Here Are The Top Headlines From The Startup Space Last Week

Let us take a look at key events that took place across the startup world

Let us take a look at key events that took place across the startup world last week.

boAt to file DRHP for its IPO by January-end

Imagine marketing, a company that which manufactures D2C brand boAt is likely to file DRHP for its IPO by January-end.

Sources have told CNBC-TV18 that Imagine marketing IPO will have fresh issue and OFS Rs 1,000 crore each.

It is looking to launch its IPO by April-May 2022 and is likely to raise around Rs 2,000 core via public listing.

HomeLane eyes Rs 1,500 Crore IPO by mid-2022: Report

Home interior startup HomeLane plans to raise up to Rs 1,500 crore through an initial public offering that should hit the market by mid-2022, sources told the Economic Times.

Bank of America, Axis Capital and ICICI Securities have been hired to run the IPO.

25-30 percent stake will be offered in the proposed IPO. It will be a combination of primary and secondary shares where some existing investors, including Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners, will make part exits, the report added.

Sugar Cosmetics’ parent company picks up majority stake in ENN Beauty

Homegrown beauty brand Sugar Cosmetics’ parent company Vellvette Lifestyle has acquired a majority stake in natural skin and hair care brand, ENN Beauty for an undisclosed sum.

ENN Beauty’s founder, Nandeeta Manchanda will work closely with Vineeta Singh and Kaushik Mukherjee, co-founders of Vellvette Lifestyle, to accelerate the brand’s online presence and enter the retail industry, the company said in a statement.

“Our target for ENN Beauty will be to help deploy our playbook of scaling SUGAR to grow ENN Beauty past the Rs.100 CR annualized sales mark even faster,” said Vineeta Singh, CEO & Co-founder of SUGAR Cosmetics.

This deal will enable ENN Beauty to leverage a digital audience of over 50+ million beauty enthusiasts while it ramps up its retail presence to 100+ outlets by the next financial year. The team will also look at re-strategizing on the brand product’s average selling point to make it more accessible and desirable to women from Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets as well.

Lotus Herbals picks up 25 percent stake in D2C clean beauty brand Conscious Chemist

Natural beauty care company Lotus Herbals has acquired 25 percent stake in D2C clean beauty brand Conscious Chemist.

Founded in 2020, Conscious Chemist offers skincare products that are free from harmful toxins, fragrances and toxic chemicals.

Lotus Herbals Joint Managing Director Nitin Passi said that the investment in Conscious Chemist aligns with the company’s strategy for accelerating growth in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) space focusing on clean beauty.

G.O.A.T Brand Labs forays into women’s fast fashion by acquiring The Label Life

Building on their portfolio of leading D2C brands across categories, G.O.A.T Brand Labs has now acquired 90 percent stake in The Label Life, a widely renowned, women’s fashion and lifestyle brand styled by Sussanne Khan, Malaika Arora and Bipasha Basu.

“We will scale the brand exponentially by expanding globally and launching new product categories. The aim is to make it one of the first D2C brands to hit the 500 Cr revenue mark by 2025!” says Rishi Vasudev, Co-founder, G.O.A.T Brand Labs.

The brand currently sells across categories like apparel, accessories, footwear and home. The plans are to further build these categories and expand to categories like jewellery, beauty and personal care and lounge wear, among others to offer a complete range of lifestyle products.

Evenflow Brands acquires four consumer brands in India

Roll-up e-commerce firm Evenflow Brands has acquired four consumer brands in India to expand reach, portfolio and demand.

The acquisition includes two sports and fitness brands Vifitkit and Yogarise, Frenchware, a kitchen label, and Cingaro, a gardening brand, all with an annual run rate between $500k- $2 million.

The founders of Frenchware and Cinagro will also join Evenflow as consultants, said the company in a statement.

Nazara acquires majority in ad-tech company Datawrkz

Diversified gaming and sports media platform Nazara Technologies has entered into an agreement to acquire a 55 percent stake in programmatic advertising and monetization company Datawrkz, valuing the company up to Rs 225 crore.

The company said the deal is being done through two tranches. In the first tranche, it will acquire a 33 percent stake for Rs 60 crore, of which Rs 35 crore is partly payable in cash and the remaining Rs 25 crore will be paid either through cash or share swap.

It reserves an option to acquire an additional 22 percent in the second tranche that is expected to close in Q4 FY23, the firm said.

CRED expands its ESOP pool size to $500M: Report

Credit card payment app CRED has increased its employee stock ownership plan or ESOP pool size to $500 million, joining the likes of several growth-stage startups which have increased their ESOP size in the past 12 months, as per an Entrackr report.

CRED has passed a special resolution to increase its ESOP pool by 112,504 stock options to 392,958 stock options in total. The new ESOP pool has been increased from 10 percent to 12.5 percent of its paid up capital, the report added.

The development comes soon after the company’s announcement which said that its cumulative ESOP buyback for 2021 will be up to Rs 100 crore or $13.3 million. CRED also said that its total ESOP buyback in 2021 was worth approximately Rs 145 crore or $19.3 million.

50 percent of UC’s partners earned Rs 30,455 per month, says the company

Home service provider Urban Company has released its Earnings Index, capturing data for Q3 FY22.

UC’s average payout to partners increased to Rs 297 per hour from Rs 287 per hour in Q2 FY22. This is net of all commissions, fees, product and travel cost that a partner would have incurred in order to provide a service, the company said in a blog post.

The top 20 percent of Urban Company professionals across on-demand beauty and home services earned at least Rs 38,263 per month as the average payout increased 11 percent in the December quarter, the company claimed in its latest report.

Around 50 percent of service professionals associated with Urban Company who completed more than 30 orders in a month or worked for more than 100 hours per month, earned Rs 30,455 per month, it added.

Hourly earnings for female partners listed on the platform stood at Rs 312 per hour, which is about 5 percent higher than the platform’s average.

Porter announces first-ever ESOP liquidation worth $5M

On-demand intra-city logistics company Porter has announced an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) monetisation programme worth $5 million for eligible current and former employees.

In order to ensure the equitable distribution of benefits, the number of options will be prorated so that every employee benefits from the scheme, and all of them can liquidate their vested units up to a total of $5 million, the company said in a statement.

