Startup news and updates: daily roundup (Feb 19, 2021)

YourStory presents this daily roundup of the latest startup news and updates from the Indian startup ecosystem and beyond. Here's the roundup for Friday, February 19, 2021.
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WhatsAppto offer more info on privacy policy update via banner

WhatsApp will display a banner on the app providing users with more information on privacy policy and terms of use updats that have drawn massive criticism over concerns on data sharing with parent Facebook. The contentious policy, whose rollout date was pushed to May 15 from February 8, however, remains unchanged.

Zoomhad 70x user growth in India amid pandemic: CEO Eric Yuan

The pandemic-induced lockdowns resulted in a 70-time increase in the user base for Zoom in the four months to April 2020, the video conference app's founder and Chief Executive Eric S Yuan said on Thursday. He said the app, which enjoyed a runaway jump in valuations after the pandemic, will continue to be relevant for its users as the world switches to a hybrid mode of working, which entails dividing time between home and offices.

Zoom Founder Eric Yuan

MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari inaugurates incense stick manufacturing unit in Assam

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday inaugurated a major bamboo agarbatti manufacturing unit in Assam. Set up at a cost of Rs 10 crore, the agarbatti stick (incense stick) unit will provide direct employment to 350 people while creating indirect employment for over 300 people.

RBI issues master direction to ensure security of digital payments

The Reserve Bank of India on Thursday came out with a Master Direction for banks and card-issuing entities laying down common minimum standards to ensure security of digital payments. The Master Direction lays down guidelines for internet banking, mobile payments, card payments, customer protection, and grievance redressal mechanism.

Small VCs making a beeline for startups: Report

Investments into the startup ecosystem by micro venture capital funds (investments under $ 30 million) have jumped manifold to $341 million in the past three years through 730 deals across 566 startups, says an industry report. In the past decade, micro VCs have emerged as promising players in the domestic startup investor landscape, providing much-needed risk capital, as well as hands-on mentorship, to their portfolio companies as they seek to achieve product-market fit and become ready to scale with stable business models.

Clubhousedownloads jump past 8M after Elon Musk's appearance on the invite-only audio app

Clubhouse, Silicon Valley's breakout social audio app, is going from strength to strength. The barely 10-month-old invite-based app has hit 8.1 million downloads — the last 4.6 million coming in just a little over two weeks from February 1 to February 16. The iOS-only platform's user growth skyrocketed following the appearance of Tesla and SpaceX Founder Elon Musk, according to app analytics firm App Annie. "It quickly garnered attention in the UK, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and Turkey," it stated.

Photo: AdWeek

Journey to Mars: NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully lands on the red planet to search for signs of ancient microbial life 

After a journey that lasted 203 days, NASA’s Mars rover, Perseverance, has successfully landed on the Martian grounds. Claimed to be one of the most advanced rovers, Perseverance’s key objective is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. Indian-origin scientist Dr. Swati Mohan, who was leading the development of attitude control and the landing system for the rover, confirmed Perseverance’s successful landing. “Touchdown confirmed! Perseverance is safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life,” she exclaimed.

The first image of Mars sent by NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover. [Image Credit: NASA Official Twitter]

Flipkartto scale operations for strengthening its position in the Indian ecommerce market

Walmart-owned Flipkart said it is working on scaling its loyalty programme, grocery and fashion business while continuing to invest in technology and infrastructure this year as it looks to strengthen its position in the burgeoning Indian ecommerce market. The company, which has seen a massive acceleration in its business amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, said it has been focussing on ensuring the safety of employees and partners during 2020.

Toonz launches OTT animation platform for kids

Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram-based Toonz Media Group, an entertainment company specialising in animation content production, has launched an over-the-top (OTT) platform for children and family entertainment called MyToonz. The platform is considered to be a first-of-its-kind exclusive kids' OTT platform launched by an Indian entertainment company.

Meet Swati Mohan, the Indian-American scientist who helped NASA land Perseverance rover on Mars

As the world witnessed the historic landing of NASA's Perseverance rover on the Martian surface, it was Indian-American scientist, Swati Mohan, who led the guidance, navigation, and control operations of the Mars 2020 mission. Mohan also confirmed that the rover had survived a particularly tricky plunge through the Martian atmosphere.

COVID-19 pandemic will force 18M Indians to find a new job by 2030: Report

COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on labour markets, and as much as 18 million Indian workers will be forced to switch to a newer occupation by 2030 because of the pandemic, a report said on Friday. The impact will be "disproportionately" felt on low-wage workers in retail, food services, hospitality, and office administration, the report by McKinsey Global Institute, a think-tank, said.

EV usage should be made mandatory for all govt officials, says Union Minister Nitin Gadkari

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday made a case for making it mandatory to use electric vehicles for all officials in government ministries and department. He also suggested that the government should give subsidy to buy electric cooking appliances instead of giving support for buying cooking gas to households.

Government likely to appeal against $1.4-Bn Cairn tax award

The government is likely to file an appeal against the $1.4-billion international arbitration award won by Cairn Energy in a tax dispute, even as the issue did not figure during two days of talks the finance secretary held with company officials to look for a resolution, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The Square Yards team

Square Yardsacquires real estate data analytics startup PropsAMC

Property and home loan brokerage firm Square Yards on Friday said it has acquired PropsAMC, a data intelligence, asset management, and real estate services firm. However, Square Yards did not disclose the deal value. The entire team of PropsAMC, including its co-founders, have joined Square Yards but will operate with the same brand name, the company said in a statement.

Indian Bank signs MOU with IISc's SID for funding startups, MSMEs

Indian Bank has entered into an MOU with Society for Innovation and Development (SID), an initiative of the Indian Institute of Science, for extending exclusive credit facility to startups and MSMEs. The Bank will extend loans of up to Rs 50 crore to these startups for their working capital requirements or for the purchase of machinery, equipment, etc.

Flipkartand Tamil Nadu trade body tie up to promote local weavers and artisans

Flipkart has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tamil Nadu Micro, Small Medium Enterprises Trade and Investment Promotion Bureau to serve local artisans, weavers, and craftsmen. The partnership, under the Flipkart 'Samarth' programme, would enable the artisans, weavers, craftsmen, and small industries to showcase their products.

Delhi-based Dineoutacquires event curator SteppinOut, expands into live experiences

Delhi-based Dineout is set to expand its portfolio of live events with the acquisition of event and experience curator, SteppinOut. The acquisition will enable Dineout to host multiple types of offline experiences, ranging from food festivals, night markets, live comedy events, movie nights, and more, it said in a statement. Dineout said it is going to offer offline events across 20 cities in India.

Coca Cola has launched an all-inclusive waste management infrastructure as part of its CSR.

Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages ramps up clean energy capacity

Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) said it has ramped up its renewable and clean energy capacity to meet 50 percent of its total energy requirements through these sources. With this, the company has been able to offset 46,500 tonnes of carbon emission per annum with solar and wind energy, and 30,000 tonnes of carbon emission per annum using biomass fuel in its boilers.

Indian Space Research Organisationon a mission to take startups in the space sector to a higher orbit

ISRO has embarked on a mission to take startups in the space sector to a higher orbit with a string of initiatives to help them realise their business potential. It is keen on formulating an exclusive space startup programme — "Space Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (SEED)," said ISRO Chairman K Sivan.

Edited by Anju Narayanan