PV Sindhu hates your tweet

Also in this edition: $600 million crypto heist, MakeMyTrip makes 8x, Facebook will give you space.

Good morning! Everyone wants to be Thrasio. Even Dream 11. The company has announced a $250 million fund for companies in the business of sports, games, and fitness that can make $100 million in topline. Strange way of announcing an acquisition strategy. 

On to the day’s stories:

  1. Skip coffee, skip sugar. 

  2. So much misinformation, who is the author?

  3. Karaoke bars are China’s next target.

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The Market Signal

Stocks: The Nifty and Sensex ended on opposite sides of the gain/loss border after another volatile day of trade. Metal stocks outperformed as the sectoral index gained 3% while pharma stocks were among the biggest losers of the day.


PV Sindhu Heads To Court

Brands collecting Olympic stardust has sparked an interesting debate: should they be allowed to use Indian medal winners’ name and image without permission, even if they’re just congratulating them on social media? 

PV Sindhu certainly doesn’t think so. The badminton star and her agency Baseline Ventures are taking over 20 brands to court seeking damages of INR 50 million from each of them.

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) norms are key to this debate, specifically, guidelines on advertising around the tournament. There was a blackout period between July 13 and August 10 when even brands that sponsor players were not allowed to post about them. 

It is this norm that Baseline Ventures claims brands flouted in ‘moment marketing’ by congratulating Sindhu using her name and likeness. This, when her usual sponsors weren’t allowed to post about her due to IOC norms.

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Amazon India Hits Reset

E-commerce giant Amazon began restructuring its India operations within days of the Supreme Court allowing antitrust probes against it and Flipkart to continue. The Competition Commission of India was investigating whether platforms favoured sellers in which they had a stake. It includes Amazon’s Cloudtail and Appario, both named in the antitrust complaint. The two have seen major changes since.

JV, No JV: For a start, Cloudtail, one of the largest (if not the largest) sellers on Amazon, will cease operations after May 2022. Amazon is recasting its other joint venture, Appario Retail, and has asked Amandeep Lohan to take charge there as MD and CEO. The US retailer cut its stake in both companies to 24% following new rules in 2019.

Nothing changes: For Amazon, nothing changes operationally. Having bought time till May 2022, it may ask independent sellers to fill Cloudtail’s void.


Does Your Coffee Come With A Pay Hike?

Enjoy a morning cuppa with sugar? Then you better ask for a pay rise. Coffee prices have been frothing for a year. And sugar prices are near four-year highs.

Blame the weather: Droughts and frost have damaged coffee crops in Brazil, the world’s biggest producer of the beans. Arabica prices have risen 50% to hit seven-year highs. Supplies are likely to be short for the next two years. Erratic weather is fuelling sugar prices too and they’ll likely trend upwards for the next 18 months. Brazil is the second-largest exporter of sugar.

The Signal

Cafes and restaurant owners now have to make a choice: absorb costs, switch to cheaper beans or let customers take the hit. 

  1. The pandemic has crippled restaurants and cafes and they would want to protect margins. 

  2. They can switch to cheaper beans but that means serving low-quality coffee which might alienate customers who are just emerging from lockdowns. 

  3. The third, and most likely, option is to add it to the bill. 

Let’s pull the thread of passing costs to customers. On the face of it, cafes and manufacturers will see margins become healthy again. But at a time when unemployment is high and consumption low, the topline of these companies are likely to be impacted.

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China Gets Cultural

Be careful what you croon in a Chinese bar. The government is creating a blacklist of songs that will be forbidden from karaoke venues starting October 1. Content providers will be made responsible for auditing the songs supplied to the country’s 50,000 entertainment outlets.

Sober does it: Keep a count of how many drinks you knock back too. The country’s anti-graft watchdog has called for curbs on business drinking as part of its commentary on the sexual assault accusation at Alibaba. These allegations that went viral, along with those against China-born K-Pop star and actor Kris Wu, are reviving a stifled #MeToo discussion in China. Meanwhile, Weibo has fired a PR executive on allegations of bribery.

Exorcism: In 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping had launched a campaign against corruption and crime called "Saohei chu'e," which means “sweep away black and eliminate evil”. The crackdown netted several entrepreneurs, busted 40,000 criminal cells, and 50,000 Communist Party and government officials. The campaign ended last year and soon after, another began largely centred around technology. It may go on for the next five years.


Whose Misinformation Is It Anyway?

False flag cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns may be fuelling geopolitical tensions. 

Target India: Facebook removed a network of accounts in Russia that targeted India, Latin America and the US with vaccine fake news. It took down 65 Facebook accounts and 243 Instagram accounts associated with Fazze, the subsidiary of a UK-registered firm AdNow. The accounts, which spread misinformation to magnify the side effects of Pfizer and AstraZeneca, may have originated from account farms in Bangladesh and Pakistan but posed as India-based.

Target Israel, Iran: Cybersecurity firm, FireEye, said Chinese hackers, masquerading as Iranians spies, targeted Israeli government and telecommunication networks. Investigators, however, spotted the deception which could have inflamed the fierce rivalry between Iran and Israel.

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What Else Made The Signal?

Money heist: Hackers stole $600 million from decentralized finance firm Poly Network in the biggest cryptocurrency heist to date.

Make my day: Nasdaq-listed travel firm MakeMyTrip has sold its stake in IPO-bound Ixigo for $38.5 million, eight times its investment of $4.8 million.

Fat cats on a diet: The number of billionaires in India shrunk to 136 in 2020-21 from 141 in 2019-20.

Cloud fight: Amazon got a $10 billion JEDI-like contract from the National Security Agency and Microsoft is not happy about it. 

True moonshot: NASA can’t send humans to the moon by 2024 because their suits won’t be ready in time. Elon Musk has offered to make them for $1 billion. 

Boundaries: Facebook is undertaking a ‘very meaningful pivot’ by rebuilding its ads to collect lesser personal information on users.

Taking off: Boeing is likely to land an $8.5 billion deal with Jhunjhunwala’s Akasa for 70 aircraft.


FWIW

Plant-based pepperoni: Want to add the world’s favourite pizza topping, pepperoni, on your pizza but you’re vegetarian? No problem. Pizza Hut, in association with Beyond Meat, has come up with a vegetarian pepperoni pizza that will be selling at 70 of its locations.

Congratulations China! China didn’t rank No. 1 in the Olympics this time. But some folks from China have clubbed medals from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau to create a fantasy medal table that pushes up the country’s ranking.

H2O on the Moon: Chandrayaan-2, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s lunar mission, has found water molecules and hydroxyl on the Moon. 

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