VCs are hungry for samosas
Also in today’s edition: Akash Ambani gets a promotion; EV blitz slows down supercars; HIV patients in limbo; Microtransactions is working for Activision Blizzard
Good morning! Speak of swimming against the tide. Bloomberg reports that Kris Gopalakrishnan’s digital entertainment company JetSynthesys, also backed by cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar, is merging with blank-check firm BurTech Acquisition Corp. The deal, which will likely value the entity at around $700 million, comes at a time when SPACs have taken a beating. This includes Donald Trump’s SPAC-backed social network Truth Social, which is under investigation as per The Independent.
The Market Signal*
Stocks: Benchmark indices made marginal gains to continue their four-day winning streak. Foreign institutional investors have so far withdrawn ₹2.15 lakh crore in 2022. Metal stocks gained as China eased Covid-19 curbs. Zomato shares extended their decline as they shed 8% on Tuesday.
Early Asia: The Nifty was trading 0.31% below its previous close at 7:40am India time. The Nikkei 225 and Hang Seng had lost over 1% value.
Third Gen Ambani Slips Into Drivers’ Seat
The Ambanis have officially begun the third generation challenge. Billionaire couple Mukesh and Nita Ambani’s elder son Akash Ambani, 30, is now chairman of the board of directors of Reliance Jio.
3G: The third generation Ambanis—Isha, Akash and Anant—have been active in the conglomerate for some time now, and all three are board members of Jio Platforms. Father Mukesh has stepped down as director of Reliance Jio. This is the first time the third generation is taking over the reins.
Global corporate lore is peppered with stories of fortunes frittered away by feuding generations that succeed great founders. Mukesh and brother Anil too fought a bitter battle and divided the empire after their father Dhirubhai died. Although he never spoke publicly about it, Mukesh was rumoured to be putting a succession plan in place. The ball seems to be rolling.
Samosas Are Worth Billions
A culinary treasure that has stood the test of time (and inspired this '90s cringe song) has gotten a makeover. The humble samosa is receiving hot attention from startups. After all, the unorganised samosa market is worth $3.65 billion.
Street to retail: VC-backed beverage platforms Chai Point and Chaayos blazed the trail for entrants such as Samosa Singh, which catered to PVR and Cafe Coffee Day. The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent indispensability of cloud kitchens was also a blessing in disguise for Samosa Party. With its QSR plans on the back burner, it pivoted into a delivery-only business. Both startups have swiftly expanded their network.
$$$: Your neighbourhood halwai may not be happy with samosas being the subject of boardroom discussions. Samosa Party and Samosa Singh have raised millions in funding rounds.
🎧 Startups are experimenting with one of India's favourite chai-time snack.
Supercars Throttled By EV Challenge
Last week, we told you about the EV war between America’s oldest carmakers. About 7,500 km east of Michigan state, Lamborghini and Ferrari—which catapulted Italy to the supercar capital of the world—are also struggling to catch up in the EV race. While Ferrari won’t have an EV until 2025, Lamborghini will unveil its model only in the late 2020s. British supercar brands Aston Martin, Lotus, and McLaren are laggards too.
Why? The very USPs of the sportscar (power steering, tell-tale vrooms that scream raw power) are its Achilles’ heel. EVs promise a smooth, silent drive; recreating the supercar feel in battery-powered models is not only challenging, but a must. After all, wealthy buyers splurge for that very experience. Compounding the issue is Tesla’s Model S Plaid, which hits 60 mph faster than a Lamborghini or Ferrari.
Tesla has left everyone scurrying. Apart from spurring Ford and GM into action and paving the way for tech companies (Apple, Google, Didi, Alibaba, etc.) to manufacture EVs, it’s forced two Japanese giants—Sony and Honda—into an EV joint venture.
Italian carmakers also face competition from German foes. The Mercedes-Benz Group has significant headway, not least because of the Vision EQXX, which has twice the range of Tesla’s Model S. And while Germany-based Volkswagen owns Lamborghini, it’s had better EV sportscar success with the Porsche Taycan—so much so that IPOs for Porsche and Volkswagen’s own EV battery unit are on the horizon.
🎧 Supercar makers Ferrari and Lamborghini are finding it difficult to crack the EV code. Find out why.
Critical Drug Crisis Afflicts HIV Patients
India is facing an acute shortage of antiretroviral drugs for both adults and children. Several HIV patients who switched to ‘miracle drug’ Dolutegravir are now scrambling for the medicine.
Why? Tender-related supply chain issues and technical problems in the GeM or the Government e-Marketplace. A National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) official said the shortage is likely to continue for months.
What’s at stake? Antiretroviral centres in Maharashtra, Mizoram, and Nagaland have either moved patients to different regimens or stopped supplying the vital drugs altogether. Assam and Manipur are reimbursing people based on receipts. This is a nightmare for HIV patients whose lives depend on free antiretroviral therapy. Consider that NACO procures each Dolutegravir tablet for ₹6.67; each tablet costs ₹117 in the market.
India Embraces Sony Playstation Plus
Subscription sales for Sony’s PlayStation Plus went through the roof in May. And now, wallet top-ups in India are breaking records.
Impetus: FIFA 22 is a favourite with gamers here. Indians have access to three subscription tiers: Essential, Extra, and Premium. The last has takers among gamers in smaller cities. But long-term gains remain to be seen: so far, Indians are preferring monthly and quarterly subscriptions over annual ones.
Elsewhere: There’s a frenzy abroad over ‘hypercasual’ games such as Deliver It 3D and Helix Jump. Downloads in this genre increased by 24% year-on-year. Studios are making gameplays more challenging and looking beyond ads for monetisation.
Money-spin: Blizzard’s free-to-play microtransaction game Diablo Immortal is drawing flak. But the company made a cool $24 million from in-game spending in the first two weeks of launch. On a separate note, Fortnight creators are attempting to earn big by building in-game worlds for brands.
Exit? India might propose legislation that will enable the government to sell all its ownership in banks.
RIP: Shapoorji Pallonji group chairman and billionaire industrialist Pallonji Mistry passed away on Tuesday. He was 93.
Tough times: Meta and TikTok could be sued by California government attorneys for getting children addicted to social media.
Cult: Tesla CEO Elon Musk crossed 100 million followers on Twitter.
Hit pause: American retail giant Walgreens has halted the sale of its UK pharmacy chain Boots because of volatile market conditions. Reliance Industries had expressed its interest in the deal.
Funding winter: Byju’s has delayed the payment for the acquisition of test-preparation provider Aakash Educational Services. The payment timeline is now extended to August.
Open for hiring: Move over LinkedIn. Workplace communication tool Slack is the new go-to for job hunts. All it takes is joining the right professional groups. The caveat: it is on an invite-only basis. Tip: take it with a pinch of salt.
Think before you swim: San Sebastián in Spain wants to put curbs on reckless swimming. So it’s proposed fining people who've been negligent or reckless. All this, because a rescue operation in April racked up an estimated cost of €6,000 ($6,309). This law also exists across at least eight US states.
What privacy? In today's crossover episode, Indonesia will employ its Covid-19 tracking app PeduliLindungi to distribute cheap cooking oil and prevent ration abuse. The cap is 10 litres. Locals can buy more only if they hit the bottom quota. Yikes.
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