It has been a year of Indian corporates starting to place bets to win the market. There was Reliance Industries, which launched Jio with a Rs 1 lakh crore investment that captured hearts all over the country with its promise of free Internet. The Tata Group, with all the controversy surrounding it this year, launched e-commerce platform Cliq.
There were several noteworthy acquisitions too this year. Titan Industries (another Tata company) acquired CaratLane.com to further its online business. Then there was Wipro, which bought Appirio, a SaaS platform company, for an undisclosed sum. Between 2006 and 2016, Appirio had raised $111 million.
- HCL Technologies acquired Point to Point and Paytm acquired Shifu, a predictive analytics platform. TechMahindra acquired Bio Agency, which helps companies transform digitally.
"Digital transformation is the key theme for corporate and IT services companies going forward," says Ganesh Ayyar, CEO of Mphasis Ltd.
But startups also sprung up from the corporate world.
- There was NextAngles, an AI platform that could track money laundering through banks, which was supported by Mphasis Ltd. Sources estimate that this startup has raised more than $9 million from Mphasis. It is part of the Cartup (short for 'Corporate Up') programme launched by Mphasis last year.
From Robert Bosch Engineering India Ltd, which is known to make software for automotive applications across the world, we saw a startup called Bezirk, which is a cloud-based platform for targeted retail engagement."There are several startups that we are going to engage going forward. It is part of our larger learning process for our teams and also make the world collaborative," says Vijay Ratnaparkhe, MD of RBEI.
The year 2017 is going to be one when several more startups will either be acquired or come out in the open to challenge the status quo. Corporate have finally met their match. But it's the best time for them, because they have the cash to buy the best innovation and make it work for them.
Infosys, for example, has $4 billion in cash and cash equivalents. Perhaps the IT bellweather will now loosen its purse strings and make some major acquisitions of startups or at least seed a startup from their esteemed brain stables.