All the employees who have vested options as of December 31, 2021 will be eligible to participate in this program and sell a portion of their vested shares immediately, the firm added.

Antler India announces inaugural fellowship cohort

Global early-stage venture capital firm, Antler, has announced 19 student entrepreneurs as a part of its inaugural Antler India Fellowship cohort.

The chosen students are working on eight startups including Blood51, Desklamp, Liquibrium NFTPhysicals, Qube, Tezz, TickEth, spanning across sectors such as web3, clean-tech, med-tech, agritech, SaaS and creator economy, the company said in a statement.

The fellowship cohort offers an equity-free grant of $20,000 and mentorship to the students to help them turn their startup ideas into businesses, Antler said. The fellowship cohort is a 16-week programme, which provides a platform for experimentation, building and scaling, with the support of equity-free capital, mentors and a peer network, it added.

The VC firm is also planning to deploy $100-$150 million in over 100 Indian startups over the next three years.

UGC, AICTE warn against ‘franchise arrangement’ between colleges and edtech companies

The University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) have warned their recognised varsities and institutions against offering courses in distance learning and online mode in association with Ed-tech companies, saying no “franchise” agreement is permissible as per norms.

The higher education regulator (UGC) and technical education regulator (AICTE) have also advised students and parents to check the recognition status of any programme on their websites before enrolling in any course.

“The regulations mandate that the HEIs shall not offer ODL or online programme under any franchise arrangement and the HEIs themselves are completely responsible for the programmes. However, it has come to the notice of UGC recently that some EdTech companies are giving advertisements in newspapers, social media and television etc that they are offering degree and diploma programmes in ODL and online modes in association with some universities and institutions recognised by the UGC,” commission secretary Rajnish Jain said in official order.

“Such a franchisee arrangement is not permissible and action will be taken against defaulting EdTech companies as well as HEIs under applicable laws, rules and regulations. All the students are also hereby advised that they should check the recognition and entitlement status of the programmes on the UGC website before enrolling in any course,” he added.

In a similar public notice, the AICTE has also warned against the franchise arrangement between institutions and Ed-tech companies.

Govt taking significant steps to boost startup ecosystem: Piyush Goyal

The government is taking significant steps such as resolving the angel tax issue, simplification of tax procedures, and self-certification, in a bid to boost the startup ecosystem of the country, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Friday.

He also said that huge opportunities are there for startups in tier 2 and 3 cities and areas like advertising, marketing, professional services, fitness and wellness, gaming and sports and audio-video services

Startups should leverage modern technologies for local and global markets, he said while speaking at the launch of NASSCOM’s Annual Technology Startup Report.

“We are trying to take significant steps to boost the startup ecosystem… We have the Budget coming up soon and all of us are anxiously waiting to see and hear what is done with some of the asks (recommendations)…,” Goyal said.

He added that the government is focusing on reducing compliance burden to promote ease of doing business.

BharatPe’s Ashneer Grover takes voluntary leave of absence until March-end; says he will return on or before April 1

After announcing his decision to take a voluntary leave of absence until March-end, BharatPe founder and managing director, Ashneer Grover said in a statement that he would rejoin on or before April 1.

Grover in a statement posted on Twitter said he will use the time off to think about the next phase of product development for BharatPe and the fintech’s path to profitability, apart from ‘investing’ in himself personally.

“I will also double down on investing in myself personally. I am a builder and I know my energy is best spent in creating value for millions of Indians we serve each day,” Grover added.

Earlier, a BharatPe statement read, “The Board has accepted Ashneer’s decision which we agree is in the best interests of the company, our employees and investors, and the millions of merchants we support each day.”

BharatPe will be led by CEO Suhail Sameer and its management team in Grover’s absence.

Meanwhile, BharatPe sources have told CNBC-TV18 the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is not involved in Grover’s decision to proceed on leave.

‘postpe’ clocks annualized TPV of Rs. 2,400 Cr in 3 months of launch

Fintech platform BharatPe has announced that its recently launched ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ product, ‘postpe’ has emerged as one of the fastest growing products in the BNPL industry, with an annualized TPV of Rs. 2,400 crores in just 3 months of its launch.

The company shared that ‘postpe’ has facilitated disbursals to three lakh consumers in the first quarter of its launch. The company said that it has extended a credit line of Rs. 1,000 crores, in partnership with its lending partners.

“Over the last 3 months, we have been able to facilitate credit to 3 Lakh plus customers and are hoping to touch 8 Lakh customers by March. We had initially set a target of facilitating a loan book of Rs 2,000 crores on postpe in the first 12 months, for our lending partners. However, we have already surpassed this milestone and are now targeting annualized TPV of Rs. 24,000 crores by end of 2022,” said Suhail Sameer, Chief Executive Officer, BharatPe.

Paytm shares close below Rs 1,000 mark for first time, discount to issue price at 54 percent

Paytm parent One97 Communications’ shares hit a record low on Wednesday, closing below the Rs 1,000 mark for the first time ever.

The stock fell 4.3 percent to end at a record closing low of Rs 997.4 apiece on BSE. At this level, the stock changed hands at a discount of 53.6 percent to the issue price.

During the session, Paytm shares plunged as much as five percent to an all-time low of Rs 990. That was the lowest intraday level recorded since their market debut in mid-November.

Chingari’s crypto token makes International debut, sees $100M of trading volume in a day

Short video app Chingari’s crypto token (GARI) saw trading volume hit $100 million in the first 24 hours of its listing on crypto exchanges on January 18.

$GARI is the first Indian crypto-token to make a trading debut on international crypto exchanges. It plans to disrupt the blockchain and crypto market landscape across the world. $GARI token channelizes the blockchain technology to empower the content curators to monetize their content on the Chingari platform, the company said in a statement.

The company recently announced a Series A extension round of $15 million. With over 110 million downloads of the app, Chingari claims to have witnessed two-fold increase in its number of users since April 2021.

58 percent of founders prefer IPO in India; 75 percent of founders expect funding environment to improve in 2022: InnoVen Report

In 2021, 84 percent of founders had a positive fundraising experience (92 percent of all founders that attempted to raise capital) in the year, according to InnoVen Capital’s India Startup Outlook Report 2022.

