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Joe wrecks Biden’s plan
Also in today’s edition: Watch n’ buy on Meesho, Shared office comes of age, Millennials at the helm, Party love for Amazon in China
Good morning! Were you content with 20-25 minute deliveries? Too bad. Blinkit co-founder and CEO Albinder Dhindsa tweeted that his ultrafast delivery platform will now only service locations where delivery personnel can arrive within 10 minutes. This means a temporary forfeiture of roughly 37% of customers, till Blinkit solves (or tries to) for the hyperconvenience nobody asked for.
Btw, our podcast has been going strong for two months now. Tune in on your daily jog, drive to the office, or even as you WFH-ers have breakfast in bed. We promise it’ll be music to your ears.
The Market Signal
Stocks: Foreign investors continued selling Indian stocks bringing down benchmark indices to their lowest levels in four months. They have now sold stocks worth more than $1 billion in December alone. Multiple broking firms are now tempering their bullish view of Indian stocks citing high valuations, Bloomberg reported. It pointed out that the Sensex was trading 21 times the profits expected in the next one year compared to the MSCI Emerging Market Index which was trading at 12 times.
Meesho Goes (Live) Shopping
India’s live shopping bandwagon has a new entrant. Meesho, whose sights were until now set strictly on social commerce, will reportedly launch a live streaming platform. The live streaming (or rather, live shopping) service will be available to Meesho’s sellers at a charge.
Live commerce is the new black: Live shopping isn’t a new concept; that credit goes to teleshopping, which was the first to marry live broadcasts with real-time buying from virtual stores. But social media spurred a rebirth of the concept. The trailblazers here are Chinese platforms Douyin, Taobao, and Kuaishou, which inspired copycats worldwide– so much so that even YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter buckled to the charms of live shopping.
Cut-throat competition: With live commerce, Meesho is banking on a revenue source other than seller ads. But it will have to compete with Myntra’s M-Live, Walmart-owned Flipkart’s live commerce partnership with Moj, Nykaa, and Roposo in this space. Interestingly, Walmart was the first retailer to test Twitter’s live shopping feature.
Joe Says No To Joe
For the uninitiated, West Virginia’s Democratic senator Joe Manchin is often termed as the most powerful man in DC, with his vote key to any legislation in a 50-50 Senate. So on Sunday, when Manchin went on Fox to say he was a ‘no’ on Joe Biden’s flagship $2.9 trillion “Build Back Better” bill, there was a sense of doom and gloom in Washington, especially among Democrats, heading into an election year (2022 midterms)
Why a no? Manchin cited “a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation”, besides the Democrats’ determination to “dramatically reshape our society” as reasons behind his opposition to the bill. Biden’s plan offered tax incentives for climate initiatives, expanded funding for child care, and paid family leave, among others.
Covid threat: If Manchin’s pushback wasn’t enough, two Democratic senators — Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts and Cory Booker from New Jersey — tested positive for COVID.
WeWork India Is Profitable
Spending five days at the office is no longer a thing and work from home is here to stay, perhaps even after the pandemic is gone. A testament to that is New York-based coworking space WeWork. After operating for four years in India, it turned a profit for the first time in November 2021.
Growth Plans: WeWork India is looking to add a million square feet of flexible office space in 2022 to meet growing demand from companies. WeWork’s competitor Awfis is also in expansion mode, with a new space set up in Hyderabad and 12 more coming up in southern and western India.
Changing Times: Prolonged lockdowns forced many companies to give up expensive office spaces and adapt to remote work. Even though lockdowns have largely lifted, fears of another wave of infections due to the new Coronavirus variant Omicron, are sending firms scurrying for cover.
Coworking spaces have emerged as flexible, affordable and high-quality work environments that individuals or teams can operate out of. According to research from CII-ANAROCK, the market size of coworking spaces in India is set to double in the next five years, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 15%.
Pandemic has changed work and lifestyle preferences. More people are now opting to live in largely self-sufficient gated communities that offer a sense of security and amenities such as swimming pools and sports facilities to go with it. Unlike manufacturing concerns, the tech and services industry, several MNCs and startups are quite suited to remote work.
Millennial Leaders On Song
Chile has a new president who is a millennial. In the recent elections, 35-year-old Gabriel Boric, who promised a welfare state, prevailed over ultra-conservative lawyer Jose Antnio Kast who wanted to cut taxes and increase social spending.
Coming of age: Millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1996, are now moving into leadership roles in many countries. Being young also means lack of experience which sometimes makes them vulnerable as Finland’s social democrat Prime Minister Sanna Marin found out. Sebastian Kurz, 35, who resigned in October under a cloud of corruption as Austria’s chancellor, is leaving politics.
Ideas and ideals: Youth also brim with ideas, which at times may seem quite radical. El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele has sought to turn his country into a crypto haven, even making Bitcoin legal tender.
Love The Party, Love The Country. Else…
You have to be a stickler to the party line (and Xi thought) if you want to do business in China. Amazon disabled ratings, comments and reviews on President Xi Jinping’s book. This is similar to how Apple bowed low and cut deals to thrive in China.
U-turn: Inconvenient news doesn’t survive on China’s Internet and the sources are silenced too. Tennis star Peng Shuai, who had accused former Chinese politician Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault, had suddenly disappeared, triggering an international furore. Peng now denies the claim.
Cultural curbs: A few months ago it clamped down on what it calls an abnormal celebrity culture, deleting fan accounts, frowning at “too much celebration of beauty”, and “vulgar influencers”. Artists were urged to “oppose the decadent ideas of money worship, hedonism, and extreme individualism”. Famous actor Vicky Zhao saw her work and all references to her disappear from social media.
What Else Made The Signal?
🦄 funding: Razorpay’s valuation jumped more than 7x in 15 months to $7.5 billion after a $375 million funding. Cars24 raised $400 million, doubling its valuation to $3.3 billion. OfBusiness has also raised $325 million at a $5 billion valuation.
#MuskTweeks: A Tesla investor filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk for his Twitter poll of 10% stock sale which pulled down the company’s stock price. Meanwhile, Musk has tweeted again saying that he will pay over $11 billion in taxes this year.
Deferred: The annual gathering of the world’s top business leaders and policymakers in Davos, Switzerland, has been deferred for fear of Omicron. It was scheduled to be held between January 17 and 21.
Fixing economy: While the UK and US are tightening interest rates to head off inflation, China has cut a benchmark lending rate for the first time since April 2020 to counter a loss of economic momentum.
Verifying identity: Indian Parliament today passed legislation allowing the Election Commission to link voters’ Aadhar numbers with electoral rolls.
On a pause: Toyota plans to halt production at five factories due to shortage of semiconductors. It will directly affect about 20,000 vehicles.
Bar on trading: India has banned futures trading in seven agricultural commodities for one year to check rising prices.
Holy cow! The Chhattisgarh government is betting big on … cow dung. The state's chief minister Bhupesh Baghel launched a scheme to buy cow dung at ₹2 per kg. Till date, the government has distributed ₹114 crore towards this endeavour. Local women prepare vermicompost out of the dung and sell it to farmers at ₹10 per kg. Some loose change never hurt anybody.
Not funny: December 17 is a sombre day in North Korea. It marks the 10th anniversary of Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il’s death. For 11 days, North Koreans are prohibited from drinking alcohol, engaging in leisure activities and even laughing. Grocery shopping was banned on the anniversary day.
Snitchy leagues: JK Rowling gave the world Harry Potter and Quidditch. Now, two leagues do not want to associate with the author anymore, all thanks to her repeated "anti-trans" remarks. The leagues take pride in being gender-equal and inclusive.
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