Google Home surpasses Amazon Echo; Acko raises funds; Grab announces launch of GrabFood
Google and Amazon have a new battleground – voice-enabled smart speakers. For the first time since smart speakers came about, Amazon has a challenger. Until last year, its Echo devices occupied nearly 80 percent of the market. Google started making headway earlier in 2018 as its Home and Mini speakers launched across more markets, including India. A new report by Canalys estimates that Google surpassed Amazon Echo shipments in the first quarter of 2018.
Acko announced a new round of investment of $12 million led by Amazon. Ashish Dhawan, Investor and Founder of private equity fund ChrysCapital, made an investment in this round, which also saw participation by existing investor Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures. The latest infusion takes Acko’s total equity funding to nearly $42 million.
Homegrown unicorn Hike Messenger is “streamlining” and downsizing its operations across Delhi and Bengaluru. It is laying off nearly 25 percent of its workforce, primarily from companies Creo and InstaLively which it had acquired last year. The employees are said to have been offered severance packages that include two-month salaries.
Facebook and its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as tech giant Google, are already feeling the heat of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The four firms are facing complaints filed by Austria-based privacy-advocacy group noyb.eu over alleged “forced consent” wordings in their updated privacy policies. If found guilty, the firms could face fines of up to €3.9 billion.
US President Donald Trump has hinted that his administration may work out a deal to help beleaguered Chinese telecom equipment company ZTE. In a tweet posted late on May 25, Trump said that “high-level security guarantees” and “change of management and board” would be part of the conditions ZTE would be expected to fulfil in exchange for having a seven-year ban lifted, despite fierce opposition to the deal from US Congress lawmakers.
Singapore-based ridesharing company Grab has announced the launch of its own food delivery service GrabFood. The service, which has launched first in Singapore, follows the model developed by UberEats, which Grab acquired in Southeast Asia as part of an acquisition of Uber’s business in the region in March this year. Grab has said it plans to expand the GrabFood offering to Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand in the coming weeks and months.