VCC Startups weekly wrap: Alibaba eyes stake in BigBasket; Industrybuying fires staff
Photo Credit: Reuters

The week gone by was eventful and saw a variety of deals—from big investments and top executive movements to online sites getting wound up and employees at startups getting laid off—being reported. Besides, a slew of internet firms reported their quarterly results. Here is a look at the movers and shakers.

Alibaba seeks approval to buy stake in BigBasket

Chinese e-tailing giant Alibaba sought formal approval from the Competition Commission of India to acquire a stake in the country’s top online grocer BigBasket. VCCircle was the first publication to report on this development. Singapore E-Commerce Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, will infuse the funds into Supermarket Grocery Supplies Pvt. Ltd, a wholesale products supplier that owns the BigBasket brand (a separate firm, Innovative Retail Concepts Pvt. Ltd, runs the BigBasket property under licence from Supermarket Grocery).  Alibaba’s backing will not only help BigBasket consolidate its numero uno position, but also give it the much-needed firepower to fight Amazon.

Industrybuying going through tough times

Kalaari Capital and SAIF Partners-backed business-to-business online commerce portal Industrybuying is downsizing its business. While the exact quantum of firing could not be immediately ascertained, around 30-50% of its 500-strong workforce could face threat to their jobs, two persons privy to the development told VCCircle. Some senior executives in tech, business and sales are also likely to exit the firm amid this churn, the persons said. Anuj Tiwari, head of business, and Udit Srivastava, senior vice president – engineering, have quit the company, according to them.

Amazon’s logistics gets more pocket money from parent

Amazon Transportation Services Pvt. Ltd, the logistics arm of e-tailer Amazon India, received Rs 130 crore ($20 million) from its Seattle, US-based parent, filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) show.

The filings did not disclose the purpose of the fund infusion.

In July, Amazon had decided via a board resolution to inject Rs 400 crore ($62.75 million) into Amazon Transportation Services. It could not be immediately ascertained if this $20 million was part of the $62.75 million.

JustDial becomes the talk of the town, once again

Online local business search engine Just Dial Ltd posted a net profit of Rs 37.46 crore for the quarter ended 30 September, clocking 26% year-on-year growth over Rs 29.62 crore in the same period last year, according to stock-exchange filings.

Revenue came in at Rs 214.52 crore, up around 4% from Rs 206.33 crore in the year prior.

However, on a sequential basis, the company saw a marginal decline in both revenue and profit. During the quarter ended June, it had reported a revenue of Rs 216.65 crore and a net profit of Rs 38.16 crore.

There have been market rumours doing the rounds that internet search giant Google may invest in JustDial.

Shopclues narrows losses, gets backing from BCCL

Media conglomerate Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL) has struck a Rs 97.5-crore ($15 million) ad-for-equity deal with Gurgaon-based Clues Network Pvt. Ltd, which runs e-commerce firm ShopClues, filings with the Registrar of Companies show.

Just last week, VCCircle reported that Bangalore-based food-tech startup FreshMenu had found a new backer in BCCL, publisher of The Times of India and The Economic Times.

The filings also show that ShopClues narrowed its loss in the financial year 2016-17 to Rs 332.7 crore. This augurs well for the company, which has seen mounting losses over the years. From Rs 38 crore in FY2014-15, losses had widened to Rs 101 crore in FY2015-16, and to Rs 383 crore in FY2016-17, according to VCCEdge, the data research arm of News Corp VCCircle.

Qubole gets more ambitious

US- and Bengaluru-based big data-as-a-service startup Qubole has raised $25 million (Rs 163 crore) in a funding round led by Singtel Innov8 and Harmony Partners, the company said in a statement.

Existing investors Lightspeed Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) and Charles River Ventures also took part in the funding round.

The firm will use the funds to expand in India, Australia, Singapore and other countries.

Amazon shuts down Junglee

US-based online retailer Inc. has downed the shutters on, the website at the forefront of an initiative to conquer the promising Indian e-commerce market.

After multiple tests, trials and pivots, Amazon has finally integrated Junglee into through Local Finds, a platform which was launched in India earlier this year to allow customers to find and sell used and new goods.

“We built the peer-to-peer shopping and selling experience through Junglee and integrated it into through Local Finds to offer a seamless shopping experience on a unified platform,” Amazon said in an email response to a VCCircle query.

MobiKwik loses top executive

Akash Gupta, vice president and head of marketing at digital wallet firm MobiKwik, has resigned from the company to launch his own green-tech venture.

The startup, which will be based in Gurgaon, will roll out an app-based tech solution to help fight pollution, Gupta told VCCircle. “We have been working on a mass-adoption and affordable solution for the last three to four months,” he said.

A MobiKwik spokesperson confirmed Gupta’s resignation.

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