What connects Messi, Serena and Tom Brady?
Also in today's edition: CR7 is the biggest influencer, Michael Jordan is an investor, the internet has been sold
Good morning! Tiger Global is at it again. It seems to have bought into India’s fintech story lock, stock, and barrel. According to Entrackr, the American VC firm is reportedly investing $35 million in Yap. BharatPe, Groww, Cred, and ProgCap are the other four in Tiger’s 2021 fintech funding spree.
Anyway, on to the day’s stories.
The earth is getting hotter and people are dying.
Airtel is going to space
Unwind this weekend with some of the best stories from around the web.
Crypto’s Game Changers
On Tuesday, Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com struck a five-year $100 million sponsorship deal with Formula 1. As part of the deal, its branding will be featured at all F1 races and it will develop and sell exclusive NFTs.
This marks the latest of many high-profile deals between crypto entities and sports bodies. Crypto.com also signed one with NHL team Montreal Canadiens in March and sponsored the Coppa Italia final in May. Another trading service, eToro is partnered with 12 top flight football teams in England and Germany, paid for entirely in Bitcoin. Yet another, FTX, has a 19-year $135 million deal for naming rights to the NBA team Miami Heat’s arena. The NBA itself has been the frontrunner among sports organisations cashing in on the rise of NFTs — digital collectibles. There are countless more.
Not just teams and leagues, individual sports celebrities are also flocking to the bandwagon. Former English cricketer Kevin Pietersen became the latest to hop aboard a list that features the likes of Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather, Serena Williams, Lionel Messi, Wasim Akram and more.
We’d like to add that perhaps crypto advertising should come with the same disclaimer as many sports betting websites: “Gamble responsibly”.
Games Superpowers Play
Chinese President Xi Jinping rattled the nationalism sabre while delivering a speech at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to mark the Communist Party of China’s centenary. Xi warned other nations from trying to “bully, oppress or enslave” China. “Whoever nurses delusions of doing that will crack their heads and spill blood on the Great Wall of steel built from the flesh and blood of 1.4 billion Chinese people”, he said and vowed to integrate Taiwan into the People’s Republic.
Space race: Xi’s remarks come at a time when China’s relations with the US are at their frostiest. The US and Nato consider China a threat to the rules-based international order. When US President Biden was hobnobbing with his European allies, China was busy sending astronauts to its space station, the only one afloat now. Days later, its own rover sent selfies from Mars. The two nuclear powers are currently exploring the red planet separately.
Cold War: The space race harks back to the competition between the US and the erstwhile USSR in the second half of the last century. The US is already considering the lunar neighbourhood as a militarized front. Extraterrestrial rivalry comes with the Cold War, it seems.
Bharti Global Gives OneWeb A $500M Booster Shot
India’s Bharti Global has injected $500 million in UK-based space start-up OneWeb and will now be the biggest shareholder in the satellite provider with a 39% stake. Last year, Bharti and the UK government had put $1 billion in OneWeb to pull it out of bankruptcy. OneWeb currently has 218 satellites and launched 36 new low earth orbit (LEO) satellites yesterday.
Other Investors: Paris-based Eutelsat invested $550 million in it in April. Japanese tech giant SoftBank is also an investor. OneWeb has now secured $2.4 billion of funding to fulfill its ambitions of launching more commercial satellites into space.
Good news for India: OneWeb is slated to launch high-speed satellite internet services by mid-2022 in India. Bharti’s investment will ensure that it happens. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is already offering a beta version of Starlink. And Jeff Bezos’ Project Kuiper is en route to India. Hughes Communications, the India arm of US’ Hughes Network Systems, is also eager to launch a high throughput satellite, but its proposal has been stuck since 2016, in what else if not, bureaucratic apathy.
The pandemic exposed the full extent of India’s internet reach problem. Ground networks have geographical limitations. Satellite services could not only provide high-speed internet but also have previously unimaginable reach, as Starlink has already proven by taking internet to the trans-Himalayan zones. Overcrowded space may become an issue, but that’s a problem for another day.
