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Reliance has makeup on its mind
Also in today’s edition: Top streamers double down on India; Coins dance to Nasdaq tune; Anti Vaxxers hit the streets
Binance has a new spot for ad placement: Lionel Messi’s chest. The crypto exchange will sponsor the Argentine national team for the next five years and have the undivided attention of one of football’s most passionate fan bases. There's also a fan token in the works.
Companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet are on a shopping spree, and US regulators have a thing or two to say about it. Many companies are facing pressure from investor activists trying to force "change". Tune in to The Signal Daily to find out more!
The Market Signal*
Stocks: Indian benchmark indices mirrored US markets, which remained in a bear grip until mid-session but slipped out later to end in the green. A key Fed meeting has begun and markets the world over are keenly watching for clues to what lies ahead. Markets are closed in India for Republic Day but the tech rout continued in US markets on Tuesday.
A Clean Slate for Netflix India
Clean Slate Filmz, the production house co-founded by Anushka Sharma and brother Karnesh Ssharma, has inked a $54 million deal with Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming platforms. The agreement involves a rollout of eight web series and movies over 18 months. Three of these—Anushka Sharma starrer Chakda Express, thriller Mai, and the drama Qala—will be released on Netflix.
Looking for a reprieve: Clean Slate’s production Bulbbul is one of Netflix India’s few acclaimed original films. Its web series Paatal Lok is also one of Amazon India’s highest-rated originals. Netflix, whose co-founder Reed Hastings made a rare admission about India being a challenging market, will look to Anushka Sharma’s Midas touch as producer to give it a much-needed fillip.
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Reliance Throws A Tiara In The Ring
Reliance has bought into the Nykaa story with an initiative of its own, Tiara. Reportedly helmed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s daughter Isha, Tiara hopes to conquer a market that exploded during the pandemic and has spawned unicorns such as the Good Glamm Group. Beauty products will add one more layer to Reliance’s proposed “super app”.
How? Well, it will put its acquisitions, mainly Fynd and Netmeds to work. The former is expected to help accelerate its omnichannel and frontend plans, while the latter will provide supply chain and backend know-how. It’s not as if Reliance has not had a brush with beauty before. Its e-commerce product AJIO already features a beauty store with global brands such as Burberry, Hugo Boss and Armani.
Beauty is one of the most popular content categories on social media platforms. The Nykaa effect has made online beauty products a hit with millennials and Gen Z. With the pandemic hurrying up the category’s growth, it is expected to be a $20 billion opportunity by 2025. It is not easy though.
Reliance, a past master at backward integration, is leveraging the strengths of its portfolio to defray costs and maximise margins. It is an essential component of the super-app strategy. Rival Tata has also identified beauty as an integral part of its super-app plans. Although there will be upstart tech-led companies nipping at its heels, they will have to contend with Reliance’s execution skills and deep pockets. After all, it runs businesses that keep throwing up cash.
TRACKING THE THIRD WAVE
Coexisting With Covid
With Omicron infection rates soaring, you may find yourself despairingly asking when it will end. The good news is experts think it will. The bad news is Omicron is applying the brakes on the global economy, making post-pandemic plans into uncertain territory.
Force-jab protesters: Not just cases, the number of protestors on the streets against compulsory vaccination is also increasing; from Washington DC to Madurai. The UK is seeking volunteers in large numbers for a take-at-home trial for antiviral pill Molnupiravir.
Mask on: A judge in New York has ruled that the state’s mask mandate is unconstitutional and can’t be forced.
Biden May Set Crypto Direction
In sync: The correlation between stocks and cryptocurrencies is unclear but gaining strength with every fluctuation. It is perhaps also a function of how investors are looking at crypto. Asian retail investors are at the forefront of crypto adoption and speculative interest is also high in the region.
The immediate direction of crypto prices which had recovered in lockstep with equities would be determined by the Fed meeting that is under way, but a White House strategy on digital assets expected to be revealed in February 2021 would likely lead the global policy direction. India might follow in the budget session of Parliament.
Wrong pin: Google has been accused of misleading users about the collection of location data by four Attorney Generals of three states in the US. Google has also replaced Federated Learning of Cohorts with its latest proposal: Topics.
Top honours: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, both Indian-born Americans, will receive Padma Bhushan. Microsoft also beat expectations with a 21% rise in the December quarter net profit.
Free but a fee: Facebook launched a “free” Internet service for users in developing countries who were charged for it anyway.
Rough times: The IMF has cut India's economic growth forecast for FY2022 to 9% amid growing Omicron concerns.
No-go: China rejected metaverse-related trademark applications from companies to tamp down the hype.
Pink slip: FMCG giant Unilever will slash ~1,500 jobs to streamline its business.
Another shot: Fast fashion brand Shein may revive its US IPO.
Jackpot in junk: While most spam folders are filled with unwanted emails, Michigan’s Laura Spears discovered a life-changing message in junk—a $3 million lottery prize. Fifty-five-year-old Spears had entered the Mega Millions lottery on December 31. With the money in her bank, she is planning to hang up her boots. If she checks the junk folder again, she might even find a good recliner.
Rules changed: David Fincher’s Fight Club is finally streaming in China. But with Chinese characteristics. Spoiler alert: In the movie the revolution comes to a dramatic end with buildings exploding in a nighttime cityscape. But in the Chinese version, there's a plot change. In fact, there's no explosion either. Viewers are told that the state successfully derailed Tyler's plan.
Paid publicity: China is now paying social media influencers from the US for saying nice things about the country before the Beijing Winter Olympics. Just a bit of social media airbrushing amid growing threats of a diplomatic boycott.
Our offices will be closed today to commemorate the 72nd Republic Day and there will be no edition of The Signal on Thursday.
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