The favorable fundraising experience was significantly higher than 2020 when only 54 percent of founders had a favorable experience. An overwhelming, 75 percent of founders believe that the fundraising environment will improve further in 2022, the report added.

The study found that the majority of the founders chose growth over profitability, with 83 percent of them choosing growth as their focus area. 20 percent of startups surveyed claim to be EBITDA profitable, while 51 percent aim to turn EBITDA profitable in the next 2 years.

And as more startups come in, employment is expected to be higher in 2022 with FinTech, D2C, AgriTech and HealthTech hiring the most.

Encouraged by successful IPOs in India, notably Zomato and Nykaa, the majority of startup founders (58 percent) consider IPO listing in India as the most preferred exit option. Further, 71 percent of founders believe that IPO is the likely mode of exit for their investors, the findings showed.

82 percent of Indian workforce considering changing jobs in 2022 : LinkedIn Report

The online professional networking site, LinkedIn, in its latest research revealed that India’s workforce is optimistic about the future of work and 82 percent of the respondents are considering changing their jobs in 2022.

Additionally, 86 percent of professionals in India are confident about the strength of their professional networks as they enter into the new year looking for new job opportunities. They also believe that their job roles, careers, and overall job availability could get better in 2022.

The new job-seeker research mentioned that the Great Reshuffle in India is being led by freshers with up to 1 year of work experience (94 percent) and Gen Z professionals (87 percent), who are more likely to consider changing jobs in 2022.

‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ transactions surge 300 percent in 2021: ZestMoney Report

According to BNPL platform ZestMoney’s report for 2021, while most of the customers were in the 23-26 years group, BNPL emerged as the preferred option for people across age groups with the youngest customer being 18 years old and the oldest at 66.

ZestMoney’s millennial customer base grew by 2x in 2021 and GenZ by 3x. The overall BNPL transactions on ZestMoney saw a 300 percent increase in 2021 compared to 2020, the report said. Additionally, the startup said it saw a 143 percent increase in women customers and a 137 percent increase in men customers.

ZestMoney explained that Direct to Consumer (DTC) brands took to enabling BNPL at checkout as they saw an increase in sales and average order value. The firm saw a 10x growth in 2021 as compared to 2020 in the number of D2C merchants on its platform indicating the popularity. While DTC brands in fashion, beauty, and skincare topped the demand for BNPL, electronics, home & decor, and travel were the other major categories.

Facebook critics call for release of India human rights review

Facebook critics have called on the world’s largest social network to release a human rights impact assessment it commissioned in 2020 to investigate hate speech on its platforms in India, Reuters reported.

The social media company, which is now called Meta, faces increasing scrutiny over its handling of abuses on its services, particularly after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents showing its struggles monitoring problematic content in countries where it was most likely to cause harm.

In a letter sent to the company this month and made public Wednesday, rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and India Civil Watch International urged Facebook to release the report.

Bitcoin, Ether, and other cryptos crashed

Bitcoin dropped below the psychologically important support level of $40,000 Friday, slumping over 10 percent in what was a massive sell-off in the entire cryptocurrency market.

The slump continues to deepen as the world’s biggest cryptocurrency saw a decline in value by $5,000, a decrease of 8 percent over the past day.

Bitcoin is currently trading at $35,700, even when trading activity has picked up significantly, indicating a mass sell-off in progress. The coin is down over 40 percent from its all-time high of $69,000.

Outside of stablecoins, all of the world’s biggest 100 cryptocurrency tokens are currently trading in the red, with some coins down as much as 30 percent. Ether, the second-biggest cryptocurrency, slipped below its $3,000 support level. It is down 15 percent in the last 24 hours, dropping to $2,400.

Binance Coin, the fourth largest coin, has slumped over 17 percent and Cardano is down over 15 percent. Dogecoin has declined over 13 percent while both Solana and Polkadot have crashed 20 percent.

Meanwhile, as per data from coinmarketcap.com, the cryptocurrency market cap has declined by over 12 percent in the last 24 hours.

GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS

Microsoft to buy Activision in $68.7 Bn all-cash deal

Microsoft has announced that it will buy video game giant Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion all-cash deal.

This would be Microsoft’s largest acquisition to date, followed by its purchase of LinkedIn in 2016 for $26.2 billion.

Under the deal, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who has faced calls to resign over the cultural problems within his company, will remain CEO during the transition. Microsoft said Activision as a company will report to Microsoft’s Xbox boss Phil Spencer after the deal closes, implying Kotick could depart after the transition. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday afternoon Kotick is expected to step down after the deal closes.

Activision, which is known for popular games such as Call of Duty and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, has been mired in controversy for the last several months after reports of sexual misconduct and harassment among the company’s executives. On Monday, Activision said it fired dozens of executives following an investigation.

Microsoft said it expects to close the deal in its fiscal 2023.

TikTok owner ByteDance dissolves its investment arm: Report

TikTok owner ByteDance has disbanded its investment department, a company spokesperson told CNBC.

Following an assessment at the beginning of the year, ByteDance decided to “strengthen the focus of the business, reduce investments with low connection (to the main business) and disperse employees from the strategic investment department to various lines of business,” the spokesperson said.

The move “strengthens the coordination between strategic research and the business,” the company said.

ByteDance’s revenue growth slowed to 70 percent in 2021, sources tell Reuters

TikTok owner ByteDance saw its total revenue grow by 70 percent year-on-year to around $58 billion in 2021, sources told Reuters, slower growth than a year earlier as China tightens its regulation of big tech companies.

The figures were disclosed to a small group of employees at an internal meeting of the social media giant this week, according to the people.

In 2020, the Beijing-based company’s total revenue grew by over 100 percent to $34.3 billion, Reuters has reported.

Chinese tech companies from Tencent to Alibaba have reported slowing growth amid a wide-ranging crackdown by the country’s regulators who have rolled out new rules governing how they operate and interact with their users.

Apple to require employee proof of COVID-19 booster: Report

Apple will require retail and corporate employees to provide proof of a COVID-19 booster shot, The Verge reported.

Starting January 24, unvaccinated employees or those who haven’t submitted proof of vaccination will need negative COVID-19 tests to enter Apple workplaces, the report said. The Verge said it was not immediately clear if the testing requirement applies to both corporate and retail employees.

