VCC Startups weekly wrap: Ola raises $1.1 bn; Flipkart puts money into PhonePe, eKart
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

Cab-hailing firm Ola finally announced its much-speculated mega fundraising round this week. But it also found itself on the defensive with cab operator Meru dragging Ola as well as its main rival Uber to the Competition Commission of India alleging market distortion. The battle between Snapdeal and GoJavas escalated too, with the logistics firm sending a legal notice to the e-commerce firm and its founders alleging data theft and siphoning off money. Meanwhile, Flipkart allocated around $500 million each to payments arm PhonePe and logistics subsidiary eKart, and technology industry veteran Umang Bedi resigned from Facebook.

Ola raises $1.1 bn from Tencent, SoftBank and others

Homegrown cab aggregator Ola raised $1.1 billion (Rs 7,174 crore) from investors led by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd and is in advanced talks to raise another $1 billion, the company said , as it beefs up its war chest to take on main rival Uber.

Existing investor SoftBank Group Corp and a few new US-based financial investors also participated in this round, Ola said in a statement. It didn’t name the new investors.

The fresh funding marks the third billion-dollar round in an Indian consumer Internet unicorn this year; online retailer Flipkart had previously raised $3.8 billion and e-commerce and digital payments firm Paytm had mopped up $1.4 billion this year.

Flipkart pumps funds into PhonePe, eKart

Flush with funds, Flipkart is pumping in money into its payment and logistics subsidiaries PhonePe and eKart. Flipkart committed to infuse $500 million into PhonePe, which would use the funds to scale up its technology platform, besides expanding merchant network and user base as Flipkart wants to build it as a leading payment app. Earlier, eKart allocated $460.7 million for investments and acquisitions as first reported by VCCircle. Most of this amount is expected to come from the funds that Flipkart recently raised.

Umang Bedi resigns from Facebook

Umang Bedi, managing director for India and South Asia at Facebook, has resigned and will leave the company by the end of the year.

Bedi resigned a little over a year after joining Facebook in June 2016, succeeding Krithiga Reddy, who moved to the company’s headquarters in the US. Facebook has a strong focus on India, which, according to recent reports, now has the highest number of users at around 240 million. At Facebook, he led several initiatives, including many business-to-business partnerships.

Meru Cabs files fresh complaints against Ola, Uber with CCI

Meru Cabs has filed four new complaints with the antitrust watchdog Competition Commission of India, claiming that Uber and Ola are abusing their dominance in four cities by burning vast sums of investor funds to distort the market.

“Even before there is any merger or alliance between the two through global investors, there is already a unified monopoly,” Meru CEO Nilesh Sangoi said.

Though Meru had lost an earlier antitrust suit versus Ola, moves by SoftBank – already a major investor in Ola – to pour some $10 billion into Uber along with other investors could strengthen the local cab service’s new case, said a Reuters report.

Gojavas sends legal notice to Snapdeal, founders

E-commerce logistics firm GoJavas’ current promoter Anand Rai of Pigeon Express shot off a Rs 300 crore legal notice to Snapdeal and its founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, accusing them of criminal breach of trust, siphoning off money and theft of confidential data. Snapdeal has called GoJavas’ legal notice an attempt at extortion, and vowed “strict legal action”.

The development came over three months after Snapdeal filed a case against the former promoters of GoJavas—Praveen Sinha, Randhir Singh and Ashish Chaudhary and Abhijeet Singh—alleging cheating, forgery, conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of funds.

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