Our property is getting seized

Also in today's edition: Record-breaking funding, Google sued, and Tiger in a hurry

Good morning! You know one thing we miss about going to work? It’s not meeting people but traveling. We love the warm towel in business class and the mint on the pillow. You know who is overjoyed about all of this being eliminated? Our employers. TCS saved INR 22 billion in corporate travel costs, RIL saved about INR 5 billion.

Anyway, let’s dive straight in:

  1. Zomato gets hot, Ola goes cool.

  2. We got some Fake Tesla shares for you. 

  3. I am tired, you’re tired. Let’s just take a long weekend.

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Don’t Quit, Just Work Less 

Considering leaving your job? You’re not the only one. Monster.com surveyed 649 employees in the US and found that 95% were ready to call it quits. The reason? Burnout. Don’t fret though. There’s a solution brewing to that.

Antidote: An Icelandic study of 2,500 workers on four-day work weeks with full pay found that it boosted people’s well-being and productivity. The Japanese government has suggested a four-day-week option. In February, India considered crunching the average work time while drafting new labour codes. Food delivery giant Swiggy shortened its week in May to deal with Covid fatigue.

Doing better: Fewer working hours can actually make you productive, happier and healthier. A 2019 Microsoft experiment with 2,300 Japanese employees working four days a week found employees happier, productivity higher by 40%, and time-offs reduced by 25%. Lesser work time gives people a chance to lead a low-stress life  and perform better. With countries such as Spain and New Zealand also tryingit out, this may become the new work culture.

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It’s Hot On The Street And The Streets 

Zomato’s IPO is going to happen sooner than expected. Yesterday, the food tech unicorn made a splash and announced that it would be listing in the sub INR 100 band next week. The company is set to be valued north of INR 640 billion and it has planned to raise INR 90 billion of which INR 3.75 billion is meant for secondaries. The company also confirmed its investment in Grofers.

How hot: We’ll let this tweet do the heavy lifting for us. But it is going to be valued at multiple times the Barbeque Nation IPO, which was the last food IPO on the BSE.

On the street: While Dalal Street takes a breath, it is the streets that will be hot, with mobility company, Ola, preparing to open bookings for its electric scooter from August. The cheapest variant, according to Inc42, will be priced at under INR 100,000. Electric scooters are a tricky segment to play in. Especially, since Hero retails its electric two-wheelers at ~INR 50,000.

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Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t 

Cairn Energy has seized 20 properties owned by the Indian government in Paris, the Financial Timesreported.

Pay up or: The Scottish oil explorer got a French court to order an asset freeze of the properties worth 20 million euros. The company has been trying to make the Indian government pay $1.7 billion that an international arbitration court awarded it for wrongful taxation. Cairn says it has identified globally scattered assets worth $70 billion that it would go after as long as India refuses to pay.

Will fight: The finance ministry said it has received no communication from the French Tribunal judiciaire de Paris but has vowed to duel it out.

The Signal

The Indian government faces a conundrum. It has always maintained that the $1.4 billion tax — on a 2007 Cairn India IPO, but demanded only after the law changed in 2012 — was rightfully owed. Paying would mean acknowledging the law was bad and inviting others to follow the route. If it sticks to its guns, the government may end up having to fight expensive cases in foreign courts to protect India’s overseas assets. Devas Multimedia, which is seeking $1.2 billion after an arbitration win, is already following in Cairn’s footsteps and has filed to seize Air India’s New York assets. Telecom company Vodafone and the Indian government are also locked in international arbitration over the same tax law.

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Fake Stocks, Anyone? 

Blockchain techies are creating an alternative way to trade in stocks.

Defying convention: Two projects — Mirror Protocol and Synthetix — have created digital fakes of highly popular shares such as Tesla and Apple that can be traded on blockchains. Synthetix offers multiple assets to trade that track real-world price movements. 

Ghost trade: They enable enthusiasts to trade in these “synthetic” assets such as a Tesla share clone the same way they would on a real exchange but without the hassles and rules. The tokens trade on decentralised, automated markets like Uniswap and Terraswap, which allow users to buy and sell the assets directly on the blockchain, Bloomberg reported.

Headache: It is billed as a decentralised finance innovation but at the core is similar to the bucket shops of the US in the 1950s or India’s very own “Dabba trading” where independent operators set up informal exchanges that mirrored regular equity trading. The innovators consider capital controls and regulations such as know-your-client rules as barriers that need to be avoided, a potential headache for stock exchanges and regulators.

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ICYMI 

Medieval quarantine: Ever thought about where quarantine really started? The world’s first state-imposed quarantine happened in a quaint city on top of the Adriatic Sea cliffs. That’s now in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Back in the 14th century, when the Black Death was ravaging the world, the city couldn’t just shut off its borders because it wanted to maintain its wealth. Instead, it imposed a 40-day quarantine for travelers on one of its desolate islands. Breaking the quarantine could lead to torture or snipped off noses and ears. Yikes.

Finding fraud: Don’t feel guilty about gaming too much. Turns out, gamers are smart cookies, adept at catching fraud. From audio-spectrum analysis to questioning fishy performance, gamers can call a bluff much better than scientists. This article talks about how scientists should take a leaf out of gamers’ playbooks to detect scams in scientific papers and journals.

Control freaks: Imagine losing agency over your own life. That’s the story of Britney Spears. For the past 13 years, the troubled princess of pophas been under a “conservatorship”, wherein someone else calls the shots on her personal, economic, and legal decisions, all legally. All of the 39-year-old’s decisions have been made by a team that includes some lawyers and her father, Jamie Spears. This New Yorkerarticle spills the tea. 

Purrfect con tale: An Indian pet care startup cooked up the perfect concoction of fake customers, bottom lines, and furry friends. Cozo Pets was thriving with investment from big venture capitalists and allegedly growing its revenues by four times every three months. Only when Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners conducted due diligence to verify Cozo’s claims did they uncover a web of lies. The doggie tech company claimed to do all its deals in cash but instead was siphoning off money to relatives of the founders and invoicing vague services.

Little ball of anger: You may have heard of “The Joe Rogan Experience”, the official Spotify podcast of the namesake comedian that is estimated at about $100 million. From cage-fighting and psychedelics to quantum mechanics, the podcast covers some intriguing topics in the quintessential Rogan style. Remember when Elon Musk smoked that blunt? In this NYT profile of Rogan, dive into the intricacies of what makes him King of the podcast world and get a glimpse of the man himself.

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What Else Made The Signal?

Funding galore: Global venture capital funding has hit an all-time record high of $288 billion in the first half of 2021, up ~$110 from the same period last year. Maximum companies that have gone public were valued over $10 billion.

Google sued: In the US, 36 states and districts have sued Google for supposedly paying off competition and using restrictive contracts to have a monopoly on the Android Play Store.

Rating cut: Fitch Ratings slashed India’s growth forecast to 10% for the current year from an earlier estimate of 12.8%, citing slower recovery after the second wave of Covid. 

Roaring high: Tiger Global averaged 1.3 deals a day in Q2, according to a CB Insights report. This also marked an eight-fold increase (81) in deals from the same quarter last year.

Aviation to take flight? SpiceJet has officially announced that it will launch 42 new domestic and international flights between July 10 and 30. Currently, Indian carriers are operating around 1,400 daily domestic flights.

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That's it from us this week. Have a great weekend!