Amazon Sports is on now

Also in this edition: PUBG's going public, SoftBank takes Klarna to $45 billion, Covid19 hits Chinese shipping.

Good morning! You know who had a good weekend? Byju’s. The ed-tech company raised another round of capital from UBS Group and Zoom founder Eric Yuan. This new round makes Byju’s the most valuable venture-funded tech company in India at $16.5 billion. The crown was earlier held by Paytm.

Anyway, on to the day’s stories.

  1. Large American tech companies are cooling on India.

  2. WazirX is in a spot.

  3. The hackers are back and there's all kinds of trouble.

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Big Tech Cools On India

The saga between social media platforms and the government of India took a new twist. Twitter said that it has declined to comply with several orders from the government regarding taking down tweets and accounts of journalists and activists, especially those that it disagreed with. Twitter’s legal chief said that the platform would be forced to take to the courts if the need arose.

This aggressive stance isn’t new. Last month, Facebook and WhatsApp filed separate petitions against the new intermediary laws. The petitions claimed the laws undermined people’s right to privacy.

But all this may be coming to a head. A Reuters report, which quotes a few unnamed executives, says that the run-ins with the law in India are not sitting well with American decision makers and there may be a scaling back of ambitions when it comes to the country. It isn’t just platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, even Amazon has found itself in legal tangles with the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The antitrust commission started the probe a day before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ now infamous visit to India in 2020.

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Crypto Exchange Gets In A Legal Spot

WazirX, the Binance-owned cryptocurrency exchange in India, is in some trouble with the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The ED has issued a Show Cause Notice (a notice seeking explanation for suspected economic offences) for not toeing the line on certain foreign exchange laws for crypto transactions worth INR 27.9 billion.

Two sides of the coin: Apparently, WazirX is in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) of 1999. The ED alleges the crypto exchange has been keeping trade records anonymous, which makes it difficult to track transactions. This anonymity, the ED adds, has powered illegal Chinese online betting apps.

WazirX, on the other hand, says it is clean. In fact, the company claims it hasn’t even received the Show Cause Notice yet. Nischal Shetty, founder and chief executive at WazirX, has said that the exchange is compliant with all rules and has even gone over and beyond to collect KYC information. If it were to receive formal intimation, Shetty said, it would comply with the investigation.

Cryptic crypto: India is still undecided on its approach to cryptocurrencies and is still mulling how these tokens fit into the country’s financial system. This legal spat could complicate matters further.

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Amazon Primes For Big-time Sport

Amazon’s aggressive push into the costly world of sports broadcasting shouldn’t come as a surprise. On Friday, it secured a deal to broadcast 80% of France’s top-flight football (Ligue 1) matches, which might come as a reprieve for the league. The deal, Bloomberg reported, would cost Amazon about 275 million Euros ($333 million) a year.

Not gone down well: Amazon’s entry has ruffled a few feathers in France, particularly those who hold the rights to broadcast the remaining 20% matches, including Canal Plus. The French pay-TV channel has threatened to back out of a deal to broadcast Ligue 1 matches.

The French saga: Amazon might also have played an unlikely saviour for a league that hasn’t had the greatest of years, from a financial perspective. In December 2020, the French league’s deal with Spanish-Chinese company Mediapro collapsed with the latter handing back its rights to the league. This meant a dire financial situation for football clubs which heavily depend on the league’s redistribution of broadcast revenue. All of this in the backdrop of a pandemic that has already affected football.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s spree: The Ligue 1 deal essentially signals Amazon ramping up its live-sport portfolio on Prime Video, having recently acquired exclusive rights to NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ for an 11-year period starting in 2022. Last year, it signed an exclusive contract with New Zealand Cricket to stream all international matches played in the country to a specific territory — India.

The Signal

For Amazon, the rights to the French football league represent a big leap. For many reasons. One, it is a tacit acknowledgement of a growing belief that the future of live sports is streaming (and is increasingly local) and that Amazon could win the spoils by taking a decisive first step. Two, that Amazon itself could be ready for the big-time, moving away from its recent strategy of bidding for smaller packages of premium sports properties.

And, finally, Amazon’s live football portfolio only keeps getting bigger. It has the Premier League broadcast rights — 20 matches a season — rolling over for another three seasons, besides its three-year deals in Italy and Germany to broadcast Champions League matches on specific days.

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A Hack Job

In our last edition, we mentioned how hackers had taken extremely valuable info from gaming giant Electronic Arts, including source code for games such as FIFA and Battlefield. They were joined over the weekend by McDonald’s — which suffered data breaches in the US, Taiwan and South Korea — and renewable energy firm Invenergy.

These were just the latest in a long list of companies being targeted online in recent weeks. The Colonial Pipeline hack and JBL meat plants being temporarily shut down had a major impact on the US. Perhaps there’s more to ensue, partly as a fallout of the Solarwinds hack and partly as a punishment for poor data security and infrastructure.

In order to mitigate the threat, the likes of Amazon and the US military are stepping up bug bounty programs. The private sector is also looking to the US government for help.

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They’ve Got The Power

The post-pandemic world is expected to see a serious hike in the spending power of wealthy older consumers. During the pandemic, as parents and grandparents were forced to use the internet, their relationship with e-commerce and social networks potentially changed forever. According to a Bloomberg report, money managers envision a surge in demand for medical services, luxury goods, and travel.

Why it matters:

  1. By the year 2050, the number of people above the age of 65 is projected to double. According to World Data Lab, senior spending power is expected to grow to $14 trillion over the next decade.

  2. Once in-person consultations begin in full force and the surgery backlog clears, global healthcare spending is projected to rise to $8.8 trillion.

  3. The insurance sector stands to benefit from the surge of unplanned retirements.

Remember those “tech-conversations with dad” jokes? They are passé. With their spending capacity and newfound internet savviness, the seniors are forging a new growth story.

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What Else Made The Signal?

Another IPO: Krafton, the publisher of Battlegrounds Mobile India (once known as PUBG) is planning a $5 billion IPO. The Tencent-backed company plans to sell 5% of its shares in the public market.

Drone away: A small town 80km from Bengaluru will host the first medical drone delivery experiment later this week. The drone will have a payload of 1-2kg and fly it over 12-15km.

Vaccines and tests: The government has claimed that India has administered 250 million vaccines so far. A Times of India report has cast doubt over testing done during the Kumbh Mela, indicating that 400,000 tests may have been faked.

Making bank: Swedish fintech company Klarna has raised $639 million from SoftBank, and is now valued at a whopping $45.6 billion.

Space with Bezos: An unknown bidder has paid $28 million to fly to space with Jeff Bezos in his Blue Origin capsule, scheduled to take off next month. 

It’s raining cash: Instadapp, a decentralised finance (DeFi) startup, has got $10 million in funding, backed by Standard Crypto and other strategic partners.

Covid crunch: Covid-19 outbreaks at a busy Chinese port and other manufacturing centres such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Taiwan have hit global supply chains, especially that of semiconductor chips.

World-class: Fans of Finland and Denmark national football teams made a touching gesture after the latter’s Christian Eriksen survived a health scare, having collapsed on the pitch.


Fun Signals

Crocettos, anyone? There’s a new shoe on the block and it will have you either whooping in delight or shaking your head in disbelief. There’s no in-between. You can now combine your comfy Crocs with stiletto heels, a fashion invention that is taking Twitter by storm. The development is a result of Crocs’ collaboration with Balenciaga for their spring 2022 collection. What say? Yay or nay?

Communism, Leninism, Socialism: Have you ever been so in love with a concept that you name your kids after it? Turns out, someone has. Fifty-two-year-old A Mohan, the current district secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in Salem, has named his kids Communism, Leninism, and Socialism after ideologies he reveres. What’s more, Socialism is all set to wed a woman named Mamata Banerjee. Mohan’s grandkid, Marxism, will also be in attendance at the event.

BTS + McD = Chaos: McDonald’s has made a habit of going viral with its celebrity meal collaborations. Its latest offering is no different. The BTS-inspired nuggets-chips-coke-and-sauces meal has caused chaos all over the world. In Indonesia, the fast-food chain had to shut down four of six outlets in Semarang over fears that they could become Covid hotspots.

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