This week, Facebook parent Meta Platforms mandated COVID-19 booster shots for all workers returning to offices. It also delayed US office reopenings to March 28, from an earlier plan of January 31.

Alphabet’s Google on Friday said it was temporarily mandating weekly COVID-19 tests for people entering its US offices.

Bills targeting Big Tech to go before US Senate panel

The US Senate Judiciary Committee is set to decide whether the full Senate should vote on two bills aimed at reining in tech giants like Alphabet’s Google and Meta’s Facebook.

Lawmakers are expected to consider an amended version of a bill introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, a Republican, that would bar tech platforms like Amazon from giving preference to their own businesses on their websites.

The amended version would expand the definition of the companies covered by the bill to include firms like the popular video app TikTok, sources told Reuters. China’s Tencent, which owns messaging app WeChat, would also be covered by the bill.

US examining Alibaba’s cloud unit for national security risks, sources tell Reuters

The Biden administration is reviewing e-commerce giant Alibaba’s cloud business to determine whether it poses a risk to U.S. national security, sources told Reuters.

This comes as the government ramps up scrutiny of Chinese technology companies’ dealings with US firms.

The focus of the probe is on how the company stores US clients’ data, including personal information and intellectual property, and whether the Chinese government could gain access to it, the people said. The potential for Beijing to disrupt access by US users to their information stored on Alibaba cloud is also a concern, one of the people said.

Shopify, JD.com pair up in China as e-commerce competition intensifies

Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify has partnered with China’s JD.com, to let merchants in the United States sell to JD’s customers in China, Reuters reported.

The strategic partnership comes amid tight competition in the e-commerce space in China with players like Pinduoduo, Alibaba Group Holding and Douyin. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The deal will let Shopify merchants sell on JD’s cross-border platform JD Worldwide and open up access to its 550 million active customers in China, the companies said.

Netflix earnings to set the pace for 2022 streaming wars

Netflix will be the first major streaming service to report earnings this week, offering investors a sign of whether companies have started to pull in enough new customers to justify big spending on online programming in 2022, as per Reuters.

The dominant streaming service reports fourth-quarter results on Thursday. Wall Street will watch for how many customers Netflix picked up overseas as the pace of streaming growth levels off from torrid pandemic gains of 2020.

Wall Street is watching to see if the streaming wars are paying off as companies add high-profile and expensive shows such as Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) new reality series with the Kardashian family, a “Lord of the Rings” series on Amazon Prime Video and a “Game of Thrones” prequel on AT&T’s HBO Max.

Britain to crack down on ‘misleading’ cryptocurrency adverts

Britain is to crack down on “misleading” advertisements for cryptoassets, which often target retail consumers with poor knowledge of the risks, the finance ministry said on Monday.

As per Reuters, rising prices of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether have been accompanied by a surge in advertising for such assets, particularly in London, prompting repeated warnings from Bank of England that investors they could lose all their money.

The finance ministry said that about 2.3 million people in Britain now own a crypto asset, but research suggests that understanding of the sector is declining, suggesting that some users may not fully understand what they are buying, the ministry said.

UK self-driving startup Wayve raises $200M to scale up technology

British self-driving technology startup Wayve has raised $200 million from investors to scale up its autonomous driving technology globally and launch more pilot projects with commercial fleet partners, as per a Reuters report.

The Series B funding round brings the startup’s total fundraising to $258 million and includes new investments from venture capital firms D1 Capital Partners, Moore Strategic Ventures and Linse Capital, plus fresh capital from investors including Microsoft.

Twitter expands feature allowing users to flag misleading tweets

Twitter will expand its test feature which allows users to flag misleading content on its social media platform to Brazil, Spain and the Philippines, Reuters reported.

The company had introduced the pilot test of the feature in August last year, as a part of its effort to reduce misinformation on its platform.

It was first tested in the United States, Australia and South Korea. Since it was first announced, Twitter said it has received around 3 million reports from users who have used it to flag tweets which they believe are in violation of its policies.

China wants internet giants to get approval for investments, fundraisings, sources tell Reuters

China’s cyberspace regulator has drafted new guidelines that will require the country’s large internet companies to obtain its approval before they undertake any investments or fundraisings, sources told Reuters.

The proposed requirements from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) will apply to any platform company with more than 100 million users, or with more than 10 billion yuan ($1.58 billion) in revenue.

Any internet firm involved in sectors named on the negative list issued by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) last year will also need to apply for approval, the sources said.

Turkey’s Trendyol plans dual IPO when revenue abroad is 30-35 percent

Turkish e-commerce firm Trendyol, backed by Chinese internet giant Alibaba, plans a dual-listing IPO in New York or London when its income from foreign sales reaches 30-35 percent of total revenue, Reuters reported.

Trendyol, one of Turkey’s best known platforms, has drawn backing from foreign investors and holds a leading position in Turkey’s fragmented e-commerce market.

“Before a public offering we want to see revenue abroad, which is around 5 percent of total revenue right now, rise to 30-35 percent,” President of Trendyol Group Caglayan Cetin said.

WeTransfer owner WeRock seeks $714-813M valuation in IPO

The company that owns the WeTransfer file service will be valued at between 629 million and 716 million euros ($714-813 million) at its initial public offering (IPO) in Amsterdam this month, according to a Reuters report.

WeRock, whose name will soon be changed to The Creative Productivity Group NV, published a prospectus and set a price range for the shares being sold at 17.5-20.5 euros each, with a mix of existing and new shares on offer.

The group expects to raise around 125 million euros in fresh capital from the new shares, while existing shareholders will sell up to 5.4 million shares, leading to a total offer size of 285-290 million euros and a free float of around 43.5 percent.

Tom Brady’s NFT platform Autograph raises $170M in fresh capital

Autograph, a non-fungible token (NFT) platform has raised $170 million in fresh capital from a funding round led by venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins, Reuters reported.

The startup, co-founded by National Football League quarterback Tom Brady last year, operates an NFT platform that features collections from popular celebrities across sports, entertainment and culture.

Athletes Naomi Osaka, Tiger Woods, Simone Biles, Tony Hawk and Usain Bolt are among its board of advisors.

Los Angeles-based Autograph’s latest capital raise comes six months after its Series A round. It had then raised $35 million at a pre-money valuation of $700 million, according to data from PitchBook.

