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NAMA Digest 1: Developments at Ola, IIT-Madras, Facebook, Google and more


The Bangalore Transport Department has issued notices to Ola and Uber for not disabling child-lock on their cabs, pointing out that only 20% of the city’s 100,000 cabs have disabled child-lock, according to the Economic Times. The transport department has disabled the feature in 22,000 cabs and penalized the owners. It has further formed 11 teams with 3 members each to check on cabs in different areas of the city.

Narayana Swamy, the additional commissioner of the Transport Department, told ET that these companies were operating 60,000 cabs, and that the cab platforms’ support was necessary to implement this and ensure the safety of women.


Ola has applied for an NBFC license and is looking to expand a short-term credit service (which is currently running in pilot for riders), launch a credit card (in partnership with a bank), sell insurance to drivers and riders, reports the Economic Times. Ola already offers trip-insurance to customers, and a pay-later option called Ola Credit. The new product will begin with a 15-day credit period, and could be extended to 30 days depending on customer behavior.

Sources told ET that Ola wants to expand its existing services like Ola Credit via an NBFC arm. Currently under Ola Credit, users can pay later for multiple cab rides in a single settlement.

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Fossil Group will sell the intellectual property of its smartwatch technology, which is under development, to Google for $40 million, reports the Economic Times. Expected to close this month, the deal also involves a part of Fossil’s R&D team moving to Google. Fossil recently launched ‘Sport’ which comes with the Wear OS, which is Google’s own OS designed for smartwatches and wearables.

Artificial Intelligence

IIT-Madras has launched a startup called ‘OneFourthLabs‘ to train students and professionals in AI, reports the Economic Times. The startup was founded by Mitesh M Khapra and Pratyush Kumar, both of who are assistant professors at the department of computer science and engineering at the institute. The startup has been incubated by the IIT Madras Incubation Cell.

IIT-Madras faculty also runs an online school called “PadhAI” which offers affordable courses on AI. For OneFourthLabs, top performers from PadhAI will be invited to a residency program at IIT-Madras. The startup will also create AI-driven apps with small and medium enterprises.


Facebook said it will create an institute for ethics in AI with a grant of $7.5 million, in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich, Germany, reports the Economic Times. The institute will conduct ethics research on new technology, and explore issues with the use and impact of AI, and address safety, privacy, fairness, and transparency.

Advertising / media

Google India was among the largest advertisers in the country in 2017-18, spending Rs 330 crore in 2017 on offline media like TV, print, radio, and outdoors, per the Economic Times. By November, Google had spent Rs 540 crore on the offline medium. According to ET sources, Google spent a total of Rs 1,100 crore on advertising via offline and online media, 50-55% of this is estimated to be digital spending. Out of the digital expenditure, 70% of the spends were on Google’s own platforms, and 30% on other publishers’.

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ROC filings show that Google’s ad and promotional spending was Rs 696 crore in FY18, which is a 45% YoY increase. The company’s ad spends are also focused on Google Maps, Google Duo, Google Pay, and hardware products like Google Pixel and Google Home, and promotion of G Cloud in print daily newspapers.


Maruti Suzuki has launched Mobility and Automobile Innovation Lab to promote innovation in automobiles and mobility in India, in partnership with GHV Accelerator, which is an Indo-Japanese early-stage fund, reports the Economic Times. Without specifying details, Maruti said that it would identify startups which are “futuristic and customer-oriented,” provide a platform, and back selected startups.


Infibeam Avenues is selling its subsidiary Infinium India to Ingenius E-commerce for Rs 60 crore, reports the Economic Times. Ingenius E-commerce runs a B2B aggregator platform called Tradohub for industrial goods. Per Inc42, Infinium claims to provide customized turnkey systems, solutions and services in broadband satellite communications, very small aperture terminals (VSATs) for voice, video, data, and broadcast services working in fixed, transportable, mobile and rural environments. Ingenius E-commerce was founded by Akash Domadiya and Harsh Patel in 2014.

Edit: The headline has been updated with the numerical 1 to it. 

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