14 Feb 2020

Startup NEWS, Feb 14, 2020

1. Tesla plans to raise $2B in the stock offering

  • Tesla Inc made an about-turn on Thursday by announcing plans to raise $2 billion in a stock offering as the electric-car maker taps into an astronomical jump in its share price in the past few months.
  • Chief executive Elon Musk has repeatedly assured investors that the company will not need to raise more money.
  • As recently as last month, Musk said: “It doesn’t make sense to raise money. Diluting the company to pay down debt doesn’t sound like a wise move.” The company said it would offer 2.65 million shares, of which Musk himself will buy up to $10 million in shares. Board member and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison will purchase $1 million Tesla shares.
  • Tesla’s shares fell as much as 7% in premarket trading after having tripled since October when the company posted a rare quarterly profit. Its market capitalisation is now worth more than the combined value of General Motors and Ford Motor.
  • “Despite Musk’s bravado about Tesla’s finances, the company needs billions of dollars to finance growth,” said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “He is smart to grab cash by selling stock at a skyhigh price he might not see six months from now.”

2. Simsim gets $8m in Series-B funding round

  • SZS Tech, which owns and operates vernacular social commerce and discovery platform Simsim, has raised over $8 million (about Rs 57 crore) in its Series-B round of funding, the latest equity financing mopped up by the startup in the past six months. The latest funding round has been led by Simsim’s existing set of investors, China’s Shunwei Capital and marquee venture capital firm Accel Partners.
  • The transaction is the latest in the broader, but still-nascent Indian social commerce sector. Venture capital investors are increasingly scouting for what has been described as the new wave of ecommerce targeted at the next 100 million internet users. Focused on the non-English speaking population and relying on videos and platforms like WhatsApp, this breed of ecommerce startups is seen as being discovery-led, compared to search-led platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon.

2. Greenhouse agritech startup Clover raises $5.5 million

  • Greenhouse agritech platform Clover has raised $5.5 million from Omnivore, Accel, and Mayfield.
  • Clover partners with farmers across India and markets premium quality, branded, greenhouse-grown fresh produce through B2B and B2C channels.
  • It provides a full-stack agronomy solution to the greenhouse farmers in the network, improving yields and standardizing output quality.
  • Clover’s business model centers around demand-led cultivation, a managed farm network, and full stack agronomy. Demand-led cultivation means that Clover grows high quality, consistent, and traceable fresh produce for specific and predictable client demands. The managed farm network of greenhouses are based in peri-urban and rural areas surrounding urban consumption zones, thereby ensuring freshness and reducing spoilage.

4. Edtech startup Vedantu raises $24 million in funding led by GGV Capital

  • Edtech company Vedantu has raised $24 million in funding from investors led by GGV Capital, along with existing backers. The investment is an extension of its Series C round that saw Tiger Global leading a $42 million infusion into the Bengaluru-based firm in August last year.
  • Vedantu, which differentiates itself from other edtech platforms through its live online tutoring product, said it will utilise the capital for branding and expanding its presence to new categories such as early childhood learning and lower grades.
  • The company currently focuses on learners from grade 6-12, but it will now start reaching out to kindergarten to grade 5 learners as well. Since August 2019, it said, its base of users accessing free content has grown 10 million to 25 million users a month.
  • “We are going to come into new categories, especially in the lower grades, and you’ll see us investing heavily in this,” said Vedantu CEO Vamsi Krishna. “The expansion won’t be in a single shot, but one category at a time.”

5. Android co-founder Andy Rubin’s startup shuts down

  • Essential Products, a consumer electronics startup founded by the former Google executive Andy Rubin, said on Wednesday that it was ceasing operations. Once considered one of Silicon Valley’s most promising hardware technology startups, Essential had raised $330 million in outside funding because of the track record of Rubin, who is widely credited with creating Google’s Android smartphone software.
  • But Essential, which was once valued at $1 billion, has struggled. It released a premium smartphone in 2017 that did not sell well, and it later scrapped plans to develop a smart speaker. Essential was also dogged by news about Rubin and the circumstances of his departure from Google. The New York Times reported in 2018 that Google paid Rubin a $90 million exit package after claims of sexual misconduct with an employee were deemed credible. Rubin has denied the claims.
About Philomathes Jigyasu

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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