 

to file DRHP for its IPO by January-end

Imagine marketing, a company that which manufactures D2C brand boAt is likely to file DRHP for its IPO by January-end.

Sources have told CNBC-TV18 that Imagine marketing IPO will have fresh issue and OFS Rs 1,000 crore each.

It is looking to launch its IPO by April-May 2022 and is likely to raise around Rs 2,000 core via public listing.

HomeLane eyes Rs 1,500 Cr IPO by mid-2022: Report

Home interior startup HomeLane plans to raise up to Rs 1,500 crore through an initial public offering that should hit the market by mid-2022, sources told the Economic Times.

Bank of America, Axis Capital and ICICI Securities have been hired to run the IPO.

25-30 percent stake will be offered in the proposed IPO. It will be a combination of primary and secondary shares where some existing investors, including Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners, will make part exits, the report added.

Sugar Cosmetics’ parent company picks up majority stake in ENN Beauty

Homegrown beauty brand Sugar Cosmetics’ parent company Vellvette Lifestyle has acquired a majority stake in natural skin and hair care brand, ENN Beauty for an undisclosed sum.

ENN Beauty’s founder, Nandeeta Manchanda will work closely with Vineeta Singh and Kaushik Mukherjee, co-founders of Vellvette Lifestyle, to accelerate the brand’s online presence and enter the retail industry, the company said in a statement.

“Our target for ENN Beauty will be to help deploy our playbook of scaling SUGAR to grow ENN Beauty past the Rs.100 CR annualized sales mark even faster,” said Vineeta Singh, CEO & Co-founder of SUGAR Cosmetics.

This deal will enable ENN Beauty to leverage a digital audience of over 50+ million beauty enthusiasts while it ramps up its retail presence to 100+ outlets by the next financial year. The team will also look at re-strategizing on the brand product’s average selling point to make it more accessible and desirable to women from Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets as well.

Lotus Herbals picks up 25 percent stake in D2C clean beauty brand Conscious Chemist

Natural beauty care company Lotus Herbals has acquired 25 percent stake in D2C clean beauty brand Conscious Chemist.

Founded in 2020, Conscious Chemist offers skincare products that are free from harmful toxins, fragrances and toxic chemicals.

Lotus Herbals Joint Managing Director Nitin Passi said that the investment in Conscious Chemist aligns with the company’s strategy for accelerating growth in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) space focusing on clean beauty.

G.O.A.T Brand Labs forays into women’s fast fashion by acquiring The Label Life

Building on their portfolio of leading D2C brands across categories, G.O.A.T Brand Labs has now acquired 90 percent stake in The Label Life, a widely renowned, women’s fashion and lifestyle brand styled by Sussanne Khan, Malaika Arora and Bipasha Basu.

“We will scale the brand exponentially by expanding globally and launching new product categories. The aim is to make it one of the first D2C brands to hit the 500 Cr revenue mark by 2025!” says Rishi Vasudev, Co-founder, G.O.A.T Brand Labs.

The brand currently sells across categories like apparel, accessories, footwear and home. The plans are to further build these categories and expand to categories like jewellery, beauty and personal care and lounge wear, among others to offer a complete range of lifestyle products.

Evenflow Brands acquires four consumer brands in India

Roll-up e-commerce firm Evenflow Brands has acquired four consumer brands in India to expand reach, portfolio and demand.

The acquisition includes two sports and fitness brands Vifitkit and Yogarise, Frenchware, a kitchen label, and Cingaro, a gardening brand, all with an annual run rate between $500k- $2 million.

The founders of Frenchware and Cinagro will also join Evenflow as consultants, said the company in a statement.

Nazara acquires majority in ad-tech company Datawrkz

Diversified gaming and sports media platform Nazara Technologies has entered into an agreement to acquire a 55 percent stake in programmatic advertising and monetization company Datawrkz, valuing the company up to Rs 225 crore.

The company said the deal is being done through two tranches. In the first tranche, it will acquire a 33 percent stake for Rs 60 crore, of which Rs 35 crore is partly payable in cash and the remaining Rs 25 crore will be paid either through cash or share swap.

It reserves an option to acquire an additional 22 percent in the second tranche that is expected to close in Q4 FY23, the firm said.

CRED expands its ESOP pool size to $500M: Report

Credit card payment app CRED has increased its employee stock ownership plan or ESOP pool size to $500 million, joining the likes of several growth-stage startups which have increased their ESOP size in the past 12 months, as per an Entrackr report.

CRED has passed a special resolution to increase its ESOP pool by 112,504 stock options to 392,958 stock options in total. The new ESOP pool has been increased from 10 percent to 12.5 percent of its paid up capital, the report added.

The development comes soon after the company’s announcement which said that its cumulative ESOP buyback for 2021 will be up to Rs 100 crore or $13.3 million. CRED also said that its total ESOP buyback in 2021 was worth approximately Rs 145 crore or $19.3 million.

50 percent of UC’s partners earned Rs 30,455 per month, says the company

Home service provider Urban Company has released its Earnings Index, capturing data for Q3 FY22.

UC’s average payout to partners increased to Rs 297 per hour from Rs 287 per hour in Q2 FY22. This is net of all commissions, fees, product and travel cost that a partner would have incurred in order to provide a service, the company said in a blog post.

The top 20 percent of Urban Company professionals across on-demand beauty and home services earned at least Rs 38,263 per month as the average payout increased 11 percent in the December quarter, the company claimed in its latest report.

Around 50 percent of service professionals associated with Urban Company who completed more than 30 orders in a month or worked for more than 100 hours per month, earned Rs 30,455 per month, it added.

Hourly earnings for female partners listed on the platform stood at Rs 312 per hour, which is about 5 percent higher than the platform’s average.

Porter announces first-ever ESOP liquidation worth $5M

On-demand intra-city logistics company Porter has announced an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) monetization program worth $5 million for eligible current and former employees.

In order to ensure the equitable distribution of benefits, the number of options will be prorated so that every employee benefits from the scheme, and all of them can liquidate their vested units up to a total of $5 million, the company said in a statement.

All the employees who have vested options as of December 31, 2021 will be eligible to participate in this program and sell a portion of their vested shares immediately, the firm added.

