20 Apr 2020
Uber says Levandowski is on his own for $180 million to Google

Startup NEWS, April 20, 2020

1. Uber says Levandowski is on his own for $180 million to Google

  • Uber Technologies Inc. says a guilty plea by its former star engineer is proof that he’s a liar — and supports its decision to make Anthony Levandowski alone shoulder a $180 million legal award Google won against him.
  • The ride-hailing firm, which recruited Levandowski in 2016 from Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car program, ended up firing him after the companies became embroiled in one of Silicon Valley’s highest-profile trade-secrets disputes.
  • While Levandowski’s woes deepened this year — he agreed to plead guilty to trade-secret theft and was driven into bankruptcy when Google won a contract-breach arbitration case against him — he was counting on Uber’s promise when it first hired him to provide legal cover, known as indemnification, from his former employer.
  • Uber now says it has no obligation to reimburse Levandowski for the $180 million.
  • Levandowski “secretly committed a crime by stealing trade secrets with the intent to use them at Uber,” the company said in a court filing. “If Uber had known that, it never would’ve entered into any agreements with Levandowski.”

2. With $4 billion Chinese investment, desi startups wary of FDI-policy tweak

  • Startups are wary of the government move to change the FDI policy in an attempt to restrict investment from China. The move could lead to a further slowdown of FDI investments in an already tough year coming through private equity and venture capital funds, especially in India’s startups, investors told TOI.
  • Chinese investments in India’s startup ecosystem were also reported to have risen to $3.9 billion in 2019, up from around $2 billion in the previous year. A majority of India’s most valued internet companies — Flipkart, Paytm, Ola, Byju’s, Zomato, Bigbasket, Dream11 — count either Alibaba Group or Tencent, two major Chinese internet conglomerates, as shareholders.
  • “The new FDI guidelines essentially imply Chinese capital would require prior government approval. In effect, given the uncertainty around approval, startups will shy away from Chinese capital. In the immediate future, this could impact PhonePe and potentially Paytm at a later date. ‘BharatPe’ thankfully has quality India, Singapore and US VCs. We don’t have a single Chinese investor,” said BharatPe CEO and co-founder Ashneer Grover.

3. Paytm sets aside Rs 250 cr in Esops, hires more people

  • Digital payments platform Paytm will offer Rs 250 crore in employee stock ownership plans (Esops) and hire more than 500 people across multiple roles. The financial services company said in a statement late on Friday that it will offer the Esops this year between its high performing employees and new hires.
  • “This will widen the base of employees having company shares and will enable more people to become a stakeholder in the firm’s growth story,” the company said.
  • Paytm also said it would hire over 500 people for multiple roles in addition to its ongoing hiring practices across the critical product and technology functions.
  • Paytm, which is believed to have an estimated 5,000 employees, is expected to hire personnel primarily for its financial services business, which includes insurance, lending and Paytm Money verticals.

4. Toch raises over $400,000 in pre-Series A bridge funding round

  • Vogueme Technologies, which owns and operates video meta-tagging platform Toch, has raised over $400,000 (about Rs 3 crore) in a bridge round of funding that was led by Inflection Point Ventures.
  • While the exact amount raised by the four-year-old startup was not disclosed, proceeds from the pre-Series A bridge round will be used by it to develop its technology infrastructure and further scale up its team, the Mumbai-based company said in an official statement.
  • “Toch tries to resolve the decade old problem of the media industry for inserting metadata in video, live sports and ad placement in real time. They are one of the best in the industry as far as latency for object identification, meta tagging, image tagging, live streaming and ecommerce are considered,” Rakesh Mistry, an investor at Inflection Point Ventures, said.
  • Gurugram-based Inflection Point Ventures is an investor collective that counts a number of top finance professionals working across various startups, as well as angel investors and high net-worth individuals, banding together, to make early-to-mid-stage investments in ventures, across sectors.

5. Walmart, Flipkart commit Rs 46 cr to support India’s Covid-19 fight

  • Walmart Inc, Walmart Foundation and Flipkart on Saturday said they are are supporting India’s Covid-19 response by donating personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and funds for organisations providing essential relief materials to farmers and small businesses.
  • Walmart Inc and e-commerce major Flipkart will spend Rs 38.3 crore towards in-kind donations into India to help with the front-line response efforts, a statement said.
  • “The companies will focus on providing PPE, such as N95 masks and medical gowns, for distribution by non-government organizations (NGOs) to public healthcare workers.
  • “Walmart and Flipkart have already secured 300,000 N95 masks and 1 million medical gowns, and they will continue to leverage their global supply chains to source these critical necessities for medical workers…,” it added.
  • In addition, Walmart Foundation is donating a total of Rs 7.7 crore to Goonj and Srijan — NGOs supporting vulnerable communities through the crisis.
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Philomathes (pronounced as fillo-MAY-thus) is a fictional character at VAYUZ (https://www.vayuz.com), who is on a never ending journey called “LEARNING”. In a way, Philomathes embodies VAYUZ - Way of life, which is if you are not learning then you are not breathing. The word Philomathes, comes from the Greek roots philo and philein meaning "to love" and the Greek roots mathos (MAH-thos) and mathesis (muh-THAYSIS) meaning “learning”. Philomathes through his Blogs and Vlogs (Video Blogs) will share his experience, learnings and thoughts. In his tryst to learn and understand, he would also seek answers to questions. So if you would like to join him in this incredible journey called “ life” then feel free to write to him on philomathes.jigyasu@vayuz.com. Always remember, knowledge is all around us, we just need to keep our guards down and senses on.

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