The Earth Is Burning Red Hot
Blistering heat waves are sweeping the planet. Record temperatures are meltingpower cables and pavements in the Pacific north-west. In Lytton, British Columbia, the daytime temperature reached 49.6°C on Tuesday. Over 130 people diedbecause of heat-related illnesses in Vancouver. Last week, Eastern Europe and parts of Russia experienced record-shattering temperatures as well.
Home run: India’s tropical positioning has ensured that it isn’t spared the horror either. New Delhi has entered its third week of extreme heat. Markapur in Andhra Pradesh is on fire at 52.1°C while 11 people have died in Chennai as they waited outside a hospital.
Unsurprising killer: Scientists have been warning of the consequences of rising temperatures for over three decades now. Apart from fatalities, high temperatures can increase inequality as the economically weaker sections of society are more at risk for weather-related difficulties. If the climate plan to keep temperature rise below 1.5°C is not realised, we’re headed towards infrastructure collapses, crop failures, and wildfires that will threaten food security.
‘Alpinism’: With one month left, let’s get into the Olympic spirit, shall we? But not quite in the way you’d imagine. This story on the most dangerous sport in the history of the Games is worth reading. It involves mountaineering or Alpinism, introduced in 1894, medals given out between 1924 and 1936. Except, in a lot of cases, the winners weren’t around to collect them.
18 surgeries: Becoming Korean is becoming a thing, as this Vicestory details. Take the case of this British influencer, OIi London, who not only “married a cardboard cutout” of Jimin (BTS fame), but also underwent 18 surgeries to get there. London now identifies as a “transracial non-binary Korean”. Not everyone is happy with their transformation, though.
Bonus read: Staying with BTS, the meal for which the Korean band collaborated with McDonald's for (‘The BTS Meal’) is making people go wild. So much so that they want to preserve its packaging as memorabilia. How? Read on.
Hushpuppi: You have likely heard of the Nigerian prince scams from the 2000s. But how about this fascinating deep dive into the world of “business email compromise” scams, featuring a Nigerian influencer Ramon Abbas. Ramon lived the high life as @hushpuppi, before the law caught up with him, for laundering millions of dollars.
Peloton: Peloton, today, is a global content brand, and mind you, it is still the “bike company”. In 2018, it raised $550 million to build a “media company akin to Netflix”, to quote its CEO, John Foley. The next year, it went public at a market cap of ~$30 billion, while courting Beyoncé and Shonda Rhimes among others. Today, Peloton is a success story, one of the beneficiaries of the pandemic. But how did it get there? This Hollywood Reporter story breaks it down.
Quack hack: Remember the time when Donald Trump suggested that injecting disinfectants (or bleach) into your body could kill the Coronavirus? A Florida-based church-styled company was doing exactly that, with its “false prophet” Mark Grenon suggesting a “miracle” concoction to bathe, spray or ingest. Sales of its chlorine dioxide-based solution tripled when Grenon suggested that it could cure Covid-19. Then came Trump. And then, as this rise and fall account tells us, the FDA zoned in.
Collective bargaining: What connects Novak Djokovic, Vasek Pospisil, and the pandemic? The formation of a professional tennis players association, announced at the US Open last year. For now, it doesn't exactly have the support of Djokovic's rather famous on-court rivals — Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. This NYT Magazine story on tennis' renewed attempts to improve and transform player advocacy is worth reading.
What Else Made The Signal?
Making a u-turn: Fukushima, a nuclear-disaster zone in Japan, is making the conscious switch to cleaner and greener power. From embracing solar panels to hydrogen power, the city is at the forefront of Japan’s bet on renewable energy.
WWW sold: Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has sold its original source code as an NFT for $5.4 million.
Investors’ sport: Basketball star, Michael Jordan, and top tennis player, Naomi Osaka, have invested in a live sports streaming service, Buzzer. The stars and a bunch of other top athletes joined franchise owners to collectively put in $20 million.
Star power: Football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo gets paid as much as $1.6 million to endorse a product on social media, and tops Instagram’s annual rich list of celebrities by sponsorship fees.
Fuel guzzlers: Gasoline consumption in India is back to 90% of pre-pandemic levels. As lockdowns have eased across the country, more people are taking to the roads.
That's it from us this week. Have a great weekend.