24 Mar 2020
Edtech firms reap dividend as schools, universities go online

Startup NEWS, Mar 24, 2020

1. Edtech firms reap dividend as schools, universities go online

  • Educational technology companies are taking online education to the next level, as schools, colleges and coaching centers close down following the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
  • Many students and professionals are signing up for online classes, for entrance exams like the JEE and NEET or for upskilling. Even school students are making the best of this social distancing phase.
  • As a result, a clutch of ed-tech players, such as UpGrad, Vedantu, CL Educate, Imarticus Learning, Simplilearn, and Toppr has seen a sharp rise in new users.
  • “Professionals are utilizing the time they have saved by working from home and upskilling themselves, especially in the case of IT professionals,” said Kashyap Dalal, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Simplilearn.
  • Online users who have enrolled with Simplilearn for courses on cybersecurity, Cloud, DevOps, AI, and data sciences have jumped 15% in March.
  • “It took a global pandemic to bring online education into the mainstream, which has otherwise played second fiddle to the offline model,” said Mayank Kumar, co-founder of UpGrad.
  • Inquiries at UpGrad have gone up by 50% in the last two weeks compared to the prior two weeks.

2. SoftBank to raise $41 billion to expand share buyback, cut debt

  • SoftBank Group said on Monday it is selling or monetizing up to 4.5 trillion yen ($41 billion) in assets to buy back 2 trillion yen of its shares and reduce debt, sending its stock soaring to its biggest daily gain in nearly 12 years.
  • The share buyback will be in addition to the up to 500 billion yen buyback announced earlier this month, in the Japanese tech conglomerate’s biggest ever repurchase.
  • The buyback tops the $20 billion in purchases sought by activist hedge fund Elliott Management, which has put pressure on SoftBank to improve shareholder returns and will see the company retire 45% of its shares.
  • The asset sales come during a growing financial squeeze on SoftBank and its $100 billion Vision Fund, which has recorded two consecutive quarters of losses as its tech bets fall short, with global economic growth sputtering due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • SoftBank’s share price extended early gains on Monday, closing up almost 19% following the announcement of the asset sales, which will be executed over the next four quarters. SoftBank did not specify what would be sold.

3. Reliance Industries offers hospital, Jio, fuel support to combat Covid-19

  • Reliance Industries has announced a detailed plan to support India’s fight against Covid-19, which includes medical help through its hospital, healthcare facilities using the Jio platform, and providing free fuel for all emergency service vehicles, the Mukesh Ambani-led company said on Monday.
  • RIL also announced initial support of Rs 5 crore to Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the government will allow India Inc to use funds from its mandatory corporate social responsibility program for spending on combating Covid-19.
  • “RIL has responded to its call-of-duty to be at the service of the nation 24×7 in our collective fight against Covid-19. RIL has already initiated multi-pronged prevention, mitigation, and ongoing support strategy that is comprehensive, sustainable, and resilient. This approach can be ramped up further to scale as required by the nation,” the company said in a press statement.
  • RIL said it has deployed the combined strengths of Reliance Foundation, Reliance Retail, Jio, Reliance Life Sciences, Reliance Industries, and all the 6,00,000 people that work for the group on this action plan against COVID-19.

4. SouSmile raises $10M to grow its anti-braces aligner brand

  • Amid expectations that early-stage funding and valuations will decline due to an economic downturn caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, young startups like the Brazilian dental company SouSmile, which raised in the time before COVID-19, are feeling grateful for the secured runway.
  • SouSmile is direct to consumer dental company based in São Paulo. SouSmile has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Global Founders Capital, Kaszek Ventures and Canary, bringing the company’s total funding to $11.4 million. The two-year-old startup sells an invisible aligner and whitening gels through five retail stores in shopping malls across São Paulo and Rio.
  • SouSmile is a new option for Brazilians hoping to get started on orthodontic work. The process consists of an evaluation by a licensed dentist that includes a panoramic X-ray, a 3D scan and a clinical exam. Then, the company approves customers for treatment. SouSmile’s follow-up process includes bimonthly appointments and costs approximately $1,000, which co-founder Michael Ruah says is 60% cheaper than comparable treatments, and can be paid in installments. Treatment is fast, taking between three to nine months.

5. Coronavirus outbreak: Uber, Ola suspend services in top Indian cities

  • Coronavirus outbreak: Uber, Ola suspend services in top Indian cities
    Ride-hailing platforms Uber and Ola temporarily suspended their services in India’s top cities including Delhi National Capital Region, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Hyderabad, complying with government directives in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19.
  • While Ola said it will “enable a minimal network of vehicles” to support essential services in cities, Uber said its services across India have been affected.
  • That comes a day after the central and state governments decided to lockdown 75 districts across the country where Covid-19 cases have been reported.
  • Uber has also shut down services in cities such as Visakhapatnam, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Ranchi, Pune, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Ajmer, Jaipur, Agra, Lucknow, Durgapur, Siliguri, among others. “This means that, while we will continue to offer services to meet the essential and urgent travel needs of many communities we serve, some or all of Uber’s rides services will not be available till further notice (in some cities),” Uber said in a blog post.
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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