Category: india

June 8, 2019 Off

India’s largest video streaming service, owned by Disney, breaks Safari compatibility to fix security flaw

By Jill T Frey

Hotstar, India’s largest video streaming service with more than 300 million users, disabled support for Apple’s Safari web browser on Friday to mitigate a security flaw that allowed unauthorized usage of its platform, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The incident comes at a time when the streaming service — operated by Star India, part of 20th Century Fox that Disney acquired — enjoys peak attention as millions of people watch the ongoing ICC World Cup cricket tournament on its platform.

As users began to complain about not being able to use Hotstar on Safari, the company’s official support account asserted that “technical limitations” on Apple’s part were the bottleneck. “These limitations have been from Safari; there is very little we can do on this,” the account tweeted Friday evening.

Sources at Hotstar told TechCrunch that this was not an accurate description of the event. Instead, company’s engineers … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Fintech platform Synapse raises $33M to build ‘the AWS of banking’

By Jill T Frey

Synapse, a San Francisco-based startup that operates a platform enabling banks and fintech companies to easily develop financial services, has closed a $33 million Series B to develop new products and go after international expansion.

The investment was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing backers Trinity Ventures and Core Innovation Capital . Synapse — which recently rebranded (slightly) from “SynapseFi” — announced a $17 million Series A back in September 2018, so this deal takes it to $50 million raised to date.

The startup was founded in 2014 by Bryan Keltner and India-born CEO Sankaet Pathak, who came to the U.S. to study but grew frustrated at the difficulty of opening a bank account without U.S. social security history. Inspired by his struggles, Synapse, which operated under the radar prior to that Series A deal, is focused on democratizing financial services.

Its approach to doing that is … Read the rest

June 5, 2019 Off

The Stanford connections behind Latin America’s multibillion-dollar startup renaissance

By Jill T Frey

The houses along the tree-lined blocks of Josina Avenue in Palo Alto, with their big back yards, swimming pools and driveways are about as far removed from the snarls of traffic, sputtering diesel engines, and smoggy air of South America’s major metropolises as one can get.

But it was in one of those houses, about a twelve-minute bicycle ride from Stanford University, that the seed was planted for what has become a renaissance in technology entrepreneurship in Latin America.

Back in 2010, when Adeyemi Ajao, Carlo Dapuzzo, and Juan de Antonio were students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business they could not predict that they would be counted among the vanguard of investors and entrepreneurs transforming Latin America’s startup economy.

At the time, Ajao was negotiating the sale of his first business, the Spanish social networking company, Tuenti, to Telefonica (in what would be a $100 million exit). Carlo Dapuzzo … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Tinder adds sexual orientation and gender identity to its profiles

By Jill T Frey

Tinder is adding to its profiles information about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The company worked with the LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD on changes to its dating app to make it more inclusive.

Users who want to edit or add more information about their sexual orientation can now simply edit their profile. When a Tinder user taps on the “orientation” selection they can choose up to three terms that describe their sexual orientation. Those descriptions can either be private or public, but will likely be used to inform matches on the app.

Tinder also updated the onboarding experience for new users so they can include their sexual orientation as soon as they sign up for the dating app.

Tinder is also giving users more control over how they order matches. In the “Discovery Preferences” field Tinderers can choose to first see people of the same orientation.

The company said … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

With iOS 13, Apple delivers new features to court users in India

By Jill T Frey

Apple has finally listened to its small, but slowly growing user base in India. The iPhone-maker today announced a range of features in iOS 13 that are designed to appease users in the world’s second largest smartphone market.

First up, the company says its Siri voice assistant now offers all new and “more natural” Indian English male and female voices. It has also introduced a bilingual keyboard, featuring support for Hindi and English languages. The keyboard offers typing predictions in Devanagari Hindi that can suggest the next word as a user types and it learns from their typing over time.

Additionally, the keyboard in iOS 13 supports all of 22 Indian languages, with the inclusion of 15 new Indian language keyboards: Assamese, Bodo, Dogri, Kashmiri (Devanagari, Arabic), Konkani (Devanagari), Manipuri (Bangla, Meetei Mayek), Maithili, Nepali, Sanskrit, Santali (Devanagari, Ol Chiki), and Sindhi (Devanagari, Arabic).

