Here’s a wrap of the top startup stories today (March 3).
Social media cos want more time to comply with new intermediary rules
Days after the Narendra Modi government notified IT rules for social media intermediaries and digital media platforms, global players such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as domestic platforms such as ShareChat came together to discuss the implications of the new rules on Tuesday, and an extension to comply with the rules was among the issues discussed. The meeting was held by industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), which is looking to collate comments and concerns from the industry and is expected to put this forth to the government in the coming days, sources told CNBC-TV18.
While social media platforms with more than 50 lakh users have three months to comply with the new norms, sources said companies are looking for more time, especially since they have to put in place a compliance officer, a nodal contact person for 24/7 coordination with law enforcement agencies, and a resident grievance officer. Industry members said the companies will also need more time to streamline grievance redressal mechanisms, as the new rules mandate a unique ticket number for every complaint received by an intermediary, among other processes.
Many players will also have to update their AI tools, as the rules require that social media intermediaries should endeavour to deploy automated tools to identify content depicting rape, child sexual abuse etc. The companies are also seeking clarifications on a host of issues in the new rules, especially around the liability on the compliance officer, issues around breaking end-trend encryption on social messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Signal, and the processes to provide users a mechanism for verification of their accounts.
The ePlane Company closes $1 million seed round led by Speciale Invest and Naval Ravikant
IIT Madras incubated start-up – The ePlane Company has raised $1 million in seed funding led by deep-tech venture capitalist Speciale Invest, Indian-American entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant with participation from Java Capital, FirstCheque.vc, and IIM Ahmedabad’s CIIE.CO. The firm is building VTOL electric planes which can be used for 10X faster door-to-door commute within cities at a similar price to road taxi. Their technology can also be used for moving cargo in remote and rural areas. The seed funding will help the company to build a world class engineering team to develop IP and show early product demonstrations by 2021. The company aims to globally launch the human-rated 200 kg taxi for deployment by 2024.
Falcon Labs raises undisclosed pre-series A round from LetsVenture
IoT and data management startup Faclon Labs has raised undisclosed Pre Series A from LetsVenture. The startup helps in making Infrastructure smart, responsive, and self-learning, will use the proceedings towards product development, team building and international customer acquisitions in Malaysia, UAE and Bahrain as well as set up an office in Dubai, a company statement said.
Inflexor Ventures partners with 100X.VC to fund startups
Venture capital firm Inflexor Ventures will partner with micro VC fund 100X.VC to mentor and financially support startups. Under the partnership, 100X.VC’s deeptech portfolio companies will receive mentorship and funding access from Inflexor’s network as per a joint statement. Inflexor Ventures recently announced a DeepTech Fellowship program for seed to series A funding to startups from their $100 million fund.
Guardians – A personal safety app, made by Truecaller
Caller ID and telephone search engine, Truecaller has launched a brand new app for personal safety: Guardians. Designed with personal safety and ease-of-use in mind the app was being built over the past 15 months by a dedicated team from Stockholm and India. After building an app that safeguards people in their digital lives, the Swedish company is now making a commitment to safety in the real world. Available as a free download from Google Play Store & Apple App Store, all features of Guardians are free to use and there are no ads or premium tiers.
Delivery startup Instacart valued at $39 billion in new funding round
Instacart has more than doubled its valuation in less than six months to $39 billion with a $265 million fundraising round from existing investors, as the grocery delivery company benefits from a surge in online orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. The San Francisco start-up, whose transaction volumes surged six fold last year as doorstep delivery boomed during lockdowns, said on Tuesday it plans to use part of the new funds to increase its corporate headcount by an estimated 50% in 2021, Reuters reported.
The company was valued at $17.8 billion in November following the closing of a previous funding round. That same month, Reuters reported Instacart had picked Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead its initial public offering at around a $30 billion valuation. Its latest cash injection comes just a few months after California backed a ballot proposal that upheld the status of app-based delivery drivers as independent contractors- a major boost for the likes of Instacart and Uber Technologies Inc, which rely on people to work independently and not as employees. The new funding round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, D1 Capital Partners, Fidelity Management & Research Co and T. Rowe Price Associates.