Antler India announces inaugural fellowship cohort

Global early-stage venture capital firm, Antler, has announced 19 student entrepreneurs as a part of its inaugural Antler India Fellowship cohort.

The chosen students are working on eight startups including Blood51, Desklamp, Liquibrium NFTPhysicals, Qube, Tezz, TickEth, spanning across sectors such as web3, clean-tech, med-tech, agritech, SaaS, and creator economy, the company said in a statement.

The fellowship cohort offers an equity-free grant of $20,000 and mentorship to the students to help them turn their startup ideas into businesses, Antler said. The fellowship cohort is a 16-week program, which provides a platform for experimentation, building, and scaling, with the support of equity-free capital, mentors, and a peer network, it added.

The VC firm is also planning to deploy $100-$150 million in over 100 Indian startups over the next three years.

UGC, AICTE warn against ‘franchise arrangement’ between colleges and edtech companies

The University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) have warned their recognized varsities and institutions against offering courses in distance learning and online mode in association with Ed-tech companies, saying no “franchise” agreement is permissible as per norms.

The higher education regulator (UGC) and technical education regulator (AICTE) have also advised students and parents to check the recognition status of any programme on their websites before enrolling in any course.

“The regulations mandate that the HEIs shall not offer ODL or online programme under any franchise arrangement and the HEIs themselves are completely responsible for the programmes. However, it has come to the notice of UGC recently that some EdTech companies are giving advertisements in newspapers, social media and television etc that they are offering degree and diploma programmes in ODL and online modes in association with some universities and institutions recognised by the UGC,” commission secretary Rajnish Jain said in official order.

“Such a franchisee arrangement is not permissible and action will be taken against defaulting EdTech companies as well as HEIs under applicable laws, rules and regulations. All the students are also hereby advised that they should check the recognition and entitlement status of the programmes on the UGC website before enrolling in any course,” he added.

In a similar public notice, the AICTE has also warned against the franchise arrangement between institutions and Ed-tech companies.

Govt taking significant steps to boost startup ecosystem: Piyush Goyal

The government is taking significant steps such as resolving the angel tax issue, simplification of tax procedures, and self-certification, in a bid to boost the startup ecosystem of the country, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Friday.

He also said that huge opportunities are there for startups in tier 2 and 3 cities and areas like advertising, marketing, professional services, fitness and wellness, gaming and sports and audio-video services

Startups should leverage modern technologies for local and global markets, he said while speaking at the launch of NASSCOM’s Annual Technology Startup Report.

“We are trying to take significant steps to boost the startup ecosystem… We have the Budget coming up soon and all of us are anxiously waiting to see and hear what is done with some of the asks (recommendations)…,” Goyal said.

He added that the government is focusing on reducing compliance burden to promote ease of doing business.

BharatPe’s Ashneer Grover takes voluntary leave of absence until March-end; says he will return on or before April 1

After announcing his decision to take a voluntary leave of absence until March-end, BharatPe founder and managing director, Ashneer Grover said in a statement that he would rejoin on or before April 1.

Grover in a statement posted on Twitter said he will use the time off to think about the next phase of product development for BharatPe and the fintech’s path to profitability, apart from ‘investing’ in himself personally.

“I will also double down on investing in myself personally. I am a builder and I know my energy is best spent in creating value for millions of Indians we serve each day,” Grover added.

Earlier, a BharatPe statement read, “The Board has accepted Ashneer’s decision which we agree is in the best interests of the company, our employees and investors, and the millions of merchants we support each day.”

BharatPe will be led by CEO Suhail Sameer and its management team in Grover’s absence.

Meanwhile, BharatPe sources have told CNBC-TV18 the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is not involved in Grover’s decision to proceed on leave.

‘postpe’ clocks annualized TPV of Rs. 2,400 Cr in 3 months of launch

Fintech platform BharatPe has announced that its recently launched ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ product, ‘postpe’ has emerged as one of the fastest growing products in the BNPL industry, with an annualized TPV of Rs. 2,400 crores in just 3 months of its launch.

The company shared that ‘postpe’ has facilitated disbursals to three lakh consumers in the first quarter of its launch. The company said that it has extended a credit line of Rs. 1,000 crores, in partnership with its lending partners.

“Over the last 3 months, we have been able to facilitate credit to 3 Lakh plus customers and are hoping to touch 8 Lakh customers by March. We had initially set a target of facilitating a loan book of Rs 2,000 crores on postpe in the first 12 months, for our lending partners. However, we have already surpassed this milestone and are now targeting annualized TPV of Rs. 24,000 crores by end of 2022,” said Suhail Sameer, Chief Executive Officer, BharatPe.

Paytm shares close below Rs 1,000 mark for first time, discount to issue price at 54 percent

Paytm parent One97 Communications’ shares hit a record low on Wednesday, closing below the Rs 1,000 mark for the first time ever.

The stock fell 4.3 percent to end at a record closing low of Rs 997.4 apiece on BSE. At this level, the stock changed hands at a discount of 53.6 percent to the issue price.

During the session, Paytm shares plunged as much as five percent to an all-time low of Rs 990. That was the lowest intraday level recorded since their market debut in mid-November.

Chingari’s crypto token makes International debut, sees $100M of trading volume in a day

Short video app Chingari’s crypto token (GARI) saw trading volume hit $100 million in the first 24 hours of its listing on crypto exchanges on January 18.

$GARI is the first Indian crypto-token to make a trading debut on international crypto exchanges. It plans to disrupt the blockchain and crypto market landscape across the world. $GARI token channelizes the blockchain technology to empower the content curators to monetize their content on the Chingari platform, the company said in a statement.

The company recently announced a Series A extension round of $15 million. With over 110 million downloads of the app, Chingari claims to have witnessed two-fold increase in its number of users since April 2021.

58 percent of founders prefer IPO in India; 75 percent of founders expect funding environment to improve in 2022: InnoVen Report

In 2021, 84 percent of founders had a positive fundraising experience (92 percent of all founders that attempted to raise capital) in the year, according to InnoVen Capital’s India Startup Outlook Report 2022.

The favorable fundraising experience was significantly higher than 2020 when only 54 percent of founders had a favorable experience. An overwhelming, 75 percent of founders believe that the fundraising environment will improve further in 2022, the report added.