The addition of these features comes … Read the rest

May 30, 2019 Off

Alibaba pumps $100 million into Vmate to grow its video app in India

By Jill T Frey

Chinese tech giant Alibaba is doubling down on India’s burgeoning video market, looking to fight back local rival ByteDance, Google and Disney to gain its foothold in the nation. The company said today that it is pumping $100 million into Vmate, a three-year-old social video app owned by subsidiary UC Web.

Vmate was launched as a video streaming and short-video-sharing app in 2016. But in the years since, it has added features such as video downloads and 3-dimensional face emojis to expand its use cases. It has amassed 30 million users globally, and will use the capital to scale its business in India, the company told TechCrunch. Alibaba Group did not respond to TechCrunch’s questions about its ownership of the app.

The move comes as Alibaba revives its attempts to take on the growing social video apps market, something on which it has missed out completely in China. Vmate could … Read the rest

May 28, 2019 Off

India’s Ather Energy raises $51 million to grow its electric scooters business

By Jill T Frey

There’s more money racing into India’s increasingly-competitive two-wheeler market after electric scooter maker Ather Energy said today it has raised $51 million in new funding.

The round was led by early backer Sachin Bansal, the co-founder of Flipkart, who invested $32 million. The rest of the money was provided by Hero MotoCorp, which added $19 million in convertible debt, and venture debt VC firm InnoVen Capital which put in $8 million. The deal means that the six-year-old startup has raised around $90 million to date.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Tarun Mehta, co-founder and CEO of Ather Energy, said the startup will use the fresh capital to expand to new cities, and ramp up its manufacturing capacity and supply chain network. Ather’s scooters, currently available only in Bengaluru, will be launched in Chennai followed by other unspecified cities, he said.

Ather Energy will also attempt to produce 20,000 to … Read the rest

May 27, 2019 Off

India’s FreshToHome raises $11 million to expand its fish, meat, and vegetable e-commerce platform

By Jill T Frey

Shan Kadavil, who spent early days of his career managing tech support firm Support and then heading India operations of gaming firm Zynga, says he had a calling of sorts when his son was born. Kadavil realized that much of the meat that sells in India is not exactly healthy. The perishables are loaded with chemicals to superficially extend their life by six months, if not more. He wanted to do something better.

Fast forward four years, Kadavil said today that FreshToHome, his new e-commerce startup that delivers “100 percent” pure and fresh fish, chicken, and other kinds of meat, has raised $11 million in Series A funding. The startup has raised $13 million to date.

The round was led by CE Ventures, with participation from Das Capital, Kortschak Investments, TTCER Partners, Al-Nasser Holdings, M&S Partners and other Asia and Valley based Investors. Some of the backers of FreshToHome … Read the rest

May 27, 2019 Off

TikTok parent Bytedance is reportedly working on its own smartphone

By Jill T Frey

It’s been a busy couple of months for Bytedance, one of the world’s most valuable startups and the operator of globally popular video app TikTok. The Beijing-based company has continued to grow its list of apps to include the likes of work collaboration tool Lark, an instant messenger called Feiliao as well as a music streaming app, and now it appears to be taking a bold step into the hardware realm.

Bytedance is planning to develop its own smartphone, the Financial Times reported (paywalled) citing two sources. A spokesperson from Bytedance declined to comment on the matter, but the rumor is hardly a surprise as smartphone pre-installs have long been a popular way for Chinese internet companies to ramp up user sizes.

There’s also urgency from Bytedance to carve out more user acquisition channels. After a few years of frantic growth, Bytedance failed to hit its revenue target for Read the rest

May 23, 2019 Off

Indian PM Narendra Modi’s reelection spells more frustration for US tech giants

By Jill T Frey

Amazon and Walmart’s problems in India look set to continue after Narendra Modi, the biggest force to embrace the country’s politics in decades, led his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to a historic landslide re-election on Thursday, reaffirming his popularity in the eyes of the world’s largest democracy.

The re-election, which gives Modi’s government another five years in power, will in many ways chart the path of India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem, as well as the local play of Silicon Valley companies that have grown increasingly wary of recent policy changes.

At stake is also the future of India’s internet, the second largest in the world. With more than 550 million internet users, the nation has emerged as one of the last great growth markets for Silicon Valley companies. Google, Facebook, and Amazon count India as one of their largest and fastest growing markets. And until late 2016, they enjoyed great … Read the rest