A quick roundup of the developments in the Indian and international digital, tech and business ecosystem today. 

Funding and moves

  • Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal has invested Rs 650 crore in Ola Cabs a Series J round, according to a company statement.
  • Singapore-based mobile advertising platform Novosol has raised $7 million in funding to expand to more geographies, according to a company statement.
  • Logistics service XpressBees has raised Rs 35 crore debt funding from InnoVen Capital, per a company statement.
  • Paytm Money has appointed Suresh Vasudevan as chief technology officer, reports TechCircle.

Industry developments

  • Oyo has launched operations in its ninth market – the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with 50 leased and franchise properties, per a company statement.
  • Zomato Gold has launched Gold Powerpacks at two levels – starter and medium. The feature will unlock extra benefits for existing Zomato Gold users. Zomato Gold claims to have 800,000 memberships across 11 cities in India.
  • SoundCloud has launched a new distribution feature in open beta to enable artists to distribute their music to other streaming services such as Amazon Music, Apple Music, Instagram, Spotify, Tencent, YouTube Music, and others.
  • InMobi’s study ‘The Changing Face of the Indian Mobile User’ finds that the under-25 population in India has grown to 54% in 2018 (from 40% in 2013).
    • Mobile penetration has increased, rural and semi-urban users now make 40-50% of the user base.
    • Smartphone penetration grew to 23.8% by the end of 2018, compared to 6.3% in 2013
    • 9 out of every 10 users will “prefer vernacular” internet access over the next five years
  • TrueCaller has reached 100 million daily active users in India, with every tenth active user’s bank account linked to TrueCaller Pay. 60% of new users are using UPI for the first time. Globally, TrueCaller has 130 million DAUs and 500,000 Premium subscribers.
  • ZEE5 has signed a content partnership with Sri Lanka telecom company Dialog Axiata to provide Dialog ViU users access to its content library, per a company statement.
  • Facebook has expanded its deal with the NBA to broadcast highlights from all NBA games, including WNBA, G League, and NBA 2K League, together with Turner Sports.

Policy developments

  • Minister for Electronics and IT RS Prasad has said Indian should become a data analytics hub given that Indians are producing a huge amount of data, per the Economic Times.
  • A group of small sellers on Amazon and Flipkart have written to the DPIIT seeking restrictions on e-commerce companies that would disallow them from changing norms, terms of business, and suspending accounts, reports the Economic Times. The All India Online Vendors Association said that the DPIIT must urgently implement these rules “to ease our business.”
  • The National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) will make a representation to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry pertaining to the implications of FDI in e-commerce policy on the food industry and on online food delivery aggregators.
  • The Union government has announced a new electronics policy to promote domestic manufacturing and export, with focus on incentives for high-tech products such as semi-conductors, reports the Economic Times. The policy aims to make India a hub for electronic manufacturing, with focus on fabless chip design, medical, automotive, power electronics and strategic electronics industry, among other things.
  • Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu has widened the definition of startups, resulting in relief from the ‘Angel Tax’, reports the Economic Times. Now, an entity will be considered a startup upto 10 years from incorporation/registration date, and with a turnover of under Rs 100 crore.

Policy in platforms

  • Twitter retains direct messages for years even after the senders and receivers have deleted them, reports TechCrunch. It also retains data sent to and from accounts that have been deactivated and suspended.
  • YouTube has overhauled its “three strikes” policy applicable to content flagged for violating its Community Guidelines. Starting February 25, creators will get a one-time warning, then the first strike which would put a week-long freeze from uploading new content or from live streaming.
  • Walt Disney and Nestle have both pulled advertising from YouTube after a blogger detailed how YouTube comments were being used to promote a “soft-core pedophilia ring”, reports Bloomberg. Some of those videos ran next ads placed by Nestle and Disney. Video game maker Epic Games and packaged food giant Dr August Oetker KG also said they had stalled YouTube spending.