The study found that the majority of the founders chose growth over profitability, with 83 percent of them choosing growth as their focus area. 20 percent of startups surveyed claim to be EBITDA profitable, while 51 percent aim to turn EBITDA profitable in the next 2 years.

And as more startups come in, employment is expected to be higher in 2022 with FinTech, D2C, AgriTech and HealthTech hiring the most.

Encouraged by successful IPOs in India, notably Zomato and Nykaa, the majority of startup founders (58 percent) consider IPO listing in India as the most preferred exit option. Further, 71 percent of founders believe that IPO is the likely mode of exit for their investors, the findings showed.

82 percent of Indian workforce considering changing jobs in 2022 : LinkedIn Report

The online professional networking site, LinkedIn, in its latest research revealed that India’s workforce is optimistic about the future of work and 82 percent of the respondents are considering changing their jobs in 2022.

Additionally, 86 percent of professionals in India are confident about the strength of their professional networks as they enter into the new year looking for new job opportunities. They also believe that their job roles, careers, and overall job availability could get better in 2022.

The new job-seeker research mentioned that the Great Reshuffle in India is being led by freshers with up to 1 year of work experience (94 percent) and Gen Z professionals (87 percent), who are more likely to consider changing jobs in 2022.

‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ transactions surge 300 percent in 2021: ZestMoney Report

According to BNPL platform ZestMoney’s report for 2021, while most of the customers were in the 23-26 years group, BNPL emerged as the preferred option for people across age groups with the youngest customer being 18 years old and the oldest at 66.

ZestMoney’s millennial customer base grew by 2x in 2021 and GenZ by 3x. The overall BNPL transactions on ZestMoney saw a 300 percent increase in 2021 compared to 2020, the report said. Additionally, the startup said it saw a 143 percent increase in women customers and a 137 percent increase in men customers.

ZestMoney explained that Direct to Consumer (DTC) brands took to enabling BNPL at checkout as they saw an increase in sales and average order value. The firm saw a 10x growth in 2021 as compared to 2020 in the number of D2C merchants on its platform indicating the popularity. While DTC brands in fashion, beauty, and skincare topped the demand for BNPL, electronics, home & decor, and travel were the other major categories.

Facebook critics call for release of India human rights review

Facebook critics have called on the world’s largest social network to release a human rights impact assessment it commissioned in 2020 to investigate hate speech on its platforms in India, Reuters reported.

The social media company, which is now called Meta, faces increasing scrutiny over its handling of abuses on its services, particularly after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents showing its struggles monitoring problematic content in countries where it was most likely to cause harm.

In a letter sent to the company this month and made public Wednesday, rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and India Civil Watch International urged Facebook to release the report.

Bitcoin, Ether, and other cryptos crashed

Bitcoin dropped below the psychologically important support level of $40,000 Friday, slumping over 10 percent in what was a massive sell-off in the entire cryptocurrency market.

The slump continues to deepen as the world’s biggest cryptocurrency saw a decline in value by $5,000, a decrease of 8 percent over the past day.

Bitcoin is currently trading at $35,700, even when trading activity has picked up significantly, indicating a mass sell-off in progress. The coin is down over 40 percent from its all-time high of $69,000.

Outside of stablecoins, all of the world’s biggest 100 cryptocurrency tokens are currently trading in the red, with some coins down as much as 30 percent. Ether, the second-biggest cryptocurrency, slipped below its $3,000 support level. It is down 15 percent in the last 24 hours, dropping to $2,400.

Binance Coin, the fourth largest coin, has slumped over 17 percent and Cardano is down over 15 percent. Dogecoin has declined over 13 percent while both Solana and Polkadot have crashed 20 percent.

Meanwhile, as per data from coinmarketcap.com, the cryptocurrency market cap has declined by over 12 percent in the last 24 hours.

GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS

Microsoft to buy Activision in $68.7 Bn all-cash deal

Microsoft has announced that it will buy video game giant Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion all-cash deal.

This would be Microsoft’s largest acquisition to date, followed by its purchase of LinkedIn in 2016 for $26.2 billion.

Under the deal, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who has faced calls to resign over the cultural problems within his company, will remain CEO during the transition. Microsoft said Activision as a company will report to Microsoft’s Xbox boss Phil Spencer after the deal closes, implying Kotick could depart after the transition. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday afternoon Kotick is expected to step down after the deal closes.

Activision, which is known for popular games such as Call of Duty and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, has been mired in controversy for the last several months after reports of sexual misconduct and harassment among the company’s executives. On Monday, Activision said it fired dozens of executives following an investigation.

Microsoft said it expects to close the deal in its fiscal 2023.

TikTok owner ByteDance dissolves its investment arm: Report

TikTok owner ByteDance has disbanded its investment department, a company spokesperson told CNBC.

Following an assessment at the beginning of the year, ByteDance decided to “strengthen the focus of the business, reduce investments with low connection (to the main business) and disperse employees from the strategic investment department to various lines of business,” the spokesperson said.

The move “strengthens the coordination between strategic research and the business,” the company said.

ByteDance’s revenue growth slowed to 70 percent in 2021, sources tell Reuters

TikTok owner ByteDance saw its total revenue grow by 70 percent year-on-year to around $58 billion in 2021, sources told Reuters, slower growth than a year earlier as China tightens its regulation of big tech companies.

The figures were disclosed to a small group of employees at an internal meeting of the social media giant this week, according to the people.

In 2020, the Beijing-based company’s total revenue grew by over 100 percent to $34.3 billion, Reuters has reported.

Chinese tech companies from Tencent to Alibaba have reported slowing growth amid a wide-ranging crackdown by the country’s regulators who have rolled out new rules governing how they operate and interact with their users.

Apple to require employee proof of COVID-19 booster: Report

Apple will require retail and corporate employees to provide proof of a COVID-19 booster shot, The Verge reported.

Starting January 24, unvaccinated employees or those who haven’t submitted proof of vaccination will need negative COVID-19 tests to enter Apple workplaces, the report said. The Verge said it was not immediately clear if the testing requirement applies to both corporate and retail employees.

