV) and quick commerce.
He said that Arun GR, Ola’s group chief financial officer, would drive the day-to-day operations across the group. Arun is also CFO at Ola Electric and heads Ola Financial Services, the company’s fintech arm, on an interim basis.
Rough road ahead: The rejig comes as Ola faces several challenges. One of its newly launched S1 Pro electric scooters caught fire in Pune on March 27, and many customers have had complaints about the new scooters.
Ola Electric is investigating the issue and is yet to find the root cause of the problem.
EVs under the scanner: The government has ordered a probe into EVs following a spate of fires over the past few weeks. On April 9, around 40 Jeetendra EV scooters went up in flames in Nashik after being loaded onto a transport container. Other companies whose scooters have spontaneously caught fire include Okinawa and Pure EV.
Zilingo suspends CEO Ankiti Bose, she calls it a ‘witch hunt’
Singaporean business-to-business (B2B) fashion ecommerce firm Zilingo has suspended its Indian founder and chief executive Ankiti Bose after alleged discrepancies in the company’s accounting which were discovered during a due diligence process for a new funding round at the firm, people briefed on the matter said.
Sources said Bose has disputed these allegations and contested her suspension, calling the company’s actions a ‘witch hunt’ that was triggered by harassment complaints she raised against an investor in the company.
The alleged accounting irregularities in the Sequoia Capital-backed company were found as it was in advanced talks to raise $150-200 million in a fresh round at a potential valuation of $1.2 billion, paving the way for it to become a unicorn.
“They (Zilingo) had the term sheet at $1.2 billion and during the due diligence auditors raised certain red flags. Bose is denying any such charge and has hired Abraham Vergis of Providence Law Asia to represent her,” one of the sources mentioned above said.
Before starting Zilingo, Bose worked at Sequoia Capital India.
CoinSwitch Kuber temporarily disables rupee deposits
Credit: CoinSwitch Kuber website
Crypto trading platform CoinSwitch Kuber temporarily suspended all rupee deposit services on its app on Tuesday, amid growing uncertainty around these digital assets in India.
The company’s mobile application has stopped INR deposits via Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and bank transfers (NEFT/RTGS/IMPS).
Crypto troubles: US-based Coinbase halted UPI payments in just three days after it launched its trading services in India last week. It came under the National Payments Corporation of India’s (NPCI) scanner after it said it will allow users to purchase cryptocurrencies using UPI.
Big slump: ETtech reported earlier today that trading volumes on crypto exchanges such as WazirX, ZebPay and Giottus hit six-month lows on April 10 due to the uncertainty surrounding crypto regulations and the new taxes on crypto assets.
ETtech Done Deals
■ Wipro has acquired Convergence Acceleration Solutions (CAS), a US-based consulting and programme management company. The deal is for acquiring 100% shares in the company for a cash consideration of $50 million and contingent consideration of $30 million to be payable over three years.
■ LimeChat, which offers an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot, has raised $4.2 million in a funding round led by Stellaris Venture Partners, with participation from Pi Ventures, Titan Capital, and marquee angel investors. The startup plans to use the funds to strengthen its product and expand its go-to-market operations.
■ Bengaluru-based fintech startup iTribe has raised $1 million in a funding round from investors such as Eximius Ventures, Kunal Shah (Cred), Incisive Ventures, and several angel investors. iTribe plans to use the funds to build new technology tools that make adoption by the frontline more accessible.
■ Deep tech software-as-a-service (SaaS) company Spyne has raised $7 million in a funding round led by US venture capital firm Accel, with participation from existing investors including Storm Ventures, Smile Group, Pentathlon Ventures and Core91. It plans to use the funds to acquire more talent, for global expansion including in the US, and to set up a computer vision lab for deeper research and development (R&D).
Today’s ETtech Top 5 newsletter was curated by Arun Padmanabhan in New Delhi and Zaheer Merchant in Mumbai. Graphics and illustrations by Rahul Awasthi.