Amazon’s hunger games
Also in today’s edition: Vivo swims in troubled Indian waters; Apple goes into Lockdown; The second coming of Aiwa; New sheen for vehicle insurance
Good morning! Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a father of nine. Known to the world, at least. Business Insider reports that Musk fathered twins in November 2021 with a top executive at Neuralink weeks before Musk and his now-ex Grimes had a second child via surrogacy. This isn't a good look, especially since Musk allegedly sexually harassed a SpaceX flight attendant and fired Tesla workers for getting pregnant. Yikes.
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The Market Signal*
Stocks: Domestic benchmark indices bounced back for the second straight day with gains across the sector. Investors became richer by over ₹5 lakh crore in the last two days as stock markets recovered. Shares of Nykaa parent FSN E-Commerce Ventures surged 3.6% after it launched a men's innerwear brand.
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty surged 0.74% higher than its previous close at 7.35 am India time. The Hang Seng and Nikkei 225 were also up.
Aiwa Hopes For A Resurrection
The audio major that created Japan’s first boombox and became a household name in India in the ’90s—only to turn moribund—is readying for its rebirth. Aiwa will launch TVs and white goods in a tie-up with Indian contract manufacturer Dixon Technologies.
Sepia tint: Aiwa once dominated consumer electronics alongside Japanese peers Sharp, Pioneer, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Akai, and TDK, and homegrown brands Onida and BPL. But they lost out to the digital age and Korean, Chinese, and Taiwanese brands. Sony acquired Aiwa in 2002 before unceremoniously dumping it.
2.0: Aiwa has been trying to crack India ever since it was revived by a Japanese contract manufacturer in 2017. It wants to shed its ‘price-sensitive’ tag and target the vacuum between high-end Sony and Samsung and mass-market Chinese brands, with ₹16,000-₹1,50,000 TVs available at offline retailers. Time will tell whether it’ll succeed or become obscure… again.
🎧 The '90s called… Japan's AIWA is back in India.
Auto Insurance Gets A Reboot
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has allowed insurance companies to offer ‘pay as you drive’ and ‘pay how you drive’ policies. It has also permitted floater policies for vehicles belonging to the same individual for two and four-wheelers.
Details: With this move, own damage (OD) insurance policies can be customised, and premiums can be linked to usage and driver behaviour. This also means insurers will be able to devise better rating parameters. The development gives the insurance sector an impetus to leverage analytics and technology.
Reinforcement: The add-on policies will lend extra benefits to customers who drive carefully or use vehicles sparingly. This is also expected to make motor insurance more affordable– especially for people who choose third-party covers and neglect the perks of OD covers.
Amazon Expands Food Services Footprint
Amazon is adding Grubhub to Prime services in the US. The meal delivery platform’s parent, Just Eat Takeaway (JET), also gave Amazon the option to acquire a 2% stake in Grubhub. This could increase to 15% based on “performance terms”.
What’s in it for Grubhub?: Survival. Grubhub dominated the American market before DoorDash and Uber Eats stole its thunder. And JET’s 2020 acquisition of Grubhub for $7.3 billion hasn’t worked out; its stock is down 60%, Grubhub remains a laggard, and analysts believe the brand is worth <$1 billion.
JET will make the Grubhub+ subscription service free for Prime members in the first year. Free delivery from some restaurants is also on the cards. Prime promises JET access to millions of customers and better earnings. This will help it offload the distressed Grubhub closer to the evaluation it’s seeking.
It’s a sweet deal for Amazon, which is giving food delivery another shot after the failure of Amazon Restaurants. Amazon’s current playbook is to receive warrants, or the right to buy stock in struggling vendors (like Grubhub) for dirt-cheap. In September 2021, it acquired a 16% stake in UK-based takeout app Deliveroo. Though Deliveroo’s stock is down 50%, its loyalty subscriptions quadrupled because of its partnership with Prime.