This week, Facebook parent Meta Platforms mandated COVID-19 booster shots for all workers returning to offices. It also delayed US office reopenings to March 28, from an earlier plan of January 31.

Alphabet’s Google on Friday said it was temporarily mandating weekly COVID-19 tests for people entering its US offices.

Bills targeting Big Tech to go before US Senate panel

The US Senate Judiciary Committee is set to decide whether the full Senate should vote on two bills aimed at reining in tech giants like Alphabet’s Google and Meta’s Facebook.

Lawmakers are expected to consider an amended version of a bill introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, a Republican, that would bar tech platforms like Amazon from giving preference to their own businesses on their websites.

The amended version would expand the definition of the companies covered by the bill to include firms like the popular video app TikTok, sources told Reuters. China’s Tencent, which owns messaging app WeChat, would also be covered by the bill.

US examining Alibaba’s cloud unit for national security risks, sources tell Reuters

The Biden administration is reviewing e-commerce giant Alibaba’s cloud business to determine whether it poses a risk to U.S. national security, sources told Reuters.

This comes as the government ramps up scrutiny of Chinese technology companies’ dealings with US firms.

The focus of the probe is on how the company stores US clients’ data, including personal information and intellectual property, and whether the Chinese government could gain access to it, the people said. The potential for Beijing to disrupt access by US users to their information stored on Alibaba cloud is also a concern, one of the people said.

Shopify, JD.com pair up in China as e-commerce competition intensifies

Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify has partnered with China’s JD.com, to let merchants in the United States sell to JD’s customers in China, Reuters reported.

The strategic partnership comes amid tight competition in the e-commerce space in China with players like Pinduoduo, Alibaba Group Holding and Douyin. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The deal will let Shopify merchants sell on JD’s cross-border platform JD Worldwide and open up access to its 550 million active customers in China, the companies said.

Netflix earnings to set the pace for 2022 streaming wars

Netflix will be the first major streaming service to report earnings this week, offering investors a sign of whether companies have started to pull in enough new customers to justify big spending on online programming in 2022, as per Reuters.

The dominant streaming service reports fourth-quarter results on Thursday. Wall Street will watch for how many customers Netflix picked up overseas as the pace of streaming growth levels off from torrid pandemic gains of 2020.

Wall Street is watching to see if the streaming wars are paying off as companies add high-profile and expensive shows such as Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) new reality series with the Kardashian family, a “Lord of the Rings” series on Amazon Prime Video and a “Game of Thrones” prequel on AT&T’s HBO Max.

Britain to crack down on ‘misleading’ cryptocurrency adverts

Britain is to crack down on “misleading” advertisements for cryptoassets, which often target retail consumers with poor knowledge of the risks, the finance ministry said on Monday.

As per Reuters, rising prices of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether have been accompanied by a surge in advertising for such assets, particularly in London, prompting repeated warnings from Bank of England that investors they could lose all their money.

The finance ministry said that about 2.3 million people in Britain now own a crypto asset, but research suggests that understanding of the sector is declining, suggesting that some users may not fully understand what they are buying, the ministry said.

UK self-driving startup Wayve raises $200M to scale up technology

British self-driving technology startup Wayve has raised $200 million from investors to scale up its autonomous driving technology globally and launch more pilot projects with commercial fleet partners, as per a Reuters report.

The Series B funding round brings the startup’s total fundraising to $258 million and includes new investments from venture capital firms D1 Capital Partners, Moore Strategic Ventures and Linse Capital, plus fresh capital from investors including Microsoft.

Twitter expands feature allowing users to flag misleading tweets

Twitter will expand its test feature which allows users to flag misleading content on its social media platform to Brazil, Spain and the Philippines, Reuters reported.

The company had introduced the pilot test of the feature in August last year, as a part of its effort to reduce misinformation on its platform.

It was first tested in the United States, Australia and South Korea. Since it was first announced, Twitter said it has received around 3 million reports from users who have used it to flag tweets which they believe are in violation of its policies.

China wants internet giants to get approval for investments, fundraisings, sources tell Reuters

China’s cyberspace regulator has drafted new guidelines that will require the country’s large internet companies to obtain its approval before they undertake any investments or fundraisings, sources told Reuters.

The proposed requirements from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) will apply to any platform company with more than 100 million users, or with more than 10 billion yuan ($1.58 billion) in revenue.

Any internet firm involved in sectors named on the negative list issued by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) last year will also need to apply for approval, the sources said.

Turkey’s Trendyol plans dual IPO when revenue abroad is 30-35 percent

Turkish e-commerce firm Trendyol, backed by Chinese internet giant Alibaba, plans a dual-listing IPO in New York or London when its income from foreign sales reaches 30-35 percent of total revenue, Reuters reported.

Trendyol, one of Turkey’s best known platforms, has drawn backing from foreign investors and holds a leading position in Turkey’s fragmented e-commerce market.

“Before a public offering we want to see revenue abroad, which is around 5 percent of total revenue right now, rise to 30-35 percent,” President of Trendyol Group Caglayan Cetin said.

WeTransfer owner WeRock seeks $714-813M valuation in IPO

The company that owns the WeTransfer file service will be valued at between 629 million and 716 million euros ($714-813 million) at its initial public offering (IPO) in Amsterdam this month, according to a Reuters report.

WeRock, whose name will soon be changed to The Creative Productivity Group NV, published a prospectus and set a price range for the shares being sold at 17.5-20.5 euros each, with a mix of existing and new shares on offer.

The group expects to raise around 125 million euros in fresh capital from the new shares, while existing shareholders will sell up to 5.4 million shares, leading to a total offer size of 285-290 million euros and a free float of around 43.5 percent.

Tom Brady’s NFT platform Autograph raises $170M in fresh capital

Autograph, a non-fungible token (NFT) platform has raised $170 million in fresh capital from a funding round led by venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins, Reuters reported.

The startup, co-founded by National Football League quarterback Tom Brady last year, operates an NFT platform that features collections from popular celebrities across sports, entertainment and culture.

Athletes Naomi Osaka, Tiger Woods, Simone Biles, Tony Hawk and Usain Bolt are among its board of advisors.

Los Angeles-based Autograph’s latest capital raise comes six months after its Series A round. It had then raised $35 million at a pre-money valuation of $700 million, according to data from PitchBook.

 

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