20 Mar 2020
WhatsApp for virus info blitz

Startup NEWS, Mar 20, 2020

1. TikTok donates $3 million to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s charity feeding kids affected by school closures

  • The social media giant TikTok said that it would donate $3 million to After–School All-Stars, a charity founded by actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, to feed families whose food security was affected by the close of public schools in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • TikTok said in a statement Thursday that families in 60 cities with After-School All-Stars chapters would receive food vouchers and gift cards that can be spent on food and other essentials through local grocery stores.
  • “We are all operating in uncertain times, and it’s more important now than ever before for both our local and global communities to come together to help those in need,” said Vanessa Pappas, General Manager of TikTok U.S., in a statement.

2. Zomato forays into grocery delivery, in talks to partner with Grofers & BigBasket

  • Food-delivery and restaurant discovery app Zomato is jumping on to the grocery bandwagon as the category sees a major uptick amid the Covid-19 outbreak. ET has learnt that Zomato is in talks to partner with e-grocers, Grofers and BigBasket, to sell food products and essentials on its platform by facilitating their deliveries.
  • This is a major step towards diversification and a move to keep demand high at a time when most businesses are registering a slowdown.
  • Online food ordering has taken a hit in the past week with order numbers falling by as much as 20%.
  • Zomato Market, as it is being tentatively called, is expected to go live by next week, said a person familiar with the matter.
  • “The delivery fleet needs to be better optimised at this time of uncertainty. Considering grocery is in high demand, this makes sense for all players involved,” a person in the know who did not want to be named, said.

3. Govt talks to Facebook, Google, WhatsApp for virus info blitz

  • The government has roped in technology company Google and instant messaging platform WhatsApp, and is in talks with Facebook to run massive information outreach campaigns to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, three government officials told ET.
  • The US-based search giant will send close to 300 million notifications a day to users containing information on the pandemic, a senior official said. The government has also launched a Chatbot on Corona on Whatsapp called MyGov Corona Helpdesk. Saying Hi on WhatsApp to 9013151515 will get automated response on queries related to Corona, a government official told ET.
  • Google has also customised its India search page with the campaign “DO THE FIVE. Help stop coronavirus” that also contains a link to the Ministry of Health page giving important information on the pandemic, along with real-time data on the number of positive cases, their location and reported deaths.
  • “The government is exploring all possible technology solutions to deal with the contemporary challenge of Covid-19,” said another government official, adding that the Big Tech companies had approached the government with some suggestions on how to create awareness.

4. Sequoia seeks to raise $7 billion for new funds as markets reel

  • Sequoia Capital is seeking to raise about $7 billion for a set of venture funds, according to a person familiar with the situation. The investment vehicles are the latest in a series focused on China, India and the U.S.
  • The effort marks a major fundraising push at a time when many investors are taking a cautious stance. The coronavirus pandemic has sent stock markets tumbling and has economists warning of a global recession. Sequoia, a firm with a nearly 50-year track record whose funds are typically oversubscribed, is better suited than many rivals to raise capital in this environment. A spokeswoman for Sequoia said she couldn’t comment on the fundraising plans, which were earlier reported by the Wall Street Journal.
  • The firm made headlines with its memo earlier this month that coronavirus represents a “black swan” event, meaning an unexpected disruption with widespread financial impact. “We sent that memo because we wanted to signal to our founders they should take this seriously,” said Sequoia partner Alfred Lin in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “We need to focus on survival. For many of our founders, that means focusing on their cash flow and understanding how much cash they have to get to the other side.”

5. An HCL Tech employee in Noida confirms positive for Covid-19

  • An HCL Technologies’ employee has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus at its headquarters in Noida, the company said in a statement.
  • “Unfortunately, one employee from our Noida office has been tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus while he was in self-isolation after his return from international travel and hence our office is following all government and health advisory protocols. All prescribed protocols of sanitization and contact tracing have been done. The employee is currently in an isolation ward and all measures are being taken to provide the best medical care to him and support to his family,” an HCL Technologies spokesperson said in the statement.
  • The spokesperson added that all other employees were in good health and are being monitored continuously. “We have invoked our COVID-19 Contingency Plan in all geographies which aims at maximizing Work from Home to aid social distancing and also issued a Travel Advisory across the company, taking full precautionary measures and suspending all non-essential travel until further notice.”
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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