Closer home, the Amazon Foods delivery service is still live in Bengaluru. Growth is reportedly sluggish, but Amazon may just pull a fast one in India too.
🎧 Amazon is eyeing the food delivery space. Find out why.
The Heat Is Now On Vivo
Chinese outposts in India can't catch a break. After booking Huawei and Xiaomi for illegal foreign remittances, the Enforcement Directorate conducted raids across 48 Vivo offices and its distributors in the country for alleged money laundering. It also seized $59 million (₹465 crore) from the company in bank accounts, cash, and gold bars.
What happened? Smartphone maker Vivo is in the dock after an FIR claimed that Chinese shareholders forged identification documents. The ED is also investigating related shell companies. Chinese directors of a firm associated with Vivo are reportedly on the run. And China has made its displeasure known.
Wake up? In a rare incident, the FBI and MI5 joined hands to warn about the “game-changing” espionage threat from China. According to the FBI's Chris Wray, China is stealing tech prowess for economic gain, using "elaborate shell games" as a cover for spying, and taking advantage of the SPAC boom.
Apple Vs. Spyware
Apple is debuting a security feature called Lockdown mode to make iPhones, iPads and Macs less vulnerable to spyware attacks. Primarily intended for journalists, activists, and human rights defenders, it will be available to all users.
Full disclosure: Once activated, Lockdown Mode will disable features that were previously used to break into devices. The Messages app, web browsing, incoming FaceTime calls, and wired connections with a computer or accessory will be disabled. Apple is even offering a reward of $2 million for software developers who report security bypasses in Lockdown Mode.
Backdrop: This security update comes after the Pegasus scandal highlighted leaks in Apple devices. In November 2021, Apple sued Pegasus-creator NSO Group for damaging the tech giant's business. As did Meta. Google and Microsoft have made similar strides. So far, Apple is ahead.
BorExit: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned from his post, following a cabinet revolt. Johnson will stay on as caretaker PM till a new Tory leader is appointed in October.
Exit Stage: Rajeev Misra, the CEO of the firm that runs SoftBank Vision Fund, will step back from an executive role to pursue a new venture.
Watch out, Cred: BookMyShow (BMS), the online movie ticketing and events platform, has invested ₹10 crore in a new D2C marketplace company called PopClub. BMS will also list PopClub on its platform.
Limbo: Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter is reportedly in ”jeopardy”, with his camp unconvinced about Twitter’s spam figures’ verifiability.
Cleared to fly: Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed Akasa Air is scheduled to launch operations in late July after receiving its Air Operator Certificate.
Big deal: Pharma giant Merck is in advanced talks to acquire cancer biotech company Seagen in a deal worth $40 billion or more, according to The Wall Street Journal. The deal would help Merck expand its cancer drugs offering.
RIP: Kazuki Takahashi, the 60-year-old creator of the hit manga series Yu Gi-Oh, was found dead in the sea off Okinawa. Yu Gi-Oh! (The King of Games) in Japanese, began as a serialised comic, before branching into franchise across video games, popular trading card game, and beyond.
It’s not you: …it’s hunger. Being hangry is a thing. Scientists say so. According to a study, hunger does influence behaviour. The longer you're away from food, the more irritable you become. The researchers have one tip: “Don't go hungry.”
Triple strike: As if Fourth of July flight disruptions weren’t enough, American Airlines has to make lemonade out of the lemons served by a technical glitch. The glitch in question caused an error that dropped 12,000 flights from pilot rosters, meaning they got an unscheduled vacation. The carrier is now offering triple pay to aviators who’ll work the dropped flights. Just when we thought the aviation business couldn’t get tougher.
Garbage day: Gmail’s spam filters aren’t much to write home about anyway, but things could get worse for American users. Google may suspend filters for political messages as part of a baffling plan to “enhance user and bulk sender experience”. It’s a win for Republicans, who wanted to stonewall tech companies from marking political mails as spam… which they are. Not cool, Google. Not cool.
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