India is Apple’s secret weapon

Also in this edition: PolicyBazaar > Google, India and Twitter friends again, A buyout for Udupi-based Robosoft.

Good morning! Apple is on everyone’s mind. It is looking at your pictures, it wants to give you a pro camera and, according to reports, it made $3 billion from selling phones and accessories to Indians this year. That’s 60% more than the company made last year.

On to the day’s big stories:

  1. Crypto in India is about to take off. Strap in. 

  2. Tiktok > Facebook and Zuckerberg knows it. 

  3. DC is learning from Black Widow.

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The Market Signal

Stocks: Indian benchmark indices staged a late recovery from a mid-day slump to close marginally in the green. The slump was largely attributed to profit booking after the indices hit record intraday highs. The broader market continued its decline with the smallcap index dropping a further 2%.


India’s Big Guns Get Ready

Conglomerates Tata group and Reliance Industries have announced forays into businesses that could anchor India in high-value, global supply chains.

Bombay House: Tata group chairman N Chandrasekaran said the group has pivoted to electronics, 5G network equipment, and semiconductor manufacturing. It has acquired 5G equipment maker Tejas Networks which will compete with the likes of Ericsson, Samsung, and Huawei. But its entry into the $1 trillion global chip-making business will be the real big deal. 

Long play: Billionaires Mukesh Ambani, Bill Gates, and others have invested in energy storage company Ambri. The Reliance group has put $50 million in the US-based firm that makes calcium-and-antimony electrode cells which are said to be cheaper than lithium-ion batteries. Reliance and Ambri are discussing setting up a large factory in India to make long-duration cells that last up to 24 hours. 

Meanwhile, Reliance is said to be making a bid for the Dutch telecom company, T-Mobile.

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TikTok Is Here To Conquer

Mark Zuckerberg wasn't wrong when he identified TikTok as a key threat to Facebook's dominance. His fears have come true with TikTok pipping the blue app as the most downloaded app globally for the first time. It also overtook the Facebook app to become the most downloaded non-gaming app in July 2021, with over 63 million installs. Last month, it crossed three billion downloads, a feat only Facebook has achieved before.

Completing the circle: Everyone wants to be TikTok. But the short-video maker, with its assured base product, has now caught up with the competition, most recently testing a ‘Stories’ feature, expanding its Live Events, and potentially redefining hiring with video resumes.

Potential India return: Last month, reports indicated that ByteDance registered a trademark for ‘TickTock’ in India, prompting speculations of a potential return after a year-long ban. Should that happen, coupled with a post-ban consolidation of the short-video market, TikTok will likely stay at the top of these lists.


Cryptocurrency Crossroads

Another day, another Indian startup gone unicorn. A billion-dollar valuation is almost commonplace in this extraordinary year of record funding, but there’s something unique about this one. Trading exchange CoinDCX’s $90 million Series C raise led by Eduardo Savarin’s B Capital has made it India’s first cryptocurrency unicorn.

This nearly doubles the crypto-related investments in India this year, most of which have been from foreign funds. A lack of clarity over regulations and a potential blanket ban has kept Indian investors wary. Now, regulations in the US may force a rethink from both communities.

Our way or the highway: The US Senate has rejected an amendment to the crypto tax provisions in its trillion-dollar infrastructure bill. The amendment had sought to clarify the definition of the term “broker”, which many believe currently includes miners, developers, stakers, and others.

Ups and downs: California-based crypto trading platform FalconX has quintupled in value over the past five months to $3.75 billion, as per CEO Raghu Yarlagadda. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex has been fined $10 million by the US SEC for operating an "unregistered online digital asset exchange".

The Signal

Cryptocurrency markets have been on a rebound of late. Bitcoin is currently trading at around $45,000 a token, halfway between its lows from a few weeks ago and highs from a few months ago. Now, the need for reporting and paying taxes on crypto investments may curb some investors’ enthusiasm for them. But on the flip side, a formalisation of sorts of the industry might give more cautious investors the confidence to enter the market.

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Stop The End Of The World

A dozen Indian coastal cities, including financial capital Mumbai, could be submerged by the end of the century, according to a NASA analysis of the report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

Reckless usage: Continued use of fossil fuels has led to extreme climate changes, which are now impacting sea levels. Throughout the world, wildfires and heatwaves are ravaging countries. India is also likely to see weather extremities from droughts and heatwaves to cyclones in the coming years.

Way out: Governments and companies need to cut carbon emissions immediately to minimise the impact of the inescapable climate crisis. Yet, It is not going to be easy with countries disagreeing on how to go about it. India, which was a holdout at the London climate talks late last month, wants developed countries to acknowledge the historic cumulative pollution and take proportionate action.


Warner Bros Learns Disney’s Lessons

Scarlett Johansson has single-handedly changed Hollywood studio behaviour. Warner Brothers has made a deal with AMC to create a 45-day exclusive window. This window will guarantee that films released in 2022 will not be screened on streaming platforms as well. This is the company’s second such deal. 

It is important: For one, Warner Brothers are walking back their much-criticised decision to do simultaneous releases. Usually, actors ask for points on the profit earned in theaters in exchange for salary upfront. A simultaneous release takes away all the revenue-making potential. This deal will prevent fallouts like the one around Disney’s Black Widow.

Staying with AMC: The company that is regarded as a meme stock told its investors (and its fans on Reddit) that it will be accepting cryptocurrency at its concession stands.

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What Else Made The Signal?

Going public: China Telecom plans to raise $8.4 billion in a Shanghai IPO, after being delisted from the NYSE in January. It could be the biggest IPO of the year.

Change the game: SoftBank has dumped shares of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Netflix, but sees big gains from Policybazaar and Paytm IPOs. 

Results are in: Zomato reported adjusted sales growth of 26% to INR 11.6 billion for Q1 FY22 while consolidated net loss grew to INR 3.56 billion from INR 1 billion in the corresponding year-ago period.

Toed the line: Finally, the government of India has declared that Twitter is now compliant with the country’s IT rules.

Age limit: Google will limit targeted advertising for users below the age of 18. It is also considering privacy changes across YouTube, Google Assistant, location history, and the Google Play Store, among others. 

Buy out: Japan’s TechnoPro Holdings., a technical staffing service firm, is acquiring app maker Robosoft Technologies for INR 8.05 billion. 

Another IPO: API Holdings, parent of India’s largest online pharmacy PharmEasy, is planning to raise $1 billion for their initial public offering.


FWIW

Space ads: Elon Musk’s SpaceX is now partnering with a Canadian tech startup, Geometric Energy, to blast off a satellite that will display advertisements in space. Oof.

New Olympic sport: There’s a possibility that cricket might debut at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games as a competitive sport. The International Cricket Council wants to submit a formal bid for Twenty20 tournaments to be included.

Respecting the spectrum: A new analysis of a 1,000-year-old grave in Finland suggests that non-binary people were respected and held high-status positions